july-7-2009-360our first batch of lacto-fermented pickles for the year

In my journey to nourishing food eating more fermented foods was one of the last Nourishing Traditions principles we incorporated. It seems as though I’m not alone because many I’ve spoken with say the same thing. Why is that?

The truth is making your own fermented foods is intimidating, takes a bit of effort and is pretty foreign to most of us. And if you’d rather buy most fermented foods you’d better be prepared to spend a pretty penny for that “convenience food.”

It’s a shame, really, because these foods contain friendly bacteria for your gut and many more nutrients than their un-fermented counterparts.

In the past two years we have slowly worked up the courage to experiment with lacto-fermented vegetables, cultured dairy products and fermented beverages such as kombucha. I am by no means an expert, but my hope is that by sharing with you our journey and the ease with which we are now able to consume these health building foods that you may be inspired to take the leap as well.

What really helped me along in experimenting with different forms of fermented dairy as well as kombucha brewing were the starters and super helpful instructions that I acquired here. I had previously been given kefir grains with no explanation of how to use them or troubleshoot. It wasn’t long before they went in the trash. With the wonderful step by step instructions and troubleshooting guide it made things very simple and we are now enjoying kefir smoothies several times per week.

So, starting next week I will begin a three part series discussing cultured dairy, lacto-fermented vegetables and the fermented beverage kombucha. These parts will in no way be a thorough treatise of each topic. Instead we will look at  the health benefits of each, how we make our own and how we’ve incorporated them into our diet.

I hope you’ll join me next week to share what you know about fermented foods. See you then!

This post is a contribution to Fight Back Friday where you can find tips and recipes for real food.


20 Responses to Fermented Food for Beginners: Introduction

  1. Emily says:

    I am really looking forward to these posts. We also waited probably longer than we should have to start incorporate cultured & fermented foods (other than yogurt). Recently, I’ve purchased raw, fermented sauerkraut made locally that is delicious and I’ve even made a batch of pickles, with another couple jars of sliced cucumbers waiting in the fridge. Kombucha still scares me, plus I work full-time outside the home so time is another factor to consider. But hopefully your posts will convince me to bite the bullet and start some kombucha!


  2. Amy Ellen says:

    Hi Shannon!

    I am so glad you are starting this series. I am linking to it from my blog!

    Peace and Joy,
    Amy Ellen from HealthBeginsWithMom.com


  3. Excited about this new series! I already make yogurt, sauerkraut and sourdough bread. I would like to know how to make pickles!


  4. Tara says:

    I’ve had success in the past few weeks with saurkraut and kefir. I sliced up some cucumbers for lacto fermentation and they turned to mush. I gave them to the chickens. Now I am trying whole baby cukes. Hopefully these work out. Any idea why I got mushy sliced cucumbers?


  5. Slawebb says:

    thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ve been wanting to do fermented foods, but like you said have felt a bit overwhelmed by it. I look forward to your posts!


  6. Leesie says:

    Perfect timing for me – I’m waiting on my bounty from the garden to make pickles, etc.

    I’ve been successful with kombucha and sourdough bread – it has been very rewarding, and I’m a newbie to all of this.

    Looking forward…


  7. Alyss says:

    What a great post! Fermented foods were actually something I jumped on board with quickly when I first read Nourishing Traditions. I have always enjoyed kitchen concoctions and am not feeding children so it wasn’t too hard to get going.

    You and your readers should check out my blog for my pickle tutorial (spicy carrot pickles!!) and also my Kraut 101 tutorial from February.

    Thanks for the great post! I look forward to reading about you kombucha!


  8. This really caught my interest as I currently use “Culturelle” and other such pro-biotics and add them to our food and drinks. Your methods are sure to save alot of money. There’s a great article from Today’s Parent Magazine on feeding bacteria to kids called “Bacteria for Breakfast” that you might like. I’d also like to recommend Gina’s post on “Make It Yourself: Kefir” over at Home Joys http://homejoys.blogspot.com. She has many great “from scratch” recipes on her site.


  9. Bethany says:

    Have you ever heard of the Pickl-It? It is awesome for consistent results in fermenting. You should check it out http://www.pickl-it.com

    I just got mine the other day and we made fermented granola….yum!!!


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  18. Shannon says:

    Alyss – Thank you for the reminder. I will have to check your recipes out.


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