Wednesday, May 29, 2013


I think one of the biggest changes we've made here, as regards to how we eat, was the introduction of fermented food and drink into our diet.  I was always put off by the whole lacto-fermented and cultured thing. It always seemed so time consuming and just a little bit scary.

But really, it's not. A batch of sauerkraut is really as simple as rubbing cabbage and salt together for ten minutes and packing it into a jar. (I used these instructions) Just a few spoonfuls a day can greatly improve digestive health, and we try to have some daily in our attempt to adopt a more traditional diet. I have been making a batch about every three weeks or so from locally grown cabbage. We eat it in varying degrees of sourness, though I must say that I am the only sour flavour fan in the house. So if you don't like the taste it is easy to stir into a vegie mash or something similar to subdue the flavour. It is actually quite nice with a bacon and egg weekend breakfast.

Sauerkraut made from cabbage and kale

Those of us that have spent most of our lives on the standard white flour and sugar fare, often topped off with margarine or vegetable oil, as most processed food is, or the occasional dose of antibiotics, will have some digestive issues. Often it is hidden, but may manifest itself in seemingly unrelated ways and is often subtle. I believe this to be true of myself, my family and I suspect in most people I know. Fermented foods are one of the best ways to re-introduce healthy bacteria and improve our gut flora.

Yoghurt, I had already been making for some time using the slow cooker method.  But I allow it to ferment for a full 24 hours now so as to ensure that most of the lactose has been consumed by the culture, making it easier to digest. It seems to make it a lot thicker too.

Speaking of dairy, we've also begun to drink fermented kefir daily (I bought my kefir grains from here). I make a new batch every morning in a few large glass jars. I use organic unhomogenised milk or A2 milk which I simply pour over the strained grains from the previous batch. Raw milk is impossible to find here and I have heard that kefir is the next best thing. It is like putting the life back into the milk that pasteurisation takes out. If you like the sour taste of yoghurt, as I do, then you will have no problem with this. I really enjoy it as a snack. For others (like Daniel) it can be an acquired taste. I also know someone that adds a touch of honey. Unfortunately I've had no luck getting the kids to drink it.

But the kids do enjoy drinking the kombucha tea I've been making. I had no luck with most of the first few batches of kombucha (it kept going mouldy), and almost gave up. So I took the plunge and bought a big kombucha jar designed for the continuous method of kombucha making. I also put calico over the tea now instead of cheesecloth. I have had no problems whatsoever with this new system and we are actually making more kombucha than we can use at this stage. I originally bought my kombucha "mushroom" from here and I also added a small bottle of commercial kombucha (from the local health food store) to the water, black tea and sugar mixture. Don't be scared of the sugar content as the sugar will be consumed by the fungus. If this all sounds very strange, it really does make a pleasant sour fizzy drink, becoming more sour over time. So before it gets too sour I draw off several litres worth into empty glass bottles and store it in the fridge. I then add a fresh batch of tea to the jar and know that it will be ready within a week.

So that is our version of the whole fermented business. It has been interesting, tasty and I could even say the process has been a bit of a fun adventure. My kitchen benches have never been so cluttered, but I don't think the bench space could be put to a better purpose than the nourishing of the family within these walls.

Suggested reading:


Wild Fermentation : The Flavour, Nutrition and Craft of Live -Culture Foods
Nourishing Traditions
Kombucha : The Miracle Fungus
Kefir : For Pleasure, Beauty and Well-Being 

Online articles

Repairing the Gut
The Definitive Guide to Fermented Foods


  1. So very interesting Tania. I haven't ventured past yoghurt making at this stage.
    Maybe the fermented kefir may be more tempting for the kids as a smoothie with honey and bananas or berries.

  2. My dad was big on Komboucha when we were younger, but hasn't fermented a culture for a while, he was getting gout flare ups from the acid, just be careful how much you drink

  3. We drink water kefir by the litre in our house, but I'd love to try komboucha too. I haven't tried making sauerkraut but I buy an organic one that I'm very happy with. Maybe it's time I gave it a go too. As you say...the kitchen bench gets a bit crowded with all this fermented magic in process, but eating/drinking the end result makes it all worth while.

  4. So exciting! I love all this stuff.
    Do you feel noticeably different?

  5. I have been keen to make the yoghurt in the slow cooker for ages...might have to put that on my "to do list" for next week. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane

  6. Wow! That was a really positive post on fermentation and I have to admit I too have been wary of the whole idea - then again I am still a wuss about making cheese at home as well so I think you've done really well here un-scarying the whole idea. I may even be brave and try...I do have the Nourishing Traditions book ordered through our library but, as it has been that way since Feb this year, I have pretty much given up on seeing it! I shall have to save some pennies and get a hold of a copy.
    Thank you, again, for sharing your fermentation adventures.

  7. Tania you've inspired me once again. I must bring out the yoghurt maker that I bought at the school fete and start another batch. And thank you for the sauerkraut instructions as well - I might just give it a go.

  8. Thank you all for the hints and tips.
    Kate - I can't say for sure if it is just the fermented foods or the food we are eating, but we both have a lot more energy and a feeling of being happier and more calm. When I caught a bug on the weekend I drank kefir and kombucha and I felt back to normal in time to make dinner. Most people that had it around here were out for days and had vomiting also. Thank goodness I was spared. Not sure if this was a coincidence or good bacteria at work :)

  9. I'm freshly inspired to go further. I love the keffir milk and lacto fermented pickles, beetroot being my favourite. I remember kombucha all the rage back in the 80's but I have never seen a big brewer like that one. What a good idea. Thanks for your links and experiences.

  10. This is something that keeps coming up over and over in recent weeks. I always take this to be a sign that it is something I should look into. So thanks for the comments and the reading list!

  11. I really enjoyed this post. As someone who has been on a few courses of antibiotics already this year, I think my body could do with a helping hand to get some balance back. I might start small with some homemade sauerkraut and I know that there is a kombucha seller at our local markets.



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