As old health trends are retiring and new ones are growing, I am sure by now you’ve heard of fructans. In fact, you’ve probably heard of them and thought… What the Fructan? (No? Bad joke? My apologies, I just had to!) But really, we’ve heard of probiotics, we’ve heard of prebiotics, and now this new term is being thrown around?
Wild Fermented Pickled Carrot Sticks A foolproof recipe that will help you easily ferment your own crunchy, refreshing and probiotic fermented pickled carrot sticks. No Starter Cultures Needed Wild fermentation is a method of fermenting that does not use starter cultures. Instead, wild fermenting involves …
Before I started studying Nutrition, I had my own raw artisanal vinegar production and distribution company in Columbus. I have a huge passion for fermentation and since closing my business to pursue a career in dietetics, I’m going to share my fermentation secrets!
What is Fermentation?
To put it simply, Fermentation, as it relates to food is the process of culturing good bacteria in food for the purpose of flavor, preservation, and health benefits.
There are many different types of fermentation, some require you have a starter culture (like a SCOBY for Kombucha) and some don’t.
What is Wild Fermentation
Before you decide to choose wild fermentation, you should probably know what it is right?
Wild Fermentation is a type of fermentation that doesn’t require a starter culture.
This means that to start your ferment using wild fermentation, you use the good bacteria present on the food to start the culture.
You can do this by making sure you give your ferment a proper living environment and the proper “food”.
It might seem intimidating, but wild fermenting is a lot easier than you’d think. Especially with the tips and tricks, I am going to share with you in this post!
Why Ferment at All?
Fermentation has been around for years as a way to preserve foods.
When done correctly, it’s safe and offers many health benefits as opposed to other preservation methods that use sugar and salt.
Additionally, using fermentation as a preservation method means a lesser risk of botulism, which is a plus in my book.
Not only does fermentation help make foods last longer, but it also increases the nutrient availability.
Many studies have shown that the process of fermentation increases the number of nutrients absorbed when consumed.
This means that fermentation increases the bioavailability of food. Basically, the good bacteria being cultured in a ferment breaks down food into a more digestible and friendly form for your digestive tract.
Additionally, fermentation is a natural food source of probiotics! Probiotics are all the rage these days and for a good reason.
Probiotics are thought to have a variety of benefits such as improved digestive health and reduced inflammation.
Not only is fermentation a safe way to preserve foods, but it boosts the health benefits and nutrient contents of already healthy food.
For more information check out this post on live foods!
Ditch the Scoby – Why Choose Wild Fermentation?
To choose wild fermentation is a no-brainer for me. I love wild fermentation. My options seem limitless as I am not constrained by the need to find starter cultures.
On that note, wild fermentation saves money. No more tracking down SCOBYs on the internet and paying a fortune for them to be shipped safely to you.
Some people even suggest that wild fermenting helps with allergies, especially if you use locally grown / organic food in your ferments.
Every artist has a favorite way to approach their craft, and for me, wild fermenting allows me to be creative in ways that other types of fermentation don’t.
Wild Fermentation Basics
Picking your Ingredients
Local and organic are always best when it comes to fermentation but I have had success with conventional produce too.
For whatever produce you choose to use, make sure you wash it well.
Culture with Prebiotics
Prebiotics are indigestible plant fibers that feed probiotics.
Essentially they are plant parts that feed the good bacteria and allow them to thrive in your culture.
When wild fermenting, it is especially important to use prebiotics in your ferments to ensure that your probiotics can thrive.
Some common prebiotics involved in fermentation include:
• Raw Garlic
• Raw Ginger
Use Distilled Water
I cannot stress this enough. Buying distilled water from the grocery store is important.
Simply boiling your water is sometimes not enough (especially if you live in a city where they have a bad algae problem)
Using distilled water is important as it makes sure you are not introducing any unwanted bacteria into your ferment.
It also makes sure you are not introducing chemicals or compounds that might inhibit the growth of your probiotics (like chlorine).
So when it comes to any type of fermented, but especially wild fermenting, use distilled water.
Sterilize your Vessels
By vessels, I mean whatever container you are fermenting in. I always use a glass jar or jug for fermentation (using plastic just feels wrong to me) and that makes the sterilization process easy.
