When it comes to frequently asked questions about the process of fermenting food, there are no “one-size-fits-all” answers, as each person has a unique situation. My goal with this FAQ page is to address some of the most common questions that new fermenters have when they are just getting started.
Yes, you can freeze sauerkraut. Sauerkraut will retain its flavor more readily if you are freezing FRESH sauerkraut.
Have more sauerkraut than you could possibly eat right now? Freeze some of your summer bounty to enjoy during the long winter months. Here’s how to do it well and with minimum mess.
What is the best way to freeze Sauerkraut?
Start by placing the sauerkraut in quality ziplock bags made for freezing.
Lay flat to save freezer space.
Be sure to date the ziplock bag.
Leave 1-2 inches of headspace to make room for the sauerkraut to expand during freezing.
Remove as much air as possible before sealing.
Triple-layer it with more quality ziplock bags made for freezing to prevent freezer burn.
Sauerkraut freezes best at 0-degrees F or colder.
The sauerkraut will last up to 8-12 months.
Step 1: Pick a Portion Size
Freezing sauerkraut in smaller portion sizes not only helps the sauerkraut freeze faster but it is the perfect plan for a make-ahead meal such as lunch and dinner for smaller families. Consider what works best for you before you freeze.
Step 2: Choose the Right Container
Need it in a hurry?: Try the round, reusable kind like these freezer-safe DuraHome Food Storage Containers with Lids ($17.91) Quick and easy to thaw, just run cold water over the outside of the container to loosen, and the sauerkraut will pop right out.
Want to save space in your freezer: Fill freezer-safe quart- or gallon-sized plastic bags. Freeze flat and stack in a single layer to save space.
Step 3: Avoid Freezer Burn
Freezer burnt sauerkraut can be avoided! Freezer burn is caused by exposure to air which forms ice crystals in the food. The first step in protecting your food from freezer burn is to keep the air out.
This can be tricky when freezing sauerkraut, as liquid expands when frozen. (Think: cracked containers!) It’s important not to overfill containers. When storing sauerkraut, leave about ½ inch of headroom in the container or zip lock bag. And don’t forget to triple-layer it with more quality ziplock bags made for freezing to prevent freezer burn.
Step 4: Label Your Containers
Hate to find a mystery bag of food lurking at the back of your freezer? Say no more! Before placing sauerkraut or any other food in the freezer, label the container with the name and date.
How to Defrost Frozen Sauerkraut
Once you are ready to defrost and eat the sauerkraut, you can set it in the refrigerator for 24-hours to thaw. It is best to eat it as soon as possible after thawing.
A faster method of defrosting sauerkraut is to pop it in the microwave and use the defrost option. If your microwave does not have a defrost option, set the power to 30 – 50% and only run it for one minute at a time. Stir and then run it again until the sauerkraut is sufficiently thawed.
You can also set it on the counter and let it thaw at room temperature; this method should only take a few hours. Use it immediately or place it in the refrigerator and consume it within 3 -5 days.
Contrastingly frozen cabbage has a different texture than fresh cabbage due to the water molecules in the cabbage turning into ice crystals which, as its thaws would become softer than when it was raw.
How Long Does Sauerkraut Last in the Freezer?
For best quality, sauerkraut will last about 8 – 12 months in the freezer. If you don’t like pushing your luck with that guideline, use the standard test: when in doubt, throw it out. If it smells bad or is mushy, toss it out.
Does Freezing Sauerkraut Kill The Probiotics?
I haven’t found any definitive research online about whether or not the probiotics in sauerkraut can survive the freezing process, but I do know that I have frozen whey and kefir grains successfully many times.
If Kefir grains can be frozen and then used again, so why not sauerkraut? Even Kombucha SCOBY has been proven to freeze and reproduce Kombucha afterward.
We know that some of the bacteria will survive the freeze and then reactivate effectively. However, there still is a small amount that does die.
Does Freezing Sauerkraut Destroy The Texture And Taste?
One time, I found a bag of frozen sauerkraut that got shoved in the back of my freezer, and I found them a year later. I served them anyway and was shocked that they still had a good crunch and tangy flavor that I love.
However, I’ve also opened up a bag of frozen sauerkraut to find that it didn’t fare as well and the sauerkraut became all shriveled and soggy. It could have been due to the freezer settings? Who knows why one batch can be great and the next a complete loss.
We hope you found this step-by-step guide on how to freeze sauerkraut helpful. After all, if generations upon generations of people have successfully stored sauerkraut through the long winter months by placing it in wooden barrels and then burying it underground, I think it is a safe bet for you to toss it into the freezer.
When you are new to fermenting foods the first time you see the fermentation process it can look a little strange and iffy. Each batch you make will behave and ferment differently than the batch before, so it is possible that your fermentation will always look different.
Some people will throw out a perfectly good batch of sauerkraut or kimchi thinking it has gone bad when it has not. In this post, I will answer the questions “How do I know my fermented food is bad ?” and “Is my fermented food safe to eat?”
First, let’s talk about what fermentation looks like. During fermentation you will see bubbles bouncing around in the jar, this is a good sign that the fermentation process is working. Depending on the batch that you are producing you may get a very high level of bubbles or a lower level. Some ferments might now show any bubbles at all, and that is okay.
It all depends on what you are fermenting, the ingredients you are using, temperature, and so on. One way to always check for healthy fermentation is to check it every 2-3 days. If the color, smell, and brine levels are good, then you are good to go. Just remember that all fermentations will not look the same.
Before you start fermenting your food, do you know how to tell if fermented food is bad? Knowing how to spot if fermented food is toxic can save you a trip to the emergency room.
Below are several key ways to identify healthy or spoiled ferment at home. Most of the tips require you to be a little observant when opening the jar of fermented vegetables. Fermented food from the market is always edible because manufacturers check the quality before distribution. The tips below are for people who are making homemade fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, jalapenos, carrots, and so on.
Signs That Your Fermented Food is Bad
There are simple signs that signal your fermented food isn’t fit for human consumption. You can note when the food is bad when you are aware of the apparent signs of identifying toxic food. Some signs are so evident that no one will have to tell you that you need to throw a batch out.
Harmful bacteria will produce a foul smell that you won’t withstand, let alone put in your mouth. Beware that once you open a jar, there may be a foul smell as it releases gases. Don’t eat the food if the smell persists after the jar sits open after a while. The nose test is a simple way to identify inedible fermented food fast.
A Tip: Buy fermented foods from the grocery store to get used to the smells, colors, and textures of a successful ferment. Then when you make your own, you will have a strong base for knowing what a healthy ferment looks and tastes like.
It is important to check whether there is mold on the lid of the jar or on the top of the food. If the mold is brownish, pinkish, black, or any colors other than white, the batch is wasted. Mold development is a sign of contamination of the food during fermentation.
Keep in mind that mold only grows on the surface and will not penetrate the brine itself. Mold cannot survive in a salt brine.
If you spot a white and fuzzy substance, it is not mold, it is a type of yeast called Kahm. Kahm yeast is an aerobic yeast that forms when the sugar is used up and the PH of the ferment drops because of the lactic acid formation.
Kahm is easily mistaken for mold. Kahm yeast tends to show up on the surface of many fermented vegetables like pickles and sauerkraut in the warmer summer months.
Even though Kahm yeast has an odd unpleasant smell and looks weird, it is totally harmless. It is easily removed from a jar by scraping it off the surface of the vegetables.
Check the batch every day because it will return. If you think your ferment is ready then place it in the fringe, the colder temperature will stop the yeast from coming back.
Pay attention to the color of the vegetables you are fermenting. If you notice that the color is way off, such as bright green cabbage has turned gray, black, or brown, you shouldn’t eat it.
Discoloration signifies that the food became toxic during fermentation. Healthy fermented food maintains color throughout the process.
How To Prevent Your Fermented Food From Spoiling
Use The Best Quality Ingredients
As a rule of thumb, always start with fresh good quality vegetables. Sometimes, you can find that only a small portion of a fruit or vegetable is bad. It is highly tempting to cut out the bad part and use the remainder for fermentation. However, it is possible to spread the spores from the bad parts. The spores will then grow during fermentation and spoil the whole batch.
The best results of fermentation happen when you use the best ingredients from the start. Be highly selective of the food you use at the beginning. Select the best and healthiest vegetables from the market or your garden and use those for fermentation.
Most fresh foods contain preservatives to increase shelf life due to companies spraying chlorine on vegetables to kill bacteria and maintain the freshness of the produce. The food preservatives contaminate the contents of your jars and can lead to spoilage.
Washing the vegetable with filtered or well water before fermenting is an important step you do not want to leave out. Preservatives interfere with the development of good bacteria when you are fermenting produce.
Treated water contains chlorine and other chemicals that may be harmful to the good bacteria you are trying to cultivate during fermentation.
Chlorine kills a large percentage of bacteria in water, whether good or bad. Therefore, using treated water can kill any useful bacteria that you need in the fermentation process.
Unfortunately, treated water also contains hardy bacteria that can withstand chlorine treatment. The hardy bacteria can outnumber the good bacteria and lead to spoilage of fermented food.
Your best bet is to use well water or filtered water to remove any traces of chemicals and chlorine. Pure water is the best starter for a fermentation process. It allows you to create high-quality brine that will preserve the product during the whole process.
Another bad habit is washing produce with treated water or vegetable washing detergent as it strips the vegetable of all the healthy bacteria. A neutral liquid-like filtered or well water will remove any preservatives while maintaining the healthy bacteria. You can opt to shop at the farmers market and look for fresh, organic produce free of any chemicals.
Ferment In The Right Temperature
The optimal temperature for fermenting most vegetables is between 65-72 degrees Fahrenheit (17-22 Celsius). Beware that extremely low temperatures can kill some of the good bacteria and higher temperatures will speed up the process and turn the food into mush.
During the summer it can be hard to keep a temperature of 70 75 degrees. Look around the house for a cooler place to store the jars or crocks, think basement, a low cabinet in the kitchen, or near an air conditioner or fan.
Since higher temperatures can cause bacteria to be more active it is important to check the jar regularly and beware that it can be done a few days before expected. Often, recipes that normally call for 7 days can be ready in just 5 days.
Weak salt brine can result in spoilage during the fermentation process. It is wise to start with a good amount of salt brine concentration to improve the chances of success.
Most fermented vegetable recipes recommend a 2.0-2.5% salt brine in relation to the weight of the vegetable mixture.
However, there is much documentation that shows a lower level of 1.5% salinity will still make a successful batch. Take a look at my post Why sauerkraut gets too salty and how to fix it, to learn more about the levels of salt brine in fermenting.
If you have canned, pickled, or made beer before you are probably used to sterilizing your jars beforehand. But when it comes to vegetable fermentation, it’s a little less stringent. You just need the fermentation crock or jars to be free of chlorine, iodine/iodide, and any particles of food.
How to clean equipment for fermentation?
Simply clean them with really hot water, dish soap, and a brush to remove any debris. Or run them through the dishwasher. That’s It!
If you want to take a step further, you can add a couple of tablespoons of bleach to the sink when you wash them out and let them soak for a few minutes. Bleach kills everything. Just be sure to rinse them very well.
Signs Your Fermented Food Is Safe To Eat
There are signs that you can look out for to know whether your fermented food is safe to eat or not. The characteristics do not require you to have any special equipment to analyze the edibility of the food.
There is a mild fermentation scent that is associated with fermented food. If you have ever bought sauerkraut or kimchi, you can relate to that smell. It should not under any circumstances have an overpowering smell that makes you feel like gagging.
Over time as you gain experience in making fermented food, you will be able to identify the good fermentation smell right away. Therefore, you need to smell your fermented food jars before eating it.
Fermentation does slightly break down the food, but it should still have a little crunch to it. For example, if your batch of fermented carrots is soft and mushy then it has gone bad.
All fermented vegetables should have a good texture. Be on the lookout for any that seem to have a hint of slime. Slime in food is a result of harmful bacteria, and you need to throw out.
Think about the vegetables you are using in the fermentation recipe and how crunchy they are naturally. The rib of napa cabbage has a good crunch to it and so does daikon radish, carrots, apples, and garlic. So if you are testing a batch of kimchi to see if it is done and the daikon radish is mushy, then that is a clear sign the batch is bad and you should through it out.
Has a Healthy Color
The fermentation process should not affect the color of the food or the liquid inside. Healthy fermented foods maintain their color throughout the process. Therefore, your cabbage should have a healthy green and white color when done. If the cabbage turns brown or gray, it is safe to assume that the food is not good for human consumption.
How To Tell If Sauerkraut Is Bad?
Because sauerkraut is one of the most popular fermented foods out there, I’ll take a minute to go over: how to tell if your sauerkraut is bad?
There are two main ways of identifying whether your sauerkraut has gone bad or not.
First, you can check whether your sauerkraut has a strong, pungent smell. A healthy version will have a sour odor that is kind of pleasing. Bad sauerkraut will produce a scent that will curl your toes and make you want to run out of the kitchen.
The second method is to check whether the lid has mold. If you notice a fuzzy growth of any color other than white, it is safe to assume that your sauerkraut is bad. It would be best to dispose of it.
Last Word On How To Tell Fermented Food Has Gone Bad?
Learning the craft of fermenting vegetables at home can be so rewarding. Being able to provide gut-healthy food for your family and friends is empowering too. However, at the beginning of trying a new way to prepare food, it is important to trust your instincts and take a few extra steps to prevent getting sick from eating any fermented food that has spoiled.
Not sure what to ferment first? Try our simple homemade sauerkraut recipe or browse through our extensive selection of cultured vegetable recipes and enjoy your journey into fermenting.
Miso paste is a must-have in my kitchen. This Japanese condiment is worth its weight in gold. It offers such a unique flavor combination: salty, savory, spicy, and umami-rich. But what happens when you run out and need to find a quick miso paste substitute?
I was very eager to find a miso paste substitute that would give me that same great flavor. I decided to go online to search for worthy alternatives. Here is everything I gathered. If you are in the same situation, read on for great insights on everything miso pastes substitute and more!
Easy To Find Miso Paste Substitute
Soy sauce, vegetable stock, fish sauce, and salt are some great substitutes that you are likely to have on hand right now.
We cannot determine the best miso paste substitutes if we have no idea of how this paste tastes. So, let’s tackle a few questions.
What is miso paste?
Miso means fermented beans in Japanese as the delicacy is native to Japan and China. Miso paste is made from fermenting soybeans and other ingredients such as wheat, barley, and similar grains to create the umami flavors it is famous for.
Rice is also added in the fermentation process for an exquisite, intense flavor. Salt and koji, which is a fungus, are also included in the making of the paste. Yeasts or kobo facilitate the fermentation process, depending on the time it takes.
Miso paste can transform any dish to a whole new level thanks to its flavor profile.
How does miso paste get such an amazing flavor?
History has it that miso was invented by Japanese monks who were bound on adding flavor and particularly savory or umami flavors to vegetarian food.
Salt is used in the fermentation process, giving miso a distinct salty and savory taste.
The time taken to ferment miso will determine the strength of the flavor, with the flavors ranging from very savory to a mild sweet. Red miso is fermented for over a year, up to three years. White and yellow miso is fermented for less than one year.
The color of the miso is also determined by the fermentation process, with the colors ranging from dark red to light yellow.
