I have a sign on my fridge:
HAVE YOU HAD YOUR THREE K’S TODAY?
KEFIR KOMBUCHA KRAUT
“KRAUT” is my generic term for any naturally fermented produce. You can get sauerkraut, kimchee and pickles in most stores; just make sure you get them from the cooler and that they are labeled “unpasteurized” and/or “naturally fermented”, so you know they contain LIVE pro-biotic cultures.
I make my own kefir, kombucha and “krauts” at home. At the moment, my fridge is host to a bottle of pineapple/coconut (milk) kefir (a sweet, delicious shake with a bit of fizz to it), a bowl of kefir cheese, bottles of kombucha that I brewed with dark cherry juice (oh my, is it good!), fruit kimchee (sweet AND hot), fermented prunes (WONDERFUL in yogurt), fermented red cabbage and beets (with the greens), and my current TOP FAVORITE … fermented apples and carrots (with the greens).
We ran out of the fermented salsa I had made that was SO DELICIOUS, it is next on my To Do list. The recipe is @ http://wellnessmama.com/2643/fermented-salsa/. It’s good fresh too, but after some fermenting, it’s FANTASTIC. Plus, fermenting makes it rich in those very important pro-biotics, so yes, please FERMENT it!
The recipe calls for whey, which is the milky/yellowish liquid that drips out of the cheese bag when you make kefir cheese. The point of the whey is to give the salsa a jump start on the fermenting process, but fresh, organic produce has enough wild pro-biotics to get a ferment going without it. However, if you’re like me and make kefir cheese regularly, it’s nice to have a use for the whey, plus the faster the ferment starts making bubbles, the sooner the head space in the jar fills with carbon dioxide, which prevents mold growth.
Fermenting is done at room temperature. Without the carbon dioxide and salt, mold will grow on the surface of the food. BUT, if you have enough salt (minimum 1 tsp per quart of produce) AND you get the bubbles going, you don’t need to worry about mold growth.
I also use an airlock lid, but you don’t have to buy one to give fermenting a try. Sterilize a glass canning jar, put the produce in to the fill line, then cap it with plastic wrap and a canning jar ring. (The ring is the circle part that screws to the jar; don’t use the round metal part, which is called the lid.)
The plastic wrap will allow you to see the surface of the food so you can ease your mind that it’s not growing any mold AND it will also allow the carbon dioxide that forms in the fermenting process to fill up the head space and bulge the plastic wrap up, so you can be reassured that fermenting really is happening. (You may also see bubbles in the produce, but not always.) If the plastic gets bulgy enough you think it might burst, unscrew the ring a bit and let the excess gas out.
Another way to ensure mold doesn’t grow is to add a 1-2 mm layer of olive oil on top of your produce before you seal the jar. The oil will stay on top and help block out the oxygen that the mold needs and after your produce is fermented, you can just mix it into the food and eat it.
Feel free to email me if you want to try this and have questions.