Fermentation: How To Make Good Food Into Super Food (Recipe Included!)

By  Jeani-Rose Atchison

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

It has been a hot, hot summer in Australia so far. The air is so thick during the day that the beautiful mountains and hills surrounding our caldera home can barely be seen. Our family is often in the pool, swimming in the river or taking the short drive to the beach where all of us can breathe a sigh of relief as we feel our body temperatures lower to a more comfortable level.

We were blessed with a small amount of rain about a week or so ago and it was enough to make the gardens green and burst forth more gifts of food.

I have been happily accepting armloads of my friends surplus produce from their gardens again this week. I am the lady everyone knows will take their extra tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, bananas, whatever! You name it, I’ll take it. With a large family we go through an unbelievable amount of fruit and vegetables. What we can’t eat gets transformed into foods we can eat and share back to our friends later. I’ve toyed with the idea of a Community Supported Cafe/Kitchen for awhile but until it becomes a reality for me I am content with how much support we all give each other now.

This week’s bounty was in the form of gorgeous dragonfruit and mangoes, avocados, beetroot, carrot and kale among other things. And our own garden is heavily laden with the most delicious green and red grapes. Eric and the girls were busy yesterday picking them while I was trying to keep up with the making of grape juice sweetened kombucha. It seemed a never ending box of grapes was sitting on the counter as I set bottle after bottle aside for the double fermentation of this life giving drink which I will bring to markets next week.

Our friends Tania and Chrissy have kale by the box load now and know what I will be doing with it. I ferment kale. Actually, I ferment pretty much everything. These nutrient rich foods are preserved and enhanced by the process of “culturing”.

Why Ferment?

Fermenting or Culturing food is something which all traditional and ancient cultures have done. They are called by many names and come in many forms. Saurkraut, Kimchi, yogurt, kombucha, kefir, tempeh, miso and etc.

My Cultured Vegetables are a 100% raw, organic food that is chock full of beneficial enzymes. Lactic acid is produced during fermentation which aids in us digesting all foods eaten with with them – especially proteins and starchy foods.

Whatever vegetable you ferment gets “pre-digested” by the beneficial probiotic organisms, great for weakened digestive systems which is now the norm these days.

These foods are alkaline-forming due to the abundant presence of vitamins and minerals. As an alkaline food it helps prevent an acidic gut which will also fend off many illnesses and diseases

As a “living” food, Cultured Vegetables are packed with beneficial microorganisms. Because of this they work hard to maintain your inner ecology.

They are much more powerful than most probiotics found in health stores today, and it costs pennies to make.

Scientific research has shown the effectiveness of fermented foods in treating specific ailments such as Candida and Ulcerative Colitis and other gastro-intestinal conditions.

Another bonus is that fermented food will help control cravings for starchy and sweet foods when consumed on a consistent basis.

Cultured Kale

This is quite a forgiving recipe as the amounts of kale to chili and garlic are up to the individuals taste. The important things to remember is that fermentation will take place while the vegetables are in the brine but will go moldy if above the brine level.   If mold does form above the brine simply skim the top discolored bit.

Temperature plays a big part in the fermentation process. Heat will ferment food quicker so in summer weather check your vegetables in 3-4 days say instead of 4-7 days. They should taste tangy and with strong tasting vegetables such as kale the flavour should mellow out over time. I sometimes let my kale go a bit longer as it softens and breaks down the cell walls of this hardy green and makes it not so chewy.

Kale is a strong taste, not for the faint hearted! We love it though some of you may have to mix it with cabbage or other vegetable to make it more to your taste preference.

Salt is a natural antimicrobial as long as it is a wholesome one. My favorites are himalayan or celtic sea salts due to their purity and high mineral content. Some advocates of fermented food are cautious of “wild ferments”, meaning those techniques that are not controlled by using specific pro- or pre-biotic starters to stabilize the beneficial flora that is flourishing during the fermentation period. I use salt exclusively at times and at others I use a prebiotic blend of Fruciooligosaccharides to feed the beneficial probiotics forming and I have had good results from both.

With a history of systemic candida in my younger years I find that the ferments that I make today have kept me free of many of the debilitating symptoms I had to live with back then.



4-5 large bunches of organic kale (or a mix of cabbage and kale)

Small handful of organic chilies of your choice

4-6 cloves of organic garlic

2 tsps good quality organic sea salt


Remove the thickest parts of kale stems, rinse well and chop coarsely.

Mix and massage the kale leaves with finely chopped chili and garlic and the salt. I use large glass jars for most of my ferments and push down firmly on them to pack it in tightly.

Some liquid should be released from the kale but also pour enough pure water over the vegetables (free of chlorine and fluoride) until everything is just covered.   After fermenting simply place into smaller sealed jars and keep in the refrigerator. Unopened they are good for months but once opened should be eaten within 2-3 weeks. Use as a condiment with your meals or find other creative ways to use it such as in sandwiches, salads or sushi rolls.

Just be aware that if you do not know the source you get your kale from you could be doing your body more bad than good. The Environmental Working Group releases an annual shoppers guide on pesticides and produce and their 2012 guide included a Dirty Dozen Plus category warning about conventionally grown green beans and leafy greens like kale. These greens are commonly contaminated with organophosphate insecticides which are known to negatively impact the nervous system.

Previous Articles by Jeani-Rose

About the Author

Jeani-Rose Atchison is a health advocate, and  home-schooling  mother of five who also finds time to write about nutrition, whole foods and environmental concerns. She authored Every Day Vegan  – 300 recipes for healthful eating which is a mainstay in vegetarian kitchens. Atchison’s latest book,  Food for Thought  – Thought for Food is chock full of delicious whole food recipes. It also takes a controversial look at the food we eat today and the processes involved in bringing it to your table. Can your food make you ill? The answer may shock you!

To find out more go to Jeani-Rose’s  Facebook  or  Website

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