The texture of miso paste is also very much like peanut butter. Its smooth and soft texture. Although miso is not appropriate as a stand-alone dish, you can taste it a little to determine its flavor before using it in a recipe.
Please note that different kinds of miso have their distinct flavor, and learning the difference will ensure you are doing your recipe justice.
Health Benefits of Miso Paste
Miso paste is a source of antioxidants, dietary fibers, enzymes, and probiotic microflora that are beneficial to the digestive tract.
Keep in mind, only an unpasteurized version of miso paste will have these health properties. If you buy a pasteurized brand, it will be void of any enzymes or beneficial microorganisms.
With that knowledge in mind, here are some of the closest substitutes of miso paste.
The Best List Of Substitutes For Miso Paste
Soy sauce is your best bet when you have run out of miso paste. The two are almost “twins”, soy sauce is also made from fermented products as with miso.
Soy sauce is made from fermented soybeans like most miso varieties. As for the flavor, soy sauce is a close match. The sauce has a salty flavor that provides a similar umami flavor typical of miso.
What we love about soy sauce is that it offers similar nutrients for that of miso sauce and it is great for vegetarian dishes since it contains zero animal products.
So, if you are vegan who cannot say no to miso, soy sauce makes an excellent substitute.
Soy sauce, however, has a fragile consistency compare to miso paste. It may, therefore, it might be unsuitable for some recipes, but it works for soups and recipes that do not emphasize consistency.
Soy sauce may also present a problem where color plays a role in a recipe. Soy sauce may make the dish darker than necessary, especially if it calls for yellow or white miso.
In such a case, you can opt for light soy sauce or use the very minimal amount in the recipe. Soy sauce is also saltier than miso, so you want to bear that in mind while using it.
If you want a thicker paste, try mixing a little tomato paste in with the soy sauce. Or add a little anchovy paste to the soy sauce to achieve more of an umami flavor.
Vegetable stock is a healthy alternative to miso paste.
The point we are aiming for when substituting is to obtain the same taste and ingredients as well as the health benefits.
The vegetable stock paste is made from vegetables, herbs, and umami seasonings, which are varied depending on the flavor you are going for.
What we love about vegetable stock is that you can change umami seasoning to match that of miso paste.
You can also create the thickness of the paste, depending on the recipe or dish you are preparing. The vegetable stock paste is excellent because of the flavors it incorporates. There is no part of the veggies that are wasted while making the broth. All the nutrients and flavors from the herbs fit right into any soup.
Vegetable stock is also vegan-friendly. Vegetable stock is an excellent substitute for miso paste in soups. The tastes of the two are, however, a little different.
Tahini is a suitable substitute when you are going for the look and feel other than the flavor of miso. Tahini is made from sesame seeds, which are perfectly ground to create the paste, while miso is fermented using soybeans and other grains.
Tahini is therefore suitable as a substitute since it feels and looks just like miso paste. It can be a great substitute where a thick paste is required.
Tahini, however, falls short in terms of flavor. Combining it with anchovy paste or a little fish sauce will help it achieve more of the much sought after Unami flavor.
Tamari- what can be closer to miso that a substitute from its production process? Tamari is similar to miso paste in flavor as it comes with the same umami taste and saltiness.
Tamari substitute beats soy sauce in thickness and richness in flavor. If you are looking for a miso paste substitute for a dish that requires consistency, I would recommend tamari instead of soy sauce.
Soy sauce, however, wins when we are considering nutrients it brings to the table compared to tamari.
Tamari is a liquid and not a paste. Therefore, it may not be the perfect substitute for some dishes.
Fish sauce- if you are on a gluten-free diet, but you are still after the goodness of miso paste, fish sauce is an excellent substitute. This sauce not only eliminates soy and gluten from your diet, but it also provides the same flavor as miso. Fish sauce is available in a savory flavor. The sauce differs with miso in that the flavor in miso is more profound.
Fish sauce is also lighter consistency, and the taste and consistency make it a not-so-perfect substitute for some recipes.
Fish sauce is readily available too in almost any grocery store near you. Since this sauce is very salty, start by using very small amounts until you achieve the taste you are going for in your recipe.
Good Ol’ Salt
Salt- this has got to be the cheapest and most available substitute for miso paste. The savory flavor makes it suitable to add to all recipes. Salt is only suitable where the recipe requires a minimal amount of miso and contains a handful of other ingredients for flavor.
Low Sodium Miso Paste Substitute
The healthiest low-sodium substitute for miso paste is vegetable stock and tahini. Pick a low sodium vegetable stock from the supermarket or make your own so you have total control of the amount of salt.
When you compare tahini paste to soy sauce, fish sauce, tamari, and salt, it is, without a doubt, a much healthier choice. Tahini has a lot fewer calories, fat, and salt, so it efficiently works as a healthy substitute for miso.
also an excellent option as it has many nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
Soy-Free Miso Substitute
Non-soy miso- no one is being left behind. If you are intolerant to soybeans, there is miso made from chickpeas for you. It can, however, be harder to find or even come at a higher price tag. The chickpeas miso does not fall short in flavor. The only difference is that this substitute uses chickpeas or garbanzo beans as the base ingredient instead of soybeans. The taste and health benefits are all the same.
How To Use Miso Paste In Your Cooking
Miso Mayo Sauce
I’m sure you’ve heard of the super popular garlic mayo spread called Aioli. Now try that with miso paste. You can mix a tiny bit of miso with mayo to make a mouth-watering spread great for sandwiches or using as a dip for vegetables, or a sauce for grilled seafood and meats.
Miso Butter Spread
Mix two tablespoons of Shiro miso, also called white miso with a stick of unsalted butter to create a spread. Brush it in on chicken, pork chops, or fish. Miso butter is also great for flavoring your favorite grilled or broiled vegetables.
Marinades- add all those savory flavors into your meat, chicken, and fish by marinating them in miso sauce. You don’t have to leave them overnight if you are short on time. You can simply toss your meats in the miso sauce for a few minutes and I guarantee you they will be the best you have had.
Miso paste makes a normal salad dressing explode with flavor. Simply combine the miso paste with vinegar and extra virgin olive oil for a stunning savory taste.
Sauces- if you like to have a sauce to dip your meat or veggies in, miso makes a great sauce thanks to its salty and savory nature. You can whip up your sauce depending on the recipe and drizzle all over your meat before serving or leave it in a bowl for dipping.
Soups- you can’t deny miso soup is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of miso paste. Miso paste is the main ingredient in making a main course soup that can be made using seaweed and tofu cubes. You can toss in a veggie and some noodles or proteins to add body to it.
Stir fry- of course, miso makes a great companion for stir-fries. The miso does not need to be cooked due to its fermenting process it has undergone. You can simply set your dish down from the heat and pour miso sauce all over to simmer.
What’s the Difference Between White, Yellow, and Red Miso?
The first time I was buying miso sauce, the grocery store attendant slapped me with the “which one” question. I was informed that miso paste comes in a few different varieties, but I didn’t know the difference. So, what sets each kind of miso paste apart?
Red miso paste is fermented for the longest period of time, between 1 -2 -years. The longer the fermentation process, the stronger the taste and the darker red it will be, hence the name Red Miso. It is also made from soybeans and barley or other grains.
Red miso has a mature, pungent, and very salty umami flavor. You can use red miso for marinating your beef cuts and chicken and other hearty dishes. The red or dark brown color is an excellent addition to your recipes. Due to the strong flavor of red miso, a little goes a long way.
White miso, also called Shiro miso is made from soybeans and rice, which are then fermented for three months. Although the signature taste for miso is salty, white miso comes in a slightly sweet flavor since the fermentation process is much shorter than its counterparts.
The shorter fermentation time also makes it the lowest priced miso compared to red which takes up to two years to ferment.
So, if you are on a budget, white miso is definitely the recommendation I would give. It’s also a great option if you are not very keen on intense flavors. White miso is the most popular miso variety since it can be used for almost all dishes.
Whether you are preparing a tart, acidic flavored, or slightly bitter dish, white miso will blend right in. This miso does excellent with soups, light marinades, and dressing salads. I’ve even spread it on toast and topped mashed potatoes with it.
Yellow miso also called Shinshu miso. Yellow miso is made from fermented soybeans and barley like red miso. Its flavor profile falls in between both the red and white miso. It is slightly more potent than white miso, but milder compared to red miso. Yellow miso is great for dressing salads, soups, and marinades.
Mixed miso is made by combining red and white miso. Its popularly known as Awase miso. Since Awase miso is made from two very different flavors of miso, it’s versatile. It can be used for creating different dishes, especially those times you are unsure of what flavor to go for. Mixed miso is fermented for 1-1.5 years and comes in a dark brown color.
While searching online, I read that there are over 1000 varieties of miso with different textures, flavors, and colors. The ingredients used and length in the fermentation process set the distinction between the kinds of miso. However, the darker the color of the miso, the longer it took to be fermented. Also, darker miso is more pungent and stronger in taste. The darker the berry, as they say.
You can also use the varieties of miso interchangeably, depending on the recipe. You should, however, be keen on what you are going for in the recipe in terms of flavor. Red miso is not very complimentary for use instead of yellow or white miso. However, if you have no option, just use as little as possible to avoid excessive salt since the red miso is very strong.
If you run out of that precious miso paste, now you know you don’t have to give up the whole recipe. Although there is no perfect miso paste substitute, the ones I have mentioned above are as close as it gets. So, what are you waiting for? Get on with your cooking with these excellent miso paste substitutes.
Where to buy and find Miso Paste in the Grocery Store
Miso paste is becoming a more and more popular ingredient for many cooks wanting to really make their recipes explode with umami flavors. Hailing from Japan, miso paste gets its unique taste from amino acid glutamate. And cooking with it is one of the most successful ways to infuse your meals with umami flavor.
But with miso pastes newfound popularity, many are left asking the question, “Where do you buy miso paste?” or “Where do you find miso paste in the grocery store?”
There are many different places where you can purchase miso paste. You can buy it online, at your local grocery store, and you can even make your own at home if you have the tools and time. Another option of where to buy miso paste could also be a nearby Asian specialty market.
The best locations to find miso paste in the grocery store can vary. But there are a few places to check out when looking for it:
If you are shopping in a regional grocery store in the U.S., such as Safeway, Kroger, Publix, Food Lion, Piggly Wiggle, for example, you’ll find shelf-stable miso paste in the international aisle next to other Japanese condiments and soups.
The fresher, more perishable miso paste, the kind that must be refrigerated at all times, can be found either in the produce area or the refrigerated section of the natural foods aisle next to the tofu, tempeh, and vegan meats.
If there is a specific type of miso paste you’re interested in that isn’t in the grocery store, you may want to search for it in an Asian market instead. They’ll have some more authentic imported varieties that you can enjoy!
Pay attention to the ingredients list to avoid ingredients such as stabilizers, alcohol, and other additives. High-quality miso will not have any of that.
While non-refrigerated miso tends to store for longer, fresh or refrigerated miso is typically going to be the tastiest and healthiest.
In your search, you might find miso paste in tubs, pouches, and sometimes sachets. So be on your guard- it could take many forms!
What is in Miso Paste?
Depending on the type of miso, the ratios of ingredients may vary. Most miso soups are made with:
● A variety of grain (this can change depending on the type of miso paste)
● Koji (a fungus that is also a key ingredient in sake)
Miso paste is, at its core, a naturally fermented soybean paste. But this paste gets darker the longer it has to age and ferment, leading to there being many different varieties. Miso is packed with protein, vitamins such as B12, gut-healthy probiotics, and several other types of minerals! So it’s really healthy.
Many chefs have actually substituted miso paste for salt. This is because miso already contains enough sodium. And it adds complexity to dishes that salt alone cannot!
Types of Miso
There are 1,000+ different types of miso out there. Where you live- or travel- will determine which ones you have access to. Of all these types, some of the most commonly accessible around the world are white, red, mixed miso, and yellow miso.
The differences between miso pastes can occur because of different ingredients, fermentation times, and even storage conditions. In general, their textures are very similar to thick nut butter. And, depending on their variety, they can be smooth or chunky.
Whatever type you get, make sure you don’t boil your miso paste. Otherwise, you can kill off the living probiotics inside them. (And these probiotics are valuable because they can help digestive and mental health!)
Also called “Shiro miso,” white miso is the perfect option if you’re just starting out with miso. It is the sweetest, most mild, and least aged miso on the market. White miso typically has more rice than soybeans as well. And it’s made with minimal salt.
White miso paste is also extremely versatile for all types of kitchen cooking. It’s especially useful for dressings, sauces, and sometimes sweets!
In Japanese, red miso goes by the name of “aka miso”. And it has a much bolder flavor than white miso. This is because it’s usually been fermenting for longer and contains more soybeans.
It can range from dark brown to deep red- even to black- depending on how aged it is! Red miso is excellent for adding complex flavor to meats, hearty stews, and dishes that you want to make super savory. Red miso also makes a great substitute for salted shrimp when you are making kimchi.
Known in Japanese as “awase miso”, mixed miso is a combination of different varieties of miso paste. Usually, this type is a combination of red and white varieties, making it a happy medium between the two. It’s an exciting balance between sweetness and savouriness!
Yellow miso is still a light variety of miso. It’s more yellow in color than typical white miso because it tends to use barley as it’s core grain instead of rice.
Like white miso, it’s still mild. But yellow miso has more of an earthy flavor, whereas Shiro miso is sweeter. So maybe don’t put this one in dessert dishes.
How to cook with Miso paste
Miso paste is a delicious addition to many soups, sauces, marinades, dressings, and even sourdough bread. Miso can be eaten cooked or raw. Since miso is a fermented food, it’s best to add it to dishes at the end of cooking because too much heat will kill the good bacteria in the miso, reducing its health benefits.
How to Store Miso
Before opening your miso, it’s fine to store it in the same conditions that it was in when you purchased it. For example, if your miso was in the fridge, keep it in your refrigerator. But if it was on the shelf, you can keep it in your pantry until you open it.
Once you open your miso paste, you definitely want to make sure that you’re storing it in the fridge to maintain its freshness for as long as possible.
Additionally, you should note than miso paste can oxidize, which can lead to discoloration if you’re not careful:
Pressing some plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the miso paste every time you store it can prevent air from messing with your miso.
How Long Does Miso Paste Last?
Once you’ve stored your miso paste in the fridge, it usually lasts up to a year or more. This can depend on the variety.
In general, miso paste lasts a long time because it’s fermented. But light miso can have a bit of a shorter lifespan than its bolder counterparts. So you should try to use the lighter varieties in less than a year.
Does Miso Paste Ever Go Bad?
Miso paste can go bad. But it has a pretty good shelf-life. As long as you’re storing it correctly and using it in about a year, it’s unlikely to become unusable.
But you should note:
The longer you keep your miso paste, the more it ferments (because it’s alive)! So that could lead to some flavor changes.
What Does Miso Paste Smell Like?
Most people find that miso paste does smell a bit funky. This is because of the fermentation. But don’t be deterred- it’s normal! You may also note that it smells like yeast, which is because of fermentation due to the koji fungus.
If you’re concerned that your miso might be bad, check the “best by” date. Miso can actually still be good within three months afterward.
If it’s before the date and you’ve been storing it correctly, your miso should be fine, even if you think it smells weird. But if you believe your paste is especially funky or it’s growing fur, it’s probably safe to say that it’s time to get some new miso paste.
