There is a big difference between fermented foods created on your countertop and pickled foods preserved with some kind of vinegar. The health benefits in fermented foods are numerous, probably the biggest one being they support and reinforce your natural bacteria colonies in your gut. Vinegar preserved foods lack the throngs of health enhancing bacterial colonies of fermented foods, and therefore lack the health enhancing benefits.
According to Dr. Axe, fermentation helps increase digestion and bioavailability of nutrients, as well manage and prevent disease, including H. pylori infection, cancer, liver disease, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and lactose intolerance.
When vegetables like cabbage and cucumbers are left to steep and sit until the sugars are broken down to promote the growth of bacteria, this is when the vegetables are fermented. Check out my recipe for the best home fermented sauerkraut you have ever eaten!
Dr. Axe also says, “Fermented foods are also filled with beneficial bacteria that work as reinforcement for the good bacteria in the digestive system. Since 70 percent to 80 percent of the immune system lies in the gut, having proper balance of gut flora is important.”
The recipe below is my adaptation of a recipe from the Immigrant’s Table.
4 tablespoons of whey (see note below)
1/2-1 cup of filtered water or as much as needed to top your jar
1 teaspoon of salt
2 cups of chopped – cauliflower carrots, and/or onions
3 garlic cloves peeled and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon of oregano
1 1-quart glass container with a lid
If using cauliflower separate into small florets, about 1 to 2 inches in diameter.
Combine the filtered water, whey and salt in a separate jar, and stir or shake well, until the salt is dissolved. Taste the solution – it should taste briny.
Pack the jar with the vegetables, herbs and garlic cloves, until they reach about 1 inch from the mouth of the jars.
Pour your brine solution over your vegetables, completely submerging them. Top with more water if necessary.
Cover your jar with a lid. Leave it a dark corner of your kitchen counter for two to four days (the duration of their fermentation will depend on the temperature in your home). I place mine on the counter, under a towel.
Once the veggies have fermented to your liking you can move them to the refrigerator, they should last a few weeks there.
Be sure to eat a serving or two of fermented foods each day to maximize their life-giving benefits!
Note: I have read that if you have a previous batch of lacto-fermented veggies you can take 4-5 tablespoons of the liquid from a batch you have eaten and use it in place of ‘fresh” whey. I have experimented for myself with this method and it seems to work just fine. If you need to ‘find’ some whey, line a fine strainer with cheesecloth, put a cup or two of yogurt in the strainer and place it above a larger bowl, the clear liquid that comes from the yogurt is whey. I use my home-made yogurt to get my whey, and the left-ver yogurt is much thicker, more like Greek yogurt.
Here are some things from Dr. Perlmutter about the value of fermented foods.
- Fermented Foods: A Healthful Choice
- Fermented Foods, microbiota, and mental health
- A note from Gail who went gluten-free to fight MS, added lots of veggies, and fermented foods…
And a few other interesting notes about the value of fermented foods in your regular daily diet.
I discovered a new fermented beverage on Dr. Axe’s page, Kvass, I will try it soon, and post my thoughts on this site.
Do you have a favorite fermented food? Check out my wild fermented sauerkraut, and share your comments below!