I sterilize my vessels by washing them well and then placing them in an oven on high heat (400 degrees and up) for 2-4 hours.
After they are done heating up, I allow them to cool in the oven before starting my ferments.
While not 100% necessary, this step can help ensure your ferment gets a healthy start.
I highly recommend doing this especially if you are using conventional produce in your ferments.
Burp your Ferments
This only applies to ferments that are anaerobic, meaning you are fermenting them without oxygen present in an airtight container.
If you are culturing an anaerobic ferment (like sauerkraut, fermenting pickles, and ginger bug), you need to make sure you burp your ferments at least every two days. However, if you are experiencing hotter temperatures burping every day might be necessary.
If your ferment is healthy, when you burp it you should see bubbles rise to the top of the jar (the more bubbles the more active and healthy the ferment is).
Not only will burping your ferment indicate its health, but it will also help prevent your jar from exploding (if you are using glass).
Anaerobic fermenting builds pressure and trust me, you do not want to clean up the mess that occurs if you forget to release that pressure by burping your jar.
Looking for more information? The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz is an excellent read.
Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.
Fermented Foods What are they? Fermented foods have been a part of many cultures for centuries. The process of fermenting involves culturing good bacteria in food. This process acts a safer and more beneficial way of preserving foods as opposed to canning. Examples of commonly …
I like to describe fermentation as waging a war between good bacteria and bad bacteria. In this war you wage, you do everything you can to set the good bacteria up for success so that they can take over the bad bacteria. The best tell on whether or not the good bacteria (probiotics) won the war is to look at your ferment. Does it have mold? Does it smell bad? Does it taste bad? Does your culture look healthy? It’s easy to tell trust me. A lot of people get grossed out and feel funny about fermented foods but I assure you they can taste amazing and they offer many health benefits if cultured correctly!
I used to run my own vinegar production business called Effervescence and one of the most popular products I used to sell was an adapted version of this recipe! This recipe uses a wild fermentation technique to start the ferment. Wild fermentation is a process that requires no starter cultures. I am writing the recipe and directions this way out of respect for the fact that most readers probably don’t have an active culture of this stuff just lying about in their kitchen. Starting a wild fermentation is simple. You just need to make sure you have prebiotics and food in your culture.
In this recipe, the fresh ginger root acts as a prebiotic and the white cane sugar acts as the “food” for the good bacteria. Both of these ingredients help provide the good bacteria with the proper materials they need to convert the sugars and digest the nutrients in the ferment. Once your ferment is done and the probiotics have persevered, you will have a tasty drink ready to be consumed that is packed full of bioavailable nutrients and probiotics ready to nourish your body.
On that note, I have one question.
Are YOU ready to win a war?
♦ 1 fresh ginger root
♦ distilled Water
♦ 2 tbsp white cane sugar
1. Wash and rinse the fresh ginger root
2. Put the ginger root into a food processor and process until shredded.
3. Place the ginger root and white sugar into a mouth jar
4. Fill the jar to about an inch or two below the opening with distilled water.It is very important that you use distilled water as other types of water don’t promote a very habitable environment for the probiotics to thrive in.
5. Place an airtight lid on the jar.
Let your ferment sit for at least two weeks. Be sure burp it EVERY day and to stir it every so often to help “stimulate” the probiotic activity and to prevent your jar from bursting. I learned the hard way that that is not a mess you want to clean up!
If your ferment seems like it’s struggling to get started, add a bit of sugar to it to see if that kick-starts it.
If you have any questions about your ferment, please comment down below or on my ginger ferment Instagram post (@taylersilfverduk) and I’d be my pleasure to help you troubleshoot.
If you want to experiment with things and get a bit more creative, you can try brewing this stuff aerobically by using a coffee filter and rubberband as a lid instead of an airtight lid. This will slightly change the flavor and nature of the ferment but I promise it will just as delicious!
Don’t know how to use this stuff once you’ve finished brewing? I usually just drink it straight, however, I have also been known to chug vinegar so that might not be your cup of tea. I’ve heard mixing it with seltzer water or lemonade (or both) make for a delicious and healing drink! I’ve also heard mixing it with other juices has created some pretty satisfying results.