Fermented vegetables are a great way to support the digestive system. Bacteria ferment the natural sugars and starches in the vegetables, making them easier to digest and the probiotic bacteria within the food helps to maintain levels of beneficial bacteria in your gut. The fermentation process preserves the food and can also increase its vitamin and mineral content.
Vegetable starter cultures are available in health food stores, but you can also break open a probiotic capsule and use this instead.
This recipe is based on one from ‘Spiralise!’ by Pete Evans and is a great way to prepare spiralised vegetables such as beetroot or papaya, but if you don’t have a spiraliser, grated vegetables work just as well. The original recipe includes pomegranate seeds, which are a lovely addition when in season.
Wash the preserving jar, lid and all utensils very thoroughly in very hot water, or immerse in boiling water for a few seconds.
Place the grated or spiralised carrot in a large stainless steel bowl, sprinkle over the salt, mint, ginger and pomegranate seeds (if using). Mix well.
Dissolve the starter culture in water, according to the packet instructions, add to the carrot mixture and mix well.
Fill the prepared jar with the carrot mixture, pressing down well with a large spoon or potato masher to remove any air pockets and leaving 2 cm of room free at the top. The carrot should be completely submerged in the liquid, so add more water if necessary.
Take the cabbage leaf, fold it up and place it on top of the carrot mixture, then add a small glass weight (like a shot glass) to keep everything submerged. Close the lid and wrap a tea towel around the jar to block out the light.
Store the jar in a dark place with a temperature of 16-23 C for 10-14 days. A hot water or airing cupboard is ideal, or you could place it in a cool box/chilly bin/Esky (depending where you are from!) to maintain a more consistent temperature. The warmer it is , the shorter culturing time is required, so this will vary according to the season. The longer you leave the jar, a greater number of bacteria will be present and the lactic acid they produce will give it a tangy taste. For a milder taste, reduce the fermenting time.
Chill before eating. Once opened, the fermented carrot will keep for up to 2 months in the fridge, if it remains submerged in the liquid. If unopened, it will keep for up to 9 months in the fridge.