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blueberry kraut spinach

The Super Star in Cultured Veggies

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zuchinni sweet potatoBe grateful, ferment your vegetables, love others.

I have been getting a lot of letters asking if you can ferment vegetables with water kefir or kombucha. You can ferment vegetables with these two different cultures, but the vegetables tend to get mushy and don’t last very long. You will get different bacteria and you will also be diminishing one of my very favorite bacteria that makes cultured vegetables so strong and unique, Lactobacillus Plantarum.

Click here to see the different bacteria and yeasts in kombucha and water kefir.

Cultured veggies make their own  Lactobacillus Plantarum without a starter culture; but as I have repeatedly noticed, these ferments are never as strong as the ones that add more bacteria from starter cultures to keep the levels of these good bacteria at a higher level longer.  L. plantarum is found in these veggie starter cultures, Cutting Edge Starter Culture and Caldwell’s starter, and is just the coolest bacteria ever. It helps remove pesticides from non-organic vegetables, and L. plantarum can live in your gut and keep pathogenic disease-causing microorganisms from flourishing.

Rosemary picklesStudies have consistently shown that L. plantarum is resistant to most antibiotics. It also has potential cholesterol-lowering activity. It’s pretty powerful and can even knock out food poisoning (as I myself have seen several times) and is a powerful weapon in controlling candida in the body. It is also good for treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), easing symptoms of Crohn’s disease, and healing colitis. You can make cultured vegetables with water kefir and kombucha, but the abundance of other strains of bacteria will crowd out the most important star of the show –  L. plantarum. Bacteria like room to grow and thrive and with the addition of so many other cultures in kombucha and water kefir, I think it is best to stick with what cultured vegetables do best, make lots of L. plantarum. Diversity is good; but when it comes to cultured vegetables, getting plenty of L. plantarum in your gut is a very good thing.

Here is one of my favorite summertime recipes with lots of L. plantarum.

Blueberry Spinach Kraut
CulturedFoodLife.com
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This pairs well with sprouted tortilla chips. They are becoming more popular and there are several on the market now. I am loving Unbeatable Blue Tortilla Chips.~Donna
Materials
Ingredients
  • 1/2package Cutting Edge Culturesor use 1/4 cup of kefir whey
  • 1/2cup cranberry blueberry juiceYou can use just cranberry juice or just blueberry juice.
  • 1/2head green cabbageshredded or chopped finely
  • 1tablespoon Organic Herbamare Seasoningyou can just use salt if you don't have this
  • 1handful spinachchopped or shredded
  • 1large shallotchopped finely
  • 1-1/2cups blueberriesfresh
  • Waterfiltered
Servings: quarts
Units:
Instructions
  1. Mix the Cutting Edge Culture or kefir whey into the cranberry blueberry juice and mix well till culture package is dissolved.
    Mix the Cutting Edge Culture or kefir whey into the cranberry blueberry juice and mix well till culture package is dissolved.
  2. Place the shredded or chopped cabbage in a bowl and sprinkle with Herbamare seasoning (or salt).
    Place the shredded or chopped cabbage in a bowl and sprinkle with Herbamare seasoning (or salt).
  3. Add the next 3 ingredients and mix together well. Firmly pack the mixture into glass canning jars, splitting it evenly between the two, leaving an inch or two for the cabbage to expand when it ferments.
    Add the next 3 ingredients and mix together well. Firmly pack the mixture into glass canning jars, splitting it evenly between the two, leaving an inch or two for the cabbage to expand when it ferments.
  4. Add the starter (or whey) to chopped vegetables in jars and fill the jars with water, leaving an inch or two at the top.
    Add the starter (or whey) to chopped vegetables in jars and fill the jars with water, leaving an inch or two at the top.
  5. Seal jars tightly and let sit on your counter for 6 days, then place in refrigerator.
    Seal jars tightly and let sit on your counter for 6 days, then place in refrigerator.
  6. I like the taste best after it has been in the fridge for a few weeks. It gets better with age and at 4 to 5 weeks it is super tasty.
    I like the taste best after it has been in the fridge for a few weeks. It gets better with age and at 4 to 5 weeks it is super tasty.
CulturedFoodLife.com
96 Responses to "The Super Star in Cultured Veggies"
  1. Hello, Donna,
    I am still using up my Caldwells. Are the measurements the same as those you state for Cutting Edge starter in your recipes? Thanks for all you offer. I hope you know the positive impact you have on peoples’ lives!

