Category Archives: Fermented Foods

Cultured Foods for Your Kitchen: 100 Recipes Featuring the Bold Flavors of Fermentation

Here’s a truly great cookbook, Cultured Foods for Your Kitchen: 100 Recipes Featuring the Bold Flavors of Fermentation, by Leda Scheintaub (Rizzoli), 2014, 192 pages. While this book offers readers new to fermenting plenty of entry points, more accomplished cooks will find ideas for expanding their repertoires. Just as fermentation transforms food with a natural alchemy, Cultured Foods for Your Kitchen opens up… Continue Reading

2 Responses to Cultured Foods for Your Kitchen: 100 Recipes Featuring the Bold Flavors of Fermentation

  1. Hi Rebecca,
    You are the best, and whatever you recommend will happily try!
    Many birthday blessings to your Mother!
    Thanks, Peace, Elizabeth

  2. Please tell your mother, Ms. Verna Wood, Happy Birthday.

    I look forward to your newsletter. I will buy a couple of your books.

    Thanks for keeping us informed with such important information.

Fruit Kvass

The historic Russian beverage kvass is traditionally made by fermenting rye bread,  and often fruit, into an invigorating and effervescent drink. It’s currently marketed in Russia as a patriotic—and more healthful—soft drink alternative. My version is an ambrosial grain-free nectar that’s oh-so-easy to make. What does it taste like? A tangy blend of sweet and… Continue Reading

68 Responses to Fruit Kvass

  1. Hi Rebecca, I’m on my third fruit batch (tried beet kvass and it was terribly salty so switched back to fruit). I’m letting it go 5 or so dayson the counter, til I get a lot of pressure release and bubbles when I open the lid. My question is – is it suppose to have a strong yeasty smell/flavor? It’s not really sweet but has a fizz and tangy bite so something’s up – is this what I should be expecting? Thanks again.

    • For the beet kvass, try cutting back on the salt. This is all to taste and your taste is the deciding factor 🙂 That your fruit kvass has a strong yeasty smell/flavor suggests it’s a little overfermented. Next time, keep tasting from day 3 onwards and go by flavor; not time.

  2. Loving the fruit kvass. It bubbled in the jar nicely and tastes great.

    My question is that other sources are telling me there is no probiotic value to this drink. Can you explain more about why you feel there is probiotics in your recipe? I am aware that straight honey fruit ferments such as cranberries in honey do not have probiotics, but have the immune properties of honey and the vitamins from the fruit. So how does your recipe contain probiotics. I would like to understand the science here. Thanks!

    • Yes, it’s so easy to make and so satisfying to drink.
      Kvass and other cultured foods ferment because they contain living bacteria and yeast (probiotics) that replicate themselves and transform the original ingredients into a new dish. As kvass ferments in a short period of time, its probiotic culture may be smaller than that found in a longer ferment, like sauerkraut.

      If someone is telling you that there is no probiotic value to kvass, either they’re misinformed or they’re speaking about a kvass that has been pasteurized to kill its living ferments.

      • Well it seemed to work for the kvass but I tried to use it to make a probiotic jelly and it didn’t set – an enzyme in the kiwi denatures the proteins in gelatin unless you cook it at high temperatures!! So the probiotic component didn’t work after that…
        However, I think this is a great idea for things like berries or mango or stuff like that for future reference 🙂

  3. Hi Rebecca! I am extremely new to fermentation and was hoping you can guide me here. Instead of turning fruit into a fermented drink, is it desirable to just ferment the fruit and eat as is? Do you just add water and raw honey? My first try was a disaster…I just used water and sea salt and don’t even know if there is any beneficial bacteria. I also filled the entire jar to the top with the each fruit. One jar was all raspberries, another with grapes and the third blueberries. The raspberies ended up fizzing and bubbling over…didn’t happen with the grapes or blueberries. Should I just ditch them all and start over?

    • Perhaps you’ll want to try the recipe exactly as it is; it works that way. If your experiment tastes good, enjoy it; if it tastes “off,” then toss it.

      • Thank you Rebecca! I just started your recipe today. Is the honey for feeding the beneficial bacteria or strictly for flavor? Is the sugar broken down by the bacteria? I have a couple of clients who are diabetics and I wasn’t sure if this would be too much sugar for them. Also, when you say to discard the fruit solids because the essence is gone does that mean there is no benefit to eating them at that point? Sorry for all the questions, I am new to this and I am just trying to understand the difference between lacto-fermenting fruits and lacto-fermenting veggies.

