Category Archives: Lacto-fermenting

August UFH Challenge # 2: Fermentation

It’s all the buzz – preserving food by fermentation. I bet your grandmother remembers eating something fermented, be it cabbage or pickles or fish. But you, maybe, can’t remember doing that. Maybe a pickle once in a deli, or one time maybe you picked up some kim chee in the refrigerator section. But you have been thinking about it. Maybe scared to try but curious?

Curious about this method of food preservation that requires no energy to process and renders the food even more nutritious than it was before processing. That’s right, because while the actual heat process of canning destroys a good chunk (some say up to 30%) of the nutrients and all of the enzymes, fermentation actually increases the vitamins and protects all the enzymes.

So maybe it’s time for you to give it a go and see what the fuss is all about.

Wardeh of is waiting to take you under her wing and get you going.

Wardeh Harmon’s book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods was recently published and it’s fantastic – I’ll be reviewing it this month and giving away a copy.

If you want to get an idea of some of my favorite things to ferment, check out the Fermented Foods under my recipe index. But first skip on over to Wardeh’s and see what she’s got bubbling.

As always, remember to come back here at month end to leave a comment or link to your blog so that you can be in the running for some great prizes!

Guest Post – Rejuvelac, the easy-to-make probiotic

This guest post is by Auburn in Southern New Hampshire.

Thanks to Wardeh I learned about the benefits of water kefir. I tried to find water kefir grains locally but couldn’t so I wound up ordering fresh grains online from the kefirlady with great results – the grains are growing fast, healthy and produce a nice soda-like drink but I’ll have to wait a few more weeks for the grains to yield a half a gallon per brew.

Two weeks ago, a nice lady from New Mexico introduced me to rejuvelac. She has a history of malabsorption leading to underweight, and went through an anti-candida treatment about a year ago. After adopting a traditional diet and adding daily raw live non-dairy fermented probiotic drinks like kombucha and rejuvelac, her digestion has improved markedly.

I don’t keep my house warm enough during the winter to brew kombucha successfully. It does well in the summer but it just takes forever the rest of the year so water kefir and rejuvelac are the easiest fermented drinks for me to make.

So what’s rejuvelac? It’s a very healthy drink you can make from grains. Rye and wheat berries, and quinoa produce the best results.

From Wiki: Rejuvelac contains eight of the B vitamins, vitamins E and K, and a variety of proteins, dextrines, carbohydrates, phosphates and amylases. It is rich in enzymes that assist in digestion.

I’ve been making it as per these basic instructions I found online:

- Soak a 1/2 cup of rye berries for 8 hours in filtered water in a glass jar.

- Drain, rinse, drain again and let the berries sprout.

- Then rinse again and fill the jar with two quarts of filtered water.

- Cap securely with a piece of cheesecloth and leave on the counter, away from direct sunlight, for a day or two.

- Strain (I suppose fruit juice could be added for flavour at this point, haven’t tried that) and refrigerate.

I find the resulting drink quite nice. It looks like lemonade and tastes kind of plain, can’t describe it – it’s an OK taste, though.

However, soaking with water doesn’t address the phytic acid problem so now I’m adding whey to the first step and letting the rye berries soak for a full day, after that I rinse them and let them sprout.

The rye berries can be reused a couple of times.

All sites I checked say to discard the “spent” berries or feed them to chickens. I don’t have chickens and hate to throw food away so I just cooked the berries in a little water until tender, about 5 minutes, I think. Added butter, some raisins, a bit of raw cream, pecans, walnuts, banana slices, and raw honey off the heat.

The hubby and I liked the new breakfast concoction a lot.

Lacto Fermentation Blog Carnival and My Food Preservation Strategy

I tried a few lacto-fermented foods in 2009 but I really plan to focus on fermenting things more this summer instead of canning.  It uses less energy, takes less time, and leaves more of the nutrients intact initially.  I say initially because over time they will oxidize which also happens when you can foods.  Freezing seems to be the most nutritious long term storage for foods.

My 2010 strategy, however, will be to put up fewer things and focus on truly eating seasonally.  When I do put things up I will focus on using lacto-fermentation first and plan to have a 4 month supply to carry us over to the next season of crops.

For instance, I had to harvest all the winter crops this month in order to start the spring/summer things.  This leaves us with lots of overwintered cabbage, kale and carrots in the fridge and none of those things will keep longer than a few weeks but it will be 6-8 weeks before the next round of things come in.  By fermenting the cabbage and carrots I can get them to last for months.

