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Review: Fermented: a four-season approach to Paleo probiotic foods

November 16, 2013

Fermented Book Review

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.

Fermented Carrot sticks 3

Fermented Carrot Sticks 1

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…

Fermented Carrot Sticks 2

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie November 17, 2013 at 4:16 PM

Yes, I ferment food and love everything about the process, from the prepping of the vegetables or fruit to the eating of the finished product. I was introduced to it by the book, Nourishing Traditions . I mainly do sauerkraut, I also like carrot sticks, pearl onions, beets, Kim chi, salsa, chutney. Beet kvass is also a favorite and a real elixir of health. I also like making yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, fromage blanc . Once you get started it is hard to stop. I also have a whole cupboard devoted to empty jars! You see how enthusiastic a person can get. I think you will really have fun with this and you will save lots of money over the store bought versions.

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admin@primalist November 18, 2013 at 9:05 PM

Hi Julie – I was wondering the other day if you’re still reading, haven’t heard from you in a while! :) Nourishing Traditions is a great book. Except prior to trying this recipe I actually tried the ginger and shredded carrot recipe from that book, and failed miserably. My carrots got all slimy, which I found out afterwards is actually a common problem with that particular recipe, I don’t know why. But no issues with these carrot sticks, thank goodness. I’m looking forward to experimenting more. Would love to make my own yogurt, but I would be more motivated to do it if I had access to raw milk – now that would be a nutritional powerhouse. And you make me feel better about what seems like my hoarding of jars! I use them a lot for freezing stock.

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Julie November 23, 2013 at 4:09 PM

Elana, yes I also had problems with the recipe for ginger dill carrots in NT. The grating makes for a hoochy situation in the jar! Carrot sticks work much better. Why not try making yogurt using low pasteurized milk? Honestly that is what I have to do most the time anyway because raw milk is hard to come by for me too.
Sorry I have been so quiet lately. I am still around! The other day I made your pumpkin mouse recipe only I used butternut squash and took it to our friends for dinner. It was a hit.

Tess November 22, 2013 at 1:05 PM

What a thoughtful segment on fermentation. Prior to adopting the Paleo I used to love the all day process of making home made bread – waiting for it to rise on the windowsill between kneadings before putting it in the oven. I had been missing the process of creating something that takes time and is enhanced by anticipation . I’m excited about reading up on fermentation and about adding it to my diet plan. Thank you so much for sharing this.

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admin@primalist November 22, 2013 at 6:05 PM

Sounds like fermentation may be just the thing for you. The wait time is a little longer, but there’s certainly that ritual involved, of making something yourself and seeing it being created. Good luck with your fermentation adventures! :)

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admin@primalist November 25, 2013 at 6:58 PM

No need to apologize!! :) Happy to hear from you again. And that you liked the mousse!

As for the grated carrot recipe, there’s a similar one in this Fermented book, except she doesn’t use ginger, and in the photo she’s using an airlock, which would probably help in this situation. As for the yogurt, I typically don’t do too much dairy other than high-fat (butter and some cream), so unless it’s raw, I probably wouldn’t want to head down that path as I’d probably end up eating more dairy than I’d like. But if I ever got my hands on raw dairy, then for sure. I’ve been pondering dairy-free coconut yogurt too (which is also in the Fermented book).

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