Carrots, Jicama, Daikon

Cultured vegetables – what are they? They are one of my secret weapons. I am crazy for these foods. They are more than food to me. They work like magic. Here is my story of cultured veggies and there magic they have performed for my family and me.

First, it was my daughter Maci and her terrible IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). She had cultured vegetables at every meal, about a heaping spoonful. They help heal her gut and help her digest her foods. They were huge in her recovery, and she eats them every day to this day.

It was many years ago that my husband, Ron, my daughter, Maci, and I ate some bad artichoke dip and food poisoning ensued. It was awful. As I lay in bed moaning, I began to get mad and decided that I was not going down without a fight. I dragged myself to the kitchen and ate 2 big spoons full of cultured veggies then went back to bed. About 30 minutes later, I was up doing dishes.  Maci and Ron were almost crying as they asked me how I could walk around and behave normally. It was those veggies. They work like a SWAT team inside your body. They will fight off all kinds of viruses and bacteria. Did you know that they gave these vegetables to the chickens with bird flu  and the chickens recovered? It’s because these veggies are awesome!!!  This is always in my arsenal for any sickness. Colds, flu whatever, just take them and they will work.

Now my latest discovery is what cultured veggies do for seasonal allergies. I have had allergies to pollen since I was 15. Every spring I stayed inside and suffered. These last few years since I discovered cultured foods, my allergies started to get better. Every year my 8 weeks of allergy misery was getting smaller and smaller. Last year it was cut down to 4 days. One of the things I discovered was that the more cultured veggies I ate, the better it got. I eat about 1/2 cup two to three times a day and I do great. I also take a lot of desiccated liver  and kombucha, as those are important too. I can go outside and enjoy the springtime. It is a beautiful thing. Cultured veggies are loaded with vitamin C and they fight inflammation – both are very important for your immune system when it is struggling with pollen.

 

 Super Food For Super Health

 

Not picked, fermented!

Not pickled, fermented!

Raw cultured vegetables are powerful super foods and include sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles and many others. There is a major difference between the foods eaten today as compared to long ago. Years ago, fermented vegetables were used as a way to prevent spoilage in food. They were also used on the voyages of Captain Cook to prevent scurvy with his shipmates. The main difference today, as compared to long ago, is that cultured vegetables, such as pickles and sauerkraut have been pasteurized, thus in part, destroying the many strains of the health promoting bacteria and naturally occurring enzymes that help with digestion and a slew of other things. These foods are so powerful that in Asia, where they were experiencing the bird flu, they fed an extract of kimchi, a fermented food, to 13 infected chickens – and a week later 11 of them had started recovering. Many times when I or someone close to me has been sick I have given them a tablespoon or two of cultured vegetables and watched the remarkable speed of their recovery.

How To Make Cultured Vegetables

There are three ways to make cultured vegetables:  1) no culture, 2) with kefir whey, or 3) with a culture packet. I have my favorite way but would like to give you all three methods so that you can choose which best suits you.

You first must choose the vessel you will want to use to ferment the vegetables. You can use a canning jar with a lid, a crock with a lid, a clamp down jar that has a gasket, or my favorite a jar with an airlock (see resources). Airlock jars creating a low-oxygen, or, anaerobic environment, in which lactic-acid bacteria may thrive. It creates the best results with less chance of mold, but this is not absolutely necessary.

You will then choose to use a culture to ferment or to ferment without one. You can certainly make them without a culture but the good bacteria will stay at a higher level longer if you add a culture. This will also increase your own body’s ability to use and grow these good bacteria inside of you. The one that I believe does this the best is Caldwell’s Vegetable Starter Culture.

The three fermenting methods are listed below.

  • No Culture. You can make culture vegetables by simply chopping or placing vegetables in vessels, then submerging them under water making sure the vegetables are covered with water. You must add salt with this method because the vegetables with the acidifying bacteria create the probiotics that preserve your vegetables. Salt is important because without a starter culture it helps ferment the vegetables and create the right environment for fermentation to take place. This creates and environment that is safe. The good bacteria dominate and keep out harmful pathogens. You must leave two-inches of room at the top of the container for expansion inside the jar; otherwise the vegetables will expand and can over flow. Allow this to ferment on your counter for six to seven days.  Then place the jar of vegetables in the fridge where they will last for at least 9 months.
  • Kefir whey. If using the whey from kefir make sure that it is fresh for the best results. (To make kefir whey, see http://www.culturedfoodlife.com/easy-whey-kefir-cheese/). The amounts of whey you use will vary according to how big your jars are. Chop and place vegetables in vessels, then submerge them under water and make sure the vegetables are covered with water. Then you will add your kefir whey. You must leave a two-inch room for expansion inside the jar. These will expand and can over flow. Follow directions on each recipe as to how long to leave them fermenting on your counter. Then place the jar of vegetables in the fridge where they will last for at least 9 months.
  • Caldwell Veggie Starter Packages. This is my favorite method for making culture vegetables. I met the people who made these cultures and learned the science behind what they did. They told me that levels of good bacteria stay at a higher level longer than with any other culturing methods. I was pretty impressed, but it was after I made them and saw the results myself that I became convinced.  I found a jar of cultured veggies in the back of my fridge that I had made a year and a half earlier and they were still bubbly and delicious. Cultured vegetables made with these packages can knock out flus and colds twice as fast as the other cultured vegetables I’ve made. I love them.  Also people who come to my classes have told me that when they use these cultures, they have the most success.

