I am Cultured *at home
DIY fermentation Recipes
Fancy having a crack at making some ferments at home to up your intake of natural probiotics?
I am Cultured is here to help – we’ll be sharing some of our own home ferments with you and hopefully demystifying the whole process.
In fact, making your own ferments isn’t that scary at all and – even better – you don’t need expensive tools or kit; just a glass jar*, a decent knife or grater, some kitchen scales and some fresh ingredients. Obviously, if you get the bug, you can splash out on fancy fermentation crocks and wooden tampers but, for now, you can make do with things you already have in your kitchen.
A word on plastics – personally, I only ferment in glass; I can see what’s happening to my ferment and, unlike plastic containers, there is no risk of anything nasty leaching into my ferments. The same goes for metals – the acidity produced during fermentation may react with the metals. The only exception is high grade 304 stainless steel which is often used in the brewing trade and for making commercial kombucha.
Having said all that it’s fine to use whatever you have to hand when preparing your veggies – as they are not acidic at this stage.
*a litre jar is the perfect size for one cabbage (approx 1kg)
This is a basic but beaut of a sauerkraut. If you’re a beginner you can’t go wrong with this one.
Ingredients: 1 fresh cabbage, 1 tbsp sea salt (or other quality mineral rich salt)
Tools: 1 litre glass jar, knife, large mixing bowl (anything will do), clean tea towel, small ramekin or other glass jar
Wash all your tools and utensils in hot soapy water.
Discard any damaged outer leaves, then thoroughly rinse your cabbage. Set aside a couple of good, clean outer leaves to use later.
Quarter your cabbage, cut out the core and chuck it in the compost. Slice your cabbage into thin ribbons with a knife.
Put your shredded cabbage into a bowl and mix in the salt. If you want to be more precise weigh your cabbage and add 2% salt. Massage the salt into your cabbage for a few minutes then leave to stand for 30 minutes (covered in a clean tea towel). The salt will extract the juices and create a brine. If there isn’t much brine, massage again and leave for another 30 minutes.
Next, pack your cabbage into your glass jar, pushing it down with a fork or with your hands so that it is tightly packed. This gets rid of air pockets and also helps to submerge your cabbage under the brine.
Pour in any left over brine.
You’ll need at least a couple of inches head space between the top of the cabbage and the top of the jar.
Grab the outer cabbage leaves that you set aside earlier because you’re going to use this to stop bits of cabbage from floating to the surface. Cut or fold the leaves to size (you can trace the bottom of the jar to get an indication of size).
What we want is for everything to be under the brine – including your cabbage leaf topper. This is because fermentation is an anaerobic process – meaning that no oxygen is involved. Keeping the cabbage submerged means that no bad bacteria from the atmosphere can get to your ferment. The good bacteria doesn’t need oxygen!
Finally use a small glass ramekin or other jar to act as a weight to keep everything down. If you can still fit your lid on top, screw it on loosely (you need the Co2 to escape), if not cover with a clean tea towel.
Keep your ferment away from direct sunlight and place a bowl underneath in case it gets feisty during the first few days of fermentation and the brine overflows.
Leave for 5 – 14 days.
Smaller batches ferment quite quickly so I’d be tempted to taste after 5 days. It’s ready when you like the taste. It should have a tangy, sour taste. The longer you leave it to ferment, the tangier it gets.
You can always try leaving it longer next time so see how sour you like it.
When it’s ready, pop it in the fridge or decant into smaller jars and then refridgerate.
It will keep in the fridge unopened for up to a year. Once opened eat within a couple of weeks.
If you only have time to make one ferment – make it THIS one. It’s so delicious. On top of that it helps to boost your immune system so is great for cold and flu season.
Ingredients: Garlic, raw runny honey
Tools: 1 glass jar (the size depends on how much you want to make), knife,
Pop on your favourite podcast then start peeling your garlic cloves. Whatever sized jar you have (like mason jar or an old honey jar/ragu sauce jar) you’ll want to fill it half to 3/4 full of garlic cloves. Cut away or discard any bruised cloves.
Add your cloves to your clean glass jar and pour honey over the top – enough to cover the garlic. Add the lid but don’t over tighten it as this helps the gases escape during fermentation. Store somewhere away from direct sunlight. You may want to put a bowl underneath the jar in case it gets feisty and bubbles over.
Now all you need to do is tighten up the lid and turn the jar upside down a couple of times a day (to coat the garlic in honey). Do this for the first few weeks. Then once a day for another couple of weeks and then every so often (or – like me – as and when you remember). After a month or so you can tighten up the lid and just burp (and turn upside down).
The longer you leave it, the better it gets – after six months it’s gorgeous. Use in salad dressings or for drizzling over things, or just eat a spoonful (or a whole clove) if you are feeling under the weather. I promise it’s worth the wait!
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