    Linda

  2. Hi Donna. I’m so happy I found your website. Can I use wild grape leaves for the process.? I have wild grape vines here at home and at my paddling club. Thanks

    • You place them on any your mason jar, fill the tube with water half way up and ferment your veggies. When there done you put the regualr lid on. You get instructions with your purchase. They make the veggies taste crisper and have a better flavor.

  3. Donna I have your Caldwell Starter, but confused. HOW MUCH IS 1/2 PACK? WOULD IT BE 1/2 TEASPOON OR 1/8 TEA ? AND THE RECIPE SAYS IT WILL MAKE 2 QUARTS, SHOULD I PUT 1/2 PACK (MAYBE 1/4 TEA) IN EACH JAR? OR JUST POUR 1/4 CUP (but how much is 1/2 pack?) IN EACH JAR. IT WOULD BE NICE IF THE PACKETS OF STARTER SAID THE AMOUNT BY SPOONS IN EACH PACKET, JUST SAYING. THANKS FOR YOUR HELP

  4. I made this and it is so wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks so much Donna for all of your great recipes for great health!

  5. Hi, I was going to buy one of the cultures for vegetables. Did you say that one is better than the other to help fight candida, or are they both just as effective? Thank you!

  6. Hi Donna,
    I have the Body Ecology Veggie Starter from your website.
    I have few questions:

    1. It says on the package to add Eco Bloom… to feed the bacteria.
    Is it truly necessary? Won’t it ‘feed’ on the sugar from the veggies themselves?
    [*Does Caldwell’s also require such special treatment?]

    2. This starter seem to have more variety of bacteria in it, compare with Caldwell’s, is that considered better or a disadvantage?

    3. When we leave 2 inches on top to give room for veggies to expand, does that refer to water as well; to not fill all the way to top?

    Thanks a bunch!

    • No you do not need to feed it Ecobloom it will still work great. Caldwell’s is better for cultured veggies. Having more bacteria isn’t necessarily better because in veggies they can compete with each other. Lactobacillus-Plantarum is the one you want the most in your veggies.

      • Thanks for the advice!
        That confirms the idea & answers the first 2 questions.
        As for the last part..
        Is it recommended to fill up the jar with water all the way to the top?
        or it’s okay to leave room with air? ( while making sure the veggies are submerged..)

        Thanks again.

  7. Can you recommend an internet source for the grape, cherry, blackberry, etc. leaves. They can be used dried or fresh? I can only find grape leaves in liquid… like for Greek cooking. Thanks! Love your book!!!

  8. What about using my whey from kefir cheese? How does that compare to the veggie culture starters? Thank you!!!

  9. Can someone dairy intolerant( the protein) use the cultured starter, or is there one available that
    does not have a dairy base? Thank you

  10. I have a few questions:
    Does water from a Brita pitcher qualify as “filtered water”?
    Can I use Himalayan salt instead of Celtic?
    And does it matter if the salt is fine or coarse?

  11. Hi Donna,
    I am so excited to start my first batch of pickles. These sound delicious! Instead of filtered water, can I use distilled water?
    Thanks so much!

  12. Hi Donna,
    when I reuse my pickle brine to make a new patch of pickles should I add the same amount of salt in the recipe again to the new batch?

  13. Dear Donna
    I am much blown away by cultured foods. I read your stories. Now i want to prepare some kefir but dont have the culture to begin with. I lives in Guyana and cannot find it here because Guyanese are not into this type of foods. I am very much interested in obtaining the kefir culture.

  14. Hi Donna,
    I would love to make fermented sauerkraut! Do you have a recipe somewhere on your site? My parents always made it in a crock, but they have passed away and I never learned how to make it, and It was delicious.
    RaeAnn

  15. I made some zucchini pickles and after two weeks in the fridge, the brine is cloudy and there is a layer of white at the bottom of the jar. Is this normal?

  16. I use my water kefir to preserve my over supply of in season fruits. Grapes and mandarins work well. The kefir takes on the taste of the fruit. Strawberries don’t work so well, too soft, but the water tastes delicious!

  17. I am so excited to know about crunchy pickles from oak and grape leaves…I’ve struggled to eat my mushy pickles. Will be doing one of your recipes. Thanks!

  18. Hi,

    do I have to use a new packet every time I make a new container? Or can I use some juice of the previous one?

