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healthy essentials: fermentation starter

Recipe by
Andy Anderson !
Wichita, KS

This recipe helps you create a fermentation starter that can be used to create pickled veggies, like cucumbers, and even used as a substitute for the yeast in baking bread. Since it contains probiotics it is good for your gut health, and many folks (myself included) drink a glass of it every other day. I am going to show how to make it, plus give you examples of using it. So, you ready… Let’s get into the kitchen.

yield serving(s)
prep time 10 Min
method No-Cook or Other

Ingredients For healthy essentials: fermentation starter

  • 2 c
  • 3 Tbsp
  • 1/4 c
  • 1/8 tsp
    pink himalayan salt

How To Make healthy essentials: fermentation starter

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    The amounts listed in this recipe are for pint-sized Mason jars. If you are using quart jars, double the amounts. Actually, any glass container with a tight-fitting lid will work. I just happen to like Mason jars, and I have a ton of them lying about.
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    Technical Definition of Fermentation Fermentation is a metabolic process that produces chemical changes in organic substrates through the action of enzymes; it is narrowly defined as the extraction of energy from carbohydrates in the absence of oxygen. Note: Please do not hate me for writing that sentence. Andy's Definition of Fermentation Fermentation creates wonderful stuff; like beer… I mean, please, we are talking about beer here… Show some respect. The bottom line is that fermentation makes pickled veggies that taste yummy, and it produces really good stuff (probiotics) that live in your gut and keep you healthy. And, this makes a wonderful healthy beverage (full of probiotics) that your gut will say thank you for drinking. Really... It will actually say thank you.
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    The Sugar To be honest, any granulated sugar will do; however, I have my best luck with organic coconut sugar.
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    The Salt This recipe does not require any salt, but I do like the trace minerals it brings to the party. Not only do they assist in the fermentation process; they are good for you. If you do not have any good salt with trace minerals (sea salt is good also), then leave it out, and NEVER use table salt.
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    Something About the Water In order for this to work, you cannot use city water… City water contains chlorine, which will absolutely kill the process. I have a reverse osmosis water filtration system that removes most of the chlorine, and other junk, but my best source for pure water is… rainwater. I collect it, filter it, boil it, store it, and use it. Does that make me a homesteader? Hmmmm.
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    Removing Chlorine from Tap Water Chlorine can be removed by pouring the water through a granular activated carbon filter. Filter systems such as Zero Water, and Britta perform this function. Leaving it exposed to sunlight will break it down; however, the process takes several days. Boiling will remove chlorine; however, it must be boiled for at least 20 minutes. It has recently been shown that mixing the water with some powdered vitamin C breaks down chlorine; however, I am not sure how that would impact the fermentation process, so I am not recommending it. RO (reverse osmosis) device, will remove almost all the chlorine, and will work fine. So, if you do not want to collect rainwater, and you are not all that keen on trying any of these other methods, then go to the grocer, and pick up a pint of bottled spring water… Problem solved.
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    The Fruit The best fruits to use are things like dehydrated dates, blackberries, blueberries, raisins, etc. They can be fresh, or even frozen… up to you. The fruit will impart a very slight flavor to the final product, so choose something you like. FYI: Technically speaking, tomatoes are a fruit, but I would not suggest using them.
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    Gather your ingredients (mise en place).
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    Add the fruit to a glass container (I am using a combination of blueberries and raisins).
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    Add the sugar, and salt (if using).
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    Fill with water to within 1 inch (2.5cm) of the top.
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    Screw on the lid and shake until all the sugars have dissolved.
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    Now, twice a day: • Open the lid and release any trapped gases. • Put the lid back on and shake. • Remove the lid and release any remaining gases. • Put the lid back on and store. Repeat twice a day.
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    After about three days (depending on how warm the area is where you are storing it), it should become fizzy, like a soda. Give it a whiff. If it smells a bit like cider vinegar, it is ready. It is now chock full of natural yeasts, and all kinds of good bacteria (probiotics).
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    To stop the fermentation process, stick it in the fridge until needed.
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    AS A HEALTHY DRINK Mix equal parts starter and water, or fruit juice, and drink. Do that about every other day. You gut will thank you… it really will.
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    AS A SOURDOUGH STARTER Take one third of the flour required for your bread recipe and mix it with an equal amount of our starter. Cover with a tea towel, and let it ferment on your countertop for about 16 or so hours. For example, if your bread recipe calls for three cups of flour, take one third of that flour (one cup), and mix it with one cup fermentation starter. After the 16-hour wait time, finish the bread recipe and bake. It will not taste exactly like a true sourdough, but it will be fairly close.
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    TO PICKLE VEGGIES Take a quart jar with a tight-fitting lid (Mason come to mind), and add two tablespoons of sugar, and other spices; including a teaspoon of black tea (black tea contains tannins that help to keep veggies crisp). For example, when I am pickling cucumbers, I add a tablespoon of dried dill, and a couple of chopped garlic cloves. Add one quarter cup of the fermentation starter and fill the rest of the jar with good water. Leave about an inch of space at the top. Make sure that the veggies stay under the surface of the water, by using a few sterilized rocks, or a piece of crumbled parchment paper. Screw on the lid and place in a dark corner of your kitchen. Once a day, open to release trapped gasses. After the third day sample a veggie. If you are doing pickles, does it still taste like a cucumber? Then, they are not ready. Close it back up and give it another day or two. When it tastes like a pickle, they are ready. Stick them in the fridge and enjoy. Note: The fermentation time will be determined by the temperature of the place they are being stored.
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    Here is a short list of some good candidates for use in pickling: Cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, garlic, kohlrabi, mushrooms, peppers, radishes, snap beans and turnips, and more.
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    Most veggies purchased in a store are irradiated, and that process kills some the good bacteria you need for good fermentation. So, if all you can get are store bought, get the best you can, and go organic.
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    Well, there you go. Enjoy.
  • Stud Muffin
    Keep the faith, and keep cooking.