Fermenting vegetables with a starter culture makes things easier. Here I used Mercola Kinetic Culture, which I think it is among the best. A good starter greatly simplify the process.
Ferment with a starter
Kinetic Culture is for fermenting vegetables. So if you are preparing yogurt or kefir, you need another starter, as Body Ecology Kefir Starter.
But why do you need a starter?
- Creates more hydrogen peroxide, lactic acid, ketones, and other potent substances during fermentation
- Stable and predictable fermentation, even if conditions are not perfect
- More probiotic bacteria
- Less risk of unwanted microorganisms
- More vitamin K2
- Crunchier veggies
The following recipe is contains the following ingredients (amounts approximate):
- green cabbage (50%)
- red cabbage (25%)
- carrots (20%)
- ginger (5%)
- Celery juice
- Himalayan or sea salt
1. Celery juice for brine
Mix the starter in a vegetable juice and let it sit for 20 minutes or so.
When fermentation is complete, the celery taste is integrated with the vegetables. You won’t feel like you are eating celery. If you absolutely don’t want celery, try cabbage juice.
If you don’t have a juicer, here’s another way to prepare brine:
- Dissolve the starter in 1/2 a cup lukewarm water (not hot). Let the juice sit for 20-30 minutes to allow bacteria to activate.
- Put a few cups of the shredded vegetables into a blender. Add a little water to create a thick, smoothie-like porridge. Add the 1/2 cup of starter. This will be the brine to add later in the recipe.
2. Shred the vegetables
I prefer finely shredded vegetables as it makes the final product easier to consume. Cabbage can be chewy if shredded too thick. After shredding, mix the veggies in a big bowl as seen below.
3. Add celery juice
Add the celery juice with the starter to the veggies and mix thoroughly to distribute the starter evenly. Add salt. How much? It’s a matter of taste, but 1-3 tablespoon per quart is common.
4. Pack the jars
Pack the jars as tight as you can. You can use your fist to press the veggies together in the jar. But don’t fill the jars completely full, but leave 25% empty. Pour all the liquid left in the bowl into the jars. There should be enough liquid to cover all the vegetables. If not, add water until vegetables are completely covered.
Put a cabbage leaf on top in each jar. This is a simple way to keep the vegetables submerged in the brine. Oxygen is a main enemy that can spoil fermentation.
Don’t screw the lids on too tight for the first few day. The pressure will build and gas needs to escape.
5. Ferment for ≈ 7 days
Keep the jars for around seven days at room temperature (around 68 to 72 F; or 20 to 22 C). A little warmer or cooler than this might not make a big difference. However, the higher the temperature, the greater the risk of mould and mushy vegetables.
Taste the vegetables from day 3 to see when you think they are ready.
Fermenting in a cool temperature: Try leaving the jars to ferment longer. I’ve left my jars for up to 15 days and it worked fine.
Fermenting in a hot climate: check this post for suggestions.
Storing fermented vegetables
When fermentation is complete, store the jars in the fridge or in some other cool place. Fermentation will continue, but at a much slower pace. In a cool place the fermented vegetables will stay fresh for many months. In fact, I think that the taste slowly improves with time and becomes more complex.
When consuming the fermented vegetables, discard the cabbage leave on top. If it has been in contact with air it might have a foul taste. Fermenting vegetables with a starter culture makes it simple and fun.