Hot Topics     Home and Family    

3 easy fermented food projects



Boost nutrition, save money, and teach your kids about food

3 easy fermented food projects


Our ancestors used controlled fermentation to preserve food, while making it easier to digest and more nutritious. Home fermentation projects give us a sense of history, while communities of beneficial, live creatures grow in our kitchens.

Registered nurse Celeste Thomas points out that modern methods of pasteurization and antibiotics kill off helpful digestive bacteria, which fermented foods restore. She cites the benefits of “good” bacteria for breakdown of food, absorption of nutrients, endocrine support, and skin health. When your kids help with homemade ferments, they learn about chemistry and nutrition while watching and tasting the day-by-day process of transformation.

READ MORE: Good Gut Bugs: An Endangered Species

Pickles

Thomas suggests making pickled vegetables of all kinds—especially crunchy ones like cabbage, carrots, beets, and celery--always begin with organic veggies to avoid bacteria-killing pesticides. Fill a well-washed jar with clean vegetables, add fermentation starter (available online), fill again with filtered water, cap the jar, and set it in a cool, dark place. Over the course of a week or two, taste your product daily until it reaches a level of sourness you like, and then refrigerate the jar. Start with eating a spoonful a day, until your body adjusts to the new nutrients. After a week or two, you can eat freely.

If you don't want to deal with starter, you can make pickles using brine (salted water), according to this time-honored recipe from fermentation expert Sandor Katz. You can use other vegetables besides cucumbers if you wish.

Kombucha

This drink is popular and widely available but expensive and not as flavorful as the kombucha you make at home. A kombucha culture (also called a mother or a SCOBY) looks like a flat, stalkless, tan mushroom, but it's actually a community of microorganisms. You can buy one online, or ask around on social media for a neighbor who's making kombucha. Every batch or two, the culture doubles in size and can be separated into two equally functional pieces.

Put two teabags (black or green tea) in a clean glass bowl with ¼ cup of sugar. (Unrefined sugar is tastier, but white sugar will work.) Pour in one quart of boiling water. When the water cools to room temperature, remove the teabags. Put the kombucha culture in the bowl with ½ cup of liquid from the previous batch. Cover with a clean towel and set aside. Depending on the temperature, the culture will take from a few days to two weeks to turn sour. Dip a taste out daily until you like the flavor, pour off the liquid to drink, and reserve the culture and ½ cup of liquid for the next batch.

Kefir

If you have the equipment to keep a jar warm, it's not hard to make yogurt, but kefir is a similar product that can be made at room temperature and is less fussy. Again, you'll have to start with a culture (a handful of tiny, spongy, off-white grains), which can be purchased online or obtained from neighbors.

Fill a clean jar with milk, add the kefir grains, twist on the lid, and wait. Depending on temperature, if will take a few days to reach your desired flavor, so taste it daily. When it's ready, strain out the grains and reuse them in the next batch. The product will be more or less thick, according to the type of milk and the length of fermentation. It goes well on cereal, in smoothies, or if you make it with half-and-half, as a dressing for soups and stews.



Other articles by HVP News Reporters


  • Simple tips for mindful eating

    How to incorporate foods your family loves

    Mindful eating doesn’t have to be restrictive and you don’t have to give up your favorite foods. read more »
  • Safe entertaining tips in a COVID-19 world

    Precautions to protect your physical health and your guests

    After an extended period without social contact, it’s only natural to crave some interaction, and there’s evidence that doing so can be advantageous for your mental health. However, taking precautions to protect your physical health, along with your guests’, can make for a more enjoyable event. read more »
  • Keeping pets safe in the garden

    Hazards that can impact the well-being of your furry friends

    If you have pets that enjoy spending time outdoors, it’s important to make sure your yard is a safe place for them to be. read more »
  • How to raise kind and caring children

    3 tips from experts

    At some point, many parents will likely find themselves encouraging their children to “be kind” or “be friendly.” read more »
  • Safety tips for a safe 4th of July

    Celebrate safely and use extreme caution with fireworks and family gatherings

    The New York State Division of Consumer Protection (DCP) reminds New Yorkers to keep safe while celebrating Independence Day. As we celebrate this annual tradition with festivities ranging from fireworks, picnics, parades, family gatherings and barbecues, let’s also remember basic safety tips that apply to everyone. read more »
  • What women need to know about stroke risks

    Women face unique risk factors for stroke throughout their lifetime

    It may not be widely known that women face unique risk factors for stroke throughout their lifetime. Things like pregnancy, preeclampsia and chronic stress can increase the risk for high blood pressure, a leading cause of stroke. read more »
  • The mental health crisis of moms: What you need to know

    The mental health of American moms is going largely unattended

    A new survey reveals that the mental health of American moms is going largely unattended, with many living under a near-constant state of stress and few seeking support to ease the burden. read more »
  • 5 ways to get kids excited about STEM learning

    The country needs more good scientists

    The events of the past couple of years have shown how important scientists are to making the world a better and safer place. read more »
  • How to make an impact through volunteering and civic engagement

    Be a force for good

    If you’re like many people right now, you’re feeling a particular sense of urgency to roll up your sleeves and be a force for good. read more »
  • Weeklong FAIR Film Festival 2022

    The Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR) Hosts a Film Screening Plus Q&A

    The Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR) will kick off the FAIR Film Festival 2022 with an in-person screening of the documentary film I Am A Victor plus a selection of short films on Sunday, June 12 at 1:00pm EDT at Caveat on the lower east side in Manhattan. read more »