To culture vegetables:
This recipe yields 2 quarts of cultured vegetables.
Place 2 cups of shredded cabbage into a blender with enough water to make a puree.
Add cultured vegetable starter to the puree and let sit for 15 minutes. (Starter will become active.) If desired, you might want to add one teaspoon of mineral-rich natural sugar to the cultured puree. The bacteria will feed off of the sugar and the end product will not be high in carbohydrates.
Place cabbage culture into jar of canister along with the rest of the green or red cabbage head cut into sections, and 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 in a room temperature darkened corner until fermented. This will be from 3 to 7 days or perhaps longer. (Some have left it for as long as 14 days.) A layer of harmless mold will often form on the top. Simply scrape this off or it will spoil the flavor of your cultured vegetables. Place your vegetables into an airtight container and refrigerate. 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.
Dissolve 1 or 2 packages of starter culture in 1/2 cup warm (90°) water. Add some form of sugar to feed the starter (try Rapadura, Sucanat, honey, agave, etc.) Let starter/sugar mixture sit for about 20 minutes or longer while the L. Plantarum and the other bacteria wake up and begin enjoying the sugar. Add this starter culture to the brine (step 3 above.) This procedure takes the place of the first two steps of method 1 above. You do not need to worry about the sugar added here if you are on a sugar free diet because the bacteria will utilize these sugars and use them all up as they begin to grow and "culture" your vegetables.
Wash all vegetables well before using, and remove all outer leaves from the cabbage prior to grating or cutting.
How to use the Culture Starter in Cream
Use to make cultured whipped butter and sour cream. One pint of organic heavy cream makes about 1/2 pound of butter and 1 cup of buttermilk.
Add one foil starter packet to one pint of pure, organic cream. Shake or whisk together well.
Let cream/starter sit for approximately 24 hours at room temperature. Cream will be very thick.
Shake well again.
Flavor as desired.
Two special things to know from the beginning are that cultured or sour cream butter churns more quickly than unfermented, sweet cream butter but still may take as long as 30 minutes to churn. It churns more quickly if it has been "aged" (left in the sour cream state) for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. Cultured butter has a richer taste than sweet cream butter. And secondly be sure to chill the mixing bowl, electric beater and the sour cream before you begin making your butter.
Whip or "churn" the cream to make the best tasting whipped butter you've ever tasted.
You can use a hand held electric mixer. Butter can also be made by shaking the cream in a covered glass jar. Churn slowly at first and then gradually go up to high speed. You will see the cream go through three stages: whipped cream, stiff whipped cream, and finally two separate products-buttermilk and butter. During this last stage as the butter separates from the buttermilk, pay careful attention and turn the speed to low or it will splatter wildly. Pour off the buttermilk and use it later in cooking or to drink. Add very cold water to the butter, churn slowly for 1 minute and then pour off the water. Remove the butter with a wooden spoon, and sprinkle with sea salt and if you want other herbs or seasonings. You can flavor the butter with garlic, herbs, sea salt or even stevia.
Recipes for Making Cultured Vegetables
Try this recipe
1 inch of ginger root
2 cloves of garlic
Grate the cabbage, ginger root, and carrots. Add minced garlic. Use method either method above. Pack grated vegetables into glass canning jars and pour cultured water over them. This is one of our customers favorites.
Here is another recipe
1 stalk of celery
2 cloves of garlic
1 inch of fresh ginger root
1 green apple
Grate all vegetables and the apple, mince the garlic. Use either method above to create this delightful cultured vegetable salad. It is simply delicious.
You may have tasted some very fine cultured vegetables. You may add other vegetables like asparagus, green beans, or spinach. Once you have experimented, you will get bolder and bolder. Try dark green leafy vegetables like kale and collards. Soak, drain and chop up ocean vegetables like dulse, wakame, hijikii and arame. Add either fresh or dried herbs such as dill, caraway, juniper berries, onion, ginger root or others.
Once you have recipes you like, make large amounts. You can take these living salads with you when you travel because they keep so well. You can pull one out of your fridge whenever you are hungry as your delicious "fast food" that requires little or no prep work. And they keep a very, very long time. They are one of the best and most economical foods you can eat. Be sure to serve them when you have food that takes more work to digest.
Carol E. Benoit, D.O.
Cabbage, preferably home-grown or organic, shredded (sufficient to fill your container(s)). Save a few of the outer leaves to cover the fermenting kraut.
Onions, peeled and diced
Garlic cloves, peeled (can crush, mince, or leave whole)
Additional vegetables, if desired; I like a small amount of Sweet Potato, julienned;
Dried Seaweeds, especially Wakame and Kombu, cut into strips;
Ginger Root, diced or in small julienne strips (this retains its flavor well and is a bit hot.)
Berries and Seeds: Juniper, Dill, Caraway, Fennel, Fenugreek (this may sprout during fermentation!),
etc. The seeds add a burst of flavor.
1 packet Vegetable Starter (from Wilderness Family Naturals), or Kefir (1/4 liter for 7.5 liters of
Several Cabbage leaves (to feed starter)
Sea Salt (I use 5 tsp to make 7.5 liters of kraut)
1 oz Muscovado Sugar (to feed starter)
Water sufficient to blend all the Liquid ingredients; fill the blender for a large batch of kraut.
Prepare shredded cabbage, onions, garlic, additional vegetables, seaweeds, ginger root and any other small vegetables, each in their own separate bowl, and the berries and seeds together in a bowl. Layer all ingredients in your fermenting vessel, with a preponderance of cabbage to start each layer, and topping each layer with a sprinkling of seeds.
Blend all the liquid ingredients until the cabbage leaves are pulverized. Pour the Liquid onto the layered vegetables, and add more water until the kraut has 1 inch of water on top. Cover with cabbage leaves to keep the small pieces under water, and compress the mixture with a stone or other food-safe weight. Leave alone in a warm, dark place. Fermentation should be complete in 4 to 8 weeks. At completion, the kraut may be stored in the refrigerator, where fermentation will be greatly slowed, but the flavor will continue to improve for several months. I consider it best after about 6 months. This sauerkraut is amazingly delicious while providing the intestinal tract with many probiotic organisms.
A Word about Fermentation Vessels
The Harsch Earthenware Preserving Pan, which is a crock whose lid rests in a depression to which you add water to create a seal, makes fabulous kraut! Last October I started kraut in my 7.5 liter Harsch crock plus 3 one gallon glass jars. The crock water seal prevents the accumulation of bad-tasting, unsightly yeast on top of the vegetables; it did eventually appear in the gallon jars, but is harmless and is easily skimmed off. The crock has its own earthenware "stones" that compress the entire surface of the kraut; I used flat beach stones in the jars, and they were sufficient but not as neat. The crock is opaque and does not need to be shielded from light, as the jars do. And most important, I had to leave the kraut at room temperature for 4 months (due to insufficient refrigerator space), and that in the crock was as fresh and crisp as at 2 months, whereas that in the jars became mushy (but still delicious!).