Raw cultured veggies are one of the tastiest ways to heal, build your immunity, balance your inner ecosystem, enhance digestion, nourish your bod and experience amazing flavors. Fermenting veggies is not only incredibly easy, but you can experiment over and over with different combinations—the possibilities are infinite.
Fermentation is where it’s at and the beneficial bacteria and active enzymes that are the foundation of cultured foods, are key to optimal health.
I became most familiar with the process for making cultured vegetables thanks to Donna Gates from The Body Ecology and I have been experimenting ever since. She explains, “Friendly bacteria naturally present in the vegetables quickly lower the pH, making a more acidic environment so the bacteria can reproduce. The vegetables become soft, delicious, and somewhat ‘pickled.’ During this fermentation period, the friendly bacteria are having a heyday, reproducing and converting sugars and starches to lactic acid. [Cultured veggies] are ideal for appetite and weight control, very alkaline and cleansing to the blood.”
Donna sells a “veggie starter” on her site that I have not tried yet (let us know if you have). I tend to prepare my veggies with a simple capsule or two from my favorite probiotic brand, Megaflora, which contains the Lactobacillus plantarum which Donna claims is super important. I prefer to use Megaflora capsules as my “starter” for convenience, as well as quality. They are pricey because they contain a wide variety of beneficial bacteria strains, but they are the best I’ve found. I take them on a daily basis, so they are already in my fridge, handy for when I also want to “start” cultured veggies and fermented foods.
This recipe can be adapted any way you see fit, but cabbage and dark leafy green vegetables should be a foundation for all recipes no matter what combo you try. It’s important to note that flavors for ingredients strengthen quite a bit during the fermentation process. Lemon, salt, ginger, garlic and certain veggies like tomatillos or hot peppers should be used in small, almost tiny, amounts for big flavor. Same goes for color. Anything purple or red, will tint all veggies that color.
Makes: 4-5 small-medium jars or 2-3 large
Prep time: 20 minutes
Culturing time: 3-7 days, 7 is ideal.
Food processor (optional)
Cheese grater, if no food processor
Large chef’s knife
Recycled glass jars with airtight lids (gasket-lids are great)
Large glass bowl
Blender or food processor
Large spoon or silicone spatula
2 probiotic capsules (preferably Megaflora)
Try to buy everything organic. Here’s why.
1 head of organic green cabbage
1 bunch of organic kale (dinosaur, green or purple all work well. I use green and purple for this recipe)
1 organic beet (I used a golden)
1 organic granny smith apple
1/2 clove organic garlic
1 handful organic chopped leeks
1 organic carrot
Pinch Celtic or pink Himalayan sea salt
1-2 cups of pure water
Let’s get started.
Clean all utensils and containers extremely well by boiling them in water or scalding them with hot water. You don’t want bad bacteria to flourish in your cultured veggies, just the good stuff. Cleanliness is imperative.
Wash all of your veggies extremely well.
Remove about 4 large outer leaves of cabbage and set aside. Chop cabbage into pieces so it will fit through your food processor. IMPORTANT: save the cabbage core and set aside with your large cabbage leaves. You will use these to complete the packing of veggies in their containers.
Using the grating blade for your food processor, shred cabbage (remember, not the core). No food processor? Make shredded cabbage by chopping up into skinny strips with a large, clean knife and some elbow grease.
Remove stems from kale and chiffonade. Place in large glass bowl.
Grate beet, apple and carrot. Add to large glass bowl. Chop leeks and mince garlic and add to bowl.
Mix the contents of the bowl well with a clean, large spoon or silicone spatula.
Remove 2 cups of mixed vegetables and place into blender with pure water. Blend until a smooth, thick, juicy “brine” is created.
Open up probiotic capsules and stir into brine. Do not blend! You don‘t want to agitate the live bacteria, and keeping minimal contact with metal is ideal for them to flourish. Once stirred into the brine, pour into your large glass bowl of veg.
Now, with very, very clean hands, start filling your glass containers, pushing down on the veggies with your fist (or a wooden dowel) so they are packed tightly.
Fill container almost full, with about 1-2 inches left for tightly-packed veggies to expand. Roll up the large cabbage leaves that you set aside. Use them, and the cabbage core, to fill the empty space on top of your veggies. Clamp down, or seal your jars with lids.
Allow vegetables to ferment in a 70°F environment keeping lids sealed the entire time for a minimum of 3 days. 7 days is ideal. No peeking. You must keep air out or top layer will spoil.
Keep out of direct sunlight, some indirect sunlight is okay.
Step into our YU time machine…
Open your veggies over the sink in case they want to explode with life!
Remove cabbage leaves and core (you can eat if you want) and try your homemade cultured veggies.
Store in the fridge to slow fermentation. Eat some before and after a meal to enhance digestion. Eat the veggies one layer at a time, so you don’t disturb the continued fermentation.
Try different combinations and let us know what tastes the yummiest. Read more about culturing veggies at The Body Ecology.
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