Ever since we started making Lou Corona’s coconut yogurt, we’ve fallen more and more in love with culturing our own foods. Ken has already come up with lots of different yogurt variations to use for both savory sauces and sweet snacks. We love the taste, but it’s also nice to know we’ve learned how to incorporate one of the time-honored traditions of so many cultures throughout the world, and throughout history. It is so important to create a healthy amount of healthy bacteria to have a healthy gut. These healthy bacteria like acidophilus and bifidus are important factors in the immune systems and are far more beneficial than antibiotics, which ironically kill off our good bacteria! Probiotics reducing food allergies, prevent food poisoning and stomach bugs, prevent and treat irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea and inflammatory bowel diseases. They also produce vitamins and fats which keep the colon healthy. Keep reading below the photos for more links and info plus a recipe!
We’ve also been making spicy fermented vegetables and then Ken got us a kombucha starter and a water grain kefir starter! Boy are we flush with good bacteria around here!
Kombucha and kefir are fantastic replacements for soda since they are sweet, sour and sometimes fizzy, but without any side effect and so many more benefits, it’s astounding. I know GT Synergy brand kombucha helped me quit soda and I never thought I could- I always had to have one “just when we went out.” And then I had a run-in again with soda after our wedding when there was soda left over that we had bought for the late-night guests to drink- they did drink some, but by that hour they were drinking more beer. Once that soda was gone, I haven’t had much, if any since, and not a drop in 2012. Now, I see it for what it is- poison, and I’ll never go back.
My first kombucha batch was made with coconut sugar and molasses, and the second batch is brewing right now with strawberries added. The directions say to use any kind of sugar, but not honey, and that it especially likes white sugar (but there’s no way I’m using white sugar. Joel is successfully using raw sugar and succanat for his batches.) There are a lot of different ways to make it, but I’ll refer you to this post over at High on Health because they did such a great job of explaining everything, and I may as well not repeat it all.
Here are some pictures of the spicy southwest batch of fermented veggies Ken and I made last weekend. We filled three big bowls so we can have mild, medium and hot. This is just how we’ve been throwing it all together, but there are a lot of great books full of info and recipes too.
Getting the vegetables ready
Cabbage is the “active ingredient” – it has special compounds that help everything ferment
Adding peppers, herbs and spices to the different batches to create hot, medium and mild options
Now these veggies are ready to be pressed into glass jars until 3/4 full and the veggies are all covered with liquid, but I didn’t get a picture of us loading the jars because our hands were covered in the stuff. It’s a really fun process- had several visitors drop by who kept saying how good it smelled and how fun it looked. Ken used all sorts of fabulous peppers and chile powders that he collects from Sunfood but we couldn’t smell anymore it since we were in the thick of it. They turned out fabulous and they are such a spicy, delicious addition to tacos, salads, wraps and more. They really do digest beautifully and help everything else digest better too. I love feeling the digestive benefits, but I had no idea the rest of the sizeable list of purported benefits, and I don’t doubt it at all. Kefir, kombucha, yogurt and fermented veggies- this stuff is all amazing.
For the batches pictured, we used cabbage, carrots, sweet potatoes, golden beets, bell peppers, heirloom tomatoes, herbs spices, and a variety of mild and spicy hot peppers. That reminds me- we’re also crazy about Jimbo’s Naturally’s deli chipotle veganaise, which blends chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. It made (well Ken made) the most delicious Ezekiel wraps ever! So I also want to start making marinated peppers and sauces like that. And infusing oils and vinegars with herbs from our garden. Lots to do. Here’s Ken’s recipe for some of the spicy kim chi he made that Mimi Kirk loved so much she wanted the recipe. We were flattered, considering the fact that we think her cookbook is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Enjoy!
- 1 head red or green cabbage sliced thin
- 1 medium beet processed finely
- 1 medium serrano pepper chopped finely
- 15 Brussel’s sprouts outer leaves removed, quartered
- 2 large carrots shredded finely
- 8 leaves kale destemmed
- add other favorite vegetables to taste shredded finely
- Mix it all up by hand in a big bowl. Take out 2 cups and process them with the S blade until fairly fine, then add them back into the bowl.
- Add 2 Tablespoons of Himalayan Salt and herbs of your choice and mix it all by hand. Let it wilt a little for 10 min.
- Now is when you can separate some of the bowl mixture into some smaller bowls for any hotter Kim Chi batches you’d like to make. Add whatever you like to spice those batches up (cayenne, other peppers, garlic, herbs, caraway seeds).
- Massage all the veggies in the big bowl by hand and squeeze them well to break the cell walls and to release more of the water. Keep massaging until it seems done, and do the same for the smaller bowls.
- Using quart or pint jars fill them up and begin to press the veggies toward the bottom, packing tight and leave a 2 to 3 inch space at the top. Pour extra liquid from the bowl over the top of the veggies adding water if necessary to cover them.
- Loosen the lids because of the pressure and store in a spot away from the sunlight (preferably 70 degrees or close) for 5 to 7 days. The longer you leave them fermenting the more flavorful they will have. After the 7 days tighten the lids and you can put them in the fridge. Enjoy!