The sun has chased the clouds away, the waters have warmed, the kids are bored or maybe you just want some quiet time in nature with your partner or by yourself. Take 5 minutes to open the fridge and grab some fermented carrot sticks, fermented red pepper relish, cream cheese and crackers and head out the door. Oh, don’t forget the lemonade… fermented, of course.
Or, maybe you have just invited some friends over for wine and appetizers and you want to effortlessly put together a mouthwatering spread. Easy to do with Pickled Cranberries, Fermented Corn Relish and some…
salami, cheese and olives – also, fermented.
Do you continually struggle with what to bring to a potluck?
Well, I have the answer for you.
A fresh batch of deviled eggs quickly disappears at any get-together. For easy peeling – even with fresh eggs – cook you eggs with steam and then flavor with Fermented Red Pepper Relish (recipe below), salt and plenty of cream for that melt-in-your-mouth consistency.
So, let’s see what types of foods are so convenient that you’ll want some stockpiled in a fermented foods “pantry.”
Grab ‘n Go!
- Benefits of Fermented Foods
- Thirst Quenching Beverages for Rehydration [and Replenishing Electrolytes]
- Fermented Raspberry Soda
- Crunchy Fermented Vegetables for Snacking & Dipping
- Stock Your Fermented Foods Pantry with Some Mouthwatering Sauerkraut for a Quick Burger Topping or Instant Salad
- Delicious Relishes to Serve on a Cheese Platter or Enhance Flavors
- Raw Vegetables for a PREbiotic-Rich Crunch
- Heavenly Foods that are – Surprise! – Fermented
- And Don’t Forget the…
Benefits of Fermented Foods
The Flavorful Convenience of Fermented Foods
I can’t emphasize enough the pleasure you’ll derive from having a few tasty ferments stashed in your refrigerator. They make adventures not only relaxing and stress-free but tantalizing for your taste buds.
- Fermented foods are the ultimate convenience food. It is so easy to throw together a meal when you have on hand already prepared jars of flavor enhancers. Quickly, you can put together savory salads, satisfying sandwiches and succulent cheese spreads.
- Fermented foods effortlessly create the WOW! Factor. That grilled cheese sandwich is easily taken to a new level when spread with a flavorful fermented paste or relish.
- Fermented foods delight your senses with their nourishing depth of flavor. These special foods gradually become foods you will want to eat not because they are good for you but because THEY TASTE SO GOOD. Your eating slows down and your taste buds do a happy dance as you take in the satisfying flavors.
Healthy Digestion with Fermented Foods
Yes, even though we know the consumption of fermented foods is so good for your digestion, I thought I’d share a few reminders why:
- Fermented foods are super easy to digest. Why? They have been predigested by millions of Mighty Microbes. During fermentation, these tiny bacteria digest sugars and break down nutrients so that your body does not have to. How cool is that?
- Fermented foods promote the healthy digestion of other foods in your meal. The enzymes in fermented foods also assist in digesting foods eaten along with them, especially grains, legumes, and meat.
- Fermented foods contain bonus levels of nutrients. Those bacteria truly are mighty. Not only do they make digestion happen, but they improve the quantity, availability and digestibility of many nutrients. The fermentation process makes nutrients more bioavailable, meaning that your body better knows how to efficiently use them. This is why there is more Vitamin C in fermented cabbage than there is in raw cabbage. The bacteria extract the Vitamin C from the plant walls and make it available for your body to digest. Pretty crazy.
Here are a few suggestions to make it easier to set yourself up for not only flavorful picnics, parties and potlucks but also everyday meals.
As you read through the following list of ideas for Grab & Go Ferments, keep a mental note – or print out the recipes – of a few you want to make.
Purchase the necessary supplies and give yourself the goal to ferment them THIS week.
Set aside a couple of hours to make some flavorful ferments.
You’ll be glad you did when you are trying to figure out what foods to take with you to that upcoming Concert in the Park, day at the beach or party with friends.
