Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fermented Kale - Cinderella on my counter

Doesn't look very appetising, does it? I should have photographed it in its original mason jar, it looked prettier there. Regardless, let me introduce you to a batch of lacto-fermented kale.

I've been making kale chips, as my faithful readers know. I do think they are yummy, and an excellent use for my dehydrator. But I wanted to try something different, with the benefits of lactobacilli and a little softer for my sometimes temperamental digestive tract. (Sorry for the TMI!).

I'd already been making lacto-fermented pickles, thanks to Sally Fallon's fabulous book, Nourishing Traditions. I've been making my own yoghurt for the past several years because I (try to) follow the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for above-mentioned digestive issues. I like the yoghurt thick, like Greek yoghurt, so I'd always strained the whey right into the sink. Now I collect it and use it to make wonderful healthy stuff - for example, if you soak rolled oats (which I don't eat, but my kids do) overnight with a few tablespoons of whey, you have the equivalent of instant oatmeal in the morning, without the industrial additives and with an enhanced nutritional value.

I totally recommend this book, especially if you have any kind of auto-immune issues. This despite the somewhat inflammatory language (pun intended). Look past the rhetoric to the information and the recipes, and your life will be so much better.

OK, back to the fermented kale. I found a recipe online (which involved kale, salt, water and whey - duh, I could have figured that out myself. Working on that self-confidence thing). I took a mason jar and layered kale and salt until it was pretty full, then added water and whey. Closed 'er up and let it sit on my counter for a few days, then transferred it to a container in the fridge. Given that self-confidence thing, I joined a wonderful Facebook group called WILD FERMENTATION, where extremely nice people reassured me that I was doing it right and that I wouldn't poison myself. They did recommend, however, against fermenting kale by itself because they said it wasn't very appetising. They generally added it to cabbage to make kale-kraut combinations. But here I already had this fermented kale, what to do with it? Here's what I've come up with so far.

First thing I did was to mix it with some canned salmon for lunch yesterday. I usually use spinach leaves, but I'm a little chary about eating too much raw spinach what with the oxalic acid and all. Raw kale is completely out of the question for me. But the fermented kale was soft and gave a nice little tang to the salmon - didn't even need to add my usual lemon juice. So there we go, there's one good use for fermented kale.

Today I came to make my morning omelette with a little trepidation. My daughter was up half the night with a stomach bug and I wasn't feeling too fabulous myself in that regard. Again, I usually use spinach in my omelette, but hey, there was the container of fermented kale. I heated up some coconut oil in my lovely cast-iron skillet, popped in some kale, then added some herbs and my whisked-up eggs.

It was very nice, tasted good (again, just that little bit of tang to wake up your tongue) and my body hasn't complained (yet, anyway). In fact, I'm feeling much better than I did when I woke up, although of course that could all be in my head. So much of this stuff is, really.

So, my thanks again to the lovely folks at WILD FERMENTATION. I went out yesterday and found a little glass jar that I can fill with brine and use to weigh down my ferments INSIDE their mason jars. The scary part of fermenting stuff on your counter is that if it floats up and sticks out of the brine, you can get mould. As long as it is nicely under the brine, it is all anaerobic and the lacto-bacilli can do their magic.

So there is my Cinderella food tale. I do have a nice big cabbage sitting in my fridge waiting to be turned into kraut, and I'm thinking carrot, broccoli and cauliflower thoughts as well. I will no doubt report back on my adventures in fermentation-land.

What new culinary paths have you explored recently? Any suggestions as to what else I can do with my fermented kale? Let me know!


  1. doesn't the heat destroy the live bacteria therefore the advantage of eating a fermented veggie ?

    1. Yes, it does. I now add the fermented veggies *after* the eggs, and I don't think a few minutes of being warmed up will destroy all the advantages. But yeah, probably better cold with salmon ;-).

      This blog has moved, BTW, to I hope you will continue to read it there.

  2. You can add the kale to mashed potatoes if you eat mashed potatoes. Mmmmmm.

    1. I could ... unfortunately, while I like mashed potatoes, they don't like me!

      This blog has moved to, I hope you will follow me there! Thanks for commenting!

  3. Perhaps a silly question; however, back in the day Dad used to make fresh yoghurt by adding milk to a bit of the last batch of yoghurt. Within no time the jar's entire contents would curdle. Is this principle sound regarding saurkraut? Would I be able to dump a kilo of saurkraut (or more) on top of perhaps a half kilo of fresh cabbage and then wait a couple weeks?

    1. No, because most sauerkraut you buy at the store is pasteurized and thus doesn't have any of the lactobacillus bacteria left in it. However, sauerkraut itself is really easy to make and only requires salt and water. :)


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