Sprouted & Fermented Foods

Jump straight to the suggested recipes

Imagine you’re a plant. You’re at the bottom of the food chain and like all living things, your primary urge is survival. Most plants don’t have a very wide range of protective weapons, but one thing they can do is protect their offspring, their seed. Some plants do this by encasing it in a hard shell. The seed is unappetising, so lies rejected on the ground. Or it’s maybe inside a sweet fruit, which gets eaten by a bird. The seed isn’t digested, and passes through the bird and once again, ends up on the ground. Spring comes, and the rain and the warmth. The seed is nestled in the warm, damp earth and the protective casing starts to break down. The seed starts to sprout, and it can now access all the nutrients that have been kept safe for it inside the hard shell. In the same way, we can access the nutrients hidden deep within grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, if we soak them, allow them to sprout, or ferment them.

Sprouting is very versatile. We can sprout grains, dry them and grind them to make breads. You may have eaten essene bread made from sprouted wheat. Legumes, nuts and seeds can all be sprouted to add crunch to salads. Though a word of warning – one of the most popular sprouts you can buy, alfalfa, should be avoided as they contain a substance that inhibits the immune system and contributes to some autoimmune diseases.

Lacto-fermenting originated as a means of preserving foods. But as well as that, it converts starches and sugars to lactic acid, makes the foods more digestible by breaking down indigestible cellulose membranes, increases the levels of vitamins and enzymes, and adds anti-biotic and anti-carcinogenic compounds. Fermented foods were an important part of the diet of all the traditional societies studied by Price, and contributed to healthy flora in the digestive system, as well as good general health. Many foods can be fermented:

  • Fruit and vegetables → pickled vegetables, preserves, jams or drinks
  • Grains → sour dough breads, porridges or beers
  • Legumes → felafels, natto, tempeh
  • Dairy products → yoghurt, cheeses, cultured creams
  • Meats → traditionally made sausage or salami

Traditionally fermented foods use a variety of natural processes. As a starter, you might use:

  • Sea salt, to draw natural juices from vegetables
  • Whey, to stimulate production of lactic acid
  • A kefir or Kombucha starter, with their variety of beneficial yeasts and bacteria
  • A sample from a previous batch, such as a sourdough starter
  • Or in some wild ferments, we simply allow the organisms in the air to work their magic

We’ve already done some soaking, and made some fermented drinks. This lesson will cover sprouting and some more fermenting. Imagine the crunch of freshly sprouted mung beans or sunflower seeds, the tang of sauerkraut, the sweet and sour of fruit chutney, the tingle of apple butter, the buzz of your own honey wine…. Modern equivalents of cultured or fermented foods are made by sterilising the food, which destroys many nutrients. They are then preserved with yeasts, vinegars or sugars. They often contain artificial flavourings. But if we go back to basics and learn how to make condiments like our forefathers did, they not only taste good, but also are full of essential nutrients and digestive aids.

Fermenting is more of an art than a science, and can take a bit of practice to get consistent results. For now, we’re going to look at some of the more simple methods. If you’re not used to many cultured foods, start with something you’re familiar with (and like!). That way, you have a reasonable idea if your recipe is turning out as it should. For example, yoghurt, beetroot and honey mead might be good starting points. If you enjoy this lesson, I encourage you to explore further.

Sprouts_and_Ferments

Sauerkraut

This section is for those are working through the lessons of the cooking course. Otherwise jump straight to the recipes

Optional reading

  • Enzymes: Nourishing Traditions P46-47
  • Cultured Dairy Products: Nourishing Traditions P80-81
  • Fermented Fruit & Vegetables: Nourishing Traditions P89-91
  • Sprouted grains, nuts and seeds: Nourishing Traditions P112-113

Assignment

This lesson may also be a challenge for some people, so once again spread it over a couple of weeks. This includes some recipes from previous lessons, which you may not have attempted yet. Complete any 3 NEW projects over the next two weeks. Meanwhile, continue revising previous lessons and consolidating what you’ve learnt.

Sprout some grains, nuts, seeds or legumes:

  • Nuts, seeds or legumes
  • Then use in salads or sandwiches
  • Wheat (bulgur)
  • Or grind to flour and make some essene bread. Here are 3 different recipes for you to check out Essene 1, Essene 2, Essene 3
  • Buckwheat (kasha)

Then make buckwheat crackers          Or grind to flour and experiment with your own gluten-free baking

Sourdough breads:

  • Sourdough bread, pizza or pancakes ~ lesson 4

Cultured dairy products (and dairy substitutes):

Fermented fruit & vegetables:

Fermented drinks:

Ongoing:

  • Aim to include at least one sprouted or fermented food in each day’s menu
  • Try a new project each week and build up a repertoire that works for you

 

divider

Notes on the Recipes

The recipe suggestions come from a variety of sources. Some are in the recipe blog section of this site, some are from books I may have recommended to you eg Nourishing Traditions (NT) or Gut & Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) and some are from other people’s blogs.

They are marked with the following icons to make it easy to see which ones are suitable for your diet or not suitable       . But you still need to double check each recipe to make sure. Also refer to my Pinterest page for more ideas.

= GAPS or SCD friendly, and mostly suitable for Paleo
= contains grains of some kind (but may be gluten free)
= contains dairy, and there is no dairy free option
= contains eggs, and there is no egg free option
= contains peanuts, cashews, tree nuts or seeds

Suggested Recipes

Sprouting Recipes

Fill a large jar about 1/3 full of whatever you want to sprout. Fill to the top with filtered water, and leave overnight. Pour off the water and rinse well. Cover the jar with a mesh covering of some kind. If you have a lid with a mesh insert this is ideal, but cheesecloth secured with a rubber band will also work. Leave the jar upside down over a bowl or jug, so any excess water can drain out. Rinse at least a couple of times a day. The aim is to keep things moist, but without sitting in pools of water. Once they’ve sprouted, store in the fridge in a sealed container and eat as soon as possible.

SPROUTS

Rinse:

Ready in:

Ready when:

Note:

Grains (wheat, rye, barley)

2-3 x a day

3 to 4 days

Max 1/4″ long

Must be lightly steamed or baked after sprouting. Use in bulghur, casseroles, bread.

Buckwheat

2-3 x a day

2 days

Tiny sprouts appear

Use whole, untoasted seeds. Use for Kasha

Kidney, lima, black beans

3-4 x a day

About 3 days

1/4″ long

Should then be cooked. Will cook much quicker than beans that have just been soaked.

Mung beans

4 + x a day

About 4 days

2″ long

Leave lots of space in jar or sprouter

Adzuki beans

4 + x a day

About 4 days

1″ long

Leave lots of space in jar or sprouter

Chick peas

2-3 x a day

About 3 days

1/4″ long

Use to make raw hummus, or in salads

Lentils

3 x a day

2 to 3 days

1/4″ long

Steam or cook lightly. Delicious in a vegetarian loaf.

Almonds

3 x a day

About 3 days

1/8″ long

Sunflower seeds

2 x a day

12-18 hours

Sprout barely showing

Use hulled seeds. Delicious in salads, but eat quickly as they soon go black.

Pumpkin seeds

3 x a day

About 3 days

1/4″ long

Use hulled seeds.

Sesame seeds

4 x a day

2 to 3 days

Tiny sprouts

Use unhulled seeds.

Small seeds eg. chia, onion, cress, radish, fenugreek or poppy

4 + x a day

3 to 4 days

1-2″ long

Great in sandwiches

Alfalfa

 –

 –

 –

Alfalfa sprouts should NOT be eaten, as they inhibit the immune system.