Fermented & Cultured Foods – Nourished Kitchen http://nourishedkitchen.com Reviving Traditional Foods Wed, 17 Jan 2018 11:51:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.2 http://nourishedkitchen.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/cropped-nk_favicon-150x150.png Fermented & Cultured Foods – Nourished Kitchen http://nourishedkitchen.com 32 32 Thyme and Jalapeño 
Pickled Carrots http://nourishedkitchen.com/thyme-jalapeno-pickled-carrots/ http://nourishedkitchen.com/thyme-jalapeno-pickled-carrots/#comments Thu, 13 Jul 2017 18:26:19 +0000 http://nourishedkitchen.com/?p=19488 Thyme and Jalapeno Pickled Carrots from the Herbalists Kitchen are made the traditional way, through fermentation.

Brine pickles, like these Pickled Carrots, are among the easiest fermented foods for beginners to make.  Bright in flavor, owing to the inclusion of both thyme and jalapeño, these carrots make a nice starter, and pack well in  sack lunches or for picnics.

Recipes from the Herbalist’s Kitchen

This recipe for Pickled Carrots comes from the Recipes from the Herbalist’s Kitchen, a gorgeous book that interweaves the traditional wisdom of herbalism with gorgeous, practical and inventive recipes.

Thyme and Jalapeño 
Pickled Carrots
Recipe type: ferment
Cuisine: american
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 1 quart
The thyme gives these pickles a unique smoky flavor and the jalapeño lends a spicy kick. For less spice, cut the jalapeño in half and remove the seeds. This will give you a milder pickle without losing the jalapeño flavor. If you really do not like spicy, you could omit the jalapeño entirely. This recipe comes from the gorgeous book, Recipes from the Herbalist's Kitchen.
For the Pickled Carrots
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 8–10 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 4–5 medium carrots, cut into 3-inch-long, 
¼-inch-thick sticks
For the Brine
  • 2 cups nonchlorinated water (we recommend this water filter)
  • 1 tablespoon noniodized salt, such as this sea salt
  1. Place the whole jalapeño, thyme, garlic, and peppercorns into a clean 1-quart mason jar. 
Put the carrot sticks in on top of the herbs 
and spices, packing them in tightly. Leave 
½ to ¾ inch of headroom at the top of the jar.
  2. Prepare the brine: Warm ¼ cup of the water, add the salt, and stir until dissolved. Stir that salty water into the rest of the water.
  3. Pour enough brine over the carrots to cover them by ¼ inch. (You should have enough brine, but make more if you need to.) Put the lid on the jar and set aside to ferment at room temperature. I leave my fermenting carrots 
on the kitchen counter by the sink to make the next step easier.
  4. As the fermentation progresses, gas will form inside the jar. Without actually taking the lid off, loosen the lid of the jar to release the 
pressure. I do this over the sink, as sometimes the jar contents will bubble up and some of the brine can leak out. Leave the lid loosened until the bubbles stop, then tighten the lid back down and let the jar ferment for another day. Do this daily for the first week.
  5. At the end of the week, remove the lid completely to make sure the brine still covers the carrots by ¼ inch; any carrots exposed to air may mold. Add more brine as needed and tighten the lid back on the jar.
  6. Now set the carrots aside in a cool, dark spot to ferment for 4 weeks. Check them every week to make sure there is still sufficient brine covering the carrots and to release any pressure. It is common for a powdery-looking film, called kahm yeast, to form on the surface of the brine. You may also see spots of mold, which will 
usually form in a thicker layer and may look hairy or textured. The brine itself may also grow cloudy, which is normal. As long as the mold growth is on the surface of the ferment and hasn’t penetrated the vegetables themselves, you can simply use a clean spoon to scrape off the mold and as much of the yeast as you can, and it’s perfectly safe to continue to ferment or to eat the vegetables.
  7. Begin to taste the carrots after 4 weeks. They should be sour, spicy, and a little smoky tasting (that comes from the thyme!). They should still be crunchy, but not as much as a raw carrot. If they still seem raw, or you want them softer, they have not fermented long enough; replace the lid and give them another 1 to 3 weeks. The speed of fermentation will vary depending on the ambient temperature. They will ferment faster in warmer temperatures and slower in cooler temperatures.
  8. When you like the taste, store the carrots in the refrigerator, where they will keep for 6 months. Once they are refrigerated, the carrots do not have to be submerged beneath the brine; the cold will keep them from spoiling.
Excerpted from Recipes from the Herbalist’s Kitchen, © by Brittany Wood Nickerson, photography by © Keller+Keller Photography, used with permission from Storey Publishing.

Easy Fermented Veggies You Can Make at Home

Fermented foods, like these pickled carrots, are wonderfully easy to make, and they’re remarkably rich in beneficial bacteria that help to support the immune system, and build a healthy gut.

You can find all of our fermented vegetable recipes here, but below you’ll find some of our favorites.

Sour Pickles are an easy to make and are seasoned with garlic, dill and pickling spice for a classic flavor.

Hot Pink Garlic Jalapeño Sauerkraut is a favorite ferment with its vivid hot pink color and sharp bite of spice and garlic.

Pickled Jalapeños don’t take much effort at all, but keep in the fridge for a year or longer.

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Sour Pickles http://nourishedkitchen.com/sour-pickles/ http://nourishedkitchen.com/sour-pickles/#comments Mon, 03 Jul 2017 07:43:51 +0000 http://nourishedkitchen.com/?p=1942 Real Sour Pickles, traditionally made by allowing cucumbers to ferment in saltwater and spices.

