You may not be aware of this but you can ferment just about anything. The question you may be asking is why would you want to? Well, it is all about improving nutrient content, digestibility and gut health. Do you need to ferment everything? Absolutely not. Does everything you ferment taste “fermenty”? Absolutely not – it depends how long you ferment it.
So the only real question is: Do you want to be bothered? It does not matter what you ferment – there is planning involved. This is what probably makes most people not do it. We are so used to deciding that we are going to eat and then we eat food within minutes. The idea that someone would decide to make a cake or a muffin or the delicious treat below, by starting a day ahead to ferment some of the ingredients, may seem weird.
However, think of the benefits. Even fermenting for a day activates enzymes, creates some new beneficial metabolites from the phytonutrients, makes the vitamins and minerals more available to be absorbed, adds some beneficial bacteria to the food and makes it easier to digest. So why not do this?
You do not need to do it with everything – just strategically. You can buy good quality fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, yogurt (be sure to get traditional, natural yogurt) and kimchi. Look for all fermented foods in the refrigerator case of the grocery or health food store, otherwise, it may be pasteurized, which you definitely do not want.
This makes it easier to decide when to ferment the foods you prepare from scratch.
The recipe below is a good example of something you could choose to ferment. You can make up a batch and keep them in the refrigerator or freezer and have then as a treat when you wish.
This recipe does not really have a good name so I am calling it Chocolate Fermented Treats. They are rich and yummy. You can adjust the sweetness to taste. I have chosen raw honey for this recipe as it contains 10 strains of good bacteria (6 lactobacillus and 4 bifidus strains) to increase the gut health benefits. The almonds, chocolate, coconut and hempseeds also are good prebiotics.
There are several steps to this recipe but think about it – when have you had a treat that also delivers good bacteria strains and helps aid gut health? This, in my book, makes it guilt free.
Chocolate Fermented Treats
1 1/2 cups raw almonds
2 tbsp hemp seeds
1/2 cup coconut, shredded, unsweetened, sulfite-free
3 tbsp whey (drained from yogurt*) or sauerkraut juice
1-2 tbsp raw honey (or to taste)
100 g dark chocolate bar (70% cocoa solid or higher)
1 tbsp coconut oil or butter
1/8 tsp pure vanilla
For rolling the balls:
Shredded, unsweetened, sulfite-free coconut
Sucanat, ground in a coffee grinder
1/8-1/4 tsp cinnamon
3-4 drops food grade essential oil peppermint
Place the almonds, hemp seeds and coconut in a 1 litre Mason jar. Add spring water, just to cover. Add the whey or sauerkraut juice and place the lid on the Mason jar. Screw the lid on tightly and let the mixture ferment at room temperature for 12- 24 hours.
To prepare: Drain the mixture through a nylon sieve. The mixture will remain wet because if it dries, beneficial bacteria will be lost.
Add some water to a small pot and rest a bowl on top of it, to create a double boiler. Add the chocolate and coconut oil or butter into the bowl and place the pot over low heat to melt. Put the almond mixture in a food processor with the honey and process until everything is a fine particle. Mix the melted chocolate and coconut oil or butter together and add to the food processor with the vanilla and process again. Depending on how much honey was added and how dry the mixture is, you may be able to roll the balls right away. If not, place the mixture in a bowl and cover. Put it in the refrigerator to chill for half an hour or until it is firm enough to roll. Roll the mixture into 3/4 – 1 inch balls. Roll in shredded coconut or powdered sucanat. Place on plate and serve or put in a container with a lid and store in the refrigerator or freezer. Remember that these have live good bacteria so they should not be left at room temperature for more than a couple of hours.
For different flavours, add cinnamon to the sucanat when rolling the balls or add the essential oil peppermint (food grade) to the mixture before rolling.
*In order to drain whey from yogurt, it has to be natural. If the yogurt that you usually buy often has visible liquid after it sits in the fridge for a while, then that is natural yogurt. Coconut yogurt does have some gums added which may make it difficult to strain out the whey but it is worth a try if you cannot use dairy yogurt. Sauerkraut juice also works and does not taste much like cabbage. Any cabbage taste it has will be masked by the chocolate