When most people think of sauerkraut, they envision eating it with their bratwurst, hot dogs, or in a Reuben sandwich. Sauerkraut is traditionally paired with meats because it helps with the digestion of the meats. Today, sauerkraut can be used in a myriad of ways far beyond the limited traditional ways. Check out the following truly delightful ways of adding sauerkraut to your next meal.
Sauerkraut and Salad
It’s a great topping on salads. Carrots, lettuce, green onions, cilantro, parsley, really any vegetables you have, add sauerkraut, drizzle with a little olive oil, and a dash of salt if needed. Mix, and you have a delicious salad or side dish.
Prepare your eggs the way you like them, scrambled, fried, or make an omelet. Then top with a few tablespoons of sauerkraut. Be sure to drain the sauerkraut first. Eggs and sauerkraut make a delightful combination!
Sauerkraut and Avocado
Halve an avocado and fill the hole with sauerkraut. The creaminess of the avocado blends well with the salty and tangy sauerkraut. Enjoy!
Or, mash the avocado and sauerkraut together in a bowl and top will a little feta, as Cameron Diaz does in her recipe.
Add a little tangy flavor to your favorite stir-fry by stirring in some sauerkraut just before serving.
Sauerkraut and Rice Bowls
Rice bowls: A bowl of rice, steamed greens, a dash of salt, and a healthy serving of sauerkraut (place the sauerkraut in between the rice and greens to warm it up without killing the probiotics).
Sauerkraut and Sandwiches
Add to your favorite hamburger or sandwich.
Sauerkraut and Baked Potatoes
Baked potatoes always taste better when sauerkraut is added to them. Top a baked potato with a little grated cheese, thyme, sour cream, diced tomatoes, and cold sauerkraut. Season with salt, pepper, and caraway.
Sauerkraut and Sausages
Try a traditional Austrian way, served as a side with spicy sausages and fried potato slices.
Sauerkraut and Grilled Cheese
Sauerkraut pairs well with cheese, so try it in a grilled cheese sandwich, a cheese crisp, or add it to mac n cheese. The possibilities are endless with these two ingredients.
Get creative. Try adding sauerkraut to any of your favorite meals to enhance the flavor and vitality.
Beware: Cooking sauerkraut destroys all the health-promoting probiotics. If you want the gut-healthy probiotics in your meal, then only warm it up or add it as a topping to the dish.
Sauerkraut is one of the easiest ferments to make on your own. By making your own, you can get creative and add your own flavors and personality to all of these dishes and experiment with totally new characters.
For all the fermentation tools a person can choose from today, one of the most essential items for every fermenter’s kitchen remains a good quality crock. If you do any fermenting at all, a high-quality fermentation crock will do a lot to make the job go smoother.
If you’re considering purchasing a fermentation crock, our buyers’ guide is your one-stop-shop for everything you need to know during the buying process. We review water-sealed crocks, open crocks, pots for bulk fermentation, best-value fermentation crocks, multi-purpose crocks, fermentation crocks made for kombucha, and fermentation crock kits all for the fermented food lover. Let’s get started!
Factors to Consider When Buying a Crock for Fermenting Vegetables
A few things to consider before making a buying decision on a new fermentation crock include:
Different Types of Fermentation Crocks
The water-seal crock process is so simple: you fill-up the moat with water and it creates an airtight seal that keeps out contaminants, such as dust and bugs, keeping your foods fermenting without a problem. Also, there is little chance of mold or surface yeasts growing on your ferment.
You do need to keep an eye on the water-seal crocks, to make sure that the moat stays full of water. If the water in the moat evaporates, oxygen, particles, and bacteria can get into your brine solution.
Most open crocks don’t come with a lid or weight to keep the vegetables held down below the brine making it a cheaper purchase. This could be considered a positive because it saves you money.
The one open crock I do recommend does come with weights and a lid and they produce outstanding results.
If you are using a cloth or paper towel as a lid, then be sure to closely monitor the batch to prevent Kahm yeast and mold from developing. Both can appear when the vegetables are exposed to the air.
There are some great benefits of using an open crock. The wide mouth makes it easy to place several whole cabbages or other giant vegetables, such as cucks in the vessel.
So if you are preparing to ferment in bulk, this crock will be perfect for you.
Depending on their size, open crocks are quite easy to clean, since their bases and openings are the same diameters.
Furthermore, open crocks can also be used as a storeroom or kitchen container.
It is important to note that open crocks work better during colder periods of the year, i.e., in lower temperatures because molds or Kahm yeast do not form as quickly in lower temperatures.
Whichever style crock you choose to buy you will still have to check the batch of fermenting food to ensure the brine levels are not dropping.
Fermentation crocks come in a wide variety of sizes. If you are looking for a larger size crock, I recommend the Boleslawiec 15 L Polish Fermenting Crock which is almost 4 gallons in capacity. This baby can hold 10 heads of cabbage. Just beware of the weight; this crock weighs in at 34 lbs when empty.
Crazy Korean Kitchen has a 5.8-gallon crock which is both lighter in weight and on your budget. It is great for mass production. But you’ll want to make sure you have the room to store it. CKK crocks are plastic and come with an ingenious inner seal that makes it quite versatile because you can easily push down the seal to ferment a smaller batch in any of their container sizes.
There’s typically no harm in leaving some extra headspace in the crock, but if you usually make smaller personal batches, you’ll likely be perfectly fine with one of the smaller crocks on the market.
The price range for fermentation crocks on the market is vast, and because of that, it can make your initial search feel intimidating, but it just means you have a lot of room to choose one that fits your fermentation needs and budget.
Advantages of Fermenting Crocks
When I started out making my own ferments, I took the cheap and easy route by just using glass jars. Like most people taking on a new hobby, I didn’t want to invest in a lot of expensive equipment if I wasn’t sure I was going to stick with it.
But that all changed when I tried a batch of kimchi made in a water-seal style fermenting crock. The kimchi was so much better; I was blown away.
It wasn’t just a matter of the recipe or expertise; ferments come out better in a crock for two main reasons:
Ceramic Materials: The thick walls of a crock are made with ceramic clay. The thick clay provides natural insulation and helps keep the brine temperature stable, allowing the bacteria to grow effectively.
Naturally Blocks Light Out: Have you noticed that practically every fermentation recipe you come across recommends placing the jars in a cupboard or pantry away from the light? That is because UV light kills the healthy bacteria in the brine. The thick ceramic walls block out the light and help with a successful end product.
Buying Fermentation Weights
TIP: Most of the fermentation crock kits here come with non-glazed ceramic porous weights used to keep the vegetable below the brine. Unglazed porous weights can absorb bacteria present in your ferment and cause mold to grow. It also can be difficult to remove smells and stains from a non-glazed fermentation weight.
I highly recommend you purchase these lead-free glass weights by Stone Creek Trading. The 6.5 ” Luna Glass Crock Weight weights 2.6 lbs. This is almost double the weight of most standard glass weights on the market today. This is great because I often hear people complain that the glass weights they bought are not heavy enough to actually keep the veggies below the brine.
It is important to pay attention to the size of the weight, as their smallest size 6.5” will not fit into smaller 2-liter crocks listed in this article.
The Humble House Crock is a great buy because of the price point and the quality of the product.
The Humble House Crock is available in three sizes, 2 Liter, 5 liters, and the 10-liter option. It’s perfect for fermenting sauerkraut, pickles, and kimchi. It comes with a jar, lid, and weights. It is made of thick ceramic and finished with a lead and cadmium-free glaze.
This crock relies on the traditional method of fermentation, which is water sealing.
The 2-liter crock measures 6 inches wide and 8 inches tall, this smaller size crock will make about four mason jars worth of pickles, kimchi, or sauerkraut. That is enough to feed 3-4 people. This size crock is perfect for those who don’t have much storage space in their kitchen.
Beware that some people say the mouth of the 2-liter crock is so small they cannot fit their hand in it to give it a good scrub.
If that isn’t big enough for you, then the 5-liter crock can surely do the job. At 10 inches wide and 12 inches tall, this medium size crock makes up to 10 standard size mason jars per batch.
Thinking of mass producing your fall harvest of vegetables? The 10 liter Humble House Crock is the right crock for the job.
It measures 11 inches wide and 13 inches tall and makes up to 20 standard size mason jars per batch.
The Humble House Crocks are easy to clean by hand. The manufacturer does not recommend using a dishwasher or detergents. Just use soap and warm water to clean the pot.
Vinegar and water are great if you need extra cleaning power. Since the weights are unglazed, using warm water and vinegar is the preferred method. If necessary, you can boil them for deeper cleaning.
The crocks can be used to brew kombucha or grow a sourdough starter by simply replacing the lid for a clean cloth.
Whatever your favorite fermentation recipe is, or the frequency with which you ferment, the SAUERKROCK is the perfect fermentation crock for all of your home fermentation needs.
If you are looking for a Made in the U.S.A product, then the Ohio Stoneware 2 gallon starter kit is perfect for you.
It comes with everything you need to get started on your fermenting adventures. The kit includes the crock, weight, and a lid. This crock comes with a water trough an airlock system that allows carbon dioxide and other gases to escape while keeping out air.
The natural stoneware with classic blue stripes and the lead-free, food-safe glaze will not retain food flavors and makes for easy cleanup.
The weights are two split pieces that make it easy to remove from the crock. Ohio Stoneware weights are considered one of the heaviest of fermentation weights, which is great because they easily keep the vegetables below the brine.
With this style of crock, you can make beer, kombucha, and any fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and pickles.
The 2-Gallon overall height with the lid is 14-3/8 inches and weighs 28.5 pounds. So this is a rather heavy item to pick up, something to take into consideration if you are not that strong.
Ohio Stoneware also sells the lids, weights, and crocks separately on Amazon in case you break or misplace a piece.
The weights are two pieces, which makes it easy to remove from the crock and they are very heavy, heavier than most.
Beautiful classic style with the ceramic Bristol and striking Navy Stripe.
Thin walls, which may cause problems
Has handles to make it easy to pick up and move
Dishwasher, oven, and microwave safe
Pieces are sold separately, easy to replace
Crazy Koren Cooking Premium Fermentation and Storage Container
Crazy Koren Cooking hits it out of the ballpark with this masterfully made fermentation crock. There are five different sizes to choose from, 0.9 gallons up to a whopping 11.8 gallons.
The smaller containers can fit in any standard size refrigerator.
Although they might not look very pretty, they are made of high-quality polypropylene plastic mixed with 7-10% natural clay. This combo makes for optimal porosity and all components are FDA approved materials, free of BPA, DEHP and lead.
Warning: The inner seal has a little nozzle, which you need to open for a second or so every day or two depending on what you are fermenting.
If you don’t do this, the gases gradually push the inner seal upwards, and oxygen may enter.
This container can also be used for storing non-fermented foods, think coffee, bread, seaweed, cereal, and so on.
FDA approved materials, free of BPA, DEHP and lead
Crocks that originated in Germany have a distinct style and are known as the water-sealed crock. The water gutter in which the lid sits in are shaped in a ‘u’ or ‘v’-shape. The gutter is filled with water and creates an airtight seal that only allows gases to escape, but no air to enter.
The Keramik German Made Fermenting Crock is known for its impeccable design and high-quality products. The kit comes complete with a pot, lid, weighing stones, and a recipe book.
The body is created in a single piece with walls that are 0.6 inches in thickness. The FORM 1 seen here has a deep gully that allows the expelling of gas and prevents the entry of dust and air.
There is also a Form 2, which has slightly narrower physic.
Both have the water seal lid that works by filling the built-in channel with water to guarantee a perfect seal against the lid. The carbon dioxide that forms during fermentation can easily escape while the odor is trapped inside. The seal blocks contaminated air, mold, and insects from entering the crock.
This ceramic crock is lead-free and cadmium-free, making it a healthy option. It is a 5-liter crock with handles on each side to simplify lifting and transporting.
Deep gully 5-liter
Handmade German ceramic free of lead and cadmium
Heavy at approximately 30 pounds
Comes with weighing stones
The Ohio Stoneware wide-mouth crock is microwave, broiler, stove, and even dishwasher safe. Ohio Stoneware presses these crocks in a metal mold with a hydraulic press, resulting in a sturdy and hardy crock.
The open crock I recommend is the Ohio Stoneware 2 gallon three-piece kit because the kit includes weights and a lid.
Humble House makes this beautiful sleek crock just for Kombucha lovers. Their kombucha crock comes in black and white as well as two sizes, a 5 liter and a 10 liter. Don’t stop at kombucha; the Humble House Kombucha crock can also be used to make jun tea, kefir, vinegar, and more.
The spigot is made from 304 stainless steel and comes with a BPA-free silicone washer. You should tighten the spigot before your first use to ensure a good seal. The 5-liter crock easily makes up to ten mason jars worth of kombucha in a single batch. This is enough kombucha for families of 2-4 who drink kombucha every day.
When filled with liquid, the crock will be quite heavy, so plan ahead as to where it is going to sit in your kitchen — moving it around when full could be difficult.
It is designed with continuous brewing in mind, as the spigot makes it easy to fill up bottles and transfer to the refrigerator.
The glaze is food-safe and lead and cadmium-free.
This crock has thick walls and is sturdy enough for regular use. It is still possible to use a thermostat strip to monitor the temperature of your liquid though.
The kombucha crock does not come with a lid. You must use a paper towel or piece of cloth secured with a rubber band to cover it and allow it to breathe. This is normal when fermenting kombucha.
Additionally, you must clean the spigot by hand with warm water and vinegar. Do not use a dishwasher.
Beautifully made with thick ceramic, perfect for regular use
Heavy when full
Easy to clean with a water/vinegar
Lead and cadmium-free glaze
Stainless Steel Spigot
How do you clean a ceramic fermentation crock and stone weights?
Fermentation crocks should be cleaned with warm water and mild dish soap. You can also use a water/vinegar solution.
To remove strong smells, apply soap for at least 15 to 20 minutes before washing it: rinse and air dry.
Clean the equipment right after you remove the fermented food. Do not let it sit for a long time with food particles.
If you are storing the crock for a while, then fill it up with a scrunched up newspaper. Also, wrap the lid and stones in newspaper to protect the ceramic pieces and ensure they stay dry.
To prevent mold growth in a crock or on the weight
Always dry the stones/crock thoroughly in a warm oven or the sun
Never put the crock or weights away wet
Never store your crock and weights in a damp room, such as a cellar or basement
If you notice the crock or weights, do have a little mold on them. They can still be saved by quickly cleaning them off before the next use.
How to remove mold
Sometimes, mold happens, here are some tips on how to clean them
Scrub the mold off as best you can
Soak the weights overnight in a pot with a few tablespoons of vinegar and hot water (not boiling), or fill the crock with vinegar and hot water.
Lastly, place the weights or crock in the oven at a low temperature until completely dried
As with any product, it is important to buy quality so that way you only have to buy once. That couldn’t be truer than when it comes to the purchase of a fermentation crock.
If you settle on a cheaper fermentation crock, you are going to be facing a short lifespan, along with wasting your time and vegetables. Nobody wants that, especially if you have been waiting all summer for harvest time.
I hope our Guide to Buying a Fermentation Crock serves you well. Happy Fermenting!