Want to liven up your summer table? Look no further than sour pickles. Naturally fermented, sour pickles are rich in beneficial bacteria and food enzymes, offering a dairy-free source of probiotics .

Vinegar pickles lack the beneficial bacteria found in traditional, sour pickles. To ferment real pickles they must go through lactic acid fermentation – a process that encourages the proliferation of beneficial bacteria.

Why We Don’t Use Vinegar (and why that’s good!)

Just as salt is used to prepare a traditional sauerkraut, unrefined sea salt is likewise used to prepare traditional sour pickles. While many traditionally fermented vegetables require pounding vegetables long enough for them to release their juices which then combine with salt to create a brine, in preparing sour pickles, you prepare the brine separately and pour it over cucumbers and seasonings.

This brine helps to keep pathogenic bacteria and stray mold spores at bay while encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria which metabolize the vegetable’s natural sugars and produce lactic acid as a byproduct. This is why sour pickles, traditionally prepared, are sour without the addition of vinegar. The lactic acid fermentation is also good for our bodies. Traditional fermented foods help balance the production of stomach acid.

Sour Pickles
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 1 gallon
Sharply sour and infused with the intense flavor of dill and garlic, these sour pickles are made the traditional way, by allowing cucumbers to ferment in a saltwater brine.
For the Sour Pickles
  • 1 gallon unwaxed pickling cucumbers, approximately 8 pounds
  • 2 heads flowering dill
  • 2 large bulbs garlic
  • 3 tablespoons pickling spice
  • 1 horseradish leaf
  • 6 tablespoons finely ground sea salt
  • 3 quarts filtered water
Special Equipment
  1. Rinse the cucumbers well to remove any dirt or debris, and then trim away any small stems of vine or flowers that might still adhere to them.
  2. Dump the cucumbers into the basin of your sink, and fill the sink with cold water. Allow the cucumbers to soak in the cold water for 20 minutes, long enough to perk them up a bit before they ferment
  3. Peel the garlic, and drop it into your fermentation crock. Then, add the pickling cucumbers, dill, horseradish leaf and pickling spice.
  4. Create a brine by spooning the salt into the water, and whisking them together until the salt dissolves completely. Pour the brine into the crock, weighing the cucumbers down, and completely submerging all the ingredients. Make sure your crock is completely full of brine, adding more as necessary. If using a traditional crock (like this one), place the lid on the jar and fill the crock's well with water, checking every few days to make sure the water hasn't evaporated and the seal remains intact.
  5. Allow the cucumbers to ferment for at least 1 week and up to 1 month at room temperature. Taste them every few days, and when they achieve the flavor and sourness you like, transfer the pickles and brine to mason jars, storing them in the fridge up to 6 months.

Pro Tip: Use the Right Equipment

Using the right equipment to make sour pickles will help you to avoid accidentally contaminating your pickles with the stray yeasts and molds that could ruin your batch. A traditional fermentation crock will allow your cucumbers to ferment under the best conditions, without the free flow of air. You can find them online here.

Real Sour Pickles, traditionally made by allowing cucumbers to ferment in saltwater and spices.

Other Fermented Vegetables You’ll Love

Fermented vegetables are beautifully complex in flavor, but refreshingly easy to make as long as you have the right equipment and a little time. Like yogurt, fermented vegetables are rich in beneficial bacteria that helps to support gut health and immune system function. You can find all of our fermented vegetable recipes here , but below you’ll find a few of our favorites.

Homemade Sauerkraut requires nothing more than salt, cabbage and a little time.

Hot Pink Jalapeno Garlic Kraut is a great riff on traditional sauerkraut, and spiked with plenty of garlic and a touch of jalapeno.

Fermented Green Tomatoes and Hot Peppers is another really simple, flavor-forward traditional pickle.

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Homemade Sauerkraut http://nourishedkitchen.com/homemade-sauerkraut/ http://nourishedkitchen.com/homemade-sauerkraut/#comments Mon, 20 Feb 2017 08:28:20 +0000 http://nourishedkitchen.com/?p=7825 Homemade Sauerkraut is easy to make, all you need is cabbage and salt. Using a fermentation crock or vessel equipped with an airlock makes a big difference, eliminating the risk of mold

Homemade sauerkraut, in all its funky humility, is a favorite food in our home – particularly in wintertime when fresh, local produce is a rare treat and we rely on what we’ve put by over the summer and autumn months.  For us, this means lots of fermented foods and sauerkraut in particular.

Health Benefits of Sauerkraut

The fermentation of cabbage into sauerkraut preserves it, providing a ready food for the cold days of winter when fresh food was scarce.  So while early peoples preserved cabbage with salt in an effort to keep hunger away during the dark months, their method of preservation fulfilled another need: that of optimal nourishment.

The process of lactic acid fermentation used to transform salt and cabbage into sauerkraut increases food enzymes and vitamins, particularly vitamin B vitamins.  Moreover, homemade sauerkraut is also extraordinarily rich in beneficial bacteria – friendly microorganisms which help to colonize the gut, train the immune system and manufacture vitamins in the digestive tract.

Why You Should Make Sauerkraut at Home

  • Homemade sauerkraut is inexpensive to make, especially when you buy cabbage in season and in bulk.  Comparatively the price for raw sauerkraut at the grocery store can often exceed $8/pint.
  • You can adjust the flavor of the sauerkraut you make at home to suit your preferences, whether that’s more sour or less, or whether you include additions like garlic, dill, caraway or hot peppers.

Homemade Sauerkraut Takes Time

Good things are worth waiting for and homemade sauerkraut takes time – a week for the impatient and months for those who love their sauerkraut with the same fervor that an oenophile devotes to wine.  How long you allow your sauerkraut to ferment depends entirely on your preferences coupled with the quantity you’re making.

