This post seems overdue, and my week has just felt super long – with everyone in my household down with some type of cold/flu/bug I thought it was high time to share the ferment recipe I had worked on a few weeks ago to increase my gut flora to battle all the nasties!
Hello and welcome to the world of ferments! Ever done a ferment before? Kimchi, krauts, pickles these are all ferments done with a few simple techniques – you, yes you – can transform a raw vegetable into something infinitely healthier and even more delicious as author Amanda Feifer of ‘Ferment your vegetables’ would say in her chapter on fermentation, a book I recommend highly to get or read, if you are like me a newbie in this area.
What happens during fermentation? The type of ferment we are doing today is lactic acid fermentation, this transforms any vegetable into pickles without a drop of added vinegar. LAB (lactic acid bacteria), which is referred to as probiotic bacteria is present on the skin and peels of many of the raw vegetables we eat, and given the right conditions this bacteria converts the vegetables natural sugars into, lactic acid, CO2 and a small amount of alcohol.
Why ferment vegetables? It’s actually pretty fun! The DIY process is simple with a worthwhile end result, tangy, sour, zingy, with even added complexity makes fermenting have it’s own magic – you won’t be sure what you get till you taste your own home cultured ferment. Health wise, instead of popping a probiotic pill or eating a factory produced dairy product with added sugars, you can easily get the same benefits from a ferment. Fermentation also creates vitamins, and minerals that become more easily absorbed by the gut and the process of fermentation reduces other harmful stuff like pesticides.
“While the role that fermented, probiotic foods play in the microbiome is not yet fully understood, there is good evidence that probiotic foods play a role in the creation and maintenance of a diverse and healthy population of gut bacteria and that diversity is important for our general health and well-being. – Amanda Feifer, author of Ferment Your Vegetables
Why is fermentation safe? According to the USDA microbiologist, Dr Fred Breidt these are a few points to note:
- LAB (lactic acid bacteria), formed during fermentation is a very powerful bacteria, creating conditions under which other pathogenic competitors cannot live.
- Lactic acid has been found to be more effective than acetic acid – (acid in white vinegar) at destroying dangerous pathogens like Salmonella and E.coli.
- If you are concerned about the quality of your ferment, the simplest test would be to take a pH strip to test it, a safe reading of 4.0 will ensure your ferment is free from botulism toxins.
- Lactic acid is an amazing preservative, in commercial production some products have been left at controlled and often uncontrolled environments for a year or more. A pickle that has gone bad (which apparently rarely happens) can be easily identified by off smells and appearance.
I’ve tried as far as I can to give you a crash course on why you should do a ferment, so now I’m going into the how – I’ve adapted Amanda’s Pint of Pickled Peppers recipe and called my adapted version Brown Rice Tea Infused Baby Pickled Peppers (I used these tiny, cutie peppers for $2 a bag at the local wet market to make my ferment, they came in bright red, yellow and green!)
Left: Peppers Center: garlic, japanese roasted brown rice (you can pick just the rice parts from a packet of Genmaicha) Right top: Citron Thyme Right bottom: Lemon for zesting
Deseeding all my baby peppers, and removing any white coloured stems and pith
Zest of one lemon, using a cheese grater
Layer brown rice tea, lemon zest, peeled garlic cloves, citron thyme at the bottom of the jar. Press in the peppers as per the picture all around, make your own rainbow coloured creation by alternating colours. Create salting brine to add to ingredients, please see recipe for full details. Add in a weight and close up the jar.
Amanda’s book says ferment for 5 to 6 days at room temperature for a crispy pepper. In Singapore’s heat, 4 to 5 day is more than sufficient.
I didn’t like the crispy peppers version as per her recipe instructs, for my recipe I found that at this point the flavours hadn’t quite seeped fully into the peppers. I fridged the jar of them after straight away and then ate them 2 weeks later!
The softer peppers I got after 2 more weeks of slow fermenting in the fridge was fantastic, it was great eaten cold out of the jar and it made a stunning salsa with avacadoes! I could taste the subtle roasted brown rice flavour even! You can get creative here so put in some bold flavours you like into your ferment!
Tag your ferments at #taystesg. I hope you had as much fun as I did doing this recipe!
Brown rice tea infused baby pickled peppers (ferment)
Adapted from Ferment your vegetables by Amanda Feifer
Utensils – Ball Jar Quart size (24oz, 700 ml) plastic cover (optional), cheese grater
10 to 12 pieces of coloured peppers (2 bags)
2 cloves of peeled garlic
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon brown rice tea
3 sprigs of citron thyme/2 teaspoons of fresh thyme
4 teapoons of sea salt
2 cups of filtered water
- Slice peppers into half, deseed and remove stem pith and white portions on the inside of the peppers.
- Zest the lemon and set aside zest.
- Layer brown rice tea at the bottom, followed by lemon zest, peeled garlic and sprigs of citron thyme.
- Pack in the coloured pepper strips, standing them on the ends, alternating colours to create a rainbow effect. Pack as many as you can in.
- Mix the salt with the filtered water until dissolved and pour the salted brine into the glass jar, make sure there is a layer of brine covering the peppers. Leave a little space to add in a weight. (You can use any ceramic weights, i.e. baking weights tied up in a plastic bag to push down the peppers, so it remains under the brine.)
- Place your glass jar on a small plate or bowl and ferment for 4 to 5 days.
- You can taste at this point to see if you like the result.
- For me I remove the weight, cover with lid, refrigerate and taste again after 2 weeks for a softer tastier pepper!
Always keep your work areas tidy and wash and dry your vegetables and utensils before starting the ferment.
Important: Do not use acidic wash or rinse vegetables with any chemical agents to attempt to remove pesticides as this may interfere with the bacterial culture in the lactic acid formation process. And may ruin your ferment.
Using filtered water is also a must!
If using a pint jar (500ml) – half the recipe to get similar results.