For those on the keto diet, enjoying a plump and juicy sausage is definitely on the menu. As long as you check the carb count for the brand you buy, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying them. But without the bun, a sausage by itself seems a bit glum. Naturally, you might want to turn to sauerkraut to pair with your sausages. Is sauerkraut keto-friendly though?
To answer that, we should look at what sauerkraut is. Sauerkraut, perhaps the best topping for your sausage, is simply fermented cabbage. The cabbage itself makes sauerkraut keto-friendly, a perfect choice for your healthy low-carb diet and lifestyle.
So, What is Sauerkraut?
In just one cup of shredded cabbage, there are only 4.06 grams of carbs. In that same cup though, fiber is 1.75 grams. As always, you should remember to subtract the fiber from the total carbs to get your net carbs per serving. In this case, it’s only 2.31 net carbs in that cup, making cabbage a prime choice for keto dieters.
Does the Fermentation Make It Less Keto Friendly?
Nope! And that’s the best news of all. If you’re wondering is sauerkraut keto-friendly, it most certainly is. As we covered with the nutritional profile of cabbage, it’s low carb. That doesn’t change during the fermentation process. In fact, the fermentation process makes it an even better choice for those on the ketogenic diet.
While fermentation sounds a little gross since it involves microorganisms living on the cabbage, they are beneficial to our gut health. They digest the natural sugars found in cabbage and turn them into organic acids and carbon dioxide. When all this magic happens, it creates probiotics, those good bacteria you need to help that second brain in your gut thrive.
Since probiotics make your food more digestible, you are better able to absorb all the vitamins and minerals of your foods. So essentially, sauerkraut is even more nutritious than simply eating raw cabbage. It’s more delicious too!
When wondering is sauerkraut keto-friendly, you now know that it is plus it has a phenomenal nutrition profile. In that same cup as raw cabbage, you get vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, manganese, iron, and potassium which all go a long way for your best health. While there is a lot of sodium in sauerkraut, you can get around that with a few simple tricks so keep reading!
Let’s be honest here…you’re likely on the keto diet so you can lose weight, right? So why not eat foods that help you meet that goal while keeping keto?
Can Sauerkraut Help You Lose Weight?
The good news is that eating sauerkraut on the regular could be your ticket to keto-friendly weight loss. Since sauerkraut is low in calories and high in fiber, it helps you stay fuller for longer. You won’t miss that bun anymore when you eat your keto-friendly sausages with sauerkraut!
Those probiotics we were discussing before too also come into play. Scientists are mystified as to how it works, but it seems that the probiotics found in sauerkraut help keep your body from absorbing too much fat. Studies confirm that those who were given more probiotics gained around 50% less fat over the placebo group.
Since sauerkraut is keto-friendly and has so many health benefits, it only makes sense that you’ll want to keep some around. However, if you want to get those probiotic benefits, you’ll have to shop smart if you’re buying sauerkraut at the store.
Is Store-Bought Sauerkraut Keto safe?
Always buy refrigerated sauerkraut
In the supermarket, it’s easy to find sauerkraut. But don’t be duped into buying it from a can or a jar on the shelf. Those varieties have been pasteurized and there’s no way of knowing just how long they’ve been on the shelf. As such, they lack those live probiotics that are so beneficial to you. Not only that, they could have even more sodium in them than other varieties. However, canned sauerkraut is still a keto-approved food.
If you don’t want to make your own sauerkraut, get it from the refrigerated section in your supermarket. Don’t just assume that it has those live probiotics though. Make sure you read the labels!
Avoid sugars and preservatives
While you’re busy reading the labels on the sauerkraut, make sure you avoid any brands with added preservatives. These could lower the probiotics. True sauerkraut only contains cabbage and salt and is the only thing you should look for.
Yes! In fact, this might be the best way to go about it. You’ll have control over the sodium involved. Plus, it’s cheap and easy to do so you’ll always have delicious sauerkraut that’s full of probiotics and ready to enjoy.
Can I Make My Own Keto-Friendly Sauerkraut?
There are many recipes for making sauerkraut, though, in its most basic form, you’ll need a medium green cabbage and a tablespoon of non-iodized salt. You should also have a 1-quart jar to store it in.
Simply shred the cabbage and massage salt into it so that brine forms at the bottom of your mixing bowl. Stuff it into your 1-quart jar, pressing as you do to remove air all air pockets. Once that’s done, pour the brine in so that no air is in the jar. Using a smaller jar on top of the cabbage inside this first jar helps keep the cabbage below the brine and enables the fermentation process to work its magic. Make sure it’s all sealed tight and that you keep it at room temperature out of the sunlight. You should wait a week to 4 weeks before sampling your sauerkraut creation.
Whether you buy your probiotic-rich sauerkraut or make your own, you should never cook it. The heating process will kill those beneficial probiotics. So, cook your sausages and then top your sauerkraut on it just before eating, or simply eat it on the side to get the best benefits!
Don’t you hate it when you’ve waited patiently for a batch of fermented vegetables to be ready to eat, and when you open the lid, you find it covered in a fuzzy mold.
“Why did my fermented vegetables grow mold and spoil?”
“What did I do wrong?” are just a few questions that pop to mind.
Mold happens when oxygen comes into contact with the vegetables that break the surface of the brine.
“How do I prevent moldy fermented vegetables from happening again?”
Fermentation weights are an easy fail-safe method of preventing spoiled batches of your favorite fermented veggies.
This article will cover why vegetables need to be submerged below the brine. Ideas on how to make your own fermentation weights, what to avoid using, and recommend some high-quality fermentation weights that you can easily order online.
Why do vegetables need to be submerged in brine, you may be wondering?
To prevent the vegetables from rotting, they must be in an oxygen-free environment (below the brine).
The carbon dioxide that is produced during the fermentation process rises up through the vegetables and pushes the oxygen that remains to the top, above the brine level.
The vegetables that peak above the brine come into contact with the oxygen and become contaminated from bacteria, Kahm yeast, and sometimes mold.
Mold and yeast can’t grow without oxygen.
Fermenting is a great way to increase your intake of probiotics and boost overall health. Just make sure you keep the fermenting foods submerged below the brine so the end result is safe to eat.
The following are some easy DIY ideas for making your own fermentation weights at home.
Fermentation weights can be created from the food you are fermenting, such as cabbage leaf, cabbage core, and carrot sticks.
Cut cabbage leaves big enough to cover the inside of your fermentation vessel. You can layer strips of carrot or zucchini on top of the leaves for extra coverage and push everything down.
Carrot sticks, you can easily criss-cross them over the top of the veggies to push them below the brine.
Apples, daikon radish, or onion all can be used in a similar fashion.
Make sure to discard the veggies you use as a weight when you finish the fermentation process, replace them as needed, and NEVER eat them.
You can also use a small ziplock bag filled with water (or brine) to weigh down the vegetables.
Pebbles or rocks are often recommended, just make sure you wash them as best as you can first and avoid using limestone because the calcium in it can react with the acid in the ferment.
Everyday kitchen items such as the following can serve as weights too:
Baby Food Jars
Stainless Steel Portion Cups
Avoid using the following items as fermentation weights.
Avoid using knick-knacks from around the house, you don’t want to accidentally contaminate your ferment with lead. That goes for copper and brass objects as well. The acid and salt from the fermentation process can corrode and destroy both copper and brass, causing it to leach into the food.
What Fermentation Weights Can You Buy?
There are many varieties of fermentation weights to choose from online.
However, from experience I recommend sticking to glass weights because they are non-porous, which prevents smells and flavors from transferring from batch to batch. These are great for smaller batches of fermented foods.
With that being said, I do recommend the Humble House SAUERKROCK Fermentation Crock with weights because it comes in three larger sizes, 2 liters, 5 liters, and 10 liters.
Sometimes you just want to make a huge batch of kimchi or sauerkraut and messing with 20-quart size jars just seems impracticable. Go Big or Go Home. Right.
The weights are not glazed but very cleanable if done correctly.
Just be sure to pay attention to the size of the glass weight you are buying. The first time I ordered glass weights they were for a wide mouth jar, and at the time I only had regular size jars on hand. Not a big problem, since mason jars are generally pretty easy to find. But, just a little heads up: pay attention to the size of jar you are trying to fit the glass weights into.
6-Pack Easy Fermentation Glass Weights with Handles by Siliware
The Weights have Handles for Keeping Vegetables Submerged During Fermenting and Pickling, Fits Any Wide Mouth Mason Jar, FDA-Approved Food Grade Materials
Hopefully, this list of ideas on how to keep your vegetables under the brine will inspire you to keep on fermenting. Take a minute to check out all the other supplies you’ll need, pick a recipe, and continue your fermenting journey!
Tempeh is a fermented soybean product found in abundance in the diets of vegetarians and vegans. It is a good source of protein and can easily absorb other flavors and aromas during the cooking process. With the world becoming more meat-conscious and the rising popularity of initiatives like “Meatless Monday,” tempeh is quickly becoming a delicious high-protein alternative.
However, no matter how popular tempeh has become, the appearance of tempeh can be a little jarring for a newbie. One big question that comes up time and time again is: What are those black spots on my tempeh?
Quickly followed by…
Is it safe to eat?
So, what should you do if you bought tempeh for the first time and after opening the package you find it covered in greyish black spots? The tempeh does not smell off, but it looks moldy, and you find yourself wondering if you can still eat it.
The answer is yes, you can. The black spots on tempeh are perfectly normal and it is safe to eat.
Why does tempeh form black spots on it?
You might notice black spots on your tempeh forming on the corners in its packaging or around the air holes if you use homemade. You might also notice the mycelium turning a greyish color. These spots form as part of the fermentation process by the Rhizopus spores.
They usually appear when the tempeh has been incubated a little too long and indicates that the tempeh has reached maturity (the spores sprouts seeds).
It is perfectly safe to eat as long as there are no signs that the tempeh has gone off, which is discussed next.
So, if greyish black spots are okay to eat, how can you tell when tempeh is bad, and how long can you store it before it starts to go off?
The following section will look at some of the basic questions tempeh-newbies ask and include some helpful tips on preparing your own fresh tempeh at home.
Where does tempeh come from?
Tempeh originates from the small Indonesian island of Java, close to Bali. The residents of Java have been using soybeans as a staple as far back as the 12th century. After the arrival of the Chinese in the late 17th century, the Javanese were introduced to the process of making tofu.
Tofu is a firm, but soft product produced from soymilk. It is, however, not fermented like tempeh. Tempeh was discovered, according to legend, when discarded soybeans from the tofu-making process came into contact with spores, kickstarting fermentation.
What exactly is tempeh?
Tempeh is a fermented food, usually made from soybeans. Other legumes can also be used, and sometimes even grains can be added. Tempeh is a solid cake-like structure, typically white or cream-colored, with some small grey or black spots appearing on the surface. It has a pleasant mushroomy and nutty flavor with deep savory undertones. It is higher in protein than tofu.
How is tempeh made?
Simply put, tempeh is prepared by using soybeans and a tempeh starter and leaving it to ferment for two days in a warm area or incubator.
The process of preparing tempeh is relatively easy, and most people opt to make their tempeh at home rather than buying mass-produced tempeh made from GMO soybeans.
The first step is to par-boil the soybeans in hot water, leaving it to cool to room temperature and let it stand for 8–16 hours.
After that, the beans will have to be dehulled and split. This is done by rubbing the soft beans against each other until the hulls come off.
Next, vinegar or lactic acid is added to the beans to help start the fermentation process, and the beans can be boiled again for a few minutes.
Once the beans have cooled and dried completely, the tempeh starter is added. The tempeh starter contains spores of either Rhizopus oligosporus or Rhizopus oryzae that the beans will be inoculated with.
The beans are spread out in a layer in a container with good ventilation and kept at a controlled temperature of 85–90 degrees.
The spores create white mycelium growth between the beans, weaving it into a thick white cake.
What are the benefits of eating tempeh?
Tempeh is one of the healthiest meat alternatives around. It is high in protein which helps you to feel fuller for longer, and a great source of non-dairy calcium. Tempeh also contains prebiotics that helps the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut.
Soybeans are packed with phytonutrients. Isoflavones are a type of phytonutrient found in soybeans that can have possible cholesterol-lowering effects. Isoflavones also have antioxidant activity, which means they can help fight the effects of chronic disease and inflammation.
Tempeh is packed with vitamins and minerals and is a good source of copper, phosphorus, and manganese. It also contains the B vitamins niacin and riboflavin.
What does good tempeh look like?
A good fresh block of tempeh should be firmly packed with the white mycelium filaments holding together throughout the whole cake. There should not be any openings between the beans.
A block of tempeh should be lifted easily without breaking and will have a nutty, earthy, and mushroomy aroma. When the tempeh is sliced, it should not crumble but produce a neatly packed thin slice.
How to tell if tempeh has gone bad
How do you tell when tempeh has gone bad? The best way is to smell it. If the tempeh smells rotten, strongly of ammonia or alcohol, it has most likely gone bad.
Tempeh should not have any bacterial or mold growth other than those created by the Rhizopus spores. If there’s mold on your tempeh that’s not white or greyish-black, you should discard it.
If the tempeh is slimy and the structure limp and mushy when you pick it up, it is another sign that the tempeh has gone off.
Does tempeh need to be cooked?
There are so many creative ways you can use tempeh in meals. Tempeh is best when it is steamed or cooked using methods like stir-frying, shallow or deep-frying, or even just simmering it in a pan with a bit of water. Tempeh easily picks up other flavors, and this makes it great for marinating.
When the tempeh is fried, it can become wonderfully crispy with a deep nutty taste. You can also eat tempeh raw; it will have a clear earthy taste.
How long can I store tempeh?
Tempeh can keep in the fridge for about a week, at most ten days before it starts degrading. If you think that you won’t be able to finish your block of tempeh before it starts degrading, you can always put it in the freezer.
Tempeh freezes very well and can be kept in the freezer for up to 10–12 months. If you want to eat your frozen tempeh, the best way to thaw it is through steaming.
How can I make my own tempeh safely at home?
Tempeh can easily be prepared at home. Although, it is not quite as easy to make as sauerkraut or the more simple fermentation recipes. After a few tries, you will quickly get the hang of it and be able to enjoy your very own fresh nutty-tasting homemade tempeh.
An essential factor in making tempeh at home is keeping the tempeh at the ideal temperature, which is between 85° and 90°F for 24 to 48 hours.
If the temperature is not warm enough, the tempeh spores may not grow, and you may get unwanted bacteria. Likewise, if it is too hot, the spores may die.
I suggest using an electric food dehydrator (available on Amazon) to control the temperature. This one is great because every other rack can be removed to fit a bulkier size food, such as tempeh.
If you live in a warmer climate, you can let it sit out on the counter, and it will be fine. Think Indonesia temps, after all, that is where tempeh originated.
However, if you are a do-it-yourselfer, you can build an incubator. Check out this video on how to build an incubator to make tempeh.
If you are interested in venturing into making tempeh at home, I highly suggest buying this cookbook:
I love this book because of its beautiful imagery and clear step-by-step instructions. The Shockey’s break down the steps for the beginner fermenter extremely well.
People are often a little intimidated when it comes to fermenting their own food. No one wants to make themselves sick. This book takes away the intimidation of trying something new.