  • Small batches of sauerkraut need less time and large batches need more time.
  • Sauerkraut will ferment faster at warm temperatures and more slowly in cold temperatures. But don’t let your kitchen get too warm (more than 80 F) as it can make your sauerkraut mushy and introduce off-flavors, slow and low is a good rule of thumb.
  • Taste your sauerkraut; some people prefer their sauerkraut sweet and barely sour, and others like their sauerkraut so sour it’s like a punch in the mouth.  After about a week of fermentation, begin tasting your kraut periodically until it achieves a flavor and level of sourness you like.

How to Store Homemade Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut, and other fermented cabbage dishes like Korean kimchi and South American curtido, are naturally preserved through the time-honored method of fermentation.  When foods are fermented, beneficial microbes consume their carbohydrates and release acids, like lactic acid in the case of sauerkraut, which preserve the foods much in the way vinegar does.

  • Canning sauerkraut is not necessary to preserve it. As long as your sauerkraut remains submerged in its brine in a sealed jar, at a cool temperature, it will stay preserved. The high heat of the canning pot will destroy the beneficial bacteria you’ve cultivated when you make sauerkraut.  If you still wish to can you’re sauerkraut, follow these guidelines.
  • Cold temperatures that you find in root cellars, basements and your fridge will slow down the fermentation process almost to a halt.  So, when your sauerkraut is finished, just spoon it into a mason jar, making sure it’s covered with brine and store it in the fridge, root cellar or cold basement where it will keep at least a few months and up to a year.

Pro Tip: Use the Right Equipment

Using the right equipment is essential in preparing sauerkraut and minimizing contamination by stray microbes, molds and yeasts.  These special crocks and jars are designed to create an anaerobic environment, optimal for preparing fermented vegetables like sauerkraut, that keeps oxygen (and potential contaminants) out while allowing the carbon dioxide that builds up during fermentation to escape.

For beginners, inexpensive glass jars equipped with airlocks work well and for those who love making fermented foods, a stoneware fermentation crock is a worthy investment.

If you decide to use a mason jar, which is pretty popular among beginners, invest in glass weights to keep the cabbage submerged and an airlock like this one to keep oxygen out.

Fresh cabbages for making homemade sauerkraut.

Homemade Sauerkraut
Recipe type: vegetable
Cuisine: german
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 1 gallon
Traditional, homemade sauerkraut relies only on cabbage and salt, and those ingredients come together through time and the work of beneficial bacteria to create a pleasant, sour, fermented vegetable that can be used as a condiment or sidedish. Homemade sauerkraut pairs beautifully with broiled sausages, and hearty lentil stews.
For the Sauerkraut
Special Equipment
  1. Remove any bruised or damaged outer leaves from the cabbage, and then remove the cabbage's core. Slice the cabbage in long, thin shreds about ⅛-inch thick.
  2. Toss cabbage and salt together in a large mixing bowl and let it rest about five minutes, or until the cabbage begins to soften and release a little liquid, then squeeze the cabbage with your hands to further break up those thin shreds of vegetable and release more juice.
  3. When the cabbage has become limp and has released ample juice, transfer it to a sauerkraut crock or vegetable fermenter (like this). Pack the salted cabbage into the crock or fermenter as tightly as you can, eliminating air bubbles. A kraut pounder (find one here) is particularly helpful in packing the cabbage tightly within the crock.
  4. Continue packing the cabbage into the container until the cabbage is completely submerged by its liquid. Seal the crock and allow it to sit at room temperature, undisturbed, for at least 1 month and up to 6 months. testing the sauerkraut every few days until it is sour enough for your liking. Pack the sauerkraut into mason jars, and transfer to the refrigerator or other cold storage where it should keep for at least 6 months and up to 1 year.
Serving size: ½ cup
To seal a stoneware crock (like this), fill the crock to its neck with salted cabbage, place weights over the cabbage and ensure that the vegetable rests below its brine. Cover the crock with its lid, and pour water into the well around the lid, checking the water level every few days to make sure it has not evaporated.

To seal a glass jar equipped with an airlock (like this), fill the jar to its neck, place weights over the cabbage to ensure that the vegetable rests below its brine. Cover the jar with its lid, and insert the airlock. Fill the airlock with water to its fill line and snap its lid in place.

Want to know more?

The Nourished Kitchen cookbook discusses fermentation tips, safety measures and provides recipes not only for sauerkraut but for other fermented vegetables, condiments and drinks, too.

The Art of Fermentation is an extensive book covering many aspects of fermentation, including making sauerkraut and other fermented foods.

Cultures for Health is a resource for all things fermented, with an extensive blog and newsletter that provide guidance on fermentation.

Homemade Sauerkraut is easy to make, all you need is cabbage and salt. Using a fermentation crock or vessel equipped with an airlock makes a big difference, eliminating the risk of mold.

Other Sauerkraut and Fermented Vegetable Recipes You Might Like

Hot Pink Jalapeño Garlic Kraut is a gorgeous vivid pink sauerkraut spiked with garlic and jalapeno.  It’s easily our favorite kraut at Nourished Kitchen.

This Easy Kimchi combines cabbage, radish, carrots, garlic and hot pepper for spicy, richly flavored fermented condiment.

Traditional Moroccan Preserved Lemons are also super easy to make and great for newcomers to fermentation.

These Sour Pickles, flavored with garlic and dill, are easy to pack away into crocks during the summer time and then eat all year long.

