The only experience I have had with fermented foods is the sauerkraut that gets put on top of a German sausage at the local markets. I love sauerkraut. My friend keeps telling me how easy it is to make this tangy cabbage condiment. Yes, it sounded easy, but I kept putting off the making of the sauerkraut – every time I had loads of cabbage, I would make coleslaw instead.
When I heard that my other friend was holding Fermenting Friday workshops, I was interested. The next one to be held was making sauerkraut and kimchi. Could this be my opportunity to finally make sauerkraut?
Fermenting Fridays are held at BOS Rural Supplies on the first Friday of every month. On the day I attended, there were around 10 of us. We chopped veggies, chatted and connected over the group effort of preparing food. Someone commented on how much they loved preparing food in a group and how her favourite memories are of preparing food with her sisters.
We all added our ingredients to communal bowls. Each bowl had a twist in it so we could all take home a jar of different ferments.
There were two types of sauerkraut – one made with purple cabbage, one made with green cabbage. Both had caraway seeds. The kimchi was made with carrots, cabbage, turnips, spring onions and celery. Grated ginger, turmeric and chopped garlic was added to this mixture. One of the kimchi bowls had chilli added to it for those of us that liked a kick. A kale kimchi was also made.
- Chop your ingredients to a similar size. If the sizes are small, the fermenting process will be speedier and you will get to enjoy your goodies sooner.
- Throw them all into a bowl, sprinkle with salt to taste. (Quantities suggested: 1 lean tablespoon to one cabbage head) Salt is an important component of fermentation. It will keep the bad bacteria at bay while the good bacteria does its thing. We also added whey to our ferments, but if you don’t have it, that’s OK, just salt is fine.
- Now this is the fun part. Massage those veggies in the bowl. The smell of the spices while we were doing this was amazing. Take a moment to connect with the crunchiness of the veggies as you are massaging. Breathe in, and enjoy that you are preparing food that your body will love.
- Once all the veggies have had a good massage, it is time to pack up your jars. Cram those veggies into your jars. As you are cramming them down, you should notice juice bubbling up. This is good, and you want liquid to be there.
Tip: Use a pestle to push down to get the juices flowing. Those of us that had wide necked jars found this process easier. If the opening of the jar was small, it was harder to cram the ingredients down to get juices flowing.
- Once the jar is filled, it is time to cover the top with a folded-over cabbage leaf. This will help keep the veggies submerged under the liquid. Important fact – the veggies must be covered by liquid otherwise the ferment process won’t happen and your ferment may turn bad.
- Leave the jars on the bench for 3 to 7 days at room temperature. I put mine on a tray because they will leak a bit. You can ‘burp’ your jars by opening the lids daily to release excess gas so they don’t leak, but I skipped this part
- When your yummy ferments are ready, store them in the fridge.
I have been eating my sauerkraut and kimchi alongside most of my meals. The sauerkraut tastes a lot different to the sauerkraut I have at the markets on top of my German sausage. It doesn’t taste vinegary at all. I quite like it alongside macaroni and cheese. The kimchi I have been eating is spicy because of the chilli. It goes beautifully with boiled eggs. Also tastes great with a coconut cauliflower soup that I often eat.
A Sweet Fruit and Nut Ferment
We also made a delicious fruit and nut ferment. Loads of dried fruit were added to the bowl. Medjool dates are the base to this recipe so expect to be adding more of these than the other dried fruit you use. Dried mango, apricots, pears, figs, raisins, sultanas, pepitas, hazelnuts, almonds and grated ginger were the rest of the ingredients. Add a touch of salt. Then water to moisten the fruit, mix this until combined.
Pack your jars almost to the brim. Add extra water to cover. The fruit will plump up so take this into account when packing your jars.
The same process of leaving your jars on the bench to transform into delicious rich yumminess applies. This is fantastic with greek yogurt. It is very rich and you do only need a tiny bit. When I opened my jar, I did notice that it did smell like brandy so it would seem there is an alcoholic element to this ferment!
I am a convert to fermenting foods myself now that I have had a go. I couldn’t believe how simple it was to make my own sauerkraut and kimchi. I’m thinking about getting together a group of friends to have an afternoon of fermenting and connecting.
Do you have any fermenting food experience? We would love to hear it. Please share in the comments below!
To find out about the benefits of fermented foods, check out 7 Must Eat Fermented Foods For a Healthy Gut. There are some awesome recipes here on how to use fermented foods in your diet.