Tempeh is a nutritious, high-protein meat alternative with a great nutty taste. As a fermented food, it provides a dose of probiotics that promote good gut health and digestion. It’s easy to prepare at home, or you can buy it from a trusted health food store. And don’t worry if your tempeh has black or grey spots. As long as it does not smell off, you can still enjoy it raw, steamed, or fried.
Both milk kefir and buttermilk are probiotic-rich drinks full of gut-healthy bacteria. The main difference between kefir and buttermilk is in the number of beneficial bacteria each has to offer. Depending on the variety that you use, milk kefir grains may contain up to 60 strains of beneficial bacteria and yeasts. See the full list here (1). While buttermilk only has one strain, either Lactobacillus bulgaricus or Lactococcus lactis, depending on the manufacturer.
So if you are trying to decide which one is better for your gut health, then kefir is the answer.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are living microorganisms that help balance the good and bad bacteria that live in the digestive system.
Good bacteria in the gut ensure the appropriate absorption of vitamins and minerals and synthesizes them as well. A well-functioning gut with healthy gut flora holds the roots to good health; the rest of the body cannot thrive without a well-functioning digestive system.
A healthy gut provides a more balanced metabolism, body weight, and a stronger immune system. It also helps produce essential vitamins and nutrients for your body, improves brain function, and elevates your mood.
The diverse and multiple functions of gut flora reach far beyond the gut itself. A build-up of negative microbes or bad bacteria in our digestive system can cause toxicity build-up. So, no matter what you do, you can’t get better.
One of the easiest ways to balance your gut microbiome is by consuming fermented foods, i.e., kefir and/or buttermilk.
Nutritional Differences Between Kefir and Buttermilk
Actually, kefir and buttermilk have quite a few similarities in their nutritional profile. The following stats are for a one-cup serving.
Both kefir and buttermilk contain a similar amount of potassium. An 8 oz. serving of Lifeway plain kefir contains about 376 mg of potassium (2) and 2% buttermilk just surpasses it with 439 mg of potassium. (3)
Benefits of Kefir
Kefir grains are a mixture of bacteria and yeasts in a matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars. Many say this symbiotic matrix forms grains that look like tiny cauliflower florets. Kefir is packed with many vital nutrients and vitamins.
organic acids and peptides
Milk kefir is rich in calcium and vitamin K2, which can increase bone health and with regular consumption it has been shown to reduce the risk of bone fractures by 81%. (4)
The K2 vitamin helps calcium metabolize and get into the bone to prevent fractures and keep your bones strong.
While it is true kefir is a source of K2, it actually depends on the quality of the milk used to make the kefir. If the milk is from grass-fed cows then the amount of K2 will be higher. Furthermore, the bacteria in the kefir grains also produce some K2.
Nailing down the exact amount of K2 that is in kefir was difficult. I was able to find one scientific study that states there are 5 µg/100 g (or 3.5oz.). However, it did not list the type of milk used in the kefir sample or how much derived from the milk or the bacteria that is also in kefir grains. (5)
Natto 939 mcg
Goose Liver 370 mcg
Beef Liver 263 mcg
Kimchi 42 mcg
Kefir 5 mcg
Per (100g) or 3.5 oz. of food*
µg and mcg are the same measurements.
To make a dairy-free version of kefir, you can substitute coconut water, coconut milk or other sweet liquids for the milk. However, these will not have the same nutrient profile as dairy-based kefir.
Benefits of Buttermilk
Buttermilk is similar to yogurt, and it’s highly popular in India, Asia, Europe, and the Balkans.
Buttermilk packs a lot of nutrition into a small serving.
2% buttermilk has 250 mg of calcium per cup, which can be helpful in preventing osteoporosis, making it especially good for people concerned with their bone health. (7)
Buttermilk has the same amount of protein as skim milk and less fat than regular milk because the fat is skimmed off the top during the process of making butter. The leftover liquid is now lower in fat.
It is very versatile since you can buy it in a few different forms. Fresh, frozen, and powdered are all available on the market, making it easy to incorporate into any recipe.
The probiotics in buttermilk help with digestion and aid with stomach issues like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s, flatulence, and acid reflux. It can lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Buttermilk is full of electrolytes and is a great drink to prevent dehydration. If you are working out in the hot summer sun, buttermilk can help the body maintain its fluid content.
Flavor and Consistency of Kefir and Buttermilk
Buttermilk and kefir both have very similar tastes, with kefir being a bit tangier. Buttermilk has a very tart and sour taste, similar to unsweetened yogurt or sour cream. They both have a similar appearance, being a white liquid that could be tinged a slight yellow or brown.
They may have bubbles, and they’re known for having a very thick and creamy texture, much thicker than regular cow’s milk. You may also notice a slightly sour scent, but again, don’t be alarmed. It’s perfectly normal, and drinking it won’t hurt you, and you just may find yourself a little bit surprised by the flavor and scent.
It’s absolutely worth it for the health benefits you’ll receive by incorporating it into your regular diet, and there’s plenty of ways to use both drinks that don’t involve drinking it straight if you find yourself truly put off by the flavor.
How Kefir is Made
Kefir starts with grains that are small colonies of proteins, yeast, sugar, and bacteria. Milk is added to the grains. It doesn’t necessarily need to be cow’s milk, sheep or goat milk can be used as well. Once the kefir has fermented for approximately 12 -24 hours, the active cultures are strained out. What is left behind is a smooth and tangy flavored drink.
How Buttermilk Is Made
Buttermilk has been around for hundreds of years and originally was made with unpasteurized cow’s milk. Back then, people would make butter by letting the whole milk stand to allow the cream to separate. After the cream rose to the surface it was skimmed off, leaving “skim milk” behind. Buttermilk is the byproduct or liquid that’s left behind, as a result of making butter from cream. As you can probably guess, this process was not sterile, resulting in a natural fermentation of the skim milk.
The lactose, which is milk sugar in the cream would mix with bacteria in the air. It would then metabolize into lactic acid which is the reason for the tangy flavor.
Today, buttermilk is made by adding lactic acid to pasteurized skim milk to increase the acidity. This acidification gives the buttermilk it’s unique, tart taste and adds additional proteins to the milk.
How to incorporate Kefir and Buttermilk into your diet.
Now that you have all of the details about kefir and buttermilk, you’re probably wondering what the best way to incorporate each one into your diet.
Of course, you can drink each just as they are and it’s probably the most efficient way to do it, but why not have a little fun with it? Your food doesn’t have to be boring.
For starters, buttermilk is a great substitute for butter or sour cream, especially because it has a very yogurt-like flavor.
Add buttermilk or kefir to your smoothie.
A simple smoothie recipe to include these in your diet might look like a ½ cup of kefir or buttermilk, ½ cup of frozen strawberries, one tablespoon of lemon juice, one teaspoon of honey and run it through a blender. You could add some cacao nibs or chia seeds to the recipe. It sounds like the perfect start to a morning. Try my kefir smoothie recipe.
Buttermilk pancakes and buttermilk biscuits are two tried and true recipes.
Kefir, makes fantastic bread, like lemon loaves or carrot loaves. You can use them as a sourdough starter if bread baking is your thing.
Both make excellent meat tenderizers.
To make a deliciously moist chicken, on the inside and crispy outside, first, soak the chicken breast in kefir or buttermilk.
Kefir or buttermilk can also be used for frozen treats like ice cream or popsicles.
Buttermilk salad dressing is delicious on a blend of collard, kale, and mustard greens for a Southern-inspired summer salad.
Kefir also comes in flavored fruit varieties, so as long as you’re mindful of your sugar intake, that could be a great option as well.
Both drinks have amazing qualities and a very similar nutritional profile. However, because kefir is made up of approximately 60 strains of beneficial bacteria and yeasts compared to buttermilk’s one strain of good bacteria I believe kefir is your best option.
Whichever you choose, you’ll know that you’re making a great choice with your health in mind, and you can look forward to reaping the benefits every single time you use them.
Nobody likes to reach for their favorite bottle of fermented hot sauce to see it has separated and become rather unsightly. Of course, after shaking it up it returns to normal. But, there has to be a way to keep your hot sauce from separating in the first place.
And, in fact, there is a solution to the problem of separated fermented hot sauce. It is a binding agent called Xanthan gum, when vigorously blended into the hot sauce it will prevent the ingredients from separating and create a stable sauce.
Brightly colored and full of explosive flavor, hot sauce adds heat and richness to a variety of dishes and is beloved around the world. Traditional (and highly popular) hot sauces like Tabasco and Sriracha are made using a fermentation process.
In the late summer or early fall, just as the leaves begin to change, produce stands, and farmer’s markets are full to the brim with fresh ripe chilies just begging to be combined with salt and left to ferment in mason jars. Healthy bacteria grow and add flavor and health benefits to this spicy condiment, and the cute bottles of sauce make great gifts.
These little jars of powerful spice have sort of a cult following with anyone that enjoys international foods. It’s always been a popular recipe to make at home as well.
While it’s easy to make a fermented hot sauce; the main ingredients are chilies, salt, and plenty of time, there is a common challenge you might face when storing the yummy concoction.
What Causes Sauces To Separate?
Oil (or fat) and water don’t typically mix, and yet we use both to create many sauces. However, with fermented hot sauce, it is the chile particles and vinegar that tend to separate. To make the emulsion of these two ingredients smooth and keep it from separating, you have to add an emulsifier to the brew. There are commercial (chemical), and natural emulsifiers that can be used, and all are pretty safe and effective.
How to Keep Fermented Hot Sauce from separating: use Xanthan Gum
Xanthan gum is a polysaccharide with many culinary uses, including being a common food additive. It is an active thickening agent and stabilizer to prevent sauces from separating when stored.
Xanthan can be a bit tricky to use in your home recipes; however, because a tiny bit goes a long way. You would only use around 1/8th of a teaspoon for a full blender of hot sauce that has already been fermented. Use too much, and you’ll end up with one big gloopy mess on your hands.
Uniform mixing is essential, so it’s best to use a mechanical mixer to blend when possible. If you cannot find xanthan gum, you can also use arrowroot as a thickener that won’t change the flavor of your sauce.
After the sauce has completed the fermenting stage, dissolve the xanthan gum in 2 tablespoons of water and add it to the blender with the sauce. Blend for a solid minute. Let the sauce rest for one hour before bottling, to allow any trapped air in sauce (from the blending process) to escape. Bottle and store. The sauce will keep for a year or more.
Storage Solutions For Fermented Hot Sauce
Fermented hot sauce is a living food that is rich in beneficial bacteria. That makes it last a long time when stored correctly. Learning correct storage procedures will ensure you can make large batches at a time, and they won’t go to waste.
Hot sauce will continue to ferment long after you make it. Storing it in the refrigerator will slow the process down so that your sauce will last longer. The sauce should be stored in a container that allows carbon dioxide to escape without letting in any additional oxygen as that could cause yeast or mold to grow.
A glass mason jar with an airtight lid, set in a cool, dry place is your best bet. While uncooked hot sauce may only last a few weeks, fermented hot sauces that are correctly stored can stay good up to a year or more.
No way will you make it last that long, though, because it’s so delicious! Refrigeration of a fermented sauce isn’t 100% necessary, but it will make your shelf life a lot longer.
So, we’ve answered the questions “How to keep the fermented hot sauce from separating?” It’s time for you to get out there and make a fresh batch of your favorite fermented hot sauce. Enjoy!
Creamy and tangy, kefir is one of life’s little pleasures. Whether it is blended into a fruit smoothie or poured on top of berries or granola, it is an easy and delicious way to add some fantastic probiotic bacterial cultures to your diet. But, what do you do with it if you are going on an extended vacation or decide to take a break from this gut-healthy probiotic food?
Both milk kefir and water kefir grains can be frozen and stored in the freezer for a few months and with a little luck for several years. Follow my steps on how to freeze kefir grains without ruining them. No kefir grains should ever go to waste again.
Why Freeze Kefir
You might find yourself with an overabundance of kefir piling up in your kitchen.
Let’s face it; sometimes, our little fermentation projects can get a little out of hand. I recommend once you have enough grains, it’s a good idea to have a backup set of grains either dehydrated or frozen in your freezer. Then if for some unexpected reason you lose your grains, all is not lost; you grab your spares.
How to Freeze Kefir Grains for Several Months or More
Rinse milk kefir grains thoroughly with milk and drain.
Lay them on a cookie sheet that is covered with a piece of clean unbleached parchment paper
Dry at room temperature for 2-5 days, depending on humidity and room temperature.
Place the sheet in an area that will not be contaminated.
Place dried kefir grains in a bowl and add a little powdered milk to coat the grains. This provided a protective shield on the grains. Organic powdered milk is best, but regular will work fine.
Place dried milk kefir grains in a ziplock bag or glass jar with a plastic lid. To prevent freezer burn double or triple bag your frozen kefir or consider vacuum sealing it.
Store in the freezer for six months to a year.
If you are freezing water kefir grains, skip rinsing with milk or water and just drain them. Also, omit the powdered milk.
Tips for safely Freezing Kefir Grains:
The reason for removing as much liquid as possible is to prevent water molecules from expanding during freezing and thus damaging the live organisms which are the grains.
There are many reports of people storing kefir grains for a year or more. However, in my opinion, it is wise to err on the side of caution and avoid this long of a freeze if you can.
Don’t rinse your kefir grains in water. Cleaning kefir grains does more harm than good because it removes the protective coating of bacteria and yeasts. Says Donna over at Culturedfoodlife.com
“I get so many emails from people, who in attempt to help their kefir grains, will rinse them in cool water. You should NEVER EVER EVER do this. It damages them and rinses off the protective bacteria that make them thrive. So many times they will either die or stop reproducing or not make kefir very well after rinsing. Some kefir grains will survive this and be ok, but it still slows them down and damages them and gives me huge amounts of anxiety.” Source: Culturedfoodlife.com
Reactivating Frozen Kefir Grains
How to Defrost Milk Kefir Grains
When you are ready to use your kefir grains again, follow these simple steps on how to defrost kefir grains.
Place the frozen kefir grains in the refrigerator overnight.
Once the grains have thawed, rinse the powdered milk off with fresh milk.
Drain and add a small amount of fresh milk, just enough to cover the grains and set on the counter to ferment for two days.
**If it is water kefir, then add sugar water
The room temperature should be between 65-75°F (18-25°C). Remember that temperature does play a factor: if it is to warm the fermentation will occur much faster, possibly within 12 -18 hours. If it is colder than it can take up to 48 hours.
If the first batch does not taste right to you then drain and dump the kefir liquid and start a new batch with the grains.
A healthy kefir grain will produce the kefir liquid within 24 hours.
How Do You Know the Kefir is Ready
The kefir is ready when it starts to clump and resemble cottage cheese or rice pudding. it will also produce a clean sour odor that may be slightly yeasty.
At this stage, strain the liquid into a container for drinking and then refrigerate it. You can drink the kefir plain or mix it with some berries for fruity-flavored kefir. Try my delicious banana Kefir smoothie recipe.
After the grains have been stored for some time, they usually need some time to reactivate before you start using them again. To re-use the kefir grains; add them back into the glass jar with another 2 cups of fresh milk to start the fermentation process all-over again.
It could take 2-3 tries or several weeks before the kefir grains are back to producing deliciously flavored kefir.