    Best veggie starter

 

 

Sauerkraut without a culture package:

Shredding veggies

A couple heads of cabbage
2 to 3 tbsp Celtic sea salt (Salt will make your vegetables crunchy, without it they are soft and limp).
Remove outer leaves of cabbage. Shred cabbage into desired length. You can use a food processor or by hand. Pack cabbage into a gallon jug with a clamp down lid. Cover with water. Add salt. Leave 2 to 3 inches for kraut to expand. Set in a cool place, out of sunlight for 6 days. It will expanded and bubble. That is the fermentation and lactic acid developing. You can really add any kind of vegetables you want. Check it and push down the vegetables if they come up above the water. When exposed to air the cabbage will mold if left like that for a while. It won’t hurt anything if it happens, just scoop out the vegetables above the water and push the other ones down below the water. After 6 days place in the refrigerator. They will last at least 9 months or longer in your fridge.

Shelley's cultured veggies

Shelley’s cultured veggies

To culture vegetables with a culture package:

Caldwells are my favorite veggie starter cultures.

This recipe yields 2 quarts of cultured vegetables.

Ingredients:

Cabbage or other vegetables you would like to ferment. Such as beets, or carrots then you can also add ginger,daikon, and a cloves of garlic..etc. This can be shredded or chopped.

2 to 3 tbsp Celtic sea salt (Salt will make your vegetables crunchy, without it is soft and limp).

1/2 package Caldwell starter culture. This you will split between both jars. Each package makes 1 gallon of cultured vegetables.

 

  • Add Caldwell cultured vegetable starter to half cup of water and 1 tsp of sugar or fruit juice. This will enable the starter to become active. Do not worry about the small amount of sugar. The good bacterias will eat this sugar long before you get do.

    In my kitchen

  • Place shredded or chopped cabbage culture into a glass jar or canister along with 1/2 cup or shredded hard root vegetables such as beets, carrot, daikon, sweet potatoes etc (optional). Pack down well with your fist. Leave about 2 inches of room on top for expansion. Seal jar with airtight lid and place on your counter until fermented. This will take three to six days. Krauts usually take six days . Other vegetables such as pickles, tomatoes and carrots take three days. A layer of harmless mold may form on the top. Simply scrape this off or it will spoil the flavor of your cultured vegetables. Place your vegetables after they have fermented on the counter into the refrigerator. The fermentation process will continue, but very slowly. Over time they will “age” like wine does becoming softer and even more delicious. Refrigerated, cultured vegetables keep for up to eight months and longer.

Making Cultured Vegetables with Kefir Whey

This recipe yields 2 quarts of cultured vegetables.

Ingredients: Cabbage or other vegetables you would like to ferment. Such as beets, or carrots then you can also add ginger,daikon, and a cloves of garlic..etc. This can be shredded or chopped.

2 to 3 tbsp Celtic sea salt (Salt will make your vegetables crunchy, without it is soft and limp).

1/4 cup of kefir whey for each jar. Total kefir whey is 1/2 of a cup. Here’s how to make kefir whey.

  • Add kefir water to jar or vessel. each jar should have 1/4 cup of kefir whey placed in it.
  • Place shredded or chopped cabbage culture into a glass jar or canister along with 1/2 cup or shredded hard root vegetables such as beets, carrot, daikon, sweet potatoes etc (optional). Pack down well with your fist. Leave about 2 inches of room on top for expansion. Seal jar with airtight lid and place on your counter until fermented. This will take three to six days. Krauts usually take six days . Other vegetables such as pickles, tomatoes and carrots take three days. A layer of harmless mold may form on the top. Simply scrape this off or it will spoil the flavor of your cultured vegetables. Place your vegetables after they have fermented on the counter into the refrigerator. The fermentation process will continue, but very slowly. Over time they will “age” like wine does becoming softer and even more delicious. Refrigerated, cultured vegetables keep for up to eight months and longer.

 For videos on how to make cultured vegetables click here

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