  19. Hi Donna,
    I find your website very interesting! I learned lot from every article and insights about fermentation you published.
    I made Lactic Acid Bacteria Serum, from fresh milk. Would it be good to use as a starter culture for my fermented vegetables?
    Thank you.

  20. Hi Donna,

    I love your website. Thanks for all of the great information and recipes. I am wondering if I can add probiotics ( L. plantarum or others) from a capsule to my fermented veggies?

  21. We don’t have any of those types of leaves here (with the exception of raspberry but our goats got out and ate the plants last year) but my health food store does sell dried raspberry leaf tea and I’m wondering if it would work to toss in some of the dried tea instead of a fresh leaf?

  22. I am so glad to have read this today! I was complaining to my husband just last night because he pulled out the grape vines and replaced them with blackberries. So happy to know I can use blackberry leaves instead of grape leaves. Your Donna’s Dill pickles are the best!

  23. I live in asia and have no access to the leaves mentioned above. Can you recommend other leaves that have tannins in them?

  24. Hi Donna, it is winter here so no grape or oak leaves, could I use something else. Maybe a cabbage leaf?. Another question, do you get as good a result with the kefir whey as with the Caldwells starter, Caldwells is available here in Australia now, however
    I have the kefir whey and will use it if the result is as good. I’m happy to purchase the Caldwells if it is superior…many thanks I love getting your newsy updates..

    • Cabbage leaves doesn’t have tannins which is what makes them crispy. They are still good without the leaves and salt can keep them crisp as well.

      Caldwells tastes much better than kefir whey and I prefer it to kefir whey which can give vegetables a strong taste I don’t care for.

      • Thanks Donna, that’s just what I needed to know.
        I Love what you do….and I think you are gradually changing our world…xxx

  25. Can I use Celtic Sea Salt instead of Kosher salt? Can I use food grade Rosemary essential oil instead of the sprig? I love your book!

  26. Can you somehow can pickles made this way?
    I am wanting to have a bunch of things canned & on my shelves this year, but I don’t know anything about cultured foods and canning. Help!
    Actually, I’ve never made anything cultured, unless Kombucha counts. But I’ve been following all of your posts and am dying to make something soon. Thanks for all the great stuff you are doing in teaching people about cultured foods!

  27. I have followed you for years thanks to Karen Collins. I do keifer and kombucha and am just about to start cultured veggies.
    I recently bought you book and your videos at Nature’s Pantry as a gift.
    Is there any way I can get any of the free things you give for buying the book online?
    New bride will receive these. THanks

  28. Can these pickles be canned (water bath or pressure?) to extend their shelf life? I have lots of Kefir whey, lots of oak & grape leaves, so I’m good there. Also, growing lemon cucumbers this year, as well as regular Straight Eights. I bet the Lemon cukes would taste terrific this way too? Thanks for your amazing recipes and help getting healthy!

  29. Is it okay to skip the lemon part? I only eat organic, and organic lemons are very, very pricey here.

    Thanks 🙂

  30. hI, CAN YOU DO THIS JUST USING SALT WITHOUT THE KEFIR WHEY? i MAKE FERMENTED VEGGIES THIS WAY BUT WANTED TO CHECK IT WOULD ALSO WORK FOR THIS.

    i CAN GET KEFIR SO ITS NOT A PROBLEM JUST CURIOUS!

    tHANKS AND LOVE THE RECEIPE. hAVE WANTED ONE LIKE THIS FOR A WHILE AS MY KIDS ARE NOT TOO KEEN ON SOUR KROUT BUT MIGHT GO FOR THESE.

    tANSY X

      • What about whey from a previous batch of cultured veggies, or from strained yogurt? I have not ventured into dairy kefir yet. Would either of these have the same result?

        Love your recipes, btw! I am struggling with sourdough a little, but going to try a new loaf this week!

  31. I have always shyed away from making pickles because of never being able to find grape leaves – and i really like crucnhy pickles – so i’ve always just gotten bubbies so I can have the benefits – I really want to make my own though! Does the oak leaf thing really work?! I have a zillion oak trees around our house! How do I do that? Just wash one up and stick it it?!

  32. question about the grape leaves – are these dried or jarred? i bought some the other day that are jarred in a vinegar brine – is this ok? thanks!

