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The Number 1. Way to Improve
Your Gut Health

A few months ago took an online course called ‘Debunking PCOS‘ which is all about improving fertility and conquering Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome which I was diagnosed with over 10 years ago.

The thing that really surprised me about the course was that the number 1 action we were encouraged to take was to heal your gut.

Not exactly the most glamorous topic, but when you consider how important the gut is to helping you absorb and use the nutrients you need, it really makes sense.

A healthy gut isn’t just important for fertility. It impacts everyone’s health.

So I hear you asking…

“OK Jules, so how do I make my gut healthier?”

Well funnily enough, earlier in the year I went to a workshop on how to ferment vegetables. It was led by Sandor Katz, author of ‘Wild Fermentation’ and ‘The Art of Fermentation’. And was completely inspirational.

But I’m jumping ahead of myself…

So what is the number 1. way to improve your gut health?

Easy. Eat more fermented foods!

Yoghurt is probably the first thing that comes to mind. And if you’re happy with eating your yoghurt then that’s great.

But the wonderful world of fermented food doesn’t stop there.

Fermenting vegetables is a brilliant habit to get into. Especially if you’re trying to keep away from dairy so yoghurt isn’t a good option for you. But even if you’re happy with your yoghurt, adding fermented vegetables to your repertoire is only going to help your gut.

Plus, they’re delicious!

I love the tangy crunch of a home fermented baby carrot.

And the best part is, if you make them yourself then you can control how mild or ‘funky’ they taste. I’ve never been a huge fan of commercial sauerkraut, but regularly make and eat it now that I know how good it can taste when you don’t ferment it too far.

And what about Number 2?

That’s easy too. Just stop eating inflammatory foods which include refined carbohydrates and vegetable oils.

But if you’re reading Stonesoup you’re probably doing that anyway :)

fermented carrots-3

Fermented Vegetables

If you’re nervous about the whole fermentation thing, the good news is apparently no one has ever died from eating fermented veg. So it’s safe!

This method is a great place to start because it’s suitable for pretty much all vegetables. My favourites so far are carrots, zucchini (which turn out like pickles), red chillies and celery. I’m also keen to try onions.

Will keep in the fridge for months.

1 clean glass jar
enough vegetables to fill jar
50g (1 3/4 oz) salt
1L (4 cups) water

1. Scrub veg. Trim or chop into bite sized pieces. Peel if you prefer (I don’t bother).

2. Pack the veg into your jar.

3. Combine salt and water and stir until dissolved. Shouldn’t take too long.

4. Pour salted water over the veg to cover them. You probably won’t need all the liquid. If the veg aren’t covered, make up more brine so they are covered.

5. Close jar and leave somewhere you will see it but not in direct sunlight.

6. Every day open jar to release any built up gas (CO2). Start tasting after about 3 days. When you’re happy with the flavour (ie it tastes acidic or tangy enough for you) pop the jar in the fridge and start eating. Or if the veg start to soften, it’s time to refrigerate. Generally 4-5 days is a good amount of time for fermentation but if you’re living somewhere really warm it may not take that long. And really cold climates may take longer.

VARIATIONS
veg – use your imagination. Cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, chillies, beets, celery, cucumber, watermelon rind, baby eggplant, capsicum (bell peppers), green tomatoes, chard stems. Sandor Katz did say that the only thing he doesn’t like to ferment are veg with lots of chlorophyll. So anything too green like kale isn’t great. And from my notes watermelon rind tastes like cucumber pickles.

flavourings – feel free to add in flavourings such as cumin seeds, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, bay leaves, preserved lemon, lemon zest, thyme, rosemary, sage.

salt – I use a finely ground sea salt but Sandor said it doesn’t matter so much.

lower salt – it is possible to ferment without the salt or use lower quantities, the problem is that salt helps to keep the veg texture nice and crisp so unsalted or low salt veg can end up mushy. Which might be OK for you. Salt also helps flavour.

water – use filtered water if you can. But if using tap water, boil it and allow it to cool to get rid of any chlorine which may hinder the fermentation.

brine – after you’ve eaten the veg the brine can be discarded or used to season soups and stews. Or you can drink it.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS
as a snack – my favourite way to eat them is to pick them out of the jar and snack. Fergal and I often chomp on fermented carrots while I’m getting his dinner ready.

in salads – add a little crunch and zing. I wouldn’t make a whole salad from them though as it might be too much of a good thing.

with rich / hearty meals – serve a little bowl of fermented veg with your next pork belly or lamb shank extravaganza. I love them with mashed potato too.

with burgers – it’s a classic combo for a reason!