Thirst Quenching Beverages for Rehydration [and Replenishing Electrolytes]
Fermented “Sodas” are especially welcome if you’ve been out in the sun all day, making them a perfect addition to a summer picnic. And, you may notice that they are much more thirst-quenching than water. I also find them helpful for keeping me alert and energized when driving putting in an extra long day of driving.
Do keep these drinks in a cooler if you take them to a picnic. They are alive and when moved from your cold refrigerator to a warm car the sleepy bacteria wake up and start a lively dance, creating excess carbon dioxide in the process. That gas has to go somewhere, hence the woosh! when you open these drinks. Keep them cool and open carefully, pointing the bottle away from you and all is good.
You’ll notice that most fermented soda recipes call for whey (the bacteria-rich watery liquid in yogurt) or some other starter. Fermented beverages are one place where I break my “no-starters” rule. Since most of the fruits or fruit juices that you are trying to ferment do not come ready supplied with bacteria to make fermentation happen, a starter culture of some type is required. There are a few exceptions (and I’m trying to find more 🙂 ) as you’ll see in the Fermented Raspberry Soda recipe.
This is my go-to fermented drink that I take with me on ALL my travels, be it a day trip to Victoria for shopping and a haircut or a week long camping trip. I can easily ferment coconut water on the road and keep my gut friends happy for the whole adventure. Details in the post.
My preferred starter for Fermented Coconut Water is milk kefir grains, though I cover all your options in my recipe.
This recipe includes tips on how to get you drink naturally fizzy.
“Lightly sweet, mostly dry, and bursting with bubbles, a naturally fermented lemonade soda is one of our favorite probiotic treats to make – particularly in summer when it helps to quench thirst brought on by hot days spent under the sun’s bright and warm rays.” – Jennifer, The Nourished Kitchen
My Dead-Simple Fermented Raspberry Soda Recipe
Fermented Raspberry Soda
FERMENTATION LENGTH: 5-7 days
This recipe takes advantages of the yeasts and bacteria naturally present on the raspberries along with the enzymes in the honey to make fermentation happen. No starter required.
I like to ferment my sodas in the tall, half-gallon canning jars. They are a convenient size and I find the measurements marked on the jar simplify putting the ingredients together. If you don't have one of these jars, find something similar or adjust amounts to work for the size jar you have.
You Will Need
- 2/3 cup honey
- 2-3 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 gallon (2 liter) canning jar with lid
FLAVOR. In the bottom of your jar, dissolve 2/3 cup of unpasteurized honey in a bit of barely warm water. You don't want to kill any enzymes in the honey by using hot water.
Add 2-3 cups of fresh or frozen raspberries.
Fill the jar with unchlorinated water, leaving 1-2 inches of head space.
Tightly screw on lid.
Gently "shake" to mix: Turn the jar upside down shaking a bit to loosen any honey stuck to the bottom of the jar, then flip back upright.
FERMENT for 2-3 days to develop a nice raspberry flavor and give time for the bacteria to eat the sugars in the honey.
"Shake" mixture 2-3 times per day.
SECONDARY FERMENTATION. To produce natural carbonation, strain into small soda bottles, filling to the top. I reuse my bottles saved from purchased Kombucha drinks. Just be sure to use bottles that have previously held a carbonated beverage.
Carbonation Booster? Taste your raspberry soda before starting your secondary fermentation. If there is no sweetness to it, add 1/4 teaspoon of sugar to each bottle. This will give the bacteria something to eat so that they can make CO2 bubbles for you.
FERMENT for an ADDITIONAL 2-3 Days. until soda becomes slightly bubbly.
REFRIGERATE. Once they are cold, open slowly to release built-up carbonation and enjoy this refreshing drink.
If one of the above fermented drinks above doesn’t grab you, check out this well done round-up post by Lindsey over at the Traditional Cooking School GNOWFGLINS blog.
The post starts with a discussion of what bacteria are present in the various in different types of fermented sodas and the importance of variety in the foods we eat.
“Am I saying you have to make all the fermented foods out there in order to achieve glowing health? No.”