96 Responses to "The Super Star in Cultured Veggies"
  1. Hello, Donna,
    I am still using up my Caldwells. Are the measurements the same as those you state for Cutting Edge starter in your recipes? Thanks for all you offer. I hope you know the positive impact you have on peoples’ lives!

    Linda

  2. Hi Donna. I’m so happy I found your website. Can I use wild grape leaves for the process.? I have wild grape vines here at home and at my paddling club. Thanks

    • You place them on any your mason jar, fill the tube with water half way up and ferment your veggies. When there done you put the regualr lid on. You get instructions with your purchase. They make the veggies taste crisper and have a better flavor.

  3. Donna I have your Caldwell Starter, but confused. HOW MUCH IS 1/2 PACK? WOULD IT BE 1/2 TEASPOON OR 1/8 TEA ? AND THE RECIPE SAYS IT WILL MAKE 2 QUARTS, SHOULD I PUT 1/2 PACK (MAYBE 1/4 TEA) IN EACH JAR? OR JUST POUR 1/4 CUP (but how much is 1/2 pack?) IN EACH JAR. IT WOULD BE NICE IF THE PACKETS OF STARTER SAID THE AMOUNT BY SPOONS IN EACH PACKET, JUST SAYING. THANKS FOR YOUR HELP

  4. I made this and it is so wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks so much Donna for all of your great recipes for great health!

  5. Hi, I was going to buy one of the cultures for vegetables. Did you say that one is better than the other to help fight candida, or are they both just as effective? Thank you!

  6. Hi Donna,
    I have the Body Ecology Veggie Starter from your website.
    I have few questions:

    1. It says on the package to add Eco Bloom… to feed the bacteria.
    Is it truly necessary? Won’t it ‘feed’ on the sugar from the veggies themselves?
    [*Does Caldwell’s also require such special treatment?]

    2. This starter seem to have more variety of bacteria in it, compare with Caldwell’s, is that considered better or a disadvantage?

    3. When we leave 2 inches on top to give room for veggies to expand, does that refer to water as well; to not fill all the way to top?

    Thanks a bunch!

    • No you do not need to feed it Ecobloom it will still work great. Caldwell’s is better for cultured veggies. Having more bacteria isn’t necessarily better because in veggies they can compete with each other. Lactobacillus-Plantarum is the one you want the most in your veggies.

      • Thanks for the advice!
        That confirms the idea & answers the first 2 questions.
        As for the last part..
        Is it recommended to fill up the jar with water all the way to the top?
        or it’s okay to leave room with air? ( while making sure the veggies are submerged..)

        Thanks again.

  7. Can you recommend an internet source for the grape, cherry, blackberry, etc. leaves. They can be used dried or fresh? I can only find grape leaves in liquid… like for Greek cooking. Thanks! Love your book!!!

  8. What about using my whey from kefir cheese? How does that compare to the veggie culture starters? Thank you!!!

  9. Can someone dairy intolerant( the protein) use the cultured starter, or is there one available that
    does not have a dairy base? Thank you

  10. I have a few questions:
    Does water from a Brita pitcher qualify as “filtered water”?
    Can I use Himalayan salt instead of Celtic?
    And does it matter if the salt is fine or coarse?

  11. Hi Donna,
    I am so excited to start my first batch of pickles. These sound delicious! Instead of filtered water, can I use distilled water?
    Thanks so much!

  12. Hi Donna,
    when I reuse my pickle brine to make a new patch of pickles should I add the same amount of salt in the recipe again to the new batch?

  13. Dear Donna
    I am much blown away by cultured foods. I read your stories. Now i want to prepare some kefir but dont have the culture to begin with. I lives in Guyana and cannot find it here because Guyanese are not into this type of foods. I am very much interested in obtaining the kefir culture.

  14. Hi Donna,
    I would love to make fermented sauerkraut! Do you have a recipe somewhere on your site? My parents always made it in a crock, but they have passed away and I never learned how to make it, and It was delicious.
    RaeAnn

  15. I made some zucchini pickles and after two weeks in the fridge, the brine is cloudy and there is a layer of white at the bottom of the jar. Is this normal?

  16. I use my water kefir to preserve my over supply of in season fruits. Grapes and mandarins work well. The kefir takes on the taste of the fruit. Strawberries don’t work so well, too soft, but the water tastes delicious!

  17. I am so excited to know about crunchy pickles from oak and grape leaves…I’ve struggled to eat my mushy pickles. Will be doing one of your recipes. Thanks!

