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Let’s talk about ferments. Fermented vegetables, that is. If you’re thinking “sauerkraut,” you’d be right, but only partially. Almost any vegetable can be fermented, with a few exceptions (don’t try fermenting kale or broccoli if you want to keep your love of those two green delicacies alive).

If you’ve never tried your hand at fermenting before, I do recommend starting out with good old fashioned sauerkraut, as it’s very straightforward and is a taste many of us are familiar with. There are so many different recipes for sauerkraut and its cousins out there (kimchi, anyone?), just do a Pinterest search and you’ll get loads of results.

However, if you’re interested in expanding your fermentation skills and/or want to become a badass fermentista (if that’s not a word already, it is now), then the two recipes below are for you!

Burdock & Carrot Kimchi

This Burdock & Carrot Kimchi is exactly what it sounds like; thinly sliced burdock root and carrots mixed with classic kimchi flavoring agents like green onions, garlic, ginger root, and the magic ingredient: gochugaru (a Korean chili powder), which you can easily find in any Korean grocery store or online. The process for fermenting this kimchi is simple, but there is some waiting involved so give yourself a few hours on a weekend to get these and the celery stuffing (recipe follows) going.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch green onions, green part included
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root
  • 1/2 – 1 T gochugaru (depending on your spice preference)
  • 1 lb carrots, scrubbed
  • 1 lb burdock root
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 T unrefined sea salt
  • A few green cabbage leaves

Begin by washing the green onions and chopping them into 1-inch pieces. Mince the garlic and ginger. Then add all this to a bowl along with the gochugaru and lemon zest (hold onto the lemon juice for now) and mix well. Set this mixture aside.

Top and tail the carrots, and thinly slice them on a diagonal so you get long oval coins. Peel the burdock root, then and top and tail it and thinly slice it on the diagonal so the pieces match the carrot coins. Add the carrot and burdock coins to a large bowl and immediately squeeze on the lemon juice to prevent the burdock from oxidizing and turning brown.

Sprinkle the salt over the carrots and burdock and work it in with your hands. After a few minutes, you should see some liquid. Cover the bowl and let it sit for 30 minutes, then massage the mixture with your hands again for a few minutes. At this point, you should see a good amount of brine at the bottom of the bowl.

Add the garlic/ginger mixture to the carrots and burdock and mix everything to combine.

Handful by handful, add the kimchi into a clean wide-mouth quart-sized mason jar, pressing down the mixture after every few handfuls to push out the air. If your hand does not fit into the jar, use a potato masher or flat bottom of a spoon.

Once you have added all the kimchi into the jar and pressed everything down well, the brine should rise an inch or so above the top of the veggies. It is important that the veggies stay under the brine and are not exposed to air, otherwise, they will cause mold to form.

If you do not have enough brine, make a solution of 1 T salt and 1 cup water in a small bowl and whisk until the salt disintegrates. Then pour enough of this solution into the mason jar so that there are 1-2 inches of brine above the top of the vegetables.

Now take your clean cabbage leaves and press them down into the jar, forcing the veggies even further down. You want to completely cover the veggies with the cabbage leaves, and press the cabbage leaves down far enough that they are also submerged in the brine.

Lightly screw the top of the jar on and place it on a tray with a towel underneath, away from direct sunlight. Let the kimchi ferment for 10-14 days, testing after 10 days. Once it is sour enough for you, remove the cabbage leaves (you can eat them or compost them), screw the lid on the jar and store the kimchi in the fridge. It will keep for several months in the fridge.

This Burdock & Carrot Kimchi is delicious in anything where traditional kimchi would be used. I love it as part of Asian-inspired grain bowls, with rice and stirfried veggies, in bibimpap, and even as part of a finger food board with a strong vegan cheese and crackers!


Celery “Stuffing”

Completely different from the kimchi recipe above, this celery stuffing is super simple (just 4 ingredients!) and goes great as a clean, healthy and tangy side with all the typical western holiday flavors (think mashed potatoes, no-meatloaf, mushroom gravy, cranberry sauce, etc).

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches celery
  • 1 oz fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • Leaves from 20 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 t unrefined sea salt
  • 1-2 clean large green cabbage leaves

Top and tail the celery, and slice it into 1/4 inch pieces. Add the celery to a large bowl along with the sage and thyme. Sprinkle on the salt and massage it into the celery for a few minutes. Once some brine begins to show, cover the bowl and leave it to rest for 30 minutes.

Then mix and massage the celery with your hands again for a few minutes. At this point, you should see a good amount of brine at the bottom of the bowl.

Handful by handful, add the mixture into a clean wide-mouth quart-sized mason jar, pressing down the mixture after every few handfuls to push out the air. If your hand doesn’t fit into the jar, use a potato masher or flat bottom of a spoon.

Once you have added all the celery into the jar and pressed everything down well, the brine should rise slightly above the top of the veggies. It is important that the veggies stay under the brine and are not exposed to air, otherwise, they will cause mold to form.

Now take your clean cabbage leaves and press them down into the jar, forcing the veggies even further down. You want to completely cover the celery with the cabbage leaves, and press the cabbage leaves down far enough that they are also submerged in the brine.

Lightly screw the top of the jar on and place it on a tray with a towel underneath, away from direct sunlight. Let the celery ferment for 7-10 days, testing after 7 days. Once it is sour enough for you, remove the cabbage leaves (you can eat them or compost them), screw the lid on the jar and store the celery stuffing in the fridge. It will keep for several months.

I love serving this celery stuffing as part of my Thanksgiving spread. It goes perfectly with all the flavors we know and love during this time of year, while also adding an unexpected zing of flavor to our plates, and a burst of good probiotics to our tummies!