In a Pickle on Fermentation? Here's How to Ferment at Home

By Carolyn Stine February 27, 2019 

Kimchi, kefir, and kraut… oh my!

In a pickle? Here at Bashed, we sure are. Whether you’re eating kimchi as a side at Korean BBQ, ‘kraut at Oktoberfest, have a pickle fetish, or have simply been reading about the (seemingly endless) health benefits of fermented foods, we’re here to bring you the inside scoop on how you can ride the fermentation train. Not only do fermented foods have an incredible amount of flavor, but fermenting actually cultivates healthy probiotics that are excellent for our gut microbiome, and for our health on the whole. While fermenting at home might seem intimidating (it did to us at first, too!), we’ve discovered that it’s as easy as it is delicious. We put together a how-to on some of our favorite fermented foods so that you have a Bashed guide on how to DIY yourself to better gut health in 2019. Read on for all of the juicy (and tasty) details.

What to Make

photo credit: Emma Christensen, thekitchn.com

Sauerkraut

...Not just for ballpark hot dogs any more. This tasty fermented cabbage is the perfect mix of crunchy and sour, and we love it so much that we eat it straight from the jar. Try it atop a kale salad with some sliced chicken sausage, or even on your avocado toast in the morning. It’s classically made with caraway seeds, but we also love adding fresh dill.

photo credit: Emily Han, thekitchn.com

Kimchi

This ancient Korean fermented veggie dish has been made for centuries, and for good reason. The irresistible combo of cabbage, ginger, garlic, and chilis makes up the kimchi base, and we love working it into all of our meals at home. Our most recent favorite is this kimchi fried rice, topped with a perfect runny egg. You can make your kimchi as spicy as you want, and feel free to include sliced scallions and radishes for additional crunch and flavor.

Pickling

We’re all about a quick-pickled red onion with white balsamic vinegar for taco night, but true pickling relies on the natural bacteria in the fruits and veggies to do the pickling work for you (no vinegar necessary!). The exciting thing about pickling is that the sky is literally the limit - you can pickle pretty much any fruit or veggie that your little heart desires. From gingery radishes to spicy green beans to summer fruits, this is an area where you can play and have fun. We also love gifting jars of homemade pickles as hostess and holiday gifts!

photo credit: Food52.com

Kefir

Like a milkshake for your gut, kefir is a member of the yogurt family with a thinner consistency that’s best enjoyed in a tall glass with a straw. We like kefir because it’s a lot simpler to craft than traditional yogurt, and there’s barely any lactose in it for those of you who are dairy-averse. With only two base ingredients, this is a simple and delicious drink that you can flavor up any way you like (try strawberries, cinnamon and vanilla, or cocoa powder!).

Kombucha

The “mother” of all teas (yes, that was a fermentation joke). When you don’t drink soda, are sick of water, and the BPAs in LaCroix cans make you nervous, kombucha is the perfect fizzy drink that’s actually good for your gut. It’s so much more flavorful than the grocery store variety, and at $4 a pop at Whole Foods, making kombucha at home is a more cost-efficient option as well. Our favorite flavoring is chai spice and fresh ginger, but get creative here with seasonal flavors - we like cherry in the summer and pumpkin spice in the fall.

Sourdough Starter

Literally the best bread that you will ever have is also the easiest that you will ever make. Fresh sourdough, straight from the oven, is one of life’s great pleasures, and the fact that it’s better for your gut and much easier to digest for those with gluten intolerances makes it all the better. The great thing about making your own starter is that you can continue to feed it and use it for a long time, and if you take care of it, will have it for fresh bread for years to come.

What to Use

Fermentation Jar

While we love a rustic mason jar, a proper fermentation jar with a watertight seal is the most steadfast option for fermenting at home. Sarah Kersten happens to make the most beautiful ones on the market, in our opinion. They’re sleek and modern enough to be left out on display all year long, and the quality is unparalleled.

Starter Cultures

Relying on starter cultures is a great way to kickstart the fermentation process at home. Cultures For Health is a great brand for finding these cultures pre-packaged and ready to bring home, including kombucha and kefir.

Have you tried any fermenting at home? Do you have any recipes you love? We want to know!

Kombucha Bottles

Once your brew is done fermenting, you’re ready to bottle your ‘buch. Note that you’ll want to use only glass bottles, such as these, since glass is non reactive and won't affect the flavor of your beverages like plastic or stainless steel. Just remember to sanitize them with hot water before you use them to make sure your brew stays fresh.  

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Carolyn Stine

A party without cake is just a meeting.

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