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Cranberry Orange Water Kefir http://nourishedkitchen.com/cranberry-orange-water-kefir/ http://nourishedkitchen.com/cranberry-orange-water-kefir/#comments Mon, 28 Nov 2016 08:52:47 +0000 http://nourishedkitchen.com/?p=18515 A soda that's good for you? This is a homemade Cranberry Orange Water Kefir Soda. It's loaded with antioxidants and good bacteria. Super easy to make and naturally fermented.

When we host holiday parties and get-togethers, I always like to make something special to drink: mulled wine and traditional wassail are favorites.  Cranberry Mors is nice, and so is Cinnamon Spice Kombucha.

We also like this homemade Cranberry Orange Water Kefir Soda, which is at once tart and slightly sweet with a delicate fizz.

What’s Water Kefir?

Water kefir is a cultured drink that is rich in good-for-your-gut beneficial bacteria, and one that is naturally fizzy like a homemade soda.  It begins first by culturing the grains in sugar water (don’t worry, the sugar’s not for you; rather it’s food for all those beneficial bacteria), and then mixing the resulting water kefir with fruit juice for flavoring.

In the end, you have a drink that’s pleasantly sweet and sour with a natural fizz.  Even better? It’s also loaded with gut-friendly bacteria just like yogurt or sauerkraut.

A Nifty Tool for Making Kefir

I’ve been using the Kefirko, a nifty little tool that makes measuring, culturing and straining kefir easier.  We keep one for milk kefir and a second for water kefir.

The Kefirko includes a built-in measurement system to make sure you always have the right ratio of kefir grains to milk (or sugar water), and a built-in plastic strainer allows you to easily strain the grains from the kefir when you’re finished.  We also use the Kefirko as a citrus juicer.

You can buy the Kefirko directly here, and use coupon code nourished3 to save 30%.

A soda that's good for you? This is a homemade Cranberry Orange Water Kefir Soda. It's loaded with antioxidants and good bacteria. Super easy to make and naturally fermented.

Cranberry Orange Water Kefir Soda
Recipe type: drink
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1 quart
Bright, tart and faintly sweet, this homemade water kefir soda offers a lovely fizz and sparkle.
For the Water Kefir
For the Cranberry Soda
  • Juice of 1 orange, about ¼ cup
  • 1 cup unsweetened cranberry juice
Special Equipment
  1. Warm the water over medium heat in a saucepan. Stir in the sugar and mineral drops, and continue stirring them into the hot water until the sugar dissolves completely. Remove the sugar water from the heat, and allow it to cool to room temperature.
  2. Measure the water kefir grains into the Kefirko (you'll need about 3 tablespoons or 1 lid's worth of grains, for easy measurement), pour the sugar water over them. Set the Kefirko's strainer on top of its jar, and top with a loose-fitting lid to allow for limited airflow. Allow the water kefir to culture for 24 hours, then remove the lid and strain the water kefir into a pitcher.
  3. Whisk the orange and cranberry juices into the water kefir, then pour evenly into swing-top bottles. Seal the bottles, and allow the kefir to culture for 2-3 days at room temperature, keeping in mind that the cooler your kitchen is, the longer it will take to culture and the warmer your kitchen is the shorter it will take to culture.
  4. Serve right away or transfer to the fridge. Take care when opening the bottles as the fermentation process creates carbon dioxide which may cause the water kefir to fizz and foam.

Save 30% on the Kefirko

We’ve teamed up with Kefirko who’s offering Nourished Kitchen readers 30% off.   Just click here to order and enter the coupon code nourished3 at checkout.

Keep in mind that the Kefirko will ship from Europe, so order early if you’re planning a Christmas gift.

A soda that's good for you? This is a homemade Cranberry Orange Water Kefir Soda. It's loaded with antioxidants and good bacteria. Super easy to make and naturally fermented.

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Fermented Green Chile Salsa http://nourishedkitchen.com/fermented-green-chile-salsa/ http://nourishedkitchen.com/fermented-green-chile-salsa/#comments Wed, 28 Sep 2016 00:12:44 +0000 http://nourishedkitchen.com/?p=17947 Fermented Green Chile Salsa: A super easy fermented salsa to make with green chiles.

One of the big advantages of fermentation is having an arsenal of ready-to-go, healthy, locally grown convenience foods.

This salsa is not too spicy—perfect for a family meal as there is only a hint of heat to add some excitement to the finished dish but not so much that children or non-heat eaters will feel a sting. (For more heat feel free to increase the jalapeños and reduce the green chiles and ancho peppers.)

Since fermentation is a traditional preservation technique you will be able to use this ferment well beyond the pepper harvest season.

This Green Chile Salsa is Rich in Vitamins and Capsaicin

This Fermented Green Chile Salsa uses the three most common peppers in Southwestern cooking—green chiles (also called Hatch, or Anaheim peppers), poblanos, and jalapeños. All of the peppers are harvested before they are fully ripe; these peppers are high in vitamin A (as a half cup is 30% of the daily recommended amount).

Ounce for ounce green chile peppers have more vitamin C than citrus, and the process of fermentation increases the amount and bioavailability of that C. The list of nutrients is long but the real reason to include green chiles in your diet is the compound capsaicin. This is what makes peppers spicy and as it turns out capsaicin is pretty good for us by increasing our metabolism and perhaps even preventing cancer.

Use the Right Equipment

When making fermented foods, it’s best to create an anaerobic environment, that is one in which oxygen can’t get into your fermentation vessel.  An oxygen-deprived environment helps to prevent contamination of the ferment by stray microbes and mold.

Stoneware crocks like these make great fermentation vessels, and are worth the investment, but a less expensive option that’s good for beginners is mason jars coupled with an airlock like this which keeps oxygen from getting in while allowing the carbon dioxide that builds up during fermentation to release.