“I am saying that you should try to incorporate as much variety with your ferments as you do with the other foods you eat. Eating the same thing over and over gets boring and deprives your body of the joy and health that comes from eating many foods in all colors of the rainbow. The same is true with ferments.”
Crunchy Fermented Vegetables for Snacking & Dipping
When the munchies hit, I love being able to grab a few fermented vegetables to quell the cravings. Fermented vegetables are a great addition to any picnic or get together. Just don’t forget the dip.
My recipe for 5 Simple Fermented Carrot Sticks can be flavored to your liking. Ferment for 7-14 days. They can be made in any jar and any sized batch. I prefer the pint (500 ml) jars because it’s easy to grab a carrot right out of the jar. Anything taller and you’re having to work to fish the carrots out of the jar.
Green beans are fermented just like carrots. Pack them in a jar, add some seasonings and pour a salty brine over them. Here’s one recipe to try.
“My Spicy Garlic & Dill Pickled Green Beans are absolutely delicious! Sour, garlicky, a little spicy and crunchy. These would look great on a charcuterie plate with an assortment of cheeses, meats and olives. Would be amazing in a Bloody Mary or as a quick probiotic snack.”
“Green beans are an easy vegetable to ferment because they stay crunchy, take little preparation and they adopt the spices and herb flavors in the brine well.” – Danielle, Fermented Food Lab
This recipe of mine includes everything you need to know to ferment pickles: ingredients to include to keep them crunchy, pickling spice recipes, Brine Chart PDF and ways to enjoy your fresh pickles.
My favorite dip for plunging carrots sticks – and other goodies – into.
When you include fats with a food, the fat-soluble vitamins are better absorbed into your body. No fears, please!
“The most obvious, and our favorite application, is this herb dip that is superb with your favorite crackers, tortilla chips, crostini, pita chips or veggies. Most nights of the week we have a little bowl of this dip set out with crackers to munch on with a glass of wine.” – Circle B Kitchen
Stock Your Fermented Foods Pantry with Some Mouthwatering Sauerkraut for a Quick Burger Topping or Instant Salad
I almost feel guilty when I bring just a jar of flavorful sauerkraut to a bar-b-que, but friends always comment on how extra delicious their hot dog or hamburger tastes with a dollop of sauerkraut. Bring along a card listing ingredients in your sauerkraut and how to use it. Bonus? Fermented foods make the digestion of other foods – especially meats – so much easier.
Bonus? Fermented foods make the digestion of other foods – especially meats – so much easier.
Fermented foods make the digestion of other foods – especially meats – so much easier.
Or, mix a cup of sauerkraut with a bowl of fresh lettuce for an instant salad. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with some toasted nuts and grind on some salt and pepper and you’re ready.
Need a sauerkraut recipe?
In this collection, the Pineapple Kraut with Ginger and Turmeric (#28) is especially refreshing on hot summer days.
In this set of my sauerkraut recipes, I love the kick the Kimchi-Style Sauerkraut adds to hamburgers or hot dogs.
Delicious Relishes to Serve on a Cheese Platter or Enhance Flavors
Now, this is where fermented relishes and pastes really shine. Effortlessly Add the WOW!
Use these fermented powerhouses as a dip for chips or vegetables.
Spread them on a cream cheese topped cracker.
Effortlessly enhance the flavor of deviled eggs and other finger foods.
Basic Go-To Fermented Pepper Mash
Kirsten & Christopher, authors of my FAVORITE fermentation book Fermented Vegetables: Creative Recipes for Fermenting 64 Vegetables and Herbs – review here – recently published their second book Fiery Ferments: 70 Stimulating Recipes for Hot Sauces, Spicy Chutneys, Kimchis with Kick, and Other Blazing Fermented Condiments. I received a copy of their latest book which I am currently reviewing and will soon share.
My own fermented Red Pepper Relish recipe is in the works and will be published here on my blog once it is “perfected.” Until then, enjoy the Shockey’s video recipe.
I make my red pepper relish with just sweet peppers and use it to flavor deviled eggs and to top crackers spread with cream cheese. Use the video recipe but alter the type of peppers you use to adjust the heat to your liking.
