I can honestly say that if you had asked me a year ago if I would eat fermented vegetables my answer would have been a very loud “NO WAY!”
However, through all of the reading, study and research I have now done I have realised just how important our gut microbes – our microbiome, is to both physical and mental health. It is here that our immune system is located, that determines whether our body functions in a way that either keeps our brains and bodies healthy and functioning well or causes our body to develop inflammation and consequently diseases.
Inflammation can be at the root of autoimmune disorders, depression and a host of other health problems. Schizophrenia has also been linked to inflammation as have many other diseases. In order to reduce inflammation in our bodies we need to remove inflammatory foods, environmental toxins and improve our gut health. Gut health is affected by many factors, including the use of antibiotics, toxins, certain foods and also the type of birth we have and whether or not we are breastfed.
Fermented vegetables are one way that we can introduce good bacteria into our digestive system to help recolonise the healthy bacteria in our guts and therefore take control of our own health and wellbeing. As it turns out, they actually taste great!
There are several delicious fermented veggies available to buy but making your own is cheap, easy and I find it gives me a great sense of satisfaction! This recipe is my current favourite but it is just one of many types of fermented veggies. Feel free to mix it up with the veggies, herbs or spices that you like.
Half a cabbage (any kind you like)
4 – 5 beetroots
4 – 5 cloves of garlic
1/2 – 1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon Himalayan salt
Finely grate or chop the veggies – I find doing it the food processor the quickest and easiest way.
Mix by hand in a large bowl.
Add in the turmeric (you could also add some ginger if you like it) and mix well.
Add in the salt and massage into the veggies until a large amount of liquid has come out. You need enough liquid to completely cover the vegetables when they are in the jar.
Place into jars making sure that you leave at least 2 cm at the top for the veggies to expand (otherwise you will end up with lovely pink liquid all over your benchtop – yes, I have had that experience). Make sure that the liquid completely covers the veggies (or they will go mouldy). If you need to you could add a small amount of water. Some people also like to cover the veggies with a cabbage leaf and something to weigh them down so they stay covered in liquid. I have tried it both with and without and haven’t noticed any difference as long as there is enough liquid.
Pop on the lids and leave on your benchtop for at least a week to ferment. The jar in this picture should have more room left at the top of it. Don’t fill yours as much as this.
I like to cover my jars with a tea towel although I am not sure whether this is strictly necessary!
You will be able to see bubbles forming as the veggies ferment.
After a week or so, place in the fridge and enjoy a small amount with each meal. You can try different fermenting times to see what gets you the taste you like the best. Some people leave them for up to 6 weeks but I usually can’t wait much longer than a week before I need to eat them!
Note: if you are new to fermented veggies then take it slowly. Start with a teaspoon once a day and work up to larger amounts more frequently. The effects of clearing out bad gut bacteria can be a bit unpleasant 😉
I would love to hear your favourite fermented veggies combination.