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Marni’s Top Picks for Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are becoming quite the hot topic and people are discovering that there are so many delicious fermented foods available. There are foods you may eat regularly that you don't even realize are fermented. So, how about taking on the challenge of fermenting them yourself?
Of all foods, plants become even more powerful after being fermented. Fermentation preserves food and adds loads of probiotics and enzymes that help to enhance your digestive and immune systems. No need to be afraid of fermenting foods yourself, it is a super easy process, and just takes a little bit of practice and the right tools!
The following are what I consider to be the top plant-based foods to ferment. However feel free to buy store bought versions of these if you are just getting started!
Soy is a species of legumes, widely grown for its edible bean, which has numerous uses. The health trend of using soy in place of meat has caused a higher demand for soy products resulting in commercialized and overly processed soy product, that have been stripped of their nutritional content. Consumers think that they are making a healthier choice when in reality commercial soy products can be very heavily processed and full of GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms). Don't let that scare you into consuming soy products though! You just need to be conscious of what you’re purchasing. These are my favourite soy-based products that should be consumed regularly:
• Tempeh is a fermented soybean cake with a firm texture and nutty taste that soaks up flavours really nicely. Use it in stir frys, on sandwiches, grind into burgers or eat it just as is!
• Miso is a fermented soybean paste with a salty, almond butter-like texture. Use it to make miso soup or in salad dressings.
• Tamari is the modern and healthy version of soy sauce and is made by fermenting soybeans. It is great in sauces, dressings, or marinades.
NUTS, SEEDS, AND COCONUT
These foods have a long history of being one of nature's richest sources of nutrients. Most are filled with protein, fibre, and heart-healthy fats. They are an amazing source of natural energy and lend themselves well to fermented recipes. They make great non-dairy versions of your favourite food products like: cream, milk, cheese, and yogurt. Be sure to source a vegan starter culture to get any of these foods going!
Nothing is more rewarding than going to the local farmers’ market and picking fresh organic vegetables or even growing them yourself! But what do you do when you have leftover vegetables that start to go to waste or your unsure of what to do with them? This is where food preservation and fermenting your veggies comes in! Not only will they last longer but you'll be inspired to find new ways to enjoy them. All kinds of veggies can be brined, jarred and stored to have a tasty crunchy condiment, like fermenting cabbage for sauerkraut or kimchee, cucumber for pickles and fermented beets (just to name a few!)
Your body needs grains as an essential source of complex carbohydrates and fibre. Whole grains are slow burning, which means they provide your body with long-lasting energy. Be sure to eat not just whole grain flour, but the actual whole grain in its entirety. Did you know that you can ferment any whole grain for breads (specifically sourdough bread), porridge, muffins, and pancakes? By allowing the dough to sit before baking or using a starter kit, it begins to ferment, and boosts the nutritional profile
of that grain!
Fermenting fruit is a fun way to enjoy fruit beyond its expiration date and one of the only ways to make fruit last without unnatural or artificial preservatives. Fermenting fruit is much different than fermenting vegetables because of the higher sugar content. Be sure to use a starter and ferment fruit for a shorter time as the yeast consumes the sugar from the fruit, making it spoil quicker and turn alcoholic. You can make your own favourite jams, spreads, and chutneys that make a sweet, tangy and delectable condiment!
Did you know you can ferment water and make a flavourful yet healthy carbonated drink? Using kefir grains that act on the sugar that's added to water can be a fun and easy experiment! You can spice up the kefir water with ginger, lemon or fresh fruit for an added refreshing kick or you can also make it with coconut water. Just replace the water with coconut water for a different flavour and a boost of electrolytes!
MAKE A SIMPLE SAUERKRAUT
A well-sharpened knife
A cutting board and large bowl
A sterile glass container with a lid
One head of cabbage
Peel off any damaged outer leaves and quarter the cabbage. Remove the hard core and shred the remaining cabbage with a knife.
You may also use a food processor. Place cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle 2 – 4 tbsp. of salt over cabbage. Squeeze the cabbage repeatedly or press firmly on the cabbage with a wooden utensil to bruise the cabbage and encourage it to release its juice.
Transfer cabbage and liquid to sterile jar. Press down firmly on cabbage. Make sure there aren’t any air bubbles! If you still don’t have enough natural brine to cover all of the cabbage, mix 1 tsp. of salt in 1 cup of water and pour over the mixture until the cabbage is completely submerged.
If necessary, add a weight such as a saucer to keep the cabbage under the brine. Cover your jar with a lid. Keep jar at room temperature for 3-4 weeks. Skim off any scum or mould you may see. This may be an indication that there is too much air. When you’ve achieved the desired tenderness and flavour,
transfer cabbage to fridge. Serve as a condiment or eat alone.
For more ideas, tips and recipes, be sure to check out my book, "Fermenting For Dummies" or join me at Marni Wasserman's Food Studio & Lifestyle Shop.