If you are taking a break from kefir or just have a surplus of kefir grains you want to store, then these steps will help you freeze the grains successfully. With proper care and storage of the grains, you will be able to wake up the grains successfully right away and continue making kefir as before.
You can always share them with your friends and family and spread the joys of this healthy probiotic food.
4 Tips for Fixing Salty Sauerkraut & Making Sure it Doesn’t Happen Again
Let’s face it, there is an endless supply of sauerkraut recipes out there, and they all recommend varying amounts of salt and sizes of cabbage. So it is no wonder you are searching for “How to fix too salty sauerkraut?”
If you taste your sauerkraut and it is too salty, try any one of the following four tips on how to fix overly salty sauerkraut.
Why so salty?
It can be challenging to get the proportions right when a recipe calls for two medium or one large head of cabbage, or any vegetable for that matter. After all, size is relative right. Your medium could be different from my idea of medium. Now add salt to the mix and BAM you’ve ruined a nice batch of sauerkraut.
Here are the easiest methods for saving your next batch of sauerkraut:
1. Dilute the Brine
Adding more cabbage, vegetables, or a little water to the mix will help offset the saltiness.
You will probably have to move it to a bigger vessel or split it up into two jars to ensure there is adequate space in the fermentation vessel.
Be sure the new vegetables are mixed in really well and are held down below the salt brine.
Let it sit for at least one or two more days to allow the new vegetables to ferment.
The new ingredients will easily continue with the fermentation process.
2. Drain the Brine
Drain the salty brine from the jar and set it aside. Rinse the sauerkraut off to remove the salt and then put both the reserved brine and rinsed sauerkraut back into the jar. This might be a messy option, but it has done the trick for me in the past.
3. Lather, rinse, and repeat.
Well, something like that. Rinse the sauerkraut off with a little chlorine-free water before eating it. This will remove a slight amount of the good bacteria but certainly not all of it.
4. Add to Another Dish
Add sauerkraut to another dish such as potato salad, brats, pasta, or even a smoothie. Just make sure to omit the salt that is recommended for the recipe. Combining the two recipes should eliminate the overly salty flavor by balancing out the seasoning.
More dishes to add salty sauerkraut to stir-fry, Bolognese sauce, sprinkle on pizza or a garden salad, or anything that needs a little kick.
Sauerkraut tastes amazing cooked. Add it to your favorite soups and stews, just avoid adding salt.
Beware that cooking it does remove the probiotic health benefits. However, you still get to enjoy its delicious flavors.
In researching how to fix a batch of too salty sauerkraut, I found several sources that recommended adding a potato to the mix. The theory is that a potato will absorb the extra salt. I tried this on my overly salty sauerkraut (that is how this whole post got started in the first place, my sauerkraut was too salty) and found that the potato didn’t absorb any salt and it did not improve the taste at all.
However, I’ll leave it up to you to decide if you want to test this theory yourself.
How to prevent overly salty sauerkraut in the future, remember these tips:
Use a high-quality salt.
Himalayan Pink Salt and Redmond’s Real Salt are mineral-rich salts that contain a bit less sodium and impart a greater depth of flavor to foods than ordinary table salt.
Taste and adjust, taste and adjust: Gradually add the salt to the cabbage.
Weighing your salt is an excellent option for getting the right brine. Kitchen scales can cost as little as $10, so they’re an excellent kitchen investment. Think of how many batches of kraut you will save by not over-salting them.
How much salt should you use:
Most recipes recommend a 2.0-2.5% of salt brine in relation to the weight of the sliced cabbage mixture. However, there is much documentation that shows a lower level of 1.5% salinity will still make a successful batch of sauerkraut.
It also depends on your taste preference too.
Here is a short video of Sandor Katz author of Wild Fermentation talking about how much salt you should use in your sauerkraut or fermented vegetable recipe.
You have spent the entire summer growing your garden vegetables. Now, the season has finally arrived to begin fermenting them for all your fall recipes. Fermented vegetables are getting more popular every year due to their health benefits! Some of the most popular ones are sauerkraut, beets, kimchi and naturally preserved probiotic-rich crunchy dill pickles.
By now, you’ve probably read all the articles about the not-so-secret secret ingredient: tannin-rich grape leaves that give the fermented pickle it amazing crunch.
But what happens when you can’t get your hands-on grape leaves? They can be quite hard to find at a supermarket or even your local farmer’s market.
Luckily, there is an easy-to-find grape leaf alternative: bay leaves. Now you have the most essential ingredient for your Fermented Pickled Recipe. You will need to use 2 – 4 bay leaves per quart to achieve the crunchiness you like. Another great substitute is green or black tea. Add 1 – 2 bags of tea in your Lacto-fermented pickle recipe.
In fact, there are quite a few tannin alternatives to Grape leaves:
Indian almond leaves
Horseradish leaves or Horseradish root – grated or chopped
Black Currant leaves
Sour Cherry leaves
Oak Leaves (Contain the highest amount of tannins)
* Use fresh leaves over dried. As for the tea, a tea bag or loose leaf is fine.
That’s not all, there are a few more steps beyond just adding tannins to a recipe to help your fermented pickles get their crunch. Here are a few more suggestions on how to make crispy crunchy fermented cucumber pickles.
8 Bonus Tips to Keep Your Pickles Crunchy During Fermentation
1. Use a Saltier Brine
The salt in the brine actually prevents harmful bacteria from growing. Then, the healthy lactic bacteria can produce lactic acid to preserve the cucumbers. The healthiest choices are natural sea salt and Himalayan pink sea salt.
We recommend using a salt brine mixture of 4-5% opposed to a 2-3% or lower. This will bring out the taste and crunchiness.
My family prefers a 4% salt brine, it’s not too salty, and it provides a satisfying crunch factor.
*A 4% salt brine converts to 2 tablespoons of salt for every 4 cups of water.
While a 5% salt brine is 2.5 tablespoons of salt for every 4 cups of water. This was a little too salty for my taste, but it could be perfect for you.
By using a higher percentage of salt brine, you will preserve the crispiness of the pickles. Beware though, you don’t want to overdo it because if they are too salty, you might end up throwing them out.
2. Use Small Whole Cucumbers
Small cucumbers tend to keep their crunch better than larger cucumbers. When buying cucumbers, choose the Persian cucumbers over Kirby’s. Kirby’s are already quite crunchy and better suited for a quick pickling process. They don’t hold up as well through the longer fermentation process. Traditional Kirby cucumbers tend to get mushy on the outside during fermentation.
If you are using larger cucumbers, do not cut them into small pieces because they tend to become soft. It’s best to choose a little cucumber and divide it into large spears. This will ensure the best-tasting pickles for your recipe.
3. Use Fresh Cucumbers
Fresh is best when it comes to fermenting pickles. If you notice your cucumbers are wilting, throw them out. Grocery stores always put the freshest produce in the back and the oldest in the front. Fresh cucumbers have the most amount of nutrients and health benefits, so take the time to find the best ones!
The cucumbers should have no soft spots and should not look wrinkly. If they have either, then they are on the way out. Fresh picked cucumbers from your garden or the farmers’ market work best. I find that using small, Persian cucumbers make the crispiest and crunchiest pickles.
4. Remove the Blossom End
The end of a cucumber contains enzymes that soften pickles. Cut a thin slice from the end, to preserve the firm texture. This will keep the enzyme from softening the cucumber before it’s fermented.
5. Puncture the Skin
Cucumbers that get harvested a bit late in the season or have been on the vine longer will develop a thicker skin. A great way to improve their taste and texture it to simply prick a hole in each cucumber with a knife or skew. This will allow the brine to penetrate faster and the cucumbers will culture better.
6. Chill Cucumbers in an Ice Bath
Chilling cucumbers in an ice bath for four to five hours before starting to process them will help improve the crispiness of the pickle. Use a large, food-safe container and fill it halfway with ice before pouring in water. Replace the ice as needed to keep the cucumbers cool.
7. Ferment at the Coldest Temperature You Can
The ideal temperature for fermenting pickles is between 60-70°. Anything much warmer than that will result in mushy pickles. Stay in this range for best results.
However, if the temperature is over 70 degrees, then shorten the fermentation time. Do a taste test after three days to determine their level of crunch. If they taste great and have the crunch you desire, then they are ready.
8 Pay Attention to the Color
The color of the cucumber is another indication of readiness. When the cucumber changes from bright green to an olive or yellow-green color and the inside is translucent the batch is ready to eat.
By now you should be well on your way to being an expert in pickle Lacto-fermentation. If you follow these steps, you will keep your cucumbers from turning mushy while reaping all the benefits.
Once you’re done with fermentation, make sure to store your pickles in a cool, dry place. A refrigerator or root cellar is the best options and will increase its shelf life.
Fermenting is actually a simple process. Once you learn it, you’ll be able to ferment all kinds of vegetables. One secret is you can use your fermented pickle juice to make a delicious salad dressing.
You will be able to include these fermented pickles in recipes your friends and family will love. There are many vegetables you can ferment, but a crispy, crunchy pickle is the tastiest of them all!
Note: Most of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means I receive a small commission if you purchase something after clicking the link. It doesn’t cost you any extra, and it helps to support the fermenters kitchen, which I appreciate so very much!
Kombucha is all the rage right now. Whether you make it yourself or buy it at the store, you might be wondering, “Does kombucha expire?”
Because kombucha is a fermented drink, it will last a long time past the “use-by-date” on the label. That is one of the main benefits of fermentation, preserve foods for a really long time.
However, the flavor will change over time and become more acidic. It will start to taste vinegary. Storing it in the refrigerator will help the drink last longer and keep its flavor.
Does store-bought kombucha expire?
After you open it, the kombucha will start to lose its carbonation and flavor. Manufacturers recommend drinking it within 3-5 days after opening and always keep it refrigerated to ensure you experience the optimal taste and fizz that they say it has.
If it’s an opened bottle and you leave at room temperature the fermentation process will work faster causing the drink to become more acidic. It is even possible for a SCOBY to form in the bottle, which you could then use to make your own kombucha.
With that being said, use common sense when drinking anything that is past its expiration date. If it smells bad and tastes bad, then it is probably bad. Throw it out!
Unopened Bottle of Store-Bought Kombucha
Say you left an unopened bottle of store-bought kombucha in the fridge for a month or two and now you are wondering if it has gone bad?
NO, it has not gone bad, the flavor notes might have changed a bit, becoming more acidic or vinegary as I’ve already stated, but it’s still fine to drink. If you like the flavor.
My first suggestion is to open it slowly because bottled kombucha can explode from the buildup of carbonatation. Cover the bottle with a towel and slowly open it over the kitchen sink.
Next, just taste it. If you don’t like the taste, then throw it out, but I doubt it will hurt you. If anything, it will be a little tart and vinegary due to the continuing fermentation process. Even though cold temperatures slow the fermentation process down almost to a standstill, it still does continue at a slow rate.
Furthermore, all food manufacturers are required to put a “sell-by-date,” “use-by-date” or “best-before-date” on the packaging, but you can still drink it.
Such a date just means that this is when you will get the best flavor and quality.
After that date has passed the taste, smell, texture, and look of the drink may be different, but that does not mean that it has spoiled.
As long as it has been unaffected by harmful bacteria, it should last for some time, just like pickles and vinegar.
However, if you have health issues that are triggered by acid or bacteria, it is advisable to toss it out to avoid allergic reactions, infections, or a really nasty upset stomach.
Part of eating a nutritious diet includes making sure that you eat plenty of probiotics. While you often think of food items like yogurt for your probiotic intake, that is far from the only food from which you can get probiotics. Sauerkraut can be an excellent source, but you should know that not all store-bought sauerkraut have the probiotics that you are looking for.
Store-bought sauerkraut in a can or jar has been pasteurized, which kills off the good bacteria. It is best to buy fresh sauerkraut (made without vinegar) to reap all the health benefits. To get the probiotics that you are looking for, stick to the refrigerated options. You should specifically look for selections that say “probiotic” or “raw” on the package.
Raw, fermented sauerkraut is full of probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria that provide many powerful benefits for your body and brain. They help strengthen the immune system so it can fight off colds and illnesses. The gut-healthy bacteria also help promote overall digestive health, reduce depression, and promote heart health.
Does Canned or Jarred Sauerkraut Have Probiotics?
Canned and jarred sauerkraut often do not contain probiotics, due to the pasteurization and canning/jarring process. The high heat is used to not only kill the bacteria, but it is also used to make sure that the cans and jars do not explode while they are being stored. The problem is that the high heat kills off the probiotics. Another problem is that due to the nature of the canning and jarring process, there are a lot more preservatives used to keep the sauerkraut longer, which can have negative effects on your health.
The same principle applies to any fermented foods that you buy, including kimchi. Stick to the fermented foods found in the refrigerated aisle and make sure that you read the label to make sure you are purchasing the healthiest product.
Does Cooking Sauerkraut Kill the Probiotics?
Yes, cooking sauerkraut can kill probiotics, which is one reason why some sauerkraut in the stores lack the probiotics that you want. For instance, much store-bought sauerkraut is pasteurized. The heat used during the pasteurization kills off the probiotics. As you cook sauerkraut to kill the harmful bacteria, you are also killing the good beneficial bacteria. Your best bet is not to cook it to get the most nutritional benefit of the sauerkraut.
Does Rinsing Sauerkraut Reduce Probiotics?
The answer here is both yes and no. When you rinse the sauerkraut, you are losing some of the probiotics, but there will still be probiotics contained in the sauerkraut after being rinsed. There are a few reasons why people rinse their sauerkraut. Some people find the smell and flavor to be too pungent for them, so they rinse the sauerkraut to make it more palatable for them. Others rinse the sauerkraut to reduce the sodium intake from consuming this product. If you want to get the full benefit of the probiotics in sauerkraut, it’s best to leave it as is since the brine can be just as beneficial as the cabbage.
Where Can I Buy Probiotic-Rich Sauerkraut?
The first thing that you should know is how to choose the right probiotics. Sauerkraut needs to be kept at a stable and cooler temperature to keep the probiotics alive. Keeping this probiotic-rich food at a steady and cooler temperature means that the most nutritious sauerkraut will be found in the refrigerated section of the store. Sauerkraut is live, which is why it needs the cool temperatures of the refrigerator. Sauerkraut that you see in the regular aisles are dead and lack the probiotics that you need. In many cases, you will notice that the best quality and most nutritious sauerkraut is in pouches rather than cans or jars.
You should also pay attention to the ingredients. Read the label and make sure that cabbage is the first ingredient listed. Other components to look for are other vegetables, spices, and salt. However, you will want to avoid any sauerkraut that contains vinegar, Sodium Benzoate/Sodium Bisulfate, any other scientific words, and sugar. Vinegar is a preservative, which means that the product has been pasteurized rather than allowing for the natural fermentation process. The ingredients should be natural and straightforward. Otherwise, the product is not as healthy as you think it is.
Fortunately, there are some great store-bought options that you can trust to have the probiotics you want. Here are my top picks for the best store-bought sauerkraut full of the gut-healthy probiotics we desire.
Bubbies is famous for its pickles but they also make amazing sauerkraut. Bubbies sauerkraut is Gluten-Free, abundant with live cultures, and absolutely delicious! Their line of products includes Kosher Dill Relish, Bread and Butter Pickles, Horseradish, and Pickled Herring Fillets. You can buy them on Amazon here.