Fermented Green Chile Salsa: A super easy fermented salsa to make with green chiles.

Fermented Green Chile Salsa
Serves: 2 quarts
  • 8 green chile peppers, stems and seeds removed
  • 8 jalapeños, stems and seeds removed
  • 8 Ancho peppers, stems and seeds removed
  • 8 large cloves garlic
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 tablespoons whole cumin seed, roasted and crushed
  • 2 tablespoons whole coriander seed, roasted and crushed
  • 2 tablespoons finely ground sea salt
  1. Process the peppers, the other vegetables, and the spices in a food processor. Sprinkle in the salt. The chopped pepper will become juicy immediately.
  2. Place the mash inside two quart-sized jars, leaving about an inch of airspace. Weight down with fermentation weights (like these), then seal with an airlock (like this) Set aside, somewhere nearby and out of direct sunlight for 10 - 14 days, or as long as 3 months - or until it achieves a flavor and sourness you enjoy.
  3. Check daily for the first few days that the mash is submerged. The mash pulp will tend to float leaving the brine below. Open the jar, stir with a clean utensil and reseal.
  4. Test the ferment on day ten. It's ready when the flavors have mingled and there is an acidic vinegar-like quality to the flavor. However, this pepper-based mash will develop more acidity and complex flavors with a longer ferment. The color of the green peppers will turn a muted olive green as the ferment ripens. Store in the fridge, where it will keep up to a year.

Fermented Green Chile Salsa: A super easy fermented salsa to make with green chiles.

Pro Tip: Use this Salsa as a Base for Easy Dinners and Dips

This Green Chile Salsa acts like a base; not only is it a delicious green salsa as is, but it’s more—you will have ready-made flavor to keep on hand to add to many dishes.
Try a few tablespoons in sour cream for a dip, with mashed avocado for a guacamole, or dump the already-prepared chiles, veggies and spices into the pot like a seasoning packet (with ingredients you can pronounce).

Other Fermented Foods to Explore

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Fermented Foods for Gut Health http://nourishedkitchen.com/fermented-foods-for-gut-health/ http://nourishedkitchen.com/fermented-foods-for-gut-health/#comments Thu, 02 Jun 2016 07:03:55 +0000 http://nourishedkitchen.com/?p=14699 Cucumber Ready to Be Fermented for True Sour Pirckles

Fermented foods: sauerkrauts, kombucha, yogurts – represent a staple aspect of traditional foods across the globe; that is, traditional cultures around the world each practiced the art of fermentation.  And while many fermented foods were born out of practicality – a way to preserve the harvest of summer well into the dark days of winter – even those tropical and equatorial peoples who had no need to preserve food still fermented at least some of their foods.

Supporting Wellness with Fermented Foods

Fermentation imbues our foods with probiotics – that is beneficial bacteria.  These bacteria, when ingested, populate the intestinal tract and begin to interact with the body in a positive way by training the immune system, manufacturing vitamins and keeping opportunistic bacteria at bay which is why it is an essential aspect of not only a traditional foods diet but also an essential aspect of healing protocols like the GAPS diet, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and the Body Ecology Diet, all of which provide protocols for healing the gut, and addressing issues of digestion as well as systemic health.

Fermented foods are typically also raw foods; however, fermented foods can be cooked after fermentation (think of sourdough bread).  Cooking damages the probiotics present in fermented foods, but it  Wild-fermented foods require little but vegetables, salt and time; however occasional recipes require the use of a starter culture (consider water kefir, milk kefir and kombucha) and those undergoing specific healing protocols may find benefit in using a  specifically formulated starter culture in all ferments which provides the added benefit of culturing very specific beneficial bacteria.

Fermented foods are healing foods.

Fermented foods offer a plethora of benefits.  They support systemic wellness, digestive system health and proper functioning of the immune system.  The links below provide you with quick reads and simple information covering the benefits of fermented foods as well as the history of fermented foods.

Ready? Make These Recipes

Ready to dive in?  Start with these simple recipes for fermented foods.  For those new to fermented foods, for reluctant spouses and for picky children, it’s often best to begin the introduction of fermented foods by fermenting foods they already enjoy: homemade ketchup, fermented chili sauce, homemade yogurt, salsa and sour pickles are good choices.

Get Started with These Resources

Now that you’re ready to get started, you’ll need to know where to get starter cultures, fermentation crocks and good quality sea salt for your fermented foods.  And if you really like how it goes, check out the online cooking class designed to teach you to ferment anything as well as the cook books and other goods.

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Naturally Fermented, Probiotic Honey Lemonade Soda http://nourishedkitchen.com/fermented-probiotic-lemonade-soda/ http://nourishedkitchen.com/fermented-probiotic-lemonade-soda/#comments Mon, 09 May 2016 17:44:01 +0000 http://nourishedkitchen.com/?p=17112 This fermented, probiotic lemonade is lightly sweetened with honey, loaded with gut-friendly beneficial bacteria and is naturally fizzy. Super easy to make, too!

Lightly sweet, mostly dry, and bursting with bubbles, a naturally fermented lemonade soda is one of our favorite probiotic treats to make – particularly in summer when it helps to quench thirst brought on by hot days spent under the sun’s bright and warm rays.

Homemade, naturally fermented lemonade is also easy to make. It involves less than five minutes of active time in the kitchen, mostly spent stirring before bottling and waiting for friendly bacteria to do the work for you.

It is also a great way to introduce kids to gut-friendly fermented foods.