Video Recipe


Or view video recipe over here.

With love,
Jules x
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ps. Did you enjoy this? If you’d like me to do a followup post on how to make sauerkraut, leave a message below and if there’s enough interest I’ll share that as well.

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{ 158 comments… add one }

  • Beth 14 August, 2014, 4:17 am

    Yes, yes and yes to the kraut! Thank you!

  • Emily J 14 August, 2014, 4:42 am

    You have many requests for sauerkraut I see, so I would like to add my name to the list!

  • Judith 14 August, 2014, 4:49 am

    Yes please to how to make Sauerkraut. Been thinking about doing it for a while, but got a little nervous.
    Thanks.

    • jules 14 August, 2014, 1:38 pm

      Nothing to be nervous about Judith!

  • Tim 14 August, 2014, 5:14 am

    Have been experimenting with making sauerkraut this summer. made both green and red ‘kraut as well as flavored with caraway, fennel, celery seeds or dill. Be interested in seeing if your recipe is different from mine (1000 g sliced cabbage, 20 g salt, 2 tbsp liquid from previous batch of ‘kraut). The liquid ensures I have good bacteria in the mix, since I do not trust that any “wild” bacteria in my house. for very first batch I used whey from organic yoghurt with live cultures.

    • jules 14 August, 2014, 1:37 pm

      Good for you Tim! Your recipe sounds similar but I don’t use any of the previous liquid usually because I forget to keep it… Using old liquid is a great way to kick start the new ferment. I wouldn’t be afraid of the wild bacteria.. They’re the ones that keep it interesting :)

  • Kim Cook 14 August, 2014, 6:24 am

    Please give your sauerkraut recipe. I have been making it for years but like to try any new twist. When I was a child my mother always added apple slices to the brine. (She did it in large crocks) the fermented apples were my brother and my favorite part.

  • Donna H 14 August, 2014, 7:13 am

    Yes to sauerkraut! Thank you :-)

  • Helen 14 August, 2014, 7:52 am

    Thanks so much for this. I have been interested in fermenting vegies for a while now but didn’t realise it was this easy!
    Please post your sauerkraut recipe!!

  • Deborah chapman 14 August, 2014, 8:31 am

    Yes please would love the recipe

  • Nerida 14 August, 2014, 8:54 am

    I became a fan of sauerkraut last summer, and would love to learn how to make it myself.

  • Jennie C 14 August, 2014, 12:26 pm

    This is exactly what I’ve been thinking of lately. I have started a batch of sauerkraut, but I’m so confused about if I am doing it correctly. Now I can hardly wait to start a batch of carrots! I would love more information. Thank you so much!

    • jules 14 August, 2014, 1:24 pm

      Good for you trying the kraut Jennie!
      It’s one of those things that gets easier with time xx

  • Patricia Rieder 14 August, 2014, 7:23 pm

    I would love to learn how to make sauerkraut

  • Fiona 14 August, 2014, 9:44 pm

    Thank you for posting this. I’ve been following a paleo-ish diet for a while and have been reading about how good fermented veggies are for you, but I had no idea it was so easy to make them. I’ll be making up a batch asap.

    Yes please to sauerkraut!

  • Catherine 15 August, 2014, 12:24 am

    I have been wanting to try fermenting for a while and just started some cabbage the other day—first taste test is tonight! Would love to see a post about your sauerkraut technique.

  • Sue 15 August, 2014, 3:08 am

    I like sauerkraut so, yes please post it.

  • Ginny 15 August, 2014, 4:37 am

    Jules,
    Would love your sauerkraut recipe. Thanks!

  • Maureen Fryer-Kelsey 15 August, 2014, 11:21 pm

    Loved the article on fermented vegs. Definitely going to try them & would love to have the sauerkraut recipe!