Farmhouse Culture Kraut:
One of the great features of this brand of sauerkraut is the fact that you have several flavors of kraut from which to choose. From the packaging, you can see that it says “Probiotics” so you know that this is a product that will give you the nutritional benefit you need. Try their Classic Sauerkraut with caraway and Garlic Dill Pickle flavored kraut.
Raw, organic, and full of probiotics, Gold Mine’s sauerkraut is a nutritious sauerkraut option. This organic sauerkraut is not pasteurized and is full of the living microorganisms that are essential to great probiotics. It’s carefully packaged, hand-crafted in small batches with sea salt and aged in ceramic crocks to maximize the fermentation process. According to testing, this particular sauerkraut has about 468 million CFUs of live Lactobacillus and bifid bacterium species per ¼ serving. Order it online through Amazon and they will ship it refrigerated. Gold Mine Sauerkraut at Amazon.
Sauerkraut is an excellent food to add to your diet to make sure that you get the probiotics that your body needs to thrive. Probiotics may seem like a buzzword, but these live microorganisms are incredibly helpful in ensuring that your digestive tract is working as it’s supposed to. Many problems are associated with a lack of essential probiotics in the body, which can leave you feeling sluggish and uncomfortable. To choose the right sauerkraut, make sure you only select options that are raw, non-pasteurized, and found in the refrigerated aisle.
Two of the hottest health trends right now are the Keto Diet and Kombucha Tea. The keto diet is an extremely low carb and no added sugar diet that seems to melt the pounds away as long as you stick to its rather cumbersome rules. Kombucha tea is a fermented drink with many possible health benefits such as reducing the risk of cancer or heart disease, helping to manage type 2 diabetes, giving you probiotics and antioxidants and a whole lot more. But how well do these two health trends mesh? Since you use sugar to make kombucha, many people are left wondering if drinking it can still be Keto friendly.
Kombucha Basics: What Is It And Why We Drink It
Kombucha is a fermented tea with both a slightly sweet and light vinegar flavor with many health benefits. A mixture of green or black tea and sweetener (sugar) ferments with the help of a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (also known as a SCOBY). The fermenting typically lasts 3 to 30 days. The antioxidants and probiotics added to the drink during fermentation help protect against certain diseases. A type of acid called acetic acid, also found in vinegar, is produced when kombucha is fermented. Acetic acid helps fight infections, which means drinkers of the tea could have fewer infections and illnesses overall.
How do probiotics lead to good health? The many ways healthy bacteria aid the digestive system, and immune function is becoming clearer as more studies focus on gut health. When the probiotics in kombucha improve your gut health, they may also strengthen the immune system, helping you fight off many, including cancer. There have even been scientific links to suggest probiotics can cure or lessen depression.
It’s clear that kombucha is far more than a hippy – granola trend; it is healthy for your body and mind. Some people drink this tea daily, but even a few times per week can give you added health benefits when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Why Do Some People Fear Kombucha Is Bad For Keto Dieting?
As you may have noted in the explanation above, sugar is used in the making of this beverage. Since people on the keto diet cannot have added sugar, it’s natural to assume that kombucha is not Keto friendly. Keto dieters work hard to achieve a state of Ketosis. That means their body burns more fat. The SCOBY actually eats or burns through the sugar during the fermentation process. Luckily there are ways to alter the recipe so that you can enjoy the benefits of both keto weight loss and kombucha tea. Different batches of kombucha have different levels of sugar and carbs, and the drink can be altered to fit your new diet plan. It’s true when you drink a store-bought brand you have little control of the ingredients and process it’s made by, but if you make it at home, you have total control and peace of mind.
Why Is Sugar Bad For Keto?
Real sugar is a double molecule of glucose (50%) and fructose (50%). That makes sugar 100% carbs. The refined sugar actually turns into carbs inside your body. Keto has an extremely low threshold for carbs. Most people on the keto diet will eat fewer than 50g per day of carbs, and added sugar will take up those grams faster than you can snap your fingers. The idea behind Keto is to get your body into a state of Ketosis, meaning your body is burning fat instead of carbs. Adding sugar to your diet will give your body a new fuel source, and the fat loss will stop. So too much sugar can knock you right out of Ketosis, and you should always be aware of possible sneaky sugars slipping into your diet. An easy way to accidentally overdo it on sugar is to drink it in the form of soda, fruit juice, energy drinks or other liquids.
How To Make Kombucha Keto Friendly
Luckily you have the ability to lower the amount of sugar in your Kombucha tea. There are two main ways to get keto-friendly kombucha.
#1. READ the label carefully on store brand kombucha
The drink on its own is only slightly sweet and more vinegary in flavor. To make it taste better store brands add more sugar and other sweeteners and flavors. This can double the amount of sugar and carbs the drink contains. It’s far better to make your own kombucha at home, and it’s super easy to do!
Here are a few brands that offer a sugar-free kombucha tea that can be ordered on Amazon.
However, if you prefer to buy kombucha take the time to read the labels because the amount of sugar added varies a lot from one brand to another. You can find some brands and flavors that have about 3 g of carbs per ½ cup. Again, pay attention to the label because ½ a cup is only about one-quarter of the bottle.
Just remember with store brands, you will most likely have to cut carbs elsewhere to keep yourself in ketosis.
#2. Change the way you make homemade kombucha
With a few simple changes, you can reduce the sugar in your kombucha tea. As we stated earlier, the SCOBY uses up a fair amount of the sugar naturally while fermenting is going on. Longer fermentation times or multiple fermenting rounds can reduce the sugar content even more. You can also invest in a hydrometer, which is kind of like a thermometer for checking the liquid density. Armed with a hydrometer, you can regularly test your kombucha to make sure that the sugar levels have dropped enough for your consumption.
You can slow down the rate of fermentation while brewing. Slowing down the kombucha process means to decrease the rate at which it is fermenting. This will result in lower sugar content but also a less sour taste. You control the speed of fermentation by controlling the temperature. Lowering the temperature will slow the process.
Doing a second fermenting process sounds like added work, but it is easily accomplished. The basic steps are:
Transfer the kombucha (without its SCOBY) into a glass vessel that can be sealed
Now you can add in a flavoring such as spices, herbs, other teas and so on to improve the flavor
Allow the kombucha to sit at room temperature for one day, and then transfer it to the refrigerator for at least seven days.
If you are ready to try making kombucha yourself, check out my easy kombucha recipe.
More fermenting and less sugar means that you’re going to be left with a pretty tart and tangy tea. You can add artificial sweeteners or flavored seltzer water to help improve the taste. If you can’t help but enjoy the convenience of buying store-bought kombucha, then you can simply look for brands that are lower in sugar, or you can dilute the tea with more fizzy water so that you get more tea, just a diluted version.
Just by making a few alterations, you can easily make kombucha into a keto-friendly drink as long as you do it in moderation. Many people say that drinking kombucha has killed their soda cravings and that in itself is a great step towards health and weight loss right there.
Best Substitutes for Salted Shrimp in Kimchi Recipe
If you have made kimchi before, then you know there are literally thousands of ways to make it and just as many ingredient variations. This may be a slight exaggeration, but maybe there is some truth in it too.
Some of those ingredients can be a little unique and depending on where you live; it can be challenging to get your hands on them. I ran into this same situation, and that is why I decided to do a little research, and this is what I came up with for the best substitutions for one ingredient, in particular, salted shrimp.
This incredibly delicious and out of this world kimchi recipe called for multiple shrimp/fish ingredients starting with:
3 oz of Korean dried cod
1/4 cup of salted shrimp (saewoo juht)
1/4 cup of anchovy fish sauce
1/4 cup of lance fish sauce
So, in this instance, I think if you omitted the salted shrimp all together, the other fish ingredients would have provided plenty of the desired umami flavor.
However, you might have a similar recipe that only calls for salted shrimp, so here are my best substitutes for salted shrimp that you must try.
The most similar substitute for salted shrimp is a shrimp paste, and this is what I used as my substitute ingredient. Shrimp paste is basically the same thing as salted shrimp; it’s just in a paste form. It is a ground-up salted shrimp that has been fermented. Here is a great brand of shrimp paste.
Now, if you can’t find shrimp paste, you might consider using anchovy paste.
* 2 teaspoons of shrimp paste may be substituted for the salted shrimp.
Although in a side by side comparison salted shrimp and fish sauce might taste pretty different from each other, the fish sauce does provide the desired umami flavor as well as the necessary saltiness. Because of this, along with the fact that it is sold in pretty much every mainstream grocery store in the country, it is probably the most popular substitute for salted shrimp.
*Consider anchovy fish sauce and lance fish sauce as well.
The fish sauce can be substituted just shy of 1:1 and the kimchi will still turn out great.
Another great substitute is dried shrimp. Dried shrimp are shrimp that have been sun-dried and shrunk to thumbnail size and provide a delicious umami taste. Here is a dried ground shrimp made in Lousiana, USA.
*An equal amount of dried shrimp may be substituted for the salted shrimp.
If you are allergic to seafood or avoiding shrimp because you are vegan or vegetarian than red miso is an excellent substitution for salted shrimp. Red miso is made with fermented soybeans and barley, and other grains; its color ranges from dark brown to red making it perfect for kimchi.
Furthermore, red miso paste is full of glutamic acid, the same element responsible for the savory, umami flavor. It is salty and pungent, and you’ll only need a little bit to add some serious umami to your kimchi. Here is a great Red Miso that is made of 100% Organic Rice & Soybeans and is additive-free.
To expand on the umami flavor, take it one step further and combine the miso with dried seaweed or kelp powder. The seaweed would give it the fishy taste, and the miso which is salted and fermented soybean paste would give you the funky salty part.
All in all, there are quite a few salted shrimp substitutes. Don’t forget you can always use them for experimenting with making your own kimchi recipes.
If you enjoy making homemade Kombucha, then you probably have some leftover SCOBY stacking up. Luckily there are many worthwhile uses for SCOBY so whatever you do, don’t throw it out! I was once in your shoes, and because I like to find smart ways to reduce waste and reuse materials, I spent quite a bit of time researching all the cool ways to use SCOBY.
First of all, if you can’t use it right away, that’s alright. You can store SCOBY with a little of the kombucha tea in an airtight jar at room temperature. We lovingly refer to this as the SCOBY hotel. The hotel fills up fast though, and you can only give away so much to friends and family who are ready to jump on the homemade kombucha train.
It’s probably not surprising to discover that SCOBY is not only safe to eat but incredibly healthy for you. SCOBY is full of probiotics and insoluble fiber, both of which aid in digestion and can help you reach optimal health. It has no calories, lowers cholesterol, and helps regulate blood sugar. Much like kombucha, the SCOBY taste is acidic, tart and a bit sweet.
Its rubbery nature makes it a little tough to just dump into a recipe though so you have to work for it. Many people suggest blending it into a puree and storing it in an airtight container to keep on hand for recipe use.
Here are eleven great ideas for leftover SCOBY, some editable, and some not.
#1 Fruit Leather
This healthy probiotic-rich treat can replace the chemical filled store bought version your kids always ask for. When dehydrated at a low temperature, the SCOBY maintains its healthy acids and bacterial activity. Simply take 2 cups of diced fruit, 1 cup of sugar, 2 cups SCOBY puree and a teaspoon of your favorite spice (such as cinnamon) and blend. Make thin layers and dehydrate 16 to 36 hours on the lowest setting.
#2 Vegan Jerky
You don’t need meat to make a good jerky! Make savory vegan jerky as a healthy snack using a dehydrator and some spicy full-flavor marinade. Get the full SCOBY Jerky Recipe. SCOBY jerky makes a great TV or movie snack for all ages.
#3 Vegan Substitute for Fish in Sushi
The rubbery texture of the kombucha mother is very close to that of raw squid or raw fish, making it the perfect seafood substitute for DIY sushi. Since sushi rice already has some rice vinegar in it, the taste will not be all that different.
#4 Smoothies (purees)
You can add SCOBY puree into any smoothie to boost its nutritional value. Use strongly flavored fruits and added spices to help hide the tart flavor if you want. This is a great ingredient to secretly slip into kid’s smoothies for added health benefits without them even knowing. Hey, sometimes us moms have to get creative!
Applesauce is another great place to hide some SCOBY puree, the sweetness of the apple and the spicy taste of nutmeg or cinnamon will cover up your secret ingredient. You can try adding blended SCOBY to lots of sauces and dressings and see what unique creations you can create.
#6 SCOBY Pet Treats
Your pets and backyard farm animals can also enjoy SCOBY, either in its original raw form or pureed and incorporated into homemade treats. Dogs, chickens, and goats all especially enjoy SCOBY treats. Just as SCOBY is very healthy for humans, the same health benefits are passed on to your animals.
#7 SCOBY in the Garden
SCOBY also makes a great compost and garden fertilizer. SCOBY attracts bugs, so it’s best to ground it up and layer it under the soil of gardens and outdoor plants.
This is a great way to use a large quantity of SCOBY up quickly.
During my research, I also found quite a few unconventional uses for SCOBY that included:
#8 Brown Sugar SCOBY Body Scrub
Whip up a batch of homemade body scrub using brown sugar, olive oil, SCOBY and oats. This makes a great DIY gift, or you can even use it as a craft to sell. You can experiment with different scents and ingredients; here is theSCOBY body scrub recipe to follow.
#9 Dried SCOBY Jewelry
Check out this amazing article about cheesemaker turned artist, Sacha Laurin, one of the only people in the world making dried SCOBY into wearable jewelry. This is a fantastic gift for the true hippie in your life. It would certainly be a one of a kind gift.
#10 SCOBY Face Masks
People that drink kombucha and use SCOBY in making face masks claim that doing so improves their skin, giving a fresh, natural glow. While science hasn’t weighed in on the dermatological benefits of SCOBY face masks, enthusiasts state that the masks detoxify and hydrate the skin and even makes them look younger by improving skin elasticity.
#11 SCOBY Clothes
I even saw SCOBY being used to make clothes (it is fibrous after all).
Suzanne Lee is a fashion designer that gave a TED talk on using SCOBY to make clothes. It’s her vision to be able to create sustainable clothing using this material. “Imagine leather that’s as lightweight and transparent as a butterfly wing or has the natural stretch of rubber,” Lee says. “Or imagine a material with the dynamic responsiveness of the skin of a chameleon.” You can read the full article about SCOBY clothing to learn more. The fashion industry has recently come under fire for being incredible wasteful so new sustainable materials are highly sought after.
All in all, there are quite a few incredible uses for these cloudy probiotic-filled rubber disks! Don’t forget you can always use them for experimenting with making new unique flavors of kombucha. If you come up with a winning flavor combination, make sure to share it in the comments below.
Bonus tips: How NOT to use SCOBY
Do not useSCOBY on indoor plants because it is known for attracting fruit flies and you’ll end up with an infestation on your hands.
Do not try to use SCOBY as a scalp treatment because the bits of dried SCOBY will be challenging to wash out. The fibrous blend dries hard onto your strands of hair and becomes difficult to remove.
It’s Sunday morning, and you wake up with a queasy stomach, dry mouth and a pounding headache. You reach for a bubbly, effervescent, sweetly sour drink that just so happens to contain a trace amount of the stuff that got you here in the first place; this naturally carbonated hangover cure is kombucha!
