Fermented foods are one of the most medicinal ancient practices of preparing foods. The process increases bioavailability, reduces anti-nutrients, and supports optimal digestion. It’s a staple of many healing diets including the Autoimmune Protocol and there’s even research currently in trial for its effects on mental disorders including Schizophrenia.
The gut is the second brain of our bodies and according to Ayurvedic Medicine, all disease begins and ends in the digestive system. When our digestion doesn’t run smoothly, toxins—amma—accumulate in our bodies and circulate back into our blood when not expelled properly. Incorporating more fermented foods into our diet will not only aid the process of cleansing but gently prevent toxic accumulation by returning the digestive tract to its homeostatic function.
Sauerkraut, kombucha, and kefirs are most of our fermented staples, but I recently dug into my memories and family’s recipes for a revival. I remember how as a child growing up in Istanbul, my grandmother used to pickle, ferment, and dry any and all the bounty she would gather from her garden. Threads of beans used to hang in a sunny corner, slowly drying in the soft afternoon light. Fingers were fragranced with ripened peaches on one hand and pungent with garlic on another. Petals of dried herbs, scraps of fruit peel, trickling of spring water. No food was wasted and bruises on fruit indicated heightened flavour.
It’s easy to get sauerkraut now at the market and there’s no denial that I am an aficionada of GT’s Synergy kombucha—there’s convenience coupled with our society’s gripping of time. Most of us opt for these because we have conditioned ourselves to prioritise work or chores over our pleasures. We push away taking the time to nourish our bodies and our minds by creating such memories through the process of making them at home.
Making fermented foods for me now has become a time to not only prepare something that will aid in restoring my body but also to return—to gathering food by its roots, of sensing it fully, of creating intentionally, and consuming mindfully.The surrender that results from taking this time is sacred and profound—the chemical re-wiring that results is then infused into what we create. Not only does the food tastes better but, with that quiet mind and heightened senses, we are also are able to taste it better.
This recipe for fermented fruits moves us towards awareness in our bodies, our practices, and satisfies the sweet tooth. Most of the time when cravings kick in, they are sweet and consumed ravenously. The cultures allow for the balancing of the gut microbiome which, when in harmony, further diminishes future cravings for sweets. I love putting in a dollop of this on coconut yoghurt, another cultured food I make at home for which the recipe is available on my site. However you enjoy it, I hope making and consuming it instills in you the reminder to feed yourself beyond just with food .
Probiotic Fermented Apples
Fermented fruits are a traditional and medicinal food. A power-packed source of probiotics, these cultured apples have a pleasantly sweet and slightly tangy flavor.
4 cups of apples, chopped | please make sure that it’s organic according to the Dirty Dozen list1 teaspoon celtic salt or unrefined salt, see note below½ teaspoon starter culture —Body Ecology, Caldwell’s, or fresh whey if toleratedOptional herbs or scraps | half an orange peel, half a lemon peel, one cinnamon stick, a teaspoon of cloves, a few leaves of fresh mint, a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, vanilla beans if toleratedOptional nuts, seeds, and dried fruit | sprouted almonds, sprouted walnuts, medjool dates, raisins
Fermentation vessel, suchWeck jars
Cut up your apples and mix in the salt, starter culture, and any optional ingredients you’d like to include. I usually opt out of the nuts and dried fruit and often make it with berries, but I chose apples for its seasonal flavours. If you do choose to use nuts or dried fruit, subtract that amount from the amount of apples you use.Place the ingredients into your fermentation vessel and pack it all in, making sure to reduce any air bubbles. I try not to mush the pieces since I like to keep the integrity of the apples, but pack it however you’d like it in terms of texture. I love Ohio Stoneware crocks, but they tend to run too large for a small helping of fermented fruits—I often use a bigger crock for sauerkraut. Any fermentation vessel must be stoneware or glass, without any BPA lining or treated with phthalate. So, I depend on Weck jars, which seal out air completely and are safe to use.Once you have your vessel with your preferred ingredients, fill the jar with pure water, leaving about an inch of space for expansion. Put the lid on the vessel and leave it away from direct sunlight for 24-48 hours. The timing is dependent on the temperature of your house—it will take a shorter amount of time for fermentation to take place if the surroundings are above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t open the jar as it’s fermenting since air and sunlight will get in the way of the fermentation process.It’s ready to eat when it smells and tastes slightly tangy but not sour, pungent, or “off.” Let your nose guide you—if it smells so strong that a whiff is enough, you probably don’t want to eat it. Just compost it and start a new batch, aiming to check it earlier. Once your creation is ready to your taste, refrigerate it to slow down fermentation and consume within two months.
Make sure that the salt you use is high quality if not celtic salt—Himalayan pink salt is another great option—but do not use table salt. Not only should you avoid using it for daily consumption, table salt does not lead to fermentation.