Recently I heard a statistic that said 80% of your immune system is in your gut! It is that time of year again where we are extra cognizant of needing to keep our immune systems healthy. Daily consumption of fermented foods will help... and having ferment brine on hand (to drink) is one of our go tos to halt the stomach virus!
Once you learn the basics of fermenting, you can easily adjust the recipe with a variety of flavors. Making a half gallon-gallon saves time in the long run. This stream lines your life but also allows you to be able to consume them DAILY. Your gut will thank you as it starts to be populated with the proper bacteria, fight off and eliminate the bad and improve your ability to absorb nutrition. Nutrients are the building blocks for a health and to feel incredible. Ferments will stay good for months (even years) if they are taken care of properly. Of course, once you start incorporating them into your daily diet that won't be necessary.
Carrot sticks are one of my favorites because there is plenty of brine left over. While my children can consume a half gallon of carrots in a single sitting, the left over ferment juice becomes a daily shot of immune boosting goodness. To make carrot sticks even more appealing, they are great to take to a party. Just add a fermented guacamole, fermented hummus or ranch cashew cream and you have veggies and dip that just about anyone will enjoy!
Basic Carrot Sticks
Peeled and sliced carrots (peeling is optional)
Chopped fresh dill
Peeled, quartered fresh garlic
Sea salt (pink salt, real salt, blue salt, black salt...any healthy salt)
Yogurt whey or water keifer (optional)
Pack long carrot sticks snugly, vertically in each quart jar. Slide 12 of the quartered garlic slices in between the carrots and add about 1 T of the dill. Add 1 T each of sea salt and whey or water keifer per quart jar. Fill the remaining space in the jar with quality water (not city water) until the veggies are beneath the brine. (See closing notes for all ferments below.)
Sauerkraut is a classic that most folks are familiar with. Most people love it, some dislike it. However, once you master the basic recipe here the palate pleasing variations are ENDLESS! If you were a kraut hater, the alterations may make you change your mind! Our Mexican slaw is probably the #1 crowd pleaser even among the doubters. Recently we were handed a lot of bell peppers, cilantro and peaches. I have never made a bell pepper ferment but I was not scared. The blend of cilantro-cabbage-bell peppers-onion-garlic may well be one of our new favorites! One of my daughters even got jiggy with the idea of creating a new ferment and we tried her suggestion of cilantro-cabbage-peach-onion. We are excited to see how that turns out!
1 medium cabbage
1-3 T sea salt
water keifer or yogurt whey (optional)
Thinly slice/chop cabbage or shred it with a food processor.
In a bowl mix cabbage, 1 T sea salt and whey. Pound with a tamper for about ten minutes or mix well and allow to sit for approximately 15 minutes. This allows the salt to pull water out of the cabbage. Pack the cabbage mixture (including the juices) in a quart sized jar and press down firmly on the veggies. The top of the cabbage should be at least one inch below the top of the jar. Add an additional weak brine if necessary (see below). Let veggies sit at room temperature for 3 days - 2 weeks.
Additional brine: 1 T sea salt to 4 cups of quality water.
Classic variations for the basic sauerkraut that we love: Add 1 T caraway seeds OR
Add a handful of thinly sliced kale or collard greens OR
Add 1 T juniper berries, ground fine, 1 shredded apple, 1 shredded onion, 3 peeled and minced cloves of garlic (add 1/2-1 T of additional sea salt)
Closing notes for all ferments: Let your ferment sit 3-4 days at room temperature. Veggies are ready when they begin to taste tart. Consume and/or move to cool storage or your fridge. The salt destroys bad bacteria but allows the good bacteria, prebiotics, probiotics and enzymes to flourish!