18 May 2009

How To Make Raw Cultured Vegetables

After hearing about my friend Judith Barnes, aka Zucchini Breath, and her fermented sauerkraut-making extravaganza this winter, I decided to give it a go.

Now, I've gotta be honest. Having been raised by the Hungarians, when I think of sauerkraut, memories of kolbász (garlic sausage) and székely goulash (pork stew) come to mind. So, it was a little bit of a stretch for me to envision eating sauerkraut in the raw. But hey, this journey into Raw Food Land has been all about stretching my self-imposed limitations, exploring new foods, and creating new taste memories.

When I learned that cultured vegetables add valuable probiotics and enzymes to your body, which help stamp out Candida, boost your immune system and curb your cravings for sweets, I was all "Let's get fermenting!"

So How Do We Do This?

In a nutshell, raw cultured vegetables are made by shredding cabbage or a combination of cabbage and other veggies, and then packing them tightly into an airtight jar or crock. They are then left to ferment at room temperature for several days or longer. Easy.

During the fermentation process, friendly bacteria grow, multiply, and thrive in their new environment. They convert the sugars and starches to lactic acid and partially digest the veggies, softening them or "pickling" them in the process.

Here's a wonderful video by Sandor Katz on fermenting vegetables. I love this guy! Check out his book Wild Fermentation for loads of information on the health benefits of fermented food.



See how easy that is? And after you get the hang of it, you can get creative and start experimenting. Try dark leafy greens like kale and collards. Soak, drain and chop up sea vegetables like dulse, wakame, hijikii and arame. Add either fresh or dried herbs such as dill, caraway, juniper berries, garlic, and ginger root. Let your imagination run wild!

Fermented vegetables can keep in your fridge for months. Like women and fine wine, they become even more delicious with time. (*wink*) You can pull one of these living salads out whenever you're hungry and have some "fast food."

Here's a few of my favorite recipes so far. Enjoy and share!

Cucumber Kimchi
3 English cucumbers, thinly sliced
6 inches fresh ginger, grated
2 daikon radish, grated
4 scallions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 Tbsp cayenne
1 Tbsp sesame seed

Spicy Pink
3 heads red cabbage, shredded
6 carrots, grated
3 inches fresh ginger, grated
6 cloves garlic, chopped

Sweet Kraut
3 heads green cabbage, shredded
2 beets, grated
3 carrots, grated
1 Fuji apple, grated
1/2 lemon, juiced


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