  18. Hi,

    do I have to use a new packet every time I make a new container? Or can I use some juice of the previous one?

  19. Hi Donna,
    I find your website very interesting! I learned lot from every article and insights about fermentation you published.
    I made Lactic Acid Bacteria Serum, from fresh milk. Would it be good to use as a starter culture for my fermented vegetables?
    Thank you.

  20. Hi Donna,

    I love your website. Thanks for all of the great information and recipes. I am wondering if I can add probiotics ( L. plantarum or others) from a capsule to my fermented veggies?

  21. We don’t have any of those types of leaves here (with the exception of raspberry but our goats got out and ate the plants last year) but my health food store does sell dried raspberry leaf tea and I’m wondering if it would work to toss in some of the dried tea instead of a fresh leaf?

  22. I am so glad to have read this today! I was complaining to my husband just last night because he pulled out the grape vines and replaced them with blackberries. So happy to know I can use blackberry leaves instead of grape leaves. Your Donna’s Dill pickles are the best!

  23. I live in asia and have no access to the leaves mentioned above. Can you recommend other leaves that have tannins in them?

  24. Hi Donna, it is winter here so no grape or oak leaves, could I use something else. Maybe a cabbage leaf?. Another question, do you get as good a result with the kefir whey as with the Caldwells starter, Caldwells is available here in Australia now, however
    I have the kefir whey and will use it if the result is as good. I’m happy to purchase the Caldwells if it is superior…many thanks I love getting your newsy updates..

    • Cabbage leaves doesn’t have tannins which is what makes them crispy. They are still good without the leaves and salt can keep them crisp as well.

      Caldwells tastes much better than kefir whey and I prefer it to kefir whey which can give vegetables a strong taste I don’t care for.

      • Thanks Donna, that’s just what I needed to know.
        I Love what you do….and I think you are gradually changing our world…xxx

  25. Can I use Celtic Sea Salt instead of Kosher salt? Can I use food grade Rosemary essential oil instead of the sprig? I love your book!

  26. Can you somehow can pickles made this way?
    I am wanting to have a bunch of things canned & on my shelves this year, but I don’t know anything about cultured foods and canning. Help!
    Actually, I’ve never made anything cultured, unless Kombucha counts. But I’ve been following all of your posts and am dying to make something soon. Thanks for all the great stuff you are doing in teaching people about cultured foods!

  27. I have followed you for years thanks to Karen Collins. I do keifer and kombucha and am just about to start cultured veggies.
    I recently bought you book and your videos at Nature’s Pantry as a gift.
    Is there any way I can get any of the free things you give for buying the book online?
    New bride will receive these. THanks

  28. Can these pickles be canned (water bath or pressure?) to extend their shelf life? I have lots of Kefir whey, lots of oak & grape leaves, so I’m good there. Also, growing lemon cucumbers this year, as well as regular Straight Eights. I bet the Lemon cukes would taste terrific this way too? Thanks for your amazing recipes and help getting healthy!

  29. Is it okay to skip the lemon part? I only eat organic, and organic lemons are very, very pricey here.

    Thanks 🙂

  30. hI, CAN YOU DO THIS JUST USING SALT WITHOUT THE KEFIR WHEY? i MAKE FERMENTED VEGGIES THIS WAY BUT WANTED TO CHECK IT WOULD ALSO WORK FOR THIS.

    i CAN GET KEFIR SO ITS NOT A PROBLEM JUST CURIOUS!

    tHANKS AND LOVE THE RECEIPE. hAVE WANTED ONE LIKE THIS FOR A WHILE AS MY KIDS ARE NOT TOO KEEN ON SOUR KROUT BUT MIGHT GO FOR THESE.

    tANSY X

      • What about whey from a previous batch of cultured veggies, or from strained yogurt? I have not ventured into dairy kefir yet. Would either of these have the same result?

        Love your recipes, btw! I am struggling with sourdough a little, but going to try a new loaf this week!

  31. I have always shyed away from making pickles because of never being able to find grape leaves – and i really like crucnhy pickles – so i’ve always just gotten bubbies so I can have the benefits – I really want to make my own though! Does the oak leaf thing really work?! I have a zillion oak trees around our house! How do I do that? Just wash one up and stick it it?!

  32. question about the grape leaves – are these dried or jarred? i bought some the other day that are jarred in a vinegar brine – is this ok? thanks!

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