Sep 19, 2014

The Health Benefits of Fermented Foods

Fermenting has been used as a food preservation technique for centuries, but we are now just beginning to understand how important it can be for our health.

Fermenting is the process of introducing ‘lactobacilli’ bacteria into the food. This process turns sugars (glucose, fructose and sucrose) into lactic acid which kills harmful micro-organisms and produces healthy bacteria (probiotics) and enzymes.

The probiotics in fermented foods help us balance the microflora in our gut and can help:

Best of all, it’s an affordable way to store fresh vegetables and fruit over the winter months. You can ferment anything from salsa to sauerkraut, pickles, beets and other garden foods without losing essential nutrients.

For tips on how to ferment foods, check out health coach and author Sarah Wilson’s site or try this delicious apple and beetroot recipe by Jennifer McGruther at Nourished Kitchen.

Probiotic Apple and Beetroot Relish

Yield: Approximately 24 x 2-ounce portions

Prep: 10 to 20 mins

Cook: 3 – 4 days (minimum fermentation time)

Ready In: 13 mins

This recipe yields approximately twenty-four 2-ounce portions. Don’t let the high yield of the recipe deter you; this apple and beetroot relish is rich in beneficial, lactic-acid-producing bacteria which naturally preserve the dish, ensuring that it will keep for approximately six weeks or longer when refrigerated. This recipe was featured in December’s Recipe Cards by Nourished Kitchen.



  • 3 large large apples (about 1 ½ pounds, cored but not peeled)
  • 3 large beets (about 1 ½ pounds, peeled)
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 1 tbsp whole cloves
  • 1 tbsp unrefined sea salt
  •  fermented vegetable starter culture (if desired)



  1. Shred apples and beets by hand, or in a food processor.
  2. Toss the shredded apples and beets together until well-combined and mixed together.
  3. Add the star anise and whole cloves to the apples and beetroot, and continue to toss until the spices are evenly distributed among the shredded fruit and vegetables.
  4. In a mason jar or, preferably, a vegetable fermenter (see sources), layer the apple and beetroot.
  5. Periodically sprinkle unrefined sea salt or vegetable starter culture over the layers of apple and beetroot and mash with a wooden spoon or mallet to encourage the fruit and vegetables to release their juices, creating a luscious brine to encourage the proliferation of beneficial bacteria.
  6. Ferment in a mason jar or vegetable fermenter for a minimum of three to four days, or longer, depending on the level of warmth in your kitchen.
  7. After your apple and beetroot relish has sufficiently cultured, remove it from the vegetable fermenter and gently pick out the star anise pods and whole cloves.
  8. Place the apple and beetroot relish into a blender or food processor and process until smooth.

Have you tried fermenting? Do you have any tips or recipes to share?