Cultured VeggiesI 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 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.

picklesCultured 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, Caldwell’s Starter Culture and BE Veggie 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. Studies 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. Yes, 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 pickle recipes with lots of L. plantarum.

Rosemary Sage Lemon Pickles
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Rosemary Sage Lemon Pickles
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These have a wonderful flavor. I have found you can also make this recipe using zucchini instead of cucumbers.
~Donna
Ingredients
  • 1/2cup Chiveschopped
  • 2cups Cucumbersliced
  • 2-3sprigs Rosemary
  • 4 - 8 sage leaves
  • 1/2packet Caldwell’s Starter CultureOr substitute ¼ cup kefir whey
  • 1tablespoon Celtic sea salt
  • 1 LemonZest only
  • 2 - 3 Grape leaves, clean(*1) See note below
  • WaterCold
Servings:
Units:
Instructions
  1. If using the starter culture, place 1 cup of lukewarm water in a glass measuring cup.Then add the culture and stir until dissolved. Let it sit while you chop the vegetables.
    If using the starter culture, place 1 cup of lukewarm water in a glass measuring cup.Then add the culture and stir until dissolved. Let it sit while you chop the vegetables.
  2. Slice cucumber into ¼-inch rounds.
    Slice cucumber into ¼-inch rounds.
  3. Tightly pack sliced cucumber herbs, salt lemon, and grape leaves in a 16-ounce clean glass jar until about ¾ full.
    Tightly pack sliced cucumber herbs, salt lemon, and grape leaves in a 16-ounce clean glass jar until about ¾ full.
  4. Add the culture or kefir whey and fill the container with extra filtered water, leaving 2 inches of headspace, as the vegetables will bubble and expand as they ferment.
    Add the culture or kefir whey and fill the container with extra filtered water, leaving 2 inches of headspace, as the vegetables will bubble and expand as they ferment.
  5. Seal the container and let it sit on your kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight, for 3 days. Check the vegetables every day to make sure they are fully submerged in the water. If they have risen above the water, simply push them down so they are fully covered by the water. If any mold forms because the veggies rose above the water, do not worry. Remember, this isn’t harmful. Just scoop out the white yeast on the vegetables and push the rest back under the water.
    Seal the container and let it sit on your kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight, for 3 days. Check the vegetables every day to make sure they are fully submerged in the water. If they have risen above the water, simply push them down so they are fully covered by the water. If any mold forms because the veggies rose above the water, do not worry. Remember, this isn’t harmful. Just scoop out the white yeast on the vegetables and push the rest back under the water.
  6. The pickles will ferment, bubble, and expand.
    The pickles will ferment, bubble, and expand.
  7. After the 3 days of fermenting, place in refrigerator to further culture. See note 2 below.
    After the 3 days of fermenting, place in refrigerator to further culture. See note 2 below.
Recipe Notes

(*1) You can substitute the grape leaves for oak leaves, cherry leaves, raspberry leaves, or blackberry leaves. (There are tannins in the leaves that make the pickles crunchy. You can leave them out but it makes a big difference in how crisp the pickles are.)

(*2) They are ready to eat after about a week but will keep fermenting and age much like a fine wine. I like them at about 2 to 3 weeks.

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