I took a kombucha workshop last week hosted by Kathrin Brunner from For the Love of Body. As a result, I'm an overnight fermenting addict. I always wanted to tackle fermenting but was deeply intimidated by the process. It's actually quite easy (and fun) to ferment things. Our kitchen has morphed into a culinary science lab, where everything feels alive.
According to Kathrin, people ate fermented foods and drank brine thousands of years ago to support their immune systems and digestive tracts. Roughly 70% of our immune cells sit behind digestive cells, so fermented food consumption is an optimal way to restore balance. But these days, the term "bacteria" has such a negative connotation that seas of antibacterial products line store shelves.
"We are moving masses of bacteria," Kathrin said. "We have it everywhere, and it's there to keep us healthy."
The key is to load up on good bacteria (also known as probiotics). This fermented vegetable recipe is a simple and effective way of ingesting the good stuff. It was inspired by Fermented: A Four-Season Approach to Paleo Probiotic Foods by Jill Ciciarelli.
8-12 whole pickling cucumbers, ends and stems sliced off
4-5 cups filtered water
2 tablespoons unrefined sea salt (I used Redmond Real Salt)
1 fresh grape leaf (or a cleaned oak leaf, which is what I used)
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds (optional)
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)
Put spices (you can add any spices that you like) and grape/oak leaf in the bottom of a mason jar. Place cucumbers in the jar vertically, and pack them tightly. Heat water slightly in a saucepan and add salt. Remove from heat and stir until salt dissolves. After the brine cools to room temperature, pour it in the jar and cover the cucumbers. Make sure that the cukes stay submerged underneath the water (you can use a cleaned rock or a shot glass to help with this). Loosely cover the jar, place it on a tray (or in a shallow baking pan) and let it sit in a cool dark spot in the kitchen for around 10 days. Make sure that your fermenting spot has decent air circulation (a closed cupboard probably won't have enough circulation). When done fermenting, cover your veggies tightly and stash them in the fridge.
Note: check on your veggies every couple of days and scrape away mold with a spoon. If any veggies have floated to the top and are exposed to the air, discard them. If your brine level has gone down, just add some more salt water to top off your jar.
[Carrots + Celery]
Follow above recipe, using 4-6 medium carrots (peeled and very large sliced) and 3-4 celery stalks (very large sliced).