Back in the day, people fermented food to preserve them. Our ancestors also believed that fermented food had medicinal benefits. They couldn’t be more right. Vegetables and other kinds of food that have undergone fermentation are generally more nutritious.
Fermentation was a thing long before refrigerators ever existed. The fact that there’s still fermented food all around us today is a testament to the genius of our ancestors.
Why Fermented Food
Fermented foods are rich in microbes that are good for the body. They keep the gut healthy allowing better digestion, stronger immunity and proper weight. Fermented food also provides relief for inflammation and keeps the growth of disease-causing bacteria in the body under control.
Additionally, fermenting food does not cost much so there isn’t really any good reason why you shouldn’t do it. Also, it’s pretty easy and relatively fast to ferment food so you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labor in a few days time. Most importantly, fermented foods last a long time. You can keep them in your prepper pantry and use when necessary such as in the case of an economic collapse, sudden unemployment, or other emergency situations.
Popular Fermented Foods and How to Make Them
Sauerkrat is a popular fermented food that supposedly originated in China despite its name being derived from the German word for “sour cabbage.” Laborers working on the Great Wall apparently preserved their shredded cabbage by adding some rice wine to it so they would have something to eat the whole year. It was then brought to Europe by Genghis Khan’s men a thousand years later before 16th century Germans started using salt as preservative.
Nowadays, this fermented food is made from chopped or finely shredded cabbage layered with canning or pickling salt. You’ll need three tablespoon of salt for every three pounds of cabbage. Set the salted cabbage aside until the leaves start wilting. Pack the cabbage tight and even in a clean jar. Press the salted cabbage with a tamper. You can also use a wooden spoon or even your hands. Make more slated cabbage until the jar is filled up to three to four inches of the top.
Cover the cabbage with a muslin or any clean, white, thin fabric. Make sure the edges of the cloth are tucked against the inner part of the jar. Place a round waxed board inside the jar to cover cabbage and the cloth before adding the weight.
Kimchi is another popular fermented food, which hails from Asia, particularly from Korea. It’s known for its many medicinal benefits including, healthy hair and skin, clearer vision, low cholesterol level, and stomach cancer prevention among others.
Kimchi is made by first splitting the napa cabbage (about 6 pounds) in half then dunking it in water. While still wet, gently massage Kosher salt into each cabbage leaf. Make sure you get more salt where the leaves are thicker, particularly near the stems. Set aside for about two hours. Turn them over every half hour to make sure they’re well salted. Wash the cabbage with cold running water to remove the salt. Cut into quarters and drain.
Mix two cups water and two tablespoons glutinous rice flour together then cook over medium heat for ten minutes. When it starts to bubble, add two tablespoons turbinado sugar. Brown and white sugar will also do. Let it cook for another minute then remove from heat. Once cool, combine the porridge with 24 minced garlic cloves, two teaspoons minced ginger, medium minced onion, half cup fish sauce, 1/4 cup fermented salted shrimp, and two cups hot pepper flakes. Mix until it turns into paste.
Add two cups radish, one cup carrot, and chopped green onion into the paste. Mix them well then spread the paste on each leaf. Wrap each quarter of the cabbage smothered with the paste around itself to create a packet. Place in a jar or onggi. Let it ferment for a few days though it’s edible at this stage.
Pickling vegetables calls for a little imagination. That’s because you can make fermented food out of most vegetables. It’s basically up to you, which fruits or vegetable you want to pickle. The most popular, however, are cucumbers, carrots, peaches, beets beans, and cabbage.
All you need to make this fermented food is, first, to clean and slice your chosen vegetable. For green beans, you can blanch them first to keep their color. Next, make a rinse out of water and kind of vinegar except balsamic and other concentrated ones. They should of equal amounts. You have the option to add flavors to your pickled vegetables. Some of the common ingredients added to give this fermented food flavor are dill, garlic, ginger, coriander, thyme, and red pepper flakes.
Yogurt is another popular fermented food, especially for those trying to watch their figure. You can make your own yogurt at home even if you don’t have a yogurt machine. You only need half a gallon of whole milk and half a cup of store-bought unflavored yogurt with live active yogurt culture among its ingredients. Skim milk will also work but the result will not be as thick and creamy.
Heat the milk in a heavy pot such as a Dutch oven right before it starts to boil. Make sure you stir the milk gently while you’re heating it. After heating the milk, let it cool until it’s warm enough to touch. Stir it to keep skin from forming.
Get a cup of warm milk from the pot then add the yogurt. Whisk to dissolve the yogurt into the milk. Pour the yogurt-milk mixture into the pot with the rest of the milk. Whisk gently to inoculate the milk with the yogurt.
Cover the pot and wrap it with towels to keep its contents warm. Wait for at least four hours or until the yogurt has set. It may also last overnight depending in the culture and other factors. Check on the yogurt regularly but avoid stirring it. Once it sets to your preferred consistency and flavor, transfer to jars or other containers then refrigerate. You have two weeks to enjoy your home-made yogurt.
Some of you may not be aware that cheese is a type of fermented food. Making your own cheese will especially be beneficial since you can use it on a variety of dishes. If you’re a huge fan of pizza, you may want to know how to make mozzarella cheese.
In a small bowl, dissolve 1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid in one cup of water. Combine 1/4 cup water and 1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet in a separate bowl. Next, pour one gallon whole milk into a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the citric acid mixture while stirring. Remove from heat then stir in the rennet mixture. Stir for 30 more seconds before covering the pot and setting it aside.
The mixture should have a gelatin-like texture after five minutes. If not, let it set for a little while longer. Once done, cut the curds using an offset spatula or long knife. Then, cook the curds over medium heat until it reaches 105°F. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and let it set for five minutes.
Use a mesh sieve to separate the curds from the liquid. Bunch the cuds together until the whey has been drained off. Place the curds in the strainer and dip it in a pot filled with water at 185°F for up to three minutes. Fold the curds repeatedly. Make sure the inside is still hot. Add one teaspoon of kosher salt then keep stretching and folding the cheese until your desired consistency. Finally, shape the cheese and then dip them in a bowl of ice water for five minutes.
Other fermented food you can include in your meal plan and in your prepper pantry are Sourdough bread, tempeh (fermented soybeans), kombucha, kefir (fermented milk drink), fermented juice, fermented ketchup, drinking vinegars, and miso.
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