Wholefood Recipes by Holly Davis

What’s so special about cultured foods?

Cultured foods (you may have also heard them called cultured, naturally fermented, fermented and pickled) not only taste fabulous and add interest to meals as condiments, the process can be employed to preserve produce when it is in season, in abundant supply, and therefore least expensive.

Assisting healthy digestion

Eating cultured foods introduces beneficial microorganisms to our digestive tract, which helps promote the growth of healthy digestive flora throughout the intestine. This aids digestion and the absorption of nutrients, and supports our immune system. Vitamin, mineral and enzyme levels increase during fermentation making these foods a valuable source of these vital nutrients. Eating small amounts of fermented foods regularly may also reduce sugar cravings as the ratio of beneficial and pathogenic bacteria is assisted in its return to the correct balance.

Why are they called fermented or cultured?

Culturing vegetables have a complex sour flavour.  These foods are alive with beneficial bacteria called lactobacillus.  It is these bacteria that give cultured vegetables their complex sour flavours. Lactobacillus bacteria are naturally present on the surface of vegetables. Lactobacilli thrive under these conditions: little to no oxygen, moisture and a rich source of carbohydrates (sugars) to consume. As lactobacilli consume these sugars they multiply and produce lactic acid, ascetic acid and carbon dioxide. So you are intentionally creating the perfect environment for these bacteria to grow which is why they are called cultured.  This fermenting process, which can be traced back to ancient times is also a wonderful preservation method.

Culturing vegetables is very easy and it’s great fun to make your own and watch them transform. (While they’re fermenting they almost look like they’re boiling. The term “ferment” means “to boil”)

Please note: When making ferments use clean hands and jars and lids washed at a minimum of 70˚C. Running them through the dishwasher is adequate; they need not be sterilised before packing them. Don’t put dirty hands or utensils into your fermented foods and don’t put any portion of uneaten ferments back in the jar; store separately, covered and in the fridge.

Buying tip from Holly

If purchasing, look for products are labelled as lacto-fermented or naturally fermented and if you want the probiotic effects, check that they’re not pasteurised.

White cabbage, carrot and turmeric
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Cultured foods (You may have also heard them called cultured, naturally fermented, fermented and pickled) not only taste fabulous and add interest to meals as condiments, the process can be employed to preserve produce when it is in season, in abundant supply and therefore least expensive.
White cabbage, carrot and turmeric
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Cultured foods (You may have also heard them called cultured, naturally fermented, fermented and pickled) not only taste fabulous and add interest to meals as condiments, the process can be employed to preserve produce when it is in season, in abundant supply and therefore least expensive.
Servings Prep Time Passive Time
11.5 kg jar 1hr 25minutes 4-7days to culture
Servings Prep Time
11.5 kg jar 1hr 25minutes
Passive Time
4-7days to culture
    Ingredients
    Servings: 1.5 kg jar
    Ingredients
    Servings: 1.5 kg jar
      Instructions
      1. Chop the vegetables and combine in a large open bowl.
      2. Add the salt and rub into the vegetables until they are damp. Leave for 15 minutes or so and then continue rubbing the salt into the vegetables, which will release more liquid.
      3. Fill the jar with the vegetables; it will appear that you have too much mix but you probably don’t. Push the vegetables into the jar and press down firmly to exclude any air and completely cover then in their own liquid. You should be able to get them all in, if not take a second, small spotlessly clean jar and fill it.
      4. Ensure there is about 2 cm between the top of the liquid and the lid of the jar as the mix expands as it ferments. Clean any exposed glass of any bits of vegetable to avoid possible moulds. Close the lid tightly and leave the jar on a dish or tray to contain any possible leaked liquid.
      5. Leave in a cool spot out of direct sunlight for 4–7 days, depending on the ambient temperature. If opened during the first few days, the mix will bubble furiously and smell rather unpleasant, press the vegetables back under the liquid and replace the lid; be assured that things will improve over time. On days 5–7 it will appear less bubbly. You can now place the pickles in the fridge where they will continue to ferment more slowly. The flavours continue to develop over several months but these can be eaten any time after the fermentation process has completed – about day 7.
      6. As you take pickles from the jar keep pressing the remaining mix back under the liquid and keep the jar as clean as possible. Variation as per photos. Red cabbage is a great first ferment because as the acidity in the jar increases the ingredients turn from dark purple to bright pink. This colour change is a good indicator that it is now time to refrigerate the pickles.
      Recipe Notes

      How much should I eat?

      When trying fermented foods for the first time, start eating very small amounts and build up to a quarter of a cup with each meal. Remember they are a condiment. For anyone with serious digestive health issues it is best to seek advice of a qualified practitioner and address the cause or causes, before consuming large amounts of these potent foods.

      What if it smells really bad?

      Humans are designed to reject putrefied matter. If you happen to create putrefied cultures, your nose and other senses will inform you and you will have no desire to consume this food. Throw the food away and start again. Following these basic notes and recipes makes putrefaction highly unlikely.

      What do I need to know about storing them?

      The ideal temperature to culture at is 15˚C, the temperature of the earth but it can be done in the range between 15–24˚C, a cool spot out of direct sunlight anywhere in the house except, of course, the bathroom or anywhere in close proximity to the rubbish or compost bin. A cool cupboard under a bench or a spot under the house, on a stone or cement slab or in a basement or cellar is ideal

      The time to culture depends on the temperature. In cooler temperatures the process takes more time, which will produce better texture and more complex flavoured pickles. A range of beneficial, probiotic bacteria will be present at any stage the vegetables are eaten.

      When correctly stored at low temperatures, firm vegetables such as carrots, beetroot and other root vegetables will stay crisp and keep for up to 12 months; softer vegetables such as cucumber are best eaten within three to six months; as these are more prone to softening.

      The beneficial micro-organisms contained in cultured vegetables will be more or less destroyed by pasteurisation, chlorine in tap water, excessive amounts of salt, pathogenic bacteria, moulds and yeasts, which may infiltrate foodstuff during or after production.

       

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      Holly Davis

      Holly Davis

      Holly weaves together the colours, tastes and textures of carefully chosen ingredients to create food that nourishes the body and soul. For thirteen years Holly delighted the dedicated customers of the respected Sydney Iku Wholefood restaurants with her inspiring blend of traditional Asian and European flavours. She is author of the best-selling book on wholefood cooking Nourish and lives at Whale Beach on Sydney’s northern beaches. Through her business Food by Holly Davis she caters, contributes regularly to magazines and conducts cooking classes all over Australia which are a celebration of her knowledge of and passion for delicious food. We’re excited she’s joined the Liveability team and we always look forward with anticipations to her recipes every month.

      2 Responses to “Easy Cultured Vegetables”

      1. I am interested to try your fermented vegetables. Do you do any short/day classes on this topic please. I am Perth based.
        Hope to hear from you Holly. Thanks Christine

        Reply

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