There has been quite a bit of information circulating recently about how the majority of the immune system is in the gut, so feeding the gut with good bacteria can help boost the immune system. The quantity and diversity of friendly bacteria can be increased a number of ways, one of which is by taking probiotic supplements. There is however an easier and cheaper way to get your fix, and you could well have all the ingredients already in your fridge and cupboards. You can whip up your own batch of fermented vegetables!
Fermented vegetables undergo controlled microbial growth and fermentation. Fermentation is an anaerobic process in which yeast and bacteria break down sugars into organic acids, gases or alcohol. This is what gives fermented foods their unique sour taste.
You can ferment all sorts of vegetables, but if you’re new to this, some good suggestions to start with are:
- Green beans
Although ginger is not a vegetable, it is great to ferment with some of the vegetable listed above. You can ferment the vegetables separately, or you can mix a few together. One of my favourite combinations is carrots, radishes and ginger. The only equipment you need is a jar with a lid, a jam jar works well (once the jam has been eaten and the jar washed)!
Here’s the recipe:
10 red radishes
3cm of root ginger
2 large carrots
500ml of filtered water
½ tablespoon unrefined salt
- Thinly slice the vegetables and layer them into the jar, leaving 1.5-inch space at the top of the jar
- Dissolve the salt into the water
- Pour this brine over the vegetables until fully submerged, leaving one-inch space between the brine and the top of the jar
- Cover the jar with the lid and leave at room temperature for 3-10 days until the vegetables taste sour
- Unscrew the lid 2-3 times per day for a second to release the air pressure build up
- Transfer to the fridge, it will keep for a couple of months.
A couple of points to note are; slice your vegetables roughly the same shape and size so they all ferment at the same rate. Ensure everything is submerged, the environment needs to remain oxygen-free otherwise mould will grow and that’s not the type of bacteria we are trying to create here! Taste your veggies every couple of days and stop fermenting and pop them into the fridge when they taste good to you. Don’t forget to burp the jar to let some of the gasses escape. If you think you might forget to do this, then cover the jar with cheesecloth or a tea towel and secure with a rubber band instead so the mixture can breathe.
You can experiment with different flavours by adding herbs, chilli flakes, garlic, turmeric etc to your recipes. If you are new to taking probiotics, start with a small portion every couple of days and increase to taking every day as a garnish to a meal or sandwich or just as a snack on its own.
Enjoy! Your gut will thank you for it.