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 :)
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.
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.
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!
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.