I read with interest Donna Gates book The Body Ecology Diet and was taken by cultured vegetables. I did some research on sauerkraut and Kimchee and purchase some ready made products from a reputable company. I loved the veggies so much, I wanted to make my own. Plus, I wanted to put my own ingredients in without the salt.
So I purchased a dozen wide mouth ball jars and a box of “Body Ecology culture starter”. I used my seldom used Bullet Express to shred red and green cabbage, carrots, beet (for some of the jars), red and green pepper, ginger and some scotch bonnet pepper for the heat. I also blended some celery and used the juice instead of salt and plain water. I made 6 jars and they lasted for about one month. However I am having trouble opening the last jar and that will probably end up in the garbage.
Some of my takeaways from the experience are:
1. It is easy and fun. Once you have a good food processor to shred the veggies, the rest is quite easy.
2. Use organic where possible. Although the good bacteria will destroy any bad bacteria during the fermenting process, it is best to start with organic foods. This way your good bacteria can concentrate of the fermentation process.
3. Salt is not necessary. You can use celery juice instead of salt. The flavor is no different I find.
4. Don’t be afraid to add spices and herbs. Some people to not like spicy foods or strong tastes from herbs. They also do not like the taste of garlic and onion. I added garlic, onion, rosemary and thyme despite the warnings in the video and loved the strong flavor. This may not work for those who prefer their food more bland.
5. Use a culture starter. A culture starter though not mandatory makes the fermentation process much faster I think. There are also way more good bacteria available if you use a starter.
6. Do not overfill your jars. I made that mistake and by day 3 there was veggie juice all over my server when I opened the jars to let the air out and to check the veggies were ready.
7. Leave them in a warm place to ferment. You will notice the liquid in your veggies starting to bubble by the second day. Within 72 hours you can try them to see if they are to your taste. If not, you can leave them in the warm location for another 24-48 hours then try them again.
The above is not a comprehensive guide but just a few tips I learned during my experience and from research. Fermented foods are not only tasty but they are also quite good for our guts. Fermentation enhances the immune boosting properties of the foods you use.
There are lots of resources on the web with step by step directions on how to make fermented foods. I used the video from Donna Gates website – http://bodyecology.com/weight-loss-vegetable-culture-starter.html#sthash.Eje63R5w.dpbs