Two simple fermented foods you can make at home are kombucha and sauerkraut. It’s very important that all the equipment (and your hands) you use for fermenting foods is clean! Since this process relies on a certain type of bacteria for fermentation, it is important to remove as much unwanted bacteria as possible. No need to bleach anything (please don’t!), but make sure equipment has been washed well in warm, soapy water and wash your hands thoroughly as well too to ensure no candida or other bacteria is present!
Kombucha is fermented beverage made from tea. Over the past few years Kombucha has exploded in popularity. This stuff is seriously so amazing! It's known as the 'Immortal Health Elixir' by the Chinese, originating over 2,000 years ago. This fermented tea uses something called a SCOBY as a starter culture to produce an antioxidant rich immune boosting beverage.
What’s a SCOBY you ask? It’s a Symbolic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast (aka a “Kombucha mushroom”), it resembles a spongy-like pancake.
Equipment you’ll need:
- 5 litre glass jar
- 1 SCOBY
For each litre of water
- 1/3 cup organic raw sugar
- 1 organic black teabag, or 1 level teaspoon
- Optional- 1-2 teaspoon flavour organic tea of choice (hibiscus, ginger, roobois, berry are some nice options)
To Make 4 Litres:
- Bring 4 litres of filtered water to boil, turn off and add 1 1/3 cup of sugar, 4 tsp tea OR 4 black tea bags. To flavour add in 1-2 teaspoons (or tea bags) of the optional flavour tea.
2. Stir all ingredients together with a rubber scrapper.
3. Leave to cool. Use plastic sieve or muslin type or chux to sieve straight into the jar.
4. Add your scoby and the left over liquid it has been sitting in in the fridge.
5. Cover top with muslin or chux, (to keep bugs out).
6. Cover with towel (so it’s dark) and keep in dry space for 7-11 days, (summer-winter).
7. Drain into bottles. Put into fridge and now Ready to drink!!
You can also do a 2-4 day 2nd fermentation, by adding slithers of ginger or pineapple to the bottles and leaving in dark cupboard for a few days. Burping bottles 2-3 times a day.
Then re-bottle removing the fruit or ginger and into the fridge.
Sauerkraut delivers some solid health benefits, including providing fiber and a significant amount of vitamins C and K. It also boosts your energy and immune system with iron.
Equipment you’ll need:
- A stoneware crock, ceramic pot or large mason-jar
- Food processor – ideal for chopping cabbage thinly
- 1 cabbage – go for a fresh tightly packed
- 1 tbsp sea salt or himalayan salt
- 1 tbsp caraway seeds (optional)
- Core the cabbage and slice it finely, add salt and mix them thoroughly. Pound with a wooden pounder or a meat hammer for about 10 minutes to release juices. You can also use your hands to squeeze the juices out of the cabbage (this just takes longer).
- Pack the cabbage tightly into the crock or wide-mouth large mason jar, pour the juices on top until it come over the cabbage. The top of the cabbage should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar.
- Use the big outside leaves to cover the top layer of kraut then take a heavy gauge plastic bag and fill it with water so that it can fit neatly on top and weight the cabbage down so it forms an airtight seal. Tie the bag and secure the water then place on top of the cabbage leave. If you are just using a basic mason jar, you can also do this by adding a smaller jar that just fits inside the lid of the mason jar and covering both jars with a cloth and a rubber band.
- Store in a spot where the room temp is moderate and stable. Check the cabbage in 24 hours and if it hasn’t released enough liquid just cover by about 2 cms with some additional brine to top up the cabbage. Replace the covering and leave to ‘work’.
- After about 7-8 days you will notice it has developed a clean fermenting fragrance and it tastes slightly tart. You can let it sour for a few more days if you wish.
- When ready to bottle, spoon away and spoiled cabbage near the surface. This is normal. Rinse the kraut well and pack into a clean, sterilised jar. Pack it down tightly then pour light brine over the filling to the brim and seal with a little olive oil and a tight fitting lid. The goal is to keep the cabbage away from contact with the air where spoilage can occur.
Kraut will keep several months like this in the fridge.