  • Linda 16 August, 2014, 2:24 am

    I would love the sauerkraut recipe, do you also have a Bavarian version? Thanks and I love your emails, they make my dinners interesting!

  • Charlotte 16 August, 2014, 1:29 pm

    Would love the sauerkraut recipe.

  • ruba 17 August, 2014, 3:31 am

    loved this, got baby carrots like yours from the farmers market today and just made a jar of carrots and another of baby cucumbers
    :) thanks for the inspiration

  • Elisa 17 August, 2014, 5:43 pm

    I’ve been meaning to try this for ages so thanks for the tips! I just started a batch of baby carrots and cauliflower yesterday. Just one question though… does it matter if the cauliflower is floating? I can’t get a few stray morsels to stay completely submerged. I perhaps should have packed them better.
    Would also love the sauerkraut recipe! Thanks

  • Madge 17 August, 2014, 9:18 pm

    Yes please to the sauerkraut recipe. I have read quite a few but I imagine your recipe will be straightforward and clearly communicated. Thank you.

  • Bezza 18 August, 2014, 7:30 pm

    Yes please re the sauerkraut! My Greek man was only just saying last week that we should get into more fermented foods, and that he misses his mother’s cabbage!

  • Ana S 20 August, 2014, 4:38 am

    I will love all the recipes of fermented vegetables.

    Amazing site!

  • Nicola 21 August, 2014, 10:23 am

    Hi Jules,
    Fermenting the veges sounds so easy and healthy – will definitely give it a go. Just wondering if you only eat them raw though or can you then use them in cooking eg: baked carrots etc

    • jules 2 September, 2014, 7:53 am

      Hi Nicola
      Great question!
      I just eat them raw.
      You could cook them but the bacteria won’t survive the cooking process so it defeats the purpose a little.
      Jx

  • Carol B 23 August, 2014, 3:53 am

    Hi Jules! OK I tried it with carrots! On day 4 the water started looking a bit cloudy, and by day 5 the water was really quite cloudy. Is this normal? I stuck them in the fridge but have halted tasting till I figure it out…. thanks :-)

    • jules 2 September, 2014, 7:51 am

      Go Carol!
      Yes the cloudy water is normal as the fermentation happens so you’re all good.
      Jx

  • Jeannette 24 August, 2014, 12:23 am

    Yes, please, to sauerkraut!

  • Sigal 27 August, 2014, 3:53 pm

    Thanks for the idea of using carrots.
    Some garlic cloves and dill will make it happy!

  • Lyn 27 August, 2014, 4:27 pm

    Love sauerkraut…bring on the recipes…thank you

  • rita bruckstein 27 August, 2014, 6:45 pm

    i put also fresh slices of garlic and dill as a must. also big chuncks (3x3cm.) of green cabage together with thick slices of carots. very tasty.

    • jules 2 September, 2014, 7:48 am

      Sounds lovely Rita!

      Just be careful with using garlic because there is a very small risk of botulism developing. Personally I don’t use fresh garlic in my ferments.

      Jx

  • rajesh rajoo 28 August, 2014, 5:11 pm

    Thank you for this article. I was intrigued by two keyword in your article – gut and ferment. I was wondering how they are related. And then I found out that you were actually talking about pickling – which is what we call in our part of the world. And guess what, we just started having “pickled” gooseberries a month back. So totally get what you are talking about. Thanks again.

    • jules 2 September, 2014, 7:45 am

      Glad it made sense Rajesh :)

      The problem with the term pickling is that it also covers food that has had salt or vinegar added to it – not necessarily fermented foods.

      I’ve just planted a gooseberry bush so hopefully there will be fermented gooseberries in my future :)

  • Esther 1 September, 2014, 3:19 pm

    Fantastic, thank you! Just wish you’d written ‘filtered water’ up in the ingredients list or in the method. I only read that bit about tap water in the notes section after making multiple jars :(

    • jules 2 September, 2014, 7:41 am

      Sorry Esther!
      Did they start fermenting anyway? I think the chlorine dissipates after 24 hours so you should still get a ferment it will just take a little longer.
      Jx

  • brian 17 June, 2015, 4:53 pm

    this is so simple and fantastic to follow thank you very much

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