Fermented Veggies 101

a simple recipe for adding fermented foods to your diet

When thinking about a healthy diet, too often we focus on the things we’re not supposed to eat. But it’s not just about what you shouldn’t eat, it’s also about what you should eat! Some of the most important things you can add to your diet are fermented foods. Human beings live in a symbiotic relationship with millions of microorganisms. They are essential for many of life’s processes such as digestion and help to build a strong immune system. One spoonful of raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut can be much more potent than a probiotic pill, and you can easily make it yourself.

Sauerkraut is one of many kinds of “lacto-fermented” foods. The name comes from the “good bacteria” (lactobacilli) that work to prevent spoilage and preserve foods such as the raw vegetables that go into sauerkraut, kimchi or pickles. This is the perfect time of year to try your hand at making lacto-fermented veggies. The farmers market - or your own garden - is full of vegetables like cabbage, cucumbers, onions, peppers, beets and carrots.

There are plenty of great how-to books out there! Sandor Ellix Katz’s Wild Fermentation is the perfect place to start. Or dive into Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions.

If you’re a little unsure, let your tastebuds convince and inspire you! Look for a locally made kraut at your grocery or farmers market. In central Ohio, we recommend the delicious ferments from Krazy Kraut, a Columbus-based company that uses organic ingredients and Asian Healing Food Energetics.

If you're ready to give it a try, here is our very basic recipe:

Basic Small Batch Fermented Veggies

Mixed vegetables to tightly fill 2 quart mason jars, chopped, diced or grated
Seasonings of your choice (garlic, ginger, herbs, spices...)
2 T. coarse light grey Celtic sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Pound for several minutes until vegetables start to release their juices. Pack into quart jars, pounding as you go to pack as tightly as possible. When full, press vegetables down below surface of the water. If there is not enough liquid the next morning, add a bit of water to cover. Close and leave on the counter 3 - 5 days. Taste, and when it tastes good to you, move to the fridge. Will last (and evolve) in the fridge for a good long while.