How To Ferment Your Vegetables (& Heal Your Gut) In 4 Easy Steps

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Your gut literally serves as your second brain.  It even produces more of the neurotransmitter serotonin—known to have a beneficial influence on your mood—than your brain does. In fact, up to 95% of your serotonin level comes from your stomach.  It’s actually called your “Gut Brain” (as opposed to your “Cranial Brain”) and is equipped with it’s own resources – breaking down, processing and storing food and nutrients endlessly without a peep. That’s because the Gut Brain and the Cranial Brain are derived from the same embryological tissues and produce the same biochemical – neurotransmitters – which turn nerve impulses into physiological action.

The importance of having a healthy stomach and digestive system cannot be overstated. So many issues – from anxiety, to acne, emotional distress, to fibromyalgia, to chronic conditions, to nausea & mood disorders can be attributed to what kinds of foods we eat.  Eating foods that seal & heal your gut is an important and vital step to staying healthy and to maintaining your health.

Your gut is also home to millions of different bacteria – both good and bad. These bacteria outnumber the cells in your body by at least 10 to 1, and maintaining the ideal balance of good and bad bacteria forms the foundation for good health—physical, mental and emotional.

What Are Fermented Vegetables?

Cultured – or fermented vegetables – are the ultimate superfood.  Fermented foods are potent chelators (detoxifiers) and contain much higher levels of probiotics than probiotic supplements, making them ideal for optimizing your gut flora. In addition to helping break down and eliminate heavy metals and other toxins from your body, beneficial gut bacteria perform a number of surprising functions, including:

  • Mineral absorption, and producing nutrients such as B vitamins and vitamin K2 (vitamin K2 and vitamin D are necessary for integrating calcium into your bones and keeping it out of your arteries, thereby reducing your risk for coronary artery disease and stroke)
  • Preventing obesity and diabetes, and regulating dietary fat absorption
  • Lowering your risk for cancer
  • Improving your mood and mental health
  • Preventing acne

How To Ferment Your Vegetables

If you aren’t accustomed to these foods, you may have to work them into your diet gradually. Many folks – like myself, who snacks on them regularly, really enjoy the taste of fermented vegetables, which really have a pleasantly salty-tart flavor. And just one quarter to one half cup of fermented veggies, eaten with one to three meals per day, can have a dramatically beneficial impact on your health.

What You’ll Need:

1. Knife/Grater.
2. Cutting Board.
3.Very Large Bowl: This bowl should be large enough to hold the entire batch of shredded veggies.
4.Mason jars are all that is necessary for both fermenting and storing the vegetables.
5. Krautpounder: This solid wood tool that looks like a small baseball bat is very handy for tightly packing the shredded veggies into your jars and eliminating air pockets. You can use a fork & your hands if you don’t have one.

What To Do:

1. Select Your Vegetables and Herbs 
The first step is gathering up your veggies. Cabbage ( or, as you may know it in its fermented form, sauerkraut) should be the “backbone” of your blend. Five or six medium-sized cabbages will yield 10 to 14 quart jars of fermented vegetables.
Add in hard root vegetables of your liking, such as carrots, garlic, thyme, basil, celery, oregano, golden beets, radishes, apples, turnips: just go nuts! Peel your veggies as the skins can impart a bitter flavor. One pepper for the entire batch is plenty.
Finally, you can add sea vegetables or seaweed to increase the mineral, vitamin, and fiber content.
Once you’ve selected your veggies, grate them into your large bowl.
2. Culture and Brine: 
For your brine, one quart of celery juice is adequate for 10 to 14 quarts of fermented veggies. While you can do wild fermentation (allowing whatever is naturally on the vegetable to take hold), this method is more time consuming, and the end product is less certain. Inoculating the food with a starter culture speeds up the fermentation process. You can also add the inside of encapsulated probiotics to speed up the process!
3. Packing the Jars:
Once you have your shredded veggies and brine mixture combined in your large bowl, tightly pack the mixture into each Mason jar, and compress using a masher to remove any air pockets. Top with a cabbage leaf, tucking it down the sides. Make sure the veggies are completely covered with brine and that the brine is all the way to the top of the jar, to eliminate trapped air. Put the lids on the jars loosely, as they will expand due to the gases produced in fermentation.
4. Fermentation: 
 
Allow the jars to sit in a relatively warm place – such as a windowsill, facing the sun- for several days, ideally at around 72 degrees Fahrenheit. During the summer, veggies are typically done fermenting in three or four days. In the winter, they may need 7 days. The only way to tell when they’re done is to open up a jar and have a taste. Once you’re happy with the flavor and consistency, ( if you’ve ever tasted sauerkraut this is the flavor(ish) you’re going for) move the jars into your refrigerator.
For storage, refrigerating your vegetables drastically slows down the fermentation. They will keep for many months this way, continuing to mature very slowly over time.

Enjoy Liberally! 

Always use a clean spoon to take out what you’re eating.

Never eat out of the jar, as you will contaminate the entire batch with bacteria from your mouth. Make sure the remaining veggies are covered with the brine solution before replacing the lid.

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I want to thank my incredible Health Fairy & Lovely Friend Colleen for introducing me to this lovely way to heal myself and improve my life! It has had amazing and miraculous consequences on my overall well being! After about 1 week I saw a drastic improvement in my chronic nausea, and after a month I didn’t know how I ever lived without fermented veggies!