How to Get Lemonade Naturally Fizzy

This homemade, naturally fermented lemonade soda’s fizz depends on the action of friendly bacteria.  They gobble up the carbohydrates in the honey.  In the end, those bacteria make your natural sodas less sweet, slightly more tart, rich in B vitamins and naturally fizzy.

The natural fizz comes from the release carbon dioxide that happens during fermentation.  When carbon dioxide is bottled up with no place to go in flip-top bottles, the lemonade becomes naturally fizzy.  Depending on how long you allow the lemonade to ferment, that fizziness can range from an effervescent tickle to a frenzied foaming.

Fermented, Probiotic Honey Lemonade Soda
Recipe type: drink
Cuisine: American
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: about 2 quarts
This naturally fermented lemonade soda is loaded with probiotics that give it its characteristic fizz and foam. A dryer soda, the lemonade is only slightly sweet and notes of honey play well with lemon. Serve it over ice, garnished with fresh lemon slices.
For the Lemonade Soda
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • ½ cup fresh whey made by straining yogurt or kefir (See information on starters here.)
Special Equipment
  1. Warm the water in a saucepan over low heat, keeping it just warm enough to dissolve the honey - about 100 F. Whisk in the honey continuously until fully dissolved in the water. Turn off the heat, and remove the pot from the stove.
  2. Whisk the lemon juice and whey into the honey water until fully incorporated.
  3. Pour the lemonade through a narrow funnel (like this one) into three flip-top bottles (find them here). Seal the bottles, and allow the lemonade to sit at room temperature to ferment at least four and up to seven days. You can open a bottle to check for fizziness and flavor, keeping in mind that the warmer your kitchen and the more time you allow, the sourer and more fizzy your soda will be.

 Variations for Your Starter Culture

Of course, the bacteria responsible for all the goodness of homemade sodas needs to come from somewhere, and, in the case of this fermented, probiotic lemonade soda recipe, they come from fresh whey.  Fresh whey is the liquid that accumulates on top of your yogurt, and it is also the liquid leftover when you make homemade yogurt or milk kefir and strain it.

This is how to make your own whey.

You can also use kombucha tea, jun tea, water kefir or ginger bug in place of whey in this recipe.  They’re all a good source of the friendly microbes you need to make homemade, fermented soda.

This fermented, probiotic lemonade is lightly sweetened with honey, loaded with gut-friendly beneficial bacteria and is naturally fizzy. Super easy to make, too!

Other Fermented Sodas and Drinks to Explore

Naturally fermented, probiotic drinks are easy to make, and fun to share.  They’re also good for your gut – and loaded with beneficial, friendly bacteria.  Lower in sugar, they’re a nice alternative to commercial sodas.

Jun Tea is similar to kombucha, and a fizzy mix of honey-sweetened green tea.

Kombucha Tea is made with black tea and sugar and can be flavored easily.  We’re partial to this version with cinnamon and spice.

Raspberry Ginger Soda is made with raspberries and ginger bug starter.

Water Kefir is a naturally probiotic, and made with sugar, lemons and dried fruit and this version with cranberry and orange is fun.

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Brine-Pickled (Fermented) Jalapeños http://nourishedkitchen.com/pickled-fermented-jalapenos/ http://nourishedkitchen.com/pickled-fermented-jalapenos/#comments Sat, 20 Feb 2016 10:00:24 +0000 http://nourishedkitchen.com/?p=2470 brine pickled jalapenos

Early last December, I stopped by the farmers market and picked up the very last jalapeños of the season, all red and green.  They seemed like an anomoly, something you’d expect in late summer lingering a season late at the market.

I took them home, popped them into my fermentation crock let them alone for a few months.  Fermentation is a long process, and slow, too.

Why Pickle with Fermentation?

Pickling is a method of preserving foods either through fermenting them in brine, or immersing them in vinegar. Either way, it’s the acid that preserves them.

When they’re fermented, beneficial bacteria eat up the carbohydrates naturally found in the vegetables, and transform those carbohydrates into lactic acid which, in turn, preserves the vegetables just as vinegar would – with one key difference: the process of fermentation increases key nutrients like B vitamins.

Where to Find a Fermentation Jar

Fermenting vegetables in a crock or jar designed to minimize airflow.  They keep oxygen out, while allowing the carbon dioxide that naturally builds up during fermentation to escape.

Large crocks (like these) are designed to ferment several gallons of vegetables like sauerkraut or sour pickles at a time.  For small batches of fermented vegetables, like these brine-pickled jalapeños, glass jars equipped with airlocks (you can buy them here) work particularly well.

Brine-Pickled Jalapeños
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 1 quart
  • 2 tablespoons finely ground salt
  • 4 cups warm water
  • 8 ounces jalapeño peppers
  • 4 cloves garlic
  1. Dissolve the salt into a pitcher holding four cups warm water. Allow the water to cool to room temperature.
  2. Drop the peppers and garlic into a quart-sized fermentation jar (like this), and then pour enough water into the jar to completely submerge them. Seal the jar, and allow it to sit at room temperature, away from direct sunlight, at least four weeks and up to eight weeks, or until the jalapeños achieve a sourness that you like. Transfer to a mason jar, and store in the refrigerator up to six months.

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How to Make Jun: A Traditional Fermented Tea Made with Green Tea and Honey http://nourishedkitchen.com/how-to-make-jun-tea/ http://nourishedkitchen.com/how-to-make-jun-tea/#comments Mon, 19 Oct 2015 00:15:04 +0000 http://nourishedkitchen.com/?p=13404 Green Tea for Jun

Shrouded with mysticism and mystery, Jun tea is a fermented tonic made of green tea and honey.  While Kombucha tea lines the shelves of natural foods markets, both small and large, Jun tea is still relatively unknown – secreted away and held quiet.

