A while ago, I wrote that making cultured vegetables at home is one of the most economical ways to incorporate a wide variety of high-quality probiotics into your diet. I also promised to post about my personal experiences preparing and eating cultured veggies. Well, I finally followed through and prepared my first batch. I used the recipe found here (version 2), incorporating the tips found here. I’ve been eating the veggies for three or four days, and my husband started eating them yesterday. Here’s what I’ve discovered so far about the whole cultured veggie thing:
1) They’re very simple to make. I thought it would be a long and complicated process, but it really isn’t. It goes quite quickly. In other words, I no longer have a reason to procrastinate about making them, since I can’t pretend it will take hours of my valuable time.
2) It makes a mess. Shredded vegetables here, shredded vegetables there. . .”brine” dripping off my fingers. . .you get the idea. Fortunately, it was easy to clean up. Just be sure to wear an apron.
3) This isn’t a precise science. I was anxious and worried about using exactly enough vegetables, making exactly enough brine, rolling the cabbage leaves exactly the right way, and leaving the jars out exactly the right amount of time. I could have saved myself a lot of grief. It simply isn’t rocket science, so from now on, I won’t treat it like it is.
4) During fermentation, the jars can leak. Even though I screwed the lids on really, really tightly, the bacteria made enough gases to push some fluids out of the tops of the jars. This made a bit of a mess on my kitchen floor (what’s that strange raining noise?) until I moved them to the bathtub in our guest bathroom. Remedy: ask husband to screw on lids and don’t fill the jars as full. Lesson learned!
5) Cultured vegetables are surprisingly palatable. My husband was especially delighted to discover this. He even considers them “tasty.” Who knew?
Now I’m getting excited about the possibilities! We’re eating through the batch rather quickly, so I need to start on some more as soon as possible. I’m going to try a combination of kohlrabi, celery, green apple, ginger, and garlic, as well as a “marinara-style” recipe I found here. I’ll try to post my results a little faster this time around.
Oh, in case you’re wondering, this is what kohlrabi looks like:
No, it’s not a root vegetable. That bulbous thing is actually the stem of the plant. Weird, huh? We’ve eaten them by peeling the stem, then shredding the flesh, and serving it mixed into a green salad. They can also be cooked, although I’ve never tried that myself. (Go here for more information and to see a video of a black lab devouring kohlrabi.)
If you’re interested in trying some kohlrabi and your grocery store doesn’t carry the darn thing, check out your local farmers’ market (shameless plug, I know). I find mine at the Bayou City Farmers’ Market here in Houston. It’s amazing the kinds of strange produce the farmers will bring. And the best part? You can address all of your questions to the person who actually grows your food. What a concept!