        • The honey helps the fermentation and, yes, some is broken down. I’ve no idea of the percentage. You may enjoy the fruit solids if you wish….your call.

  4. I’m curious why honey, or any sugar, is a required additive–How does it differ from Beet Kvass, which is only salt, water, beets and a starter?

    • Fruit ferments more quickly than beets and so the enzymes in honey jump start the fermentation. Otherwise fruit in water at room temperature would quickly rot. Beets have less natural sugar and so salt is used to discourage the wrong bacteria and the fermentation period takes longer.

  5. Hi. I tried this and wondering how much should we drink at a time and per day to get the full benefit?
    Thank you:)

    • Drink it for your pleasure and in the quantity that seems right. Some days you’ll want more than other days. It’s important to enjoy some fermented foods each day (or take an acidopholus supplement).

  6. I want to try your recipe it sounds amazing. How big is the jar for using 1 Tbsp of honey? it’s the sugar content in the final product high? I’m hypoglycemic too much sweetness can be bad for me. Thanks

  7. If you don’t drink the fruit kvaas within a week, it should still be good. If refrigerated, the kvaas should pretty much last indefinitely (months at least), due to the fermentation process. Fermentation is a preservation process, after all.

    • YOu’re right that some ferments last months (or even years). But NOT fruit kvaas. I find it tastiest within a few days of making it and the it’s quality declines; after a week needs to be tossed.

    • Mead, with an alcoholic content between 8 to 20%, is fermented honey and water. The alcoholic content in kvass is negligible, perhaps even less than kombucha at 0.5 given it’s shorter fermentation period.

  8. I started peach (which was very ripe), blackberry and ginger with raw honey and distilled water. Also same time one with ripe banana. Both made three days ago and not a bubble in sight in either one. My house is at 72 right now (Florida in the winter). Should I give up this fermenting or wait longer? Both smell ok, look ok, taste like fruit flavored water. No sign of fermentation at all besides the fruit starting to fall apart. Is it the room temperature? And will time show fermentation at some point? I have pears that are really ripe and want to try them but am wasting fruit if I can’t get results. Most other websites use a starter (whey or ginger bug or bread baking yeast?) but I don’t know about that. I was so excited so hope to get it to work. Help.

    • Reply–I’ve never tried making kvass with distilled water. Does anyone else have any experience with this? I don’t recommend distilled water.

      Another possibility is that perhaps you didn’t have enough fruit to water. I’ve never made it with a starter and I don’t recommend using baking yeast.

      • I put more fresh ginger and honey into it along with a touch of molasses and mashed up the fruit more – and within an hour it started to ferment and has continued to bubble pretty well. I also agree that distilled water is not the best and have started a new jar using spring water. It never occurred to me that distilled water has all the minerals taken out and could affect the ferment action. I’ve read enough now to see that starter yeasts create a different set of microorganisms that are not wanted in lacto fermentation. I’m excited that the taste of what is now fermenting is very good, tangy and sweet. Thanks for your reply and your website.

  9. So, you realize this isn’t kvass, right? It’s a nice naturally fermented fruit soda, sure. But kvass, by definition, is bread based. It’s like talking about “uncured bacon.” You can dehydrate meat without salt, but bacon is by definition cured.

  10. I tried this with apples, cinnamon and ginger and some local raw honey. In only 24 hours I saw bubbles and now 36 hours in it smells of alcohol. Is this normal? Is it safe to drink? My plan was to try it tonight (48 hours of fermentation). I do live in a hot climate so don’t know if that could affect it.

  11. I was getting ready to make a beet kvass, and am learning that by itself it doesn’t taste that appealing, I have some apples I was thinking about adding, any other ideas on what might make it more drinkable, I need the benefits of the beets and I know fermenting adds extra benefits, Thanks in advance, I love the idea of using raw honey instead of whey or a starter culture as many suggest,

  12. Hello! I just tried a peach/mint fruit kvass, let it sit out on the counter for 2 days. Everything looked ok, didn’t smell bad, however when I strained the fruit out the liquid was thick and syrupy! I am afraid to taste it because I don’t know if that is some type of weird bacterial thing causing that viscosity that could make me sick. What are your thoughts?

