Friday, September 26, 2014

Fermented Food

I've written s few times about how I love my fermented foods - I love the process of making them as well as eating them! My garden was quite good over winter and I managed to grow a few cabbages. The only thing better than eating my own home grown cabbages (which I've had no success with in the past), is to make sauerkraut with them!

I use a few sources for my recipes for ferments, but I often mix it up. My inspiration comes from:
From Left to Right: Lemon and Ginger Water Kefir, Kombucha, Kimchi, Saurkraut.

Sauerkraut: I use either white cabbage or red cabbage, depending on what is available at the time. I only use salt when I do a plain cabbage one. I will sometimes add some whey if I'm mixing other vegetables in and if I need a bit more liquid.

Kimchi: I use Sally Fallons recipe for Korean Kimchi, but use whatever vegetables I can find. Usually wombok cabbage, carrot, capsicum, chilli, garlic, ginger and turmeric. I substitute some of the whey with fish sauce - 2 tablespoons whey, and two tablespoons fish sauce.

When I do sauerkraut and kimchi I cut the cabbage and vegies and leave to sit with the salt on for an hour or so. This makes it much easier to then squeeze the liquid out.

I also keep an outside cabbage leaf to place in the jar on top of my kraut and then put a (cleaned) rock on top to weigh it down.

I've been making kombucha for a couple of years now and love it. It's just a lovely midday summer drink (or any season really). I have always done a second ferment, as I really like to get some bubbles into it and like the extra flavour. My favourite flavour would be passionfruit, closely followed by pineapple. I also do apple, ginger or frozen berries. Kombucha brews for about 1 week in summer and 2 weeks in winter. After the initial brewing in the large jar, I strain it into smaller bottles and add the fruit - about 2 tablespoons of fruit or 1of ginger.

Recently I was given some kefir grains - both milk and water kefir. It took me a while to get into it, because I really didn't like the milk kefir - I make yoghurt all the time, so what do I do with this??? And the water kefir was just plain boring! The internet to the rescue.....I now second ferment both. Water kefir is so simple, especially compared to kombucha. I do about a litre at a time as I'm still growing my grains.

For the water kefir: 1/4 cup of sugar (raw is best) to a litre of water and 2 tablespoons of kefir grains. You need to warm up the water first to dissolve the sugar, but then wait for it to cool before adding the grains. Leave for 48 hours and then strain and add the juice of one lemon and about a tablespoon of chopped ginger. You then leave this for another 48 hours. Put this in the fridge and enjoy chilled! This is the only flavour I've tried so far and it's great! A yummy cross between ginger beer and lemon squash. It gets quite bubbly too.

For the milk kefir: I don't particularly like to drink this, but have discovered that if I do a second ferment with frozen mixed berries it makes a nice icecream. I strain off the kefir grains, add some berries and leave for about a day. I then blend 2 cups of this with 2 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup of cream and then churn in the icecream machine. I also strain the kefir after straining off the grains) through my nut milk bag and use it as kefir cheese. Keep the whey for other fermenting or add it to baking or smoothies. Kefir cheese, mixed with herbs makes a lovely dip, but you could use it in place of any cream cheese.

These ferments I do all the time - I always have these on hand to eat or drink. I also do yoghurt and fetta every week. Other foods I've fermented are:
  • Tomato sauce - I make a passata sauce and then ferment this (I think I got this from Nourished Kitchen)
  • Beetroot - baked in the oven first and then fermented in a brine (Sally Fallon)
  • Cucumbers in brine
  • Baby corn in brine
What do you guys ferment? Any questions or tips? Just leave a comment, as I'd love to know what other people do.


  1. I have kombucha on the go all the time and there is currently some kimchi and some German friendship cake on my bench. I also make a fermented fruit paste which is nice with yogurt.

    1. My brother does a fruit and nut kimchi, which he dies with dates and nuts I think. I've done it once but should have another go. How do you do it?

  2. Hi Lucy, thanks for this post, after your last I tried my hand at some Saurkraut, added some carrots as I had them growing, my result seems OK but its good to have some further tips.

    1. I've tried a few things and haven't had too many failures. I tried a daikon radish sauerkraut but couldn't eat it!

  3. Hi Lucy,
    I have a question: How did you make this tomato sauce, which you mentioned? "Tomato sauce - I make a passata sauce and then ferment this". That sounds interesting, but I cant imagine, how to do it.

  4. Wonni, it's been a while since I've made it and can't find where I put the recipe. I do know that I just made a tomato passata sauce - tomatoes, garlic, onion, herbs, salt and pepper - like you would if you were going to make a pasta sauce and then pureed it and I then added fresh whey and maybe some sugar or honey. I'll have to do some research and have another go. I do have a lot of tomatoes at the moment, so no time like the present! It would only be a short ferment - probably 3 days in summer and maybe a week in winter. The original idea came from Nourished Kitchen.

  5. Hi Lucy,
    Thank you for your response. That sounds pretty straightforward. Longer than a week in not possible? Does it spoils the sauce if it stands longer than this period of time?

  6. Wonni, I made a batch on Friday and when I looked at it on yesterday, it had a not so nice white mold on the top. I think that it may be too hot to be doing this sauce! I'm not sure where you live, but I think leaving it too long might be a problem. When you ferment mayonnaise with whey, it's only left for a day so maybe in the heat the tomato sauce should only be a day....I'm not sure what I'll do, but I might just scrape the mold off and see what it tastes/smells like. This has never happened with sauce before. After making the passata and letting it cool, to 500ml, add 1/4 cup honey, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup whey and 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar. Stir well and put into a large jar. Then sprinkle another 2 tablespoons whey on the top.

  7. Hello Lucy,
    Thank you for your response. You are really helpful and you answer on all questions. So a willingness to help is very rare. I will try that tomato sauce and will ferment it for only one or two days, as you said. I don’t want to risk it.
    I have only one last question for you. Would you be so kind and click on the next link? It appears a survey, which I have created. I perform it for my bachelor thesis. It's about blogs on the internet. The survey is short and completely anonymous. Would you do me that favor?

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