• kitchen ferments

    natural secrets, recipes • Apr 27th, 2019

    You might think fermenting food like sauerkraut and pickled cucumber is a bit faddy but it does have a long history in places with a shorter growing season and these days I’m extra keen on new options for good bacteria to support digestion and a strong immune system. So I made some ferments in my kitchen this week; you’ll see in the last photo, ginger beer, rhubarb vinegar and apple and fennel sauerkraut. I love homemade lemonade with herbs from the garden and I guess ginger beer is not so different just with fire and fizz.  I say made but none are ready to eat or drink immediately, fermentation takes a bit of time. My kitchen was beginning to look like a lab so I’ve moved the buckets onto the draining board in the utility room. I’m using honey buckets which aren’t needed for a couple of months, food safe and lidded; glass would be my first choice but I’m using what I have. So first up is the ginger beer recipe which only takes a few days and I think we’ll sample it this evening maybe with a little  Russian water as it’s the weekend.


    Ginger beer

    150g  sugar

    2 litres of filtered water at room temperature

    2 lemons

    1 large piece of ginger root

    a level teaspoon of dried yeast

    Cream the yeast with warm water and a little of the sugar. When it starts to bubble you can add it to the water. Then add finely grated ginger root, no need to peel,  and the juice and grated rind of the lemons. Add the rest of the sugar and stir to dissolve. Leave for a few days in your mash bucket or similar. You can strain it before bottling; I didn’t bother, I like the bits. Adjust the sweetness and the amount of ginger when you make your second batch.

    Fruit vinegar

    Cut your fruit, I used rhubarb, into small pieces, add a teaspoon of sugar per piece and fill your jar with enough filtered water to cover the fruit. Use a small bowl as a weight so the fruit pieces are submerged. Be ready to take this out and stir the future vinegar once a day.  The process will take a few weeks because wild fermentation means waiting for yeasts in the air to grow and turn your fruit liquid into vinegar. You can see in the last photo how the water is getting cloudier which is a good sign.  Keep the jar lid open and covered with a thin piece of cloth. I don’t mind waiting for this elixir.


    1 small white cabbage

    2 bulbs of fennel

    3 small apples

    a little lemon juice

    2 cloves of garlic

    5 heaped teaspoons of salt crystals

    3 rounds of milled black pepper

    Slice the cabbage and fennel finely and place in a large bowl. Add the salt and pepper. Grate the apples and add a little lemon juice to keep them white and crush the peeled garlic cloves. Add  the apples and garlic to the bowl. Pound the mix with a potato masher a few times, leave and pound again. Do this a few times. In about half an hour you should get quite a bit of juice. Now mix the veg with your hands quite vigorously and take a single handful of the veg, squeeze as much liquid out as you can, and pack into jars about three quarters full. Pour the liquid over the top so all the veg is submerged. You can add a little water if you need to. Anything above the waterline will rot – ew. Cover loosely with a piece of cloth. Your kraut should be ready in just under a week.


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