Getting started with ferments

2014_12 31 My fermenting station

This is my fermenting station.  It’s on an outer wall and it’s winter, so I covered some cardboard with foil and put a small lamp up there.  It keeps it a nice temperature.  My two jugs of kombucha brew up 6 quarts in 7 days, then I decant into 10 GT’s bottles for a second brew of 7 days.  My quart jar of kefir ferments 2 cups in 24 hours; I’m alternating liquid days and cheese days.

Besides this stuff, I have room for 4 more quart jars that I bought airlocks lids for.  You can see one jar of onions fermenting between the booch jug and the GT’s bottles.  I’m having so much fun experimenting!  I’ve done a few bean pastes with black beans and chick peas; basically, fermented hummus-y spreads.  So delicious!  I also fermented a big jar of chopped garlic mixed with peppercorns and oregano; that is STRONG tasting, so I only use small amounts as an additive in other things, like the spreads.  But it’ll last 9 months or more in the fridge and I’m enjoying having chopped garlic without chopping garlic, so now I’m doing chopped onions as well.

Dearest just called from Wegman’s about New Year date night dinner and told me he’d found organic beets, carrots and radishes, so that will be next up on my shelf.  I’ve done a bunch of cabbage krauts, which it turns out I LOVE.  Home fermenting makes food taste very different from what I ever experienced before.  I never liked cabbage and I worked at Orange Julius once upon a time and hated even the smell of their sauerkraut.  But I LOVE my kraut and kimchi!

Except now I have learned that fermenting has no affect on the goitrogens in cruciferous vegetables; these must be cooked before someone like me (Hashimoto’s) should eat them.  So I’m going to try cooking the cabbage I’ve got left in the house, then fermenting it using a starter.  You can easily “wild” ferment cabbage; it has plenty of the good bacteria naturally.  But cooking it will kill that off, so I’ll have to add a culture.  I’m interested to see what cooked-then-fermented cabbage tastes like.  (Have I mentioned how FUN this is?!)

I started out with ferments rather by accident.  I joined a Facebook group that was recommended to me  because ferments have been helpful for autism.  Fermenting for Healing Facebook Group @  I had no idea what “fermenting” was, apart from some vague notion about beer and maybe wine.

I am SO glad I stuck around.  The group is really nice about answering newby questions like, “What is a SCOBY?”  [Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast … the culture that is used to ferment sweet tea into kombucha.]  When I posted a newby question, one of the members answered by linking to Donna Schwenck’s site @, noting she had found the site a good resource and had gotten her kefir and kombucha cultures in the store there.

I bought Donna’s DVD, which is very reasonably priced, and liked it enough to buy more copies to give to my girls.  I found another DVD by another fermenting educator at the library and, while I learned some interesting stuff, I thought it was short on the “how to” for newbies.  Plus, when I looked it up at Amazon, I thought it was absurdly overpriced.  As I recall, it cost almost 3x what Donna charges for her DVD that is much better with the “getting started” info.

I bought my cultures for $26 each (kefir and kombucha) from Donna, because I don’t know anyone else who ferments.  They are good, healthy cultures that are busy making me and mine healthier, plus making culture babies.  If anyone here wants to save some money, I will mail my culture’s off-spring for the cost of shipping.  It’ll be first come, first served.  Warrior Princess took half my babies when she visited and I’m sending the rest of what I have at the moment to GP next Monday, so it’ll be a couple weeks before I’ll have more.

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