I have been wanting to try my hand at fermentation for quite some time. I completely believe in its all of its benefits, and I eat unpasteurized sauerkraut regularly. But fermenting myself? I hadn’t quite worked up the guts to do that, until now. I was super excited to review Jill Ciciarelli’s book, Fermented, because it meant I’d finally have to commit to actually fermenting something. And luckily for me, Fermented was the perfect guide through the process.
First of all, as the title describes, “a four-season approach to Paleo probiotic foods”, all of the recipes are paleo (except for a few primal ones). So that meant I could tackle any recipe I wanted to. But what really helped was the fermentation basics section, which I read through first. Jill starts with an explanation of the history of fermentation, going through all of the different foods various cultures have fermented over the years. She then explains the health benefits of fermentation. And then dives into the chemistry of it all. Next up is the practical aspect of equipment and ingredients, including starters. So, by the time you reach the first recipe in the book, that for basic sauerkraut, you feel sufficiently primed to dive in (not to mention excited!). The handholding was much appreciated, as I’ll be the first to admit that I get a little squeamish at the mere mention of mold.
Thankfully, there was no mold in sight when I tackled the second recipe in the book: Fermented Whole Vegetables. Mind you, Jill does say that it is perfectly normal for mold to appear on the brine’s surface, and that you can simply scrape it away. Still, I’m glad that wasn’t something I had to deal with this early on in my fermentation journey. The recipe walks you through making pickles, but Jill explains that nearly anything can be fermented using this method. So, I decided to make carrot sticks.
It was super easy to make the carrot sticks. I basically cut up some carrots, put them in a jar with some dill, and covered them with a brine (water plus salt). I then let the carrots ferment for a week, and voila, fermented carrot sticks! It really was that simple. They’re crunchy, tasty, and a great healthy addition to my meals. The hardest part was having to wait all those days for the process to finish! :)
Now I’m stoked to try some other ferments. There are many recipes to choose from, and they’re thoughtfully grouped by season, and beautifully photographed. I’m especially curious about the beverage section (hard apple cider anyone?). making coconut yogurt, and some of the kraut variations like kimchi and radicchio.
Fermented foods are a vital part of a healthy diet, and I highly recommend Fermented to help inspire you to try fermentation yourself.
Do you ferment? Have you read Fermented? What is your favourite food to ferment? Please share your thoughts in the comments…