Monthly Archives: April 2017

Get Cultured


Bonjour les belles,

Probiotics have been popping up in the media as of late, and I wanted to reiterate the fact that they are so essential and beneficial to our bodies. In addition, I wanted to share some recipes I have been utilizing lately that contain probiotics.

First things first: what are probiotics?

~ According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, probiotics are varieties of live microorganisms, for example bacteria and yeast, that naturally live in our bodies. Microorganisms tend to have a negative connotation, but they actually have immense health benefits and help our bodies function properly. For example, bacteria that are normally present in our intestines help digest food, destroy disease-causing microorganisms, prevent diarrhea caused by infections or antibiotics, help with irritable bowel syndrome, and produce vitamins.

*A lot of research has been done on probiotics, and a lot more is on the horizon. If anyone would like more information on the subject, I am more than happy to provide you with studies.*

Fun Fact: Microorganisms in the human body outnumber human cells by 10 to 1.

Where can I find probiotics?

~ As I mentioned, we naturally have them in our bodies already, but it certainly would not hurt to help your body out and ingest additional probiotics. Dietary supplements exist, but I would recommend first trying to incorporate into your diet food/drink that contain helpful microorganisms naturally. However, I am not a doctor, so please consult your health care provider first.

~ If you are trying to get natural probiotics, the following are popular (if you are not making these yourself, PLEASE make sure they are not pasteurized; you need the live and active culture/fermentation for microbes) : yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, miso, and anything pickled.

Fun Fact: Kefir is fermented milk, but you can also make “water kefir”. To make you will need sugar, and grains, which can be bought online at a reputable store. I have heard etsy also has reliable sources for these grains. The “common ground fair” in Maine is also a good location to find tasty kefir.

Ok! Now the fun stuff. There is this wonderful company in Bristol, Rhode Island called Hope & Main, and they offer a wide variety of classes on a regular basis. I recently attended one (taught by Susan and Bleu) that focused on fermented foods, and it was amazing. If anyone lives in the area and is interested, I highly recommend you check this company out for future classes.

From this class, I learned how to make sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha and I am pleased to share my gleaned knowledge with you all.


  • Ingredients: depends on how much you want to make, but I would  say start with 1 head of tight, heavy, organic cabbage. Peel off the outer leaves until they are slightly stuck to the head, then remove the core and slice thinly.
  • Use a ratio of 1 head cabbage: 1 T (sea) salt; it should taste like oversalted salad. Mix and massage with hands. The reason for this is that the salt pulls out the water and wilts the cabbage. Continue massaging the cabbage until water pools at the bottom of your bowl and leaves look shiny.
  • Pack cabbage and pooled water into jars. You will need enough water in the jar to completely submerge the cabbage to prevent molding. If you do not have enough water, make a brine: 1T salt: 1/2 gal water. Pour water on top with ~ 1.5″ space at top of freeze line.
  • That’s pretty much it! Leave lid loose on jar or cover with cheese cloth.
  • Temperature is important: high 50s, low 60s are ideal conditions for nutrients; temperature >65 creates too yeasty of a product. Basements and closets are great for this.
  • It takes about 3 weeks for the cabbage to fully ferment, but you need to push down the cabbage below water level daily for the 1st 2 weeks. This is very important as it prevents molding. A tamper is good for this, but anything that gets the job done is fine.

This is an anaerobic process, which means oxygen is not desired. This is why keep the veggies submerged is crucial, as they won’t be touched by oxygen under water.

  • You will notice in ~3 days the cabbage will look like it is cracking with air. This is a good sign. Over time, the product will get less salty and more sour.
  • If you are making larger batches, stoneware is a good investment. I personally own a 2-gallon Ohio Stoneware crock (bought at Ace hardware) with a lid and weights.
  • After the fermentation process is complete, move the sauerkraut to wide mouth glass jars with a lid. I find that plastic lids are best here, as they do not rust.


  • The same process as sauerkraut applies here; you need to liberally salt your veggies and make sure there is enough brine to completely submerge ingredients.
  • Ingredients for one batch (~ 2 quart jars): 1/2 c shredded carrot, 2 Napa “Chinese” Cabbage (cut out core), 3 cloves garlic, 1 bunch scallions, ginger (as desired), 1 large daikon radish (grate/shred), red pepper flakes/seeds (as desired), salt
  • Mix all ingredients together in a crock and then either keep in crock or transfer to jars, depending on how you are storing during fermentation process.
  • The sweeter the vegetable, the quicker the process. This means kimchi takes less than 3 weeks to ferment; usually between 1 1/2 – 2 weeks. As long as the product no longer tastes salty, and you like the taste, it is good to go!

    Gingered carrots are another tasty recipe to try.

KOMBUCHA {Fermented Tea}

  • Start with a SCOBY -> symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. This is the liquid starter, or “mother” and is fed with sugar. The best way to obtain a SCOBY is to take a piece of one from someone you know that currently has one.
  • Ingredients: 1 gallon purified water in pot, get hot but not quite boiling (~ 8 min), black or green tea bags or loose tea, steep, remove and drop heat until ~ room temperature (cool to the touch). Do not put the SCOBY in until water is cool, or you could kill it.
  • After water cools, pour into a glass jar – ideally with a spout – then add the SCOBY and sugar. A good ratio is 1 c sugar:1 gallon water; brown sugar or not processed is best. Do not use metal! Only use a wooden spoon to stir.
  • Your SCOBY will need to breath, so do not put a lid on the jar. Instead, use a cheese cloth or a kitchen towel with a rubberband on top to secure. It is also best to store your mixture in a pantry or place with no sunlight.
  • You will notice that the SCOBY forms a seal on top of the mixture. This is to prevent from outside contaminants.
  • Depending on the temperature where you store the SCOBY and personal preference, time will vary until completion. A good timeline is 7 t0 30 days; a longer brewing time will result in less sugar and a more vinegar-y tasting beverage. Taste test mixture regularly to help decide.
  • When your kombucha is ready, wash your hands, remove the SCOBY (store in a ziploc bag in fridge with 1/4 cup of brew – this will serve as a starter for the next batch) and use a funnel to pour brew into separate glass jars. Again, no metal. Fill the jars as much as you can, then cover for a few days to get carbonation.

That’s all she wrote, folks! Creating probiotic friendly foods is really much easier than you would think, and the benefits certainly outweigh the costs. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to ask! I don’t have any good photos of my endeavors to date, but I may post some in the future.