Want to bring a fresh batch of deviled eggs to bring to a potluck?
“Hard boil” a dozen eggs. For easy peeling – even with fresh eggs – cook you eggs with steam and then flavor with this Red Pepper Mash, salt and plenty of cream for that melt-in-your-mouth consistency.
Not only is this relish great with cheese, but it also is a perfect dip for corn chips, works well alongside luncheon meats and shines as a hot dog topping.
“I always think twice (or three or four) times before putting something like “foolproof” in a recipe title. But you know if I have foolproof in the title that I am confident that anyone can have success with the recipe- every single time. And that is this what this fermented corn relish recipe is. So easy, so yummy, and – get this – so good for you. Don’t you love it when those three things align in a food?” – Jami, An Oregon Cottage
The Cranberry-Orange Relish is great with cream cheese and crackers.
The Raw Cranberry-Apple Chutney makes a flavorful and refreshing side salad.
The Pickled Cranberries are just plain fun – and delicious.
Raw Vegetables for a PREbiotic-Rich Crunch
The PRObiotics found in fermented foods are one way to improve your digestion – and health – but also important to include in your diet are PREbiotics as I cover in 9 Best Prebiotic Foods for Optimal Digestion [15 Ways to Eat]. Some foods – asparagus, jicama, Jerusalem artichokes – that are rich in prebiotics, also make great raw snacking vegetables.
Check out #3 on the list in my post if you’re looking for a recipe for Fermented Asparagus.
Jicama looks like a potato, is crispy and juicy like a crisp pear and tastes slightly sweet and starchy like an apple. Cut into small sticks and enjoy with a creamy dip.
Sunchokes, or Jerusalem artichokes are edible tubers that grow underground like a potato. They taste slightly nutty. Add them to a vegetable platter.
Heavenly Foods that are – Surprise! – Fermented
You may not know this, but many of your favorite foods are fermented and make great additions to a picnic, potluck or party.
Charcuterie is the art of curing and preserving meat. You may be most familiar with salami, made out of a variety of meats: pork, beef, turkey, etc. The meat is ground and allowed to ferment for a brief period of time, then is cured, or literally hung out to dry for a long time.
Traditionally made fermented salami and sausages are made without starter cultures or sugar and rely entirely on bacteria present in the meat and in the surrounding microflora to preserve the meat.
Curing – a type of fermentation – is an ancient process that turns the naturally bitter fruit into a deliciously salty, tart snack. Olives are gently smashed or cut to allow penetration of salt and then either covered in a brine solution or dry packed in salt to cure or “ferment.”
Read labels and look for olives that have been naturally cured. Most canned California-style black olives, for instance, are not generally fermented but are simply treated with lye to remove the bitterness, packed in salt and canned.
Probiotics, those beneficial bacteria found in fermented dairy products like yogurt or kefir, is also abundant in raw dairy products, like raw cheese. Raw cheeses will have higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid and readily bio-available vitamins and minerals. Check labels carefully. It should say “raw” or “unpasteurized milk.”
The fermentation of cacao beans is a crucial step in the process of developing the body and richness inherent in fine, high-grade chocolate. Cacao fermentation removes the tannins, which can cause an astringent flavor, present in the cocoa bean.
For the fermentation process, first the cacao beans are carefully scooped out of the pod and then placed in “sweat boxes,” slatted wooden boxes generally where they ferment for anywhere from 5-7 days, depending upon the type of bean and desired flavor.
When the fermentation is complete, the cacao beans are removed from the sweat boxes and carefully dried. It is then, from the cacao beans, that the various chocolate products – cacao butter, cacao nibs, cocoa powder – are made.
See Fermented Foods ULTIMATE Guide: How to Buy or Make, Ways to Eat & Wonderful Benefits for chocolate buying tips.
And Don’t Forget the…
Crackers, Chips and Toasted Nuts
Share in the Comment section what you will grab from your fermented foods pantry to bring to your next picnic, potluck or party. Set yourself up for some mouthwatering sharing with family and friends.