What Is Kombucha?
Kombucha is tea, usually black or green, that has been mixed with sugar, water, and the ever-important SCOBY, then left to sit out for over a week. It is then combined with herbs or flavorings, rebottled and then it is finally ready to drink! That boring green tea has magically turned into this naturally carbonated, (good) bacteria-rich, delicious drink for us to enjoy! Sounds a little strange, right? So what the heck is a SCOBY!? Kombucha is left to sit out and ferment, which is the process of your food converting carbs into alcohol. This process creates a ton of good belly boosting bacteria, which is great for digestion. And as for the SCOBY, it’s the most important piece to your kombucha making puzzle. A SCOBY is a symbiotic culture of bacteria or yeast. This weird, slimy, mushroom-looking thing is your essential in creating this fermented drink. It’s what gives this drink all of its amazing health benefits!
Kombucha To Crush Your Hangover
So, now that you know all about this tasty drink, here’s why it just might be your new favorite hangover cure! Let’s look at a couple of things:
Let’s be real; alcohol contains toxins. When alcohol is consumed, these toxins enter your body and make you feel not so great the morning after. Kombucha is naturally high in glucaric acid which is beneficial to your liver and aids in the detoxification process. Drinking a glass of the bubbly the next day can help your body’s detox process move along and get those nasty toxins flushed out quicker.
We all know that alcohol dehydrates you. When we’re dehydrated, we lose electrolytes. Electrolytes help to control our fluid balances within our body, and kombucha just so happens to be packed with electrolytes.
The morning after a night of drinking and you often wake up with a nasty stomach ache. Alcohol depletes the levels of B vitamins found in our body, and this can cause nausea. Most store-bought kombucha is packed with a B complex, helping with your upset belly. Not only that, a recent study has shown that because kombucha is so high in antioxidants, it can help protect the gastric tissue in our stomach and reduce the feeling of pain. Grab a bottle made with ginger or peppermint to really help quell your nausea!
Headaches are usually another no fun symptom of a hangover. Kombucha can help crush a headache because of the relationship between our intestines and headache management. Research has found that improving our gut health can play a key role in managing headaches. Keeping our stomachs happy with gut boosting good probiotics from the kombucha can help kick your headache to the curb!
Kombucha is chock full of vitamins, like vitamin C, which is essential in the repair of all body tissues. So, sipping on some ‘booch for an added dose of vitamin C can help repair and restore the damage the alcohol did to our tissue the night before.
Sometimes a hangover can make us nervous, stressed or even anxious. Kombucha has been shown to having calming effects on the body, so sip away for a sense of relaxation.
Let’s all not forget that when fermenting kombucha, it naturally produces alcohol. And although it’s a very small amount, you know how the saying goes, “Bite the dog that bit you”!
It is quite a surprise when a batch of fermented garlic turns blue. However, the good news is it’s perfectly fine to eat and not an indicator of a ferment gone wrong. I first saw this happen in a batch of honey garlic. I set up the batch to ferment just as I always have, nothing out of the ordinary. When I was examining the finished product, however, I was surprised to see the cloves of garlic ranging from an aqua-blue to a bright blue.
At first sight, I was afraid to eat it too. So, I searched the topic online and found out that many other fermenters were getting similar results and that a relatively simple explanation was involved.
What causes garlic to turn green or blue during fermentation?
Garlic contains both sulfur and amino acids when they combine they can create blue pigments. Furthermore, reactions with copper (or other metals) and acid (such as that produced by the lactobacilli) can help this reaction take place and release the colors. The fermentation process sets up an acidic environment that leads to this color-producing reaction. You might have experienced this when cooking garlic with vinegar or lemon juice in a copper pan. This process can bruise the garlic, so there isn’t a uniform color change. Instead, the bruised parts undergo a more profound pigmentation release as the acid can penetrate deeper into the garlic.
Consider using the blue pigment as an indicator of a good ferment, as it shows that the desired acid environment was achieved. So, in addition to producing the fermentation that I want, this acidic condition is also keeping botulinum from forming. Blue garlic means no botulism!
Is blue garlic safe to eat?
Still not sure about whether or not blue fermented garlic is safe to eat? You can always try the smell test. Absent any sign of spoilage such as foul smell or mold, you’ve got a green light to eat it.
If it smells strong like garlic, then it is normal, if it smells bad like it turned to compost then I would say it is bad.
Kombucha is a living probiotic tea packed with beneficial bacteria that help detoxify the body and energize the mind. Kombucha aids the body in healing and restoring gut health and integrity. Fans often tout it for having a fuzzy effervescent quality like a natural soda. The fuzziness is a result of the fermentation process.
“Death begins in the colon” ~ Dr. Bernard Jensen
The intestine is sometimes referred to as the second immune system because of its content and potential for harmful bacteria growth. It has such an active role in our health and immunity. The beneficial bacteria in kombucha help keep harmful bacteria in check resulting in a clean digestive system and well-functioning intestinal track.
Similar to apple cider vinegar, it’s an excellent digestive tonic, which is produced by a similar process. Taken around mealtime, it helps assist stomach acid with breaking down proteins and digest in other foods and prevents bloating, heartburn, and indigestion.
Some people notice a cleansing effect with kombucha that it aids constipation with its gentle laxative action.
It’s not a magic elixir
People who drink kombucha regularly claim that after one week of drinking it daily they notice an improvement in immune system function and energy levels.
However, if you continue to eat foods that are toxic and poisonous to your bodies such as junk foods and highly processed food then just adding the kombucha tea alone will probably not be enough to experience the benefits.
The best way to heal your body is to remove as much of the toxic things that go into our bodies and are around bodies, and then nourish it and feed it with all it needs to give it every opportunity to rebuild itself.
I’ll step down off my soapbox now.
The tea portion of the kombucha, whether it’s from black tea or green tea contains l-theanine, a compound which naturally counteracts the tea’s caffeine content with a calming effect.
Both green and black tea come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. The difference is in the process; Black tea is roasted and aged longer than green tea. Tea (especially green) is also high in antioxidants and is often used in natural weight-loss formulas.
The caffeine in Kombucha tea is much lower than what’s found in coffee and does have some beneficial effects, which include a temporary boost in energy, alertness, and mental acuity.
There are so many unique and different health benefits that can come about from drinking kombucha regularly.
More Health Benefits of Kombucha
Kombucha tea contains a range of B Vitamins: B1, B2, B6, and B12 which provide the body with energy and helps process fats and proteins, which are vital for your nervous system.
Kombucha contains antioxidants that help fight molecules in the body that can damage cells. It has one of the few agents that can cope with the pollutive products of the petroleum industry, including plastics, herbicides, pesticides, and resins.
A study done in 2011, found that the antioxidant-rich kombucha reduces toxins in the liver, suggesting that kombucha may play an important role in promoting liver health and reducing liver inflammation.
However, these studies were conducted on rats, and more research is needed to say with certainty how kombucha can support liver health in humans.
It helps with the structure of cartilage, collagen and the fluid that lubricates the joints. Collagen reduces wrinkles and helps with arthritis.
It helps the body to make Glutathione, which is made up of 3 amino acids and is produced naturally in the liver. It is vital for cellular metabolism. It protects our bodies against oxidative stress caused by free radicals and is also required for the immune system to function correctly and is a potent detoxifier.
SCOBY’s and kombucha tea can be used to treat stings, bites, infections on the skin and rash, irritation, eczema and external fungi (e.g., ring work, nail fungi).
Kombucha and SCOBYs can be added to bathwater as the bacteria and goodness absorb straight into the skin. It’s beneficial for sick children, or just a relaxing, nourishing time in the bath. You can even use it as a probiotic gargle for sore throats and infections.
Afterward consider dumping the bathwater in the garden, instead of letting all that beneficial bacteria go down the drain.
SCOBY is useful in garden compost. The bacteria and minerals nourish the soil, and the goodness absorbs into your plants and vegetables.
How Kombucha can help around the house:
Like vinegar, kombucha has acetic acid in it, but in smaller amounts. Because of this, kombucha can be used as a surface cleaner (just pour some into a spray bottle) or even as a hand sanitizer by adding a little to your liquid hand soap.
How Kombucha can help you with cosmetics:
The SCOBY can be pulverized in a food processor and kept refrigerated to use as face mask applied directly to the skin allowed to leave for 10 mins or longer until dried and absorbed into the skin and thoroughly washed off.
How Kombucha can benefit your pet:
The SCOBY can be fed to animals. It will assist them with a variety of ailments such as arthritis, gut issues, cancer, skin issues, ear issues, and more.
How Kombucha kills fleas and ticks:
Kombucha will help eliminate fleas and ticks on your pets. However, a stronger batch of kombucha will be needed for this application. To make a stronger brew, merely let your kombucha ferment for two extra weeks. This will create an extra strength brew, similar to a tincture.
Next, apply your stronger brewed batch of flea and tick spray to the affected areas on your dog, cat, or livestock to decrease the irritation and discourage those pesky little buggers. For severe cases, you can also use it as a bath! It will also help them retain a shiny coat.
How Kombucha gets rid of your pet worms:
Kombucha is a natural way of getting rid of worms in dogs and cats. Dogs and cats get infected with roundworms by ingesting worm eggs found in soil or stool. Start by giving your pet a dried SCOBY as a chew toy. As you know cats can be very finicky if they refuse the new chew toy try mixing it with their food or in their drinking water.
More about the benefits of Kombucha tea:
May Balances hormones
Can help Lose weight
Improves Skin and hair
May help ease the symptoms of anxiety, eczema, food allergies if ingested and applied topically.
Behavioral issues, ADHD, Dyslexia, autism
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Kombucha is chock-full of trillions and billions of good bacteria that can strengthen the wall of the gut.
Vitamin C potent detoxifier and immune booster and enhancer of vitality.
Antibiotic qualities which help deactivate viruses.
Encourages the intercellular production of energy.
After researching the benefits of kombucha tea for several months and consuming it myself, I have found quite an array of claims and lists of benefits the tea can offer up. But let it be known I have not researched all of these claims individually and I am not suggesting the use of kombucha tea over anything your doctor has recommended.
If you are looking for help resolving any of these ailments or conditions it is always best to consult a doctor.
Hands up if you’ve ever managed to spill a little bit of beet juice on your shirt or lap? If you’re like the rest of us, you’ll want to know how to remove the beet juice stain from our clothes.
Just follow these three steps:
Rinse the spot. The faster you can flush the beet juice stain with cold water the better. If you have to wait until you get home, give the stain a quick blot with a baby wipe or paper towel, working from the outside in to avoid spreading the stain. Refrain from rubbing the stain because it will just push the dye deeper into fabric fibers. When you get home rinse it thoroughly.
Working from the back of the stain, flush the stain with cold water until the water runs clear.
Soak the garment overnight in water that’s as hot as your fabric permits.
If the stain persists, treat the area with a stain remover. A heavy-duty detergent that contains stain-removing enzymes is an effective alternative, gently rub it into the stained area. Let it sit on the fabric for at least fifteen minutes and then rinse in cold water. This will remove any oily components of beet juice from the fabric as well.
Again, if traces of the red color remain, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach and cold water. Follow the package directions as to how much product per gallon of water. Mix enough solution so that the garment can be completely submerged. Allow the fabric to soak for at least eight hours. Check the beet stain. If it is gone, wash as usual. Repeat the process one more time if it remains.
Dry Clean Only Garments
After you’ve pre-treated the beet juice stain with cold water, it’s suggested to take any dry-clean only garments straight to the professionals. Sometimes you have to admit defeat and move on.
As a last resort try an ammonia mixture.
Mix 1 tablespoon of ammonia with 1/2 cup of water. Gently dab the solution onto the stain with a clean white cloth and repeat if necessary.
Because ammonia can be very tough on fabric it is not usually recommended as a safe cleaning solution for garments or upholstery. However, it does remove beet juice stains.
With that being said, it is wise to check the fabric by dabbing some of the solution on a hidden area of the fabric to make sure it doesn’t cause harm to it.
Lastly, never use ammonia and bleach together because the combination can produce toxic fumes.
Ever wonder what is the difference is between fermenting and rotting food?
Rotting is an uncontrolled act of a food decomposing. Dangerous bacteria take over the food in question, breaking it down to a dangerous and foul state. Rotting kills the food.
Fermenting is just the opposite. Fermentation is a controlled process that creates an environment in which the food is placed (jar, crock…); when done correctly, beneficial bacteria are produced that discourage the growth of harmful bacteria allowing you to eat it well past its usual shelf life.
No, fermented food is not spoiled food. The process of fermenting food is a method of preservation that raises the population of beneficial bacteria and breaks down the properties of the food so that they remain edible.
How fermentation starts:
The process starts with the pH lowering, which creates an inhospitable environment for the harmful bacteria.
They no longer thrive.
The beneficial bacteria will then outcompete the harmful bacteria.
It’s the survival of the fittest on the microscopic level.
The results are delicious fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and so on.
In fact, because humans have generally moved away from eating unpasteurized fermented foods, which we have been doing for thousands of years. Studies indicate this has negatively impacted our systems.
What is Spoiled or Rotten Food?
Food spoilage takes place when microscopic organisms feast on food items that you leave unattended.
Ferment foods are a type of preservation of food which prevents spoilage from happening.
If you don’t take adequate preventative measures, the food will spoil quickly.
The microscopic bacteria are what cause food to spoil. These tiny organisms, called spoilage bacteria, eat unprotected food and produce waste products.
Bacterial waste is the cause of the foul smell and rotten appearance of spoiled food.
Spoiled implies that it is harmful to your health and should not be eaten. Now while there are varying degrees of decomposition that occur, this doesn’t mean you will be harmed from a food that has begun to decompose.
It’s all relative to the process, and humans have developed senses that warn us of harmful things. Think of how you react to a putrefying smell; you start to gag uncontrollably. That is your body protecting itself.
It really just boils down to if the food is harmful to your system or not.
Break it down.
During the fermentation process, microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast or fungi convert organic compounds, such as sugars and starch into alcohol or acids.
For example, starches and sugars (carbohydrates) in vegetables and fruits are converted to lactic acid, and this lactic acid acts as a natural preservative.
The lactic acid is how the food gets its good stuff, the distinctive, intense, slightly sour flavors to common in kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, beet kvass, and the like.
It’s a balancing act.
The challenge is to balance both the good and bad bacteria.
Humans have both good and bad bacteria living in their guts. The good bacteria are called Probiotics. Probiotics are what line your gut and support nutrient absorption and a healthy immune system.
Eating fermented foods on a daily basis will help you build up the colonies of good bacteria and achieve a healthy gut.
It will help your body digest, absorb, and get better use of the foods you’re eating.
More health benefits of eating fermented foods include:
Stronger immune system
Promote repair of damaged tissues
Increased energy from the production of vitamin B12
Better breath because probiotics destroy candida
Healthier skin, since probiotics improve eczema and psoriasis
Reduced cold and flu
Healing from leaky gut and inflammatory bowel disease
Probiotics have also been shown to help slow or reverse some diseases, improve bowel health, aid digestion, and improve immunity!
Signs you have too much bad gut bacteria:
Excess intestinal gas
Too little or no intestinal gas
Chronic bad breath
To learn more about how to improve your gut health, read this article “How to Restore and Improve Your Gut Bacteria” by Dr. David Williams.