Recently, I visited my close friends Hannah Crum and Alex from Kombucha Kamp, a resource for Kombucha and kefir enthusiasts all over the world, and tucked away she held a jar full of Jun cultures.  Curious about what has been called the “champagne of Kombuchas,” I asked her for a culture, and she dutifully packed one for me to take home and nurture so that I might begin preparing Jun, too.

Since that time, I’ve fallen in love with Jun tea.  While I still love my continuous brew Kombucha, there’s a lovely delicacy to Jun tea that Kombucha lacks.  Where Kombucha is forceful, Jun is soft.  Where Kombucha is dark, Jun is light.  At once they oppose each other, yet they are also very alike.

The Myth and Mystery of Jun Tea

Jun tea is shielded behind a veil of secrecy, myth, mysticism and mystery.  For many brewers, Jun tea is more than a probiotic tonic of green tea and honey; rather, it’s an ancient spiritual elixir.   Some brewers take their Jun tea so seriously that they play music  to it and meditate with it as it brews (I’m not kidding).

The oft-repeated legend of Jun cites its origins as the Himalayas, where it is brewed by monks and spiritual warrior nomads who roam the high grasslands of Tibet, or so the stories go.  And the stories are repeated, and repeated, and Jun continues to be a secret thing, enveloped in mystery and mysticism.

While stories about the sacred elixir of Jun are handed from person to person, there’s  little concrete and verifiable information about the history or origins of Jun tea.  Eager to learn something, even a little bit, more than internet myth, I took to my books, and again, I found nothing about Jun.  A scholarly book on Himalayan ferments reveals no results for Jun, and another on worldwide ferments also reveals nothing about Jun.   Further, I live in a high mountain community with many immigrants from Nepal and Tibet, and when I asked them about Jun, they had no idea what I was talking about.  That’s neither here nor there, for they had no frame of reference for kombucha either.

I’m still left wanting, and I’m not alone.  About Jun tea, Sandor Katz writes in The Art of Fermentation:

The lack of credible information on Jun leads me to the conclusion that it is a relatively recent divergence from the Kombucha family tree.  Some websites claim that it comes from Tibet, where it has been made for 1,000 years; unfortunately, books on Tibetan food, and even a specialized book on Himalayan ferments, contain no mention of it.  Whether or not it has a 1,000-year-old history, it is quite delicious.

The oft-repeated mystical lore that surrounds Jun leaves me to wonder, why do we need the justification of “sacredness” to enjoy what is, quite simply, a beautiful and delicate drink?

How Jun Tea and Kombucha Tea Differ

So, if Jun tea has unreliable origins, you might wonder just how it differs from kombucha, if it really does differ and why it’s worth brewing at all.  Whether Jun tea is a new divergence from Kombucha, as Sandor Katz posits, or if the myth and lore is true and it really is a 1,000-year old ferment, the simple truth is this: Jun differs from Kombucha in several key ways just as Matsoni, a type of room temperature yogurt, differs from Viili and Piima, and other types of room-temperature yogurt.

Jun tea ferments best in green tea sweetened by honey.  Kombucha tea ferments best in black tea sweetened by sugar.  Indeed, having tasted both Jun and Kombucha tea made with green tea and honey, there’s a distinct difference in flavor profile between the two. Jun is delicate and not as concretely sour as Kombucha (even kombucha brewed with green tea and honey).

In addition to both a difference in substrate and flavor, Jun typically completes its fermentation cycle faster than does Kombucha.  It reproduces daughter cultures with less reliability than Kombucha, and it ferments best at a lower temperature than Kombucha does – making Jun ideal for cool kitchens like mine that otherwise must rely on a heating pad to brew kombucha most effectively.

How to Make Jun Tea

To make Jun tea, you simply prepare a green tea, sweeten it with honey, and allow it to cool to room temperature before stirring in the Jun mother culture and a bit of prepared Jun tea (both of which you can find here).  Allow this to sit, lightly covered with a tea towel to keep out stray debris, about 3 days before pouring into individual flip-top bottles (available here) for a secondary fermentation which will set Jun’s characteristic fizziness.

Where to Find a Jun Mother Culture

Jun tea is still relatively rare and unknown.  Jun mother cultures also do not reliably produce daughter cultures like Kombucha does.  You can purchase authentic Jun cultures online (mine is from Kombucha Kamp and you can find them here), or if you’re lucky enough to know someone who brews Jun, he or she may gift a daughter culture to you.

Jun Tea Mother Culture

Jun Tea

Jun Tea
Serves: ½ gallon
Jun tea, like kombucha, is an effervescent probiotic drink. Jun is mild and delicate with a pleasantly tart flavor and a mild sweetness. It's lovely served over ice, or with crushed berries stirred in. To brew future batches of Jun tea, reserve ½ cup of the finished tea from your first batch and reserve the mother to start future batches of the tea.
  1. Bring water to 165 F in a kettle. While the water comes to temperature, sprinkle the looseleaf green tea into a large jar or pitcher. Pour the hot water over the tea and allow it to steep for 2 minutes. Strain the tea through a fine-mesh sieve into your fermentation vessel (I use this one.). Pour in the honey, and stir it until it dissolves completely in the tea. Allow the tea to cool to room temperature, 65 to 75 F, then dump the Jun culture into the jar and pour in the Jun tea. Allow the tea to ferment for 3 days at room temperature.
  2. After three days, the Jun tea should smell pleasantly sour and faintly sweet. Carefully remove the Jun culture and ½ cup Jun tea from the top of the jar, and dump them into a waiting jar. The Jun culture and tea are now ready for you to prepare a second batch of Jun.
  3. Pour the remaining Jun tea into 4 pint-sized flip-top bottles (available here, seal the bottles tightly and allow the Jun to ferment a second time for 2 to 3 days. After 2 to 3 days, your Jun tea is ready to drink. Place the bottles in the refrigerator to chill, or serve the Jun right away. Keep in mind that, like kombucha, Jun will fizz and foam when you open the bottles, so take care to open them over a sink.


