Fermented foods are foods that have been through a process called lacto fermentation in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food creating lactic acid. This process preserves the food, and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics which are beneficial to health and well being. It was used to preserve vegetables, fruits and to make fizzy drinks before we had refrigerators.
Many vegetables and fruits can be fermented. You will find various recipes which I have made many times, and I will be adding more all the time. Below I have included the recipe for Sauerkraut as this is a really good starting point.
Fermenting Vegetables, Fruit and Sodas
Main purported benefits of fermented vegetables
Stops diarrhoea or constipation
Reduces or eliminates allergies
Helps with bowel diseases
Supports the immune and adrenal systems
When starting fermenting vegetables and fruit you will need a starter of some sort. This is to start the bacteria required for fermentation to take place. There are several different ways to start the process as detailed below.
Powder culture started
A starter culture is a dehydrated set of micro-organisms. Since it is in a dehydrated state it can be kept for quite a long time and used as needed. The benefit to this is that it is convenient and requires no maintenance. They can be purchased from Happy Kombucha but are quite expensive.
Kefir whey is obtained from separating the curd and whey from kefir when making kefir soft cheese or kefir cream. The whey can be used to start a vegetable or fruit fermentation. (More about the process in the kefir cheese article.)
No starter ferment
One of the easiest fermented vegetables is sauerkraut. This needs no starter as the juice from the cabbage, plus salt, will ferment on its own. It is also very useful because you can use the juice from the fermented sauerkraut to start other vegetable fermentation.
Juice from other fermented vegetables
As mentioned above the juice from another fermented vegetable can be used.
I have also used kombucha to ferment a particular apple and carrot recipe very successfully.
Basic Sauerkraut Recipe
There are full instructions on making sauerkraut here.......