  13. Hello! I was so excited to try the raspberry kvass and then totally mis-read the instructions! I thought is said shake every 2-3 days instead of 2-3/day! It is a full 48 hours from the time I put in the cabinet. Everything seems ok. No film on top suggesting growth of anything bad… But those little guys ARE microscopic! Didn’t use a starter… Used unpasteurized honey and spring water. And it had a LOT of pressure on the lid.

    Do you think it’ll be ok to drink? I shook it and out it back for a little more time and thought I might try it later today.

    Thanks!

  14. Hello! I just made this and my daughter and I loved it. I like it better than water kefir because it doesn’t taste as sweet. I used raw honey, and it worked, but I thought that honey, especially raw honey, has antimicrobial properties and shouldn’t be used to ferment. Do you know anything about this?
    Thanks!
    Tarra

    • Yes, honey has antimicrobial properties AND it is an excellent medium for fermentation. Consider mead and my Honey-Cured Kohlrabi recipe. It’s “anti” the bad microbes and “pro” the healthful ones.

  15. The raspberry kvass worked perfectly. I think apple will work if I don’t let it go too long next time, but the blueberry lemon…Should the blueberries look spent, too? With the first two versions I could see the color drain from the fruit. The blueberries look unchanged. I’m not sure if I should keep going another day or not.

    Thanks.

    • Isn’t it simply great!
      Your unfailing guideline is to ferment it “to taste”. And, as an experiment, you could divide a batch and let one jar ferment longer.

  16. I’ve made 4 different ones, one with coffe, another black tea, another Mate tea/Chimarrao (South American famous beverage) and finally a red fruited one. I use Organic/Demerara sugar instead of honey. And for a starter, I usually put a homemade bread yeast wich culture I’ve started a while ago. Hard to say wich one was better! The first three became like very sofisticated beer, low alcohol, slightly sweet, and the red fruit one like a frizzante or Lambrusco! I strongly recommend!!!!!

  17. Fresh blackberries, picked by myself and my Mum, and a few slices of fresh ginger ^^ delicious! Am trying plums today. And maybe a herb…hmm, which to choose…

  18. Thanks for the recipe!

    I tried a raspberry kvass and an apple and raspberry kvass using frozen raspberries and fresh apples. I used kefir whey.

    After 2 days its fizzy but tastes horrible. Nothing sweet at all.

    Help!

    Also, I live in Hong Kong and its hot. Should I reduce it to 1 day.

  19. Hi Rebecca!

    Blueberry Lemon and Raspberry Ginger Kvass are the big hits in our household!

    Out of curiosity, why would you not recommend RO water for fruit kvass? I use RO for Kombucha and have been using it for my kvass as well. Thanks for your information!

    Gwyn

    • Good question; and you’ll find a detailed answer in my book, T

        he New Whole Foods Encyclopedia

      . Briefly I favor whole versus refined ingredients and the naturally occurring minerals in water (except for rain water and RO water) give water good flavor. Some argue that RO water chelates minerals at the expense of your own mineral reserves. I recommend filtered or spring water.

      .

    • I don’t know and I wouldn’t bother to try it because high fructose sweeteners, including agave, are simply not healthful (despite the various marketing claims made for them).

      And I’ve never heard of agave–“raw” or otherwise–being used as a fermentation agent.

  20. I love this! My friend and I made a batch with an abundance of past-the-peak plums and I had just found this recipe that afternoon while riding on BART. Since then my kitchen has accumulated several jars with dried mango and ginger; apricot; blackberries and apricot kvass.
    Thank you.
    I was introduced to you when a dear friend moved away from my native Salt Lake City and had a slew of books she wasn’t taking an she thought I might enjoy your Whole Foods Encyclopedia and I have since worn the cover off then old 90’s edition. I just picked up the latest edition.
    Do you teach classes still? I looked for a link to email you but couldn’t find it.
    Thank you for all you have done to bridge the post-industrial gap between our pantries and our palates and our vitality therein.

    • Isn’t it a great recipe! Glad you’re enjoying it. And I’m delighted that the Encyclopedia is serving you.
      Regrets, I’m no longer teaching classes but I do work with people individually re. diet. There is a Contact form way at the bottom of each page.

