Monday, April 20, 2015

Basic Fermenting Recipes

I'm making this post for attendees at the hands-on the workshop I did at Pollinate Farm & Garden in Oakland, California on April 19.

But anyone else is welcome to read the post too. :-)

Please post in the "comments" section below if you have questions, or if you'd like to discuss other ways to eat these fermented foods (I've offered a couple, but I've only scratched the surface).

My book, Real Food Fermentation, has more information about fermented foods. Click here for information about how to get the book.

Basic Sauerkraut

Ingredients and Equipment

  • cabbage (round, green or red)
  • salt (1/3 ounce or 2 tsp. per pound of cabbage; or 20g per kg of cabbage)
  • large, sharp chef's knife
  • large cutting board
  • large mixing bowl
  • mason jars, preferably wide-mouthed (a bit more than 16 oz. capacity per pound of cabbage)
  • a digital kitchen scale (available from your favorite brick-and-mortar store, or online)
  • (optional) a thin, narrow-mouthed mason jar to stuff with


  • chop cabbage, finely or coarsely
  • put cabbage and salt in mixing bowl
  • squeeze cabbage and salt vigorously with hands until liquid runs freely (this may take a few minutes)
  • put cabbage and liquid in mason jars, leaving an inch or two of "headroom", and close lids
  • leave to sit, not in sunlight, but somewhere you won't forget about it (kitchen counter?)
  • "burp" the jars every day for the first few days (if you don't do this, they may spill over and/or break the top!)
  • it's ready after 4 days or 4 months or somewhere in between, depending on how you like it

Eat it

  • on its own
  • on a sandwich
  • as a side dish with grilled meat
  • juice it!

Mixed/Fancy Kraut

Follow recipe for Basic Sauerkraut, but use a mixture of vegetables instead of just cabbage, slice or cut into shapes and sizes as you like, and/or add herbs and/or spices to taste. Caraway seeds are a classic seasoning; 1 tsp per pound of cabbage is a ballpark amount, although different caraway seeds have different potencies. Things like garlic, ginger, turmeric, horseradish, burdock, etc. can provide nice flavor and health benefits.

Beet Kvass

Ingredients and Equipment

    • a handful of beets (red or golden, number needed may vary with size)
    • 1 Tbsp salt
    • large, sharp chef's knife
    • large cutting board
    • half-gallon mason jar
    • (optional) vegetable peeler 


    • fill jar halfway with water
    • add salt
    • put lid on jar and shake until salt is dissolved
    • if the beets are not organic, peel them
    • cut beets into 1/2-inch cubes
    • put beets in mason jar, to fill about 1/4 or 1/3 of jar
    • fill jar nearly to top with water, leaving an inch or two, and close lid
    • beet greens, if there were any, can be fermented as "Mixed/Fancy Kraut" recipe above
    • wait a 4 days to 4 weeks, tasting the liquid periodically
    • once you like it, strain out the beets and store them separately
    • the liquid is "beet kvass"
    • the fermented beets may be slice and used in a salad, or juiced, or whatever

    Drink it

    Preserved Lemon (Citrus)

    Ingredients and Equipment

    • lemons, Meyer lemons, limes, or citrus of your choice, ideally from a garden rather than from a shop
    • salt (approximately 10% of weight of citrus)
    • knife & cutting board
    • mixing bowl
    • big mason jars
    • (optional) "pickling spice" mix from store (without preservatives; read the ingredients)


    • cut citrus into approximately 1/2 inch (1 cm) squares
    • squeeze citrus over mixing bowl; add the peel to the bowl as well
    • add salt and optional spices to bowl; mix
    • pack the mixture tightly into mason jars, leaving an inch or two of headroom, and close lids
    • let the lemons sit for months or years

    Eat it

    • anywhere you might use fresh lemon
    • in your potato salad (or tuna salad or chicken salad)
    • cook it with fish or roast chicken
    • add a shot of sweetener for a fermented lemonade

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