10 Fermented Foods That Kids Love

fermented foods kids love

One of the questions that readers ask me most frequently is, “How do I get my kids to eat fermented foods?”  It arrives over email, over twitter, on facebook, and on comments several times a month.  For many families who’ve raised their children on real food since birth, introducing fermented foods and even organ meats into daily or weekly meals can prove fuss-free; however, for other families, particularly those who are transitioning to a real food diet or whose children suffer from sensory disorders, these foods can seem particularly challenging.

Handling Picky Eaters

I find that, for many children, offering fermented versions of foods they already love can often lead them to not only try other fermented foods, but learn to enjoy them overall.   I share many, many more of my tips for handling picky kids and spouses as well as making real food work for small budgets and very little time in the upcoming Healthy Life Summit, a free online conference with 35 speakers on farming, real food, natural health and raising healthy kids.

It’s an incredible line-up, and you can listen in for free next week.  If you can’t make it, you can purchase all the recordings and several bonuses for 75% off this weekend.  Even if you don’t plan to purchase the recordings, make sure to register so you don’t miss my talk on Making Real Food Work which covers real food for picky eaters, tiny budgets and families with very little time.

Here’s a quick list of fermented foods many children love.

True Sour Pickles

Many children and newcomers to fermented foods find they love true sour pickles; that is, pickles made sour through the slow process of fermentation rather than through vinegar.  While both true sour pickles and pickles made with vinegar share similar characteristics in flavor, true sour pickles typically enjoy a firmer crunch, a fresher flavor and a more pronounced combination of both saltiness and sourness.

Get the recipe for Real Sour Pickles here.

Dilly Carrots

Some children object not to the flavor of fermented foods, but, rather, to the texture.  Shredded vegetable ferments like homemade sauerkraut can be off-putting for children who struggle with unique textures in their foods.  Many of these children do not object, however, to whole vegetable ferments; that is, pickled cucumber spears or carrot sticks.  Whole vegetable ferments also allow children to grasp, gnaw on and dip their fermented vegetables into various sauces or mayonnaises, further adding to the appeal.  The flavor of Dilly Carrots is at once delightful, and familiar, making it an ideal transition food for many kids.

Get the recipe for Dilly Carrots here.

Water Kefir

Water kefir is a mild sweet-sour fermented drink with a lovely fizziness reminiscent of soda.  It can be mixed with fruit juice, and is popular among both adults and children looking for a fun treat.  You can make it very easily once you purchase water kefir grains (available here) which are a matrix of beneficial bacteria and yeasts that eat up sugar water, and transform it into a tart, fizzy, probiotic drink.

Get the tutorial for Water Kefir here and purchase water kefir grains here.

Milk Kefir

Milk kefir is a thin, tart cultured milk product similar to yogurt except that it, like water kefir, requires the use of milk kefir grains which you can find here.  Milk kefir is very simple to make, requiring only a two steps.  When first introducing milk kefir, the potently sour flavor can be off-putting to children accustomed to sweeter foods.  Consider combining it with frozen fruit and a bit of honey or other natural sweetener for a simple smoothie.  Later, as your children grow more accustomed to the flavor of fermented foods, reduce the sweetener and fruit until they happily consume straight milk kefir.

Get the tutorial for Milk Kefir here and purchase milk kefir grains here.

Old-fashioned Root Beer

One of our favorite ferments is old-fashioned homemade root beer.  I make it from a wild concoction of herbs and spices, based on a centuries old recipe.  It is noticeably more sour and medicinal than the overly sweet sodas you find in cans and bottles, but it is also a remarkable old-world recipe and it is very fun to make with children.

Get the recipe for Homemade Root Beer here and pick up organic and wild-crafted herbs and spices here.

Ketchup

Ketchup is actually incredibly easy to make at home, and my homemade ketchup is one of the most popular recipes on the site.  Children love it, and it makes an easy transition recipe – replacing something with which they’re familiar with a fermented version.

Get the recipe for Homemade Ketchup here.