  21. Thanks for the simple and accessible recipe!

    I’ve just tried making it with nice ripe peaches. A by-product of the process seems to be a thick syrup in the kvass, sort of like what one would find in canned peaches. I tried to strain it out when I separated the peaches out at the end of the fermentation, but was unable to.

    Have you had this experience? Is that normal? Any suggestions for keeping the liquid a little less thick in the future?

  22. Your recipe works very well. Thank you. It’s very simple and delicious. I used raspberry to make the fruit kvass. It tastes really good. Now I can enjoy this healthy bubbly drink anytime .. Thanks again!! 🙂

  23. hello, Rebecca. You don’t specify how much whey or yeast to use. I am trying a batch with 1 T of whey. I estimated if I were to use yeast, maybe 1 t for a quart jar. Sound right? Warmly, Jan

  24. Do you have on-line classes for Certification?

    I would be interested. Something about Certification that
    makes a person more accepted in some instances.

    Thank you for a beautiful recipe. I do not like soft drinks and have hesitated drinking Kombucha because of the alcholic content.

    Thank you, again.
    Katherine

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The Art of Fermentation

If you are interested in the connection between health and diet, here’s some important news. Sandor Katz’s new book, The Art of Fermentation is the first definitive guide on fermented foods with recipes taken from around the world. Today its rare for a cookbook to become adorned with the splatters and smudges that accumulate on real… Continue Reading

3 Responses to The Art of Fermentation

  1. I discovered Kimchee a few years back when teaching South Koreans English. They believed it was Kimchee that kept them from catching what was then known as bird flu. They ate it three times a day.

  2. Wow! This is inspiring and fascinating. It really sounds like an art. However, I wonder if these fermented foods are stronger (more edgy and complex) if they can be over consumed more readilly than simple, whole foods? It sounds like they have a stronger influence on the body than simple, whole foods, and may be a great tonic, but does one eat medicine daily or primarily when sick? I wonder if it would be best, overall, to let the body do the work in finding energy in simple, whole foods?

    • Good questions. And we’ll find some relevant answers by looking at the historical use of fermented foods. Throughout the world and in every culture they’ve been enjoyed frequently, if not daily. Tea, coffee, chocolate, dill pickles, salami, kraut, kimchee, beer and wine are but a few ferments. The vegetable ferments (not coffee and alcohol) are “medicinal” because they’ve more nutrients than the original ingredients and because they aid digestion. I’ve never heard of a problem from eating too many fermented vegetables. Historically they’re used as a condiment and that’s how I use and recommend them.

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Miso — A Delicious and Healing Food

Miso is undeniably the most medicinal soy food. Current scientific research now supports its historical health claims. This delicious food is an effective therapeutic aid in the prevention and treatment of heart disease, certain cancers, radiation sickness and hypertension. Miso soup consumption is linked with up to a 50% reduced risk of breast cancer according… Continue Reading

12 Responses to Miso — A Delicious and Healing Food

  1. Hi
    Thank you for your article. I read that sea vegetables and miso can pull radiation from the body which can reduce the effectiveness of radiation treatment. It advises to avoid those foods prior to a treatment.
    I have a friend getting radiation. Should she stop taking the miso and sea vegetables until after treatment?

    • Good questions and, quite obviously, there are no clinical studies to confirm or deny this. You’re friend will just have to use her intuition. However, use of miso and sea veggies after treatment is a great idea.

  2. Hi,
    I recall a couple recipes for miso soup on your site, one was Golden Miso Soup, it was an accompanying recipe with an article entitled Miso-A Delicious and Healing Food. I have the article but have misplaced the recipe. I have looked under Recipies and can’t seem to find it.
    Is it no longer available?
    Thank You

    • I’ll aim to get it back on line one day. In the meantime, try this: make a simple squash soup, toward the end add coconut milk and then add miso. I’ll bet you can recreate the recipe.

  3. absolutely we can use miso as a spread, it is a great replacement for vegimite and other salty condiments. I especially like it on toast with avocado slices.

