Fermented Stuff

Think ecology through food

By Joris Vermeir

Millions of bacteria and cultures live inside us. We need them to be healthy and to flourish. A perfect symbiosis. Let’s do a little DIY food fermenting project to stimulate ours and their liveliness. Is there something arty about fermentation? It surely is a wild thing and you can go and get creative with different kinds of veggies and spices.

What you need to make about one 750ml jar

  • 1 glass jar, clean and sterilised, a clean and dry lid or a Weck pot, rubber ring and lid
  • 1 wooden stick or pestle
  • 1 Chinese cabbage, chopped except one leaf
  • 5 garlic cloves, grated
  • 5 cm fresh ginger, grated
  • sea salt (see below for quantity)
  • peppercorns, aniseed plus other spices, crushed
  • chili flakes (optional)

Goal is to have a healthy fermentation process in which the lactobacillus brings out the probiotics and all the other good stuff within the vegetables. Key is to keep it as hygienic as possible. Start with washing your hands. Use clean utensils and a spotless working surface. Sterilise the jar by rinsing with boiling water or by placing it in a 180CĀ° heated oven for 15 min.

Chop up the cabbage, the ribs finer than the green parts. Grate the ginger and garlic. Heat a pan and lightly roast the pepper, aniseed and other spices. This awakens the flavours. Crush them in a mortar. Put a bowl on your scale. Add and mix all the ingredients (including the chili flakes) and weigh them. Add 2% untreated, raw sea salt. Mix everything thoroughly and put it into the jar. Use a wooden stick or pestle to crush the ingredients for about 3-4 min. The salt extracts water from the vegetables. You can use the extra cabbage leaf to cover it all. Make sure that all the ingredients are covered in liquid. Put the lid on. Store the jar at room temperature. Wait.

After 2-3 days the fermentation process is in full motion. Release the pressure in the jar from time to time. Keep checking regularly and make sure all the ingredients are covered in liquid.

You can wait for one day, or ten - the longer you wait, the more tasty it’ll be. Once it has the taste you desire, put the jar in the fridge to slow down the fermentation process. Remember to keep it clean!