Kombucha

Kombucha, like water kefir, is also strikingly popular among children and newcomers to real food. Its sweet-tart flavor and fizzy bubbles are deeply appealing for many children.  When my little boy was a toddler, he loved kombucha and referred to it as “Tasty Vinegar.”  We tend to use the continuous brew method which is very easy, and fairly hands-off.  Many people worry about the caffeine load in kombucha, but the process of fermentation reduces caffeine in kombucha considerably, so small amounts shouldn’t pose any problems.

Get the tutorial for Continuous Brew Kombucha here, find a kombucha mother here and teas for kombucha here.

Homemade Yogurt

Homemade yogurt is always a favorite in our home, and in other homes as well.  Preparing yogurt at home is very inexpensive, and takes very little time.  For children accustomed to commercial yogurts, you may wish to stir jam, jelly, maple syrup or honey into your homemade yogurt, then slowly reduce the amount of sweetener you add until your children are accustomed to taking their yogurt plain.  Yogurt can also make an excellent base for dips and sauces as well.  Further, there are many different types of yogurt, some milder or tarter than others.  Check them out here.

Get the tutorials for Homemade Yogurt, Raw Milk Yogurt, and Matsoni (which is the easiest yogurt you’ll ever make).  To make yogurt at home, you’ll need a starter which you can find here.

Grass-fed Cheese

Cheese is also a fermented food, and many children love cheese – probably because it is both nutrient-dense and calorie-dense.  We favor raw milk cheeses, and often cut cheese into thin slices or into cubes to serve as snacks for children.

You can find raw milk cheese here and grass-fed cheese here.

Fermented Relish

Lastly, many children love consuming hot dogs, hamburgers and sausages (and you can find grass-fed, natural versions of all of them here),  so adding a bit of  fermented pickle relish seems like a thoughtful, nutrient-dense accompaniment.

My son’s favorite relish is beetroot and apple, but many children like a classic dill pickle relish like this one.

Don’t Miss a Thing!

Inspired Real Food Recipes
Delivered to Your Inbox

What people are saying

  1. Jennifer says

    Which is most important in selecting cheeses… Raw milk or grass-fed? I can find either, but not both together in one cheese.

  2. Alyssa says

    I really want to start adding more homemade fermented items to our diet but I never have whey in the house because I have a dairy allergy. Are there any options other than whey that help with fermentation?

  3. says

    Raising a 3.5 year old on nutrient dense foods, I have to say one key is to include fermented foods early on. We followed some tips from Nourishing Traditions, like giving him tastes of yogurt at around age 1. Soon after followed sauerkraut, which he loved! I also do a two part choice with almost every meal- “Do you want beet kvass or sauerkraut?” Thus, I make it clear that he HAS to have something fermented, but he gets to choose, which as some of you toddler parents can attest, is CRUCIAL to his growing sense of autonomy. Include your kids in the process of making kraut. It’s fun to cut up veggies and massage them with salt! Messy! Throw in some grated beets and carrots to make pink kraut, thus rendering it more appealing. Even though it tastes virtually the same, my little one prefers the pink kraut!
    BTW Jenny- GREAT post, and I am absolutely ENAMORED with your wonderful site. Just made the mayan truffles for my 31st birthday party!

  4. Annette says

    My kids (6&8) love fermented veggies. Especially sauerkraut. My 8 yr old loves fermented beets too. Also, when trying something new my kids give me a “no thanks” bite. You’d be surprised how often they actually like something they may not have wanted to initially try because it was new.

  5. Darcy says

    Hey Jenny, I followed the links to purchase the “mother” to begin making my own yogurt. The site calls it a “starter,” is this the same thing? Thanks, Darcy

  6. says

    I have to agree with Eleanor (above). My husband is Arab and pickles are very common in the Arab world. I still can’t eat them… to me they taste rotten. My kids, however, who spent much of their childhood in my husband’s hometown eat and love all of the pickles their grandmother makes and stores in huge jars in the coolest part of the house. I make them of course, but when they are “ready” after three weeks I store them in the fridge, otherwise I just can’t stomach them. The exception is olives–I don’t store my home cracked olives in the fridge, and they taste great all year long.

  7. Tate Allyn Peterson says

    How about fermented lemonade? I use 1118 yeast. It eats some of the sugar so it is tart and sparkly.

  8. Amy says

    Thanks for recommending the carrot sticks! Wow, is that a great flavor. I was craving them all day at work!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>