Making Delicious Cultured Vegetables - Nature's probiotic
Here are a dozen more tips and tricks
Cabbage should comprise at least 80 percent of your vegetable blend. Carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, turnips and other hard root veggies can also serve as a great base for your cultured veggies, but they're not as economical.
Five to six medium-sized heads of cabbage will yield about 10-14 quart-size (32 oz) jars of fermented veggies.
You can use red or green cabbage, but make sure they're hard and heavy, with densely packed leaves. The lighter, leafier varieties will tend to turn into mush that doesn't ferment well.
Add in other vegetables to suit your taste, such as: red, yellow or orange bell pepper, butter nut squash, dill, parsley, kale, collards and red or golden beets. Beware: use bell peppers sparingly as they have a very strong presence. One small pepper for 12 to 14 jars is plenty.
Always use ORGANIC vegetables!
Peel your vegetables as the skins can add a bitter flavor.
When adding aromatics, such as onion, garlic and ginger, remember that fermenting increases the flavor multiple-fold, so a little goes a long way. Don't overdo it! A few medium-size cloves is enough to infuse a dozen jars or more with a mild garlic flavor.
Onion tends to overpower, no matter how little is used, so Caroline doesn't use it in any of her blends.
When adding herbs, only use fresh organic herbs, in small amounts. Tasty additions include: basil, sage, rosemary, thyme and oregano.
Add sea vegetables or seaweed to increase the mineral, vitamin and fiber content. You can add pieces of whole dulse, or use flakes. Wakame and sea palm, which do not have any kind of fishy flavor, need to be presoaked and diced into desired size. Arame and hijaki do have a fishy flavor.
Use two packets of starter culture for a 12-14 jar batch during summer season. In the winter, you'll need three packets.
During summer, veggies are typically done in three to four days. In the winter, they may need up to seven days. Just open up the jar and have a taste. Once you're happy with the flavor and consistency, move the jars into the fridge.
Tools of the Trade
Having the right tools can make the process easier. You don't need much, but canning jars, and a food processor to slice and dice large amounts of vegetables are recommended.
Canning jars can be found at your local hardware store and at some grocery stores as well. Amazon.com and other online sources also carry them. The 32 oz jars work really well, but you can find both smaller and larger, depending on your needs. Do get the wide-mouthed version, as they are much easier to work with. It allows you to get your hand down into the jar, and it's very important to pack the jar firmly with vegetables to eliminate any air pockets.
"You want to squeeze all the oxygen out, and you want your cultured veggies or whatever you're culturing to be anaerobic, meaning oxygen-free. Underneath water is the best way to do that, or underneath the liquid in the jar. And that wide-mouthed allows you to keep pressing down... A kraut pounder [can be helpful]. It looks like a tiny baseball bat. You can go to krautpounder.com, I believe, and you can buy a little kraut pounder, and you just use that to press down to get all the oxygen out. That way, when you seal up this jar, you have this perfect, anaerobic environment within that vessel for it to culture."
Caroline recommends a couple of models of food processors, emphasizing quality and power for optimal performance:
Cuisinart Home Kitchen Models, Elite series: This is for general home use and usually available on Amazon.com. Very reliable, powerful and it has a large 14-cup capacity so you don't have to keep taking it apart to dump out the processed contents.
Waring Cuisinart Commercial Food Processor with feed chute: Heavy-duty and high quality, this food processor is worth the investment ($599 and up) if you plan to make veggies often and in larger batches. This one is NOT available on Amazon.com. You will need to purchase online from a restaurant supply store.
Another tip includes using the shredding disc rather than the "S" shaped blade. Make sure the food processor model you buy comes with a shredding disc, as some don't. In worst case, purchase it separately. According to Caroline, "the shredding blade makes a "slaw/traditional kraut-like" texture to the veggies. The "S" blade finely minces veggies into a more pulp-like, crushed consistency. This can be too soupy and during the culturing process, become more like a mushy salsa. Definitely SHRED your veggies for the best results - unless you like the crushed version."
I highly recommend getting the book Gut and Psychology Syndrome, which provides all the necessary details for the GAPS protocol.
www.Immunitrition.com is another helpful resource where you can learn more about cultured and fermented foods. If you're so inclined, you can also find information about how to become a Certified Healing Foods Specialist here.
I feel very strongly that if we can catalyze a movement to get more people to implement this ancient dietary wisdom to their normal eating patterns, then we'll start seeing a radical change in health.