Many of my clients know I'm a big fan of fermented vegetables like kimchi and raw sauerkraut. First off, they're delicious! Fermenting vegetables brings out an incomparable complexity of flavor. I could stop there, but there's so much more: Fermented vegetables are great for digestion and are a natural source of probiotics--bacteria that live in our gut perform a whole host of functions, from supporting to our immune system to impacting how we think and feel!
I've never ventured into fermenting at home even though I buy a LOT of this stuff. I've listened to radio shows where experts walk through the simple process of making sauerkraut--essentially salting cabbage, giving it a solid massage to create a brine, and jarring it to ferment over a period of days or weeks. A running pal once walked me through the basic steps on a run and encouraged me to give it a go. I read about fermenting on trusted sites on the internet and in magazines. And read and read and read. It seemed so easy!
But I had this silly fear, this hurdle holding me back from trying. Maybe there was some magic that everyone was holding out on telling me. Or I could be really unlucky, and my vegetables will rot instead of fermenting. What if I culture some horrific bacteria that results in food poisoning?
I needed a someone to hold my hand, and that's what I got when the makers of my favorite local kraut, HEX Ferments, put on a fermentation workshop in January. Elbows deep in cabbage along with a few dozen other participants, the experienced HEX husband-and-wife duo Meaghan and Shane Carpenter lifted the veil of secrecy and melted away all the fear.
I didn't hear anything I hadn't heard or read, but the hands-on experience and safety of being led by experts the gave me a totally new perspective on this practice and a confidence that I could absolutely do this on my own. It reminded of me of the work I do with many of my clients, who say things like "I know what I'm supposed to do, but I can't seem to do it." When I partner with my clients in meal planning, shopping and sometimes even cooking with them in their homes, they gain the confidence to build lasting new skills and habits.
I also left with a jar of massaged cabbage, which hung out in a cabinet for a week. The bacteria had a party, eating pooping, making more bacteria, and it's finally time to taste. I'm happy to report that A. I did not get food poisoning, and B. It worked! It was pretty damned tasty!
Here's to hands-on learning!