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Raspberry Ginger Soda http://nourishedkitchen.com/raspberry-ginger-soda/ http://nourishedkitchen.com/raspberry-ginger-soda/#comments Mon, 06 Jul 2015 19:37:33 +0000 http://nourishedkitchen.com/?p=15727 Raspberry Soda


Raspberry bushes hang heavy with their ripe, purple-red fruit this time of year.  We pluck them from wild bushes along neighborhood paths, and I seem to bring home a flat or two with each visit to the weekly farmers market.

We eat our fill fresh, macerating them in honey with a touch of vanilla bean.  I plop them into baked goods, and puree them for popsicles and fruit leather.  Recently, I developed a hankering for raspberry soda and thought I make a version to serve at home.  I wanted something mildly sweet, relatively dry and with a subtle spark of fresh ginger.

How (and Why) to Make Your Own Homemade Probiotic Sodas

You might be one to avoid sodas owing to their high sugar content, but homemade, fermented sodas are another story entirely: they’re light and complex, slightly sweet and somewhat tart.  Best yet, they offer a beautiful sparkle and fizz.

You can make homemade sodas the old-fashioned way by introducing a starter that is inherently rich in beneficial bacteria and wild yeasts.  These bacteria and yeasts consume the carbohydrates in juice, transforming them to beneficial acids like lactic and acetic acid which, in their turn, give homemade sodas like this raspberry soda their characteristic tartness.

Among my favorite homemade sodas are spiced ginger beer and vanilla mint soda (you can find the recipes in my cookbook – The Nourished Kitchen).  Once you have the technique down, you can begin to branch outfrom there to make homemade sodas inspired by what’s available to you locally.

Homemade Sodas Support a Healthy Gut

As these organisms consume those sugars, they also produce B vitamins as well as carbon dioxide gas.  When you culture your sodas in a sealed environment, like a flip-top bottle, that carbon dioxide has no place to go, and it, instead, carbonates your homemade soda, and gives it its fizz and foam.

The result is a fun homemade soda that is easy to make, a source of B vitamins, and a great source for beneficial bacteria that help to build a healthy gut.

Raspberry Soda-3a

How to Use Ginger Bug to Make Homemade Sodas

Ginger bug, a slurry of ginger, sugar and water, acts as a starter culture very similarly to sourdough starter.   As it sits at room temperature, the ginger bug attracts beneficial bacteria and wild yeasts that then populate the bug, which then acts as a starter for other fermented foods like homemade soda.   Kombucha and water kefir also make good starts to homemade sodas.

Once you have your ginger bug going, and it’s lively, yeasty and fizzy (get the recipe here), it’s ready to use to make your own homemade sodas.  Stir it well to aerate it and to evenly distribute the bacteria and yeasts, then strain off enough of the ginger bug’s liquid to provide you with what you need for your recipe, add a bit more water and sugar back to the bug in order to maintain it, and you’re ready to make a homemade, fermented soda.

Why You Should Use Flip-Top Bottles

Many of us begin fermenting by the use of mason jars because they’re easy to find and relatively inexpensive; however, if you find yourself fermenting regularly, it’s wise to invest in a fermentation crock (like this one) for fermented vegetables and a dozen or so flip-top bottles for your homemade fermented tonics and sodas.

Flip top bottles seal tightly, and don’t allow the carbon dioxide built up during fermentation to escape.  Instead, flip-top bottles trap the carbon dioxide inside the homemade soda, and make it bubbly.  Since fermentation is inexact, and it’s tough to gauge just how carbonated your ferment will be, take care in opening your homemade fermented sodas.

Where to Find Flip-Top Bottles

I recommend buying flip-top bottles from a home brew supply store, or online here.  The initial output for good-quality, thick-walled flip-top bottles can be a little expensive; however, they’re sturdy and they last as they’re made to withstand the rigors of fermentation.

Many readers have reached out to me over the years to share that they’ve found flip-top bottles at discount stores in the home goods section; however, keep in mind that while these discounted bottles are less expensive, they are made primarily for decor, and they are not made to withstand the pressure created during fermentation.  This leaves them more susceptible to breakage and the stray exploding bottle.

Raspberry Soda-2

Raspberry Ginger Soda
  1. Puree the raspberries in a food processor or blender, and then strain them through a fine-mesh sieve or piece of cheesecloth, pressing them to extract about two cups of juice. Discard the seeds.
  2. Stir the ginger bug well to aerate it and to distribute the wild yeast and bacteria it contains, and then strain about a cup of the ginger bug liquid into the raspberry juice. Return any stray bits of ginger that remain in your strainer to your ginger bug container. Whisk water into the raspberry and ginger bug.
  3. Place a narrow-mouth funnel (like this one) into the neck of a flip-top bottle (order them here. Pour two cups of the raspberry and ginger mixture into each of the two flip-top bottles, seal them tightly, and allow them to ferment at room temperature for two to three days, or until bubbles begin to appear when you tip the bottle upside down and turn it right-side up again. Transfer the bottle to the refrigerator, and let it chill for at least one day before serving. Take care when opening the bottle, as its contents are under pressure and it may foam when opened.
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