Lacto-fermentation was the earliest form of food preservation and we still have carryovers today in the guise of deli pickles, saurkraut and kim chee.  These very traditional foods are frequently made using vinegar today but the tastier and healthier forms were fermented rather than pickled.

If you don’t have a blog you can still participate by emailing me your entries which I can post and link to for you or by adding them in the comments. And if you do have a blog please link back to this entry when posting so we increase the number of fermentation experiments and get new ideas.

I’m excited to see what everyone has fermented!

Let me introduce you to my friend Mr. Linky.

Simply enter your name with a brief description of what you fermented like this (Sustainable Eats – Lacto-fermented Salmon) and then link to your blog entry where you’ve blogged about your fermented food. Mr. Linky is easy. And thanks so much for participating!

Lacto-Fermented Fish

That’s right.  I went jiggy this time.  When I first considered this part of me was a little grossed out.  I remember when I was living in Sweden the jokes everyone made about cans of fermented fish exploding and how nasty the smell was.  And yet for some reason when I ran across the Nourishing Traditions recipe for fermented fish I just had to try it.

I’ve long been a big fan of pickled herring and adore seafood of any kind so this wasn’t a huge stretch for me but it was a huge leap of faith.  Would you eat fish that had sat out on the counter for 24 hours?  Normally I would not but I have developed an amazing sense of trust in Sally Fallon so when she says it’s ok to eat something I’m willing to give it a gander.  I’m referring to the book Nourishing Traditions by Sallon Fallon where this recipe hails.  It’s not at all fishy or vinegary and has mellowed remarkably over the course of a week.  It’s the perfect mid morning snack with some homemade crackers or rye bread too.

I used Loki salmon fillets which have pre-frozen so as not to worry about any parasites since this fish is not heated, it is fermented.  That’s right.  Fermented.  Because the salmon fillets are already boned all you need to do is a quick skinning and you’ve got a fast barbecue, pan seared or fried meal on the table in minutes.  They thaw quickly when the package is submerged in cold water and you can throw a 20 minute salmon chowder together.  Can you tell I love having these on hand?

Once the garden is planted I plan to take advantage of the first of the season dill and leeks and make some salmon sausages and patties to freeze for quick barbecued spring dinners so if this fermented fish trip doesn’t float your boat stick around and something fishy is sure to move you during the month of April.

Fermented Salmon adapted from Nourishing Traditions

    1 pound salmon fillet, skinned and cut into bite sized pieces
    1 cup filtered water
    1/8 cup uncooked whey
    1 tablespoon honey
    1 tablespoon sea salt
    2 slices of lemon
    1 bunch freshly snipped dill
    2 bay leaves
    8 crushed black peppercorns
    2 crushed whole allspice corns


Combine the water through the salt
Pack the fish and herbs into a clean quart sized jar.  Pour the liquid mixture over the top of the fish, being sure the fish is completely submerged in liquid.  Add more water to cover if necessary.  Be sure there is at least an inch of headspace at the top of the jar because fermented foods will bubble.  Cover the jar tightly and keep it at room temperature for 24 hours before putting it in the refrigerator.  The fish will keep for 2 weeks.

Not only do you get all the health benefits of eating fish with this handy snack but you also get all the probiotics that lacto-fermentation has to offer.  This snack is tasty, convenient and good for you.  I hope you muster up the nerve to try it!

Lacto Fermentation Blog Carnival

Brook inspired us with her lacto-fermented salsa so much that I’m doing a lacto-fermented blog carnival. Next Friday, April 2 I’ll try to figure out how to use Mr. Linky so anyone with a blog can participate with some link love. If you don’t have a blog I’d love for you to write a blog entry anyway and I’ll post it here then link into it for you.

I’d also love any links to other blogs with recipes that you’ve tried so that we can compile them all in one place.

Lacto-fermentation has been around for millenia and is nothing to be feared. Have you ever eaten real saurkraut or kosher dills? Lacto fermented. Cheese? Lacto fermented. Wine and beer? Originally lacto-fermented. It’s a wonderful, healthy way to preserve foods using no energy or special equipment.

So, do some googling to find recipes and get fermenting already! And please help me spread the word so we can get as many lacto-fermented recipes as possible.

Some Lacto-Fermented Recipe Ideas:

Lacto-fermented salsa
Lacto-fermented orange marmalade
Lacto-fermented beet kvass
Lacto-fermented soda
Lacto-fermented hits and misses by Millie
Lacto-fermented ketsup by Ren
Wardeh’s lacto-fermented turnips and beets
Sandorkraut’s Blog about wild fermentation, complete with support forum

My Favorite Books with Lacto Fermented Recipes:

Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods

Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats