Fermented vegetables have become very popular again in recent times. Not only does it offer tasty flavors, but it also works well on the stomach and digestive processes. In addition, fermented products are free of preservatives and have no additives.
The most well-known products resulting from fermentation are beer, vinegar, wine, soy sauce and cheese. In this article, we will answer questions about fermenting vegetables, as well as share the best tips and tricks.
the essentials in brief
- Fermentation is a process of decomposition of organic matter caused by lack of oxygen.
- The fermented food is sometimes referred to as a "superfood." However, its positive effect has not been scientifically confirmed.
- Thanks to the fermentation, the vegetables retain their healthy properties.
Definition: What does fermenting vegetables mean?
Generally speaking, fermentation is a process of decomposition of organic matter due to the lack of oxygen. Thanks to the lactic acid that is produced during this process, such an environment is created for microorganisms that unhealthy germs can hardly survive(1,3).
The leftover product is then rich in healthy nutrients and vitamins like vitamins A, B, C, omega-3, iron and probiotics.(5)
Thanks to the fermentation, the vegetables retain their healthy properties. The taste changes, but it remains delicious. In addition, the probiotics in the fermented vegetables support the digestive process, relieve heartburn and counteract diarrhea or constipation.
Background: What you should know about the fermentation of vegetables
Fermenting vegetables is a multifaceted process that requires a good background knowledge. In this part we have collected the top questions to help you better understand the process of fermenting vegetables.
How do the fermented vegetables affect the body?
The fermented products are better digested as they have already been broken down during the fermentation process and the nutrient composition changes (1,2). In some cases, it's even healthier than fresh vegetables.
The fermented vegetables can boost the immune system.
Fermented products can strengthen the immune system, improve the state of the gastrointestinal tract, normalize digestive processes and eliminate disease-causing microorganisms. In times of epidemics, it is recommended to consume such products two to three times a week.
Are Fermented Vegetables Healthy?
So far, this has not been scientifically confirmed. One of the reasons why fermentation has become so popular is because of its affiliation with the so-called "superfood".
The fermented vegetables get a special taste. (Image Source: Ksenia Chernaya / Pexels)
In fact, many fermented products are high in probiotics (3,5). However, there is still no clear confirmation of the fermentation effect (1).
What do you need for successful vegetable fermentation?
In order for the fermentation to be successful, you need a few utensils:
|Salt without additives||so the fermented products become crispy|
|vessel||with lid where the vegetables are fermented|
|Weight||to weigh down the fermented vegetables in the jar, it could be a rock or dumbbell|
|Water||to make brine|
Which vegetables can you ferment?
Generally speaking, you can ferment anything. Depending on the taste, carrots, cabbage, cucumber, beetroot, peppers, etc. can be fermented (6).
Vegetables are easy to ferment at home (Image Source: Eva Elijas / Pexels)
Some recipes and combinations may seem unusual at first (4). But the best thing about fermentation is that it allows you to experience a completely new taste in ordinary products.
Who Cannot Eat Fermented Vegetables?
Fermented products promote the secretion of gastric juice, so they are unsuitable for people suffering from elevated pH in the stomach or gastric ulcers (5). In addition, depending on the vegetables, possible personal intolerances cannot be ruled out.
Fermenting vegetables: The best tips & tricks for a delicious taste
Fermenting vegetables at home is not a difficult process. You don't even need any special equipment or utensils. In most cases, you'll need a knife, cutting board, and a wide-necked mason jar. Plastic and metal containers are not suitable for this purpose, it should be a glass, ceramic or wooden container.
Fermenting vegetables at home
Unfortunately, the fermented products in the shop contain too much salt , as well as preservatives and additives. Such products cannot always be described as "healthy" (6). It is therefore all the more exciting to ferment the vegetables yourself at home.
One of the easiest fermenting recipes are cucumbers, because they taste good and are also popular with children.
- Cucumbers - 1 kg
- Water - 1 L
- salt - 50 mg
- Garlic - 4 cloves
- Cabbage - two leaves
- Dill - to taste
- Prepare the brine: boil the water, add the salt, stir well and allow the brine to cool completely.
- Rinse the cucumbers and soak in cold water for 2-3 hours.
- Place the garlic and dill at the bottom of the jar.
- Fill the jar with cucumbers, leaving 2-3 cm space at the top. Fill with the brine.
- Place the cabbage leaves on top so that they completely cover the cucumbers. Close the jar tightly. It's important to make sure the salt water completely covers the cucumbers.
The jar should be left for two to four days at ordinary room temperatures. Once the cucumbers have finished fermenting, they will change color and small bubbles will appear in the salt water. The finished cucumbers can then be stored in the refrigerator.
Fermenting vegetables without salt
The salt serves to suppress the activity of endogenous enzymes responsible for soaking the vegetables (1,7). However, you could also ferment vegetables without salt. Here is a recipe for this variant:
Fermented cabbage without salt
According to this recipe, the cabbage is fermented in its own juice. You can also use celery herb juice as a substitute for the charcoal juice because it is high in sodium.
- Coal - 1 piece
- Carrots - 2 pieces
- herbs to taste
- ginger root (about 3 cm long)
- Squeeze the juice out of one half of the cabbage using a juicer.
- Chop the second half, grate the carrots and finely chop the ginger. Mix everything with any herbs (e.g. basil, thyme or pepper).
- Fill a glass very tightly with this mixture and add the juice so that the whole mixture is completely submerged.
- Place a few cabbage leaves on top and weigh down with a weight.
- Cover the jar with a cloth and leave in a dark place for three days.
- One should poke small holes in the mass once a day to release the carbon dioxide.
- Once the cabbage is ripe, drain off some of the brine, add more seasonings as needed, and refrigerate for no more than two weeks.
This recipe without salt is quite suitable for diabetics and/or hypertension.
Not only cheese and beer can be made through fermentation, but many healthy products can also be made from common vegetables.
Fermenting vegetables is an exciting process that can ultimately produce a healthy product. However, you should be careful not to overdo it. A small amount of fermented products is enough for a balanced, healthy diet.
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- BEREGOV, Elena. FERMENTATION AS POP. POP, 2021, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 34-41. Source
- HENZE, J. INFLUENCE OF CA-STORAGE ON FERMENTATION OF WHITE CABBAGE BRASSICA OLERACEA L. In: Symposium on Vegetable Storage 62. 1977. P. 71-78. Source