  4. Hello,
    I read alot about Miso and it’s health benefits but if it is made from soybeans isn’t it a GE food since most soybeans are GMO’s. I haven’t seen the chickpea based miso mentioned above just soybean.
    Thank You,
    Sharon

  5. Dear Rebecca.
    Thanks for all the information you pass on. My friend suggested your site as i was looking up info about Miso.
    I have a slow thyroid, and i would really like some more infor on what exactly the kind of food i can eat.
    Thanks and regards
    Rita Portelli
    Malta Europe

    • Hi Rita,
      You’re welcome!
      The only way I can do justice to your question is in a Diet Consultation in which we could pinpoint what you need to avoid and what you need to favor (in terms of diet and lifestyle) to regain thyroid balance.

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Kefir–Health Benefits

Kefir is a creamy, tangy and tasty fermented milk beverage that is more healthful than yogurt. It builds immunity and imparts a sense of well being. A daily glass of kefir is a delicious and fuss-free way to support your energy and overall health (unless that is, you’re sensitive to casein in which case all dairy products are contraindicated). You… Continue Reading

25 Responses to Kefir–Health Benefits

  1. Help! I have read so many articles on health blogs etc. (nothing from a credible source) that I can find that boasts kefir is only beneficial from milk that has not been pasteurized. Can anyone point me to a source of info backing this claim up? I cannot find it. I have only found research on the merits of Kefir (including those prepared with pasteurized milk) without discussion on whether pasteurization destroys the beneficial bacteria. It seems it does not and that other factors may come more into play such as the starter dose used for example. Thanks!

  2. Hi, I have been making kefir for about a year with live grains. I am becoming very confused as to whether or not there are any benefits in what I am making because I used pasteurized milk. Many articles I have read tell me that the good bacterias are in the milk and the pasteurization kill them. I interpret your article to say that the the good bacterias or flora are from the grains. I’d really like to know if what I am making and consuming is beneficial or not.

    • There are so many options. Kefir from raw milk is a more vital food and so, as possible, favor it. If that’s not possible, then enjoy kefir made from pasteurized milk (if, that is, you can assimilate dairy products).

  3. Hi,
    I used muslim bags for awhile for my kefir and they worked great for a couple months. One day I noticed a foul smell and removed the kefir and rinsed them with my well water from the tap. That was a couple months ago. Now I only have 2-3 grains left and cannot get them to grow. please help!

  4. I have erosive gastritis., do you think that kefir would help me with this issue? My digestion system is a mess.
    Thanks a lot

    • It might help. But not if your sensitive to milk in which case even kefir would contribute to erosive gastritis. Consider reading my book:Clean and Free.

  5. AT 26 -27 deg. C my milk kefir always separates into curd and whey 18hrs after brewng, even if I add just add half teaspoon grains to 2 cups pasteurized milk (500 ml.) , using cold milk straight out of the fridge. Are there any ways to slow down the process to 24 hrs. ?

    How can Water Kefir grains brewed in distilled water(no minerals but free of chlorine and flouride) and raw sugar produce nutrients and vitamins?

    Why do some recipes call for Sodium Bicarbonate and sea salt in water kefir during brewing?

    Please advise. Thank You>

  6. I drink kefir every day made with raw milk. Someone told me that it’s a recipe to invite parasites. Do you think raw milk kefir can contain parasites or flukes ?

    • Yes there’s a lot of ungrounded fear about raw milk products but that they might contain parasites or flukes is unfounded.

      The kefir process produces lacto bacillus that actually would kill many potential pathogens.

  7. Calcium supplements are really needed if you want to have strong bones and also if you want to avoid osteoporosis. Pregnant women needs even more calcium.

    • Yes, that’s the conventional recommendation and it may be applicable to you, especially if there are factors that deplete your calcium, including: being sedentary; stress; eating refined, processed, packaged foods; not getting enough dietary calcium from sources like sea weed and leafy green vegetables.

  8. […] here’s a terrific website on how to make kefir,  just in case your interest is piqued:  https://www.rebeccawood.com/food-as-medicine/kefir/  Trust me, it isn’t hard.  If you’ve made homemade yogurt before, you worked too […]

  9. Hi, I am very new to this. I have been useing the powdered freeze dry Kefir. Is it really the same & I would like to buy some real Kefir grains. I have been reading alot on different websites. And very confused!!! Can I use Almond Milk? And do I have to heat it first? I need HELP!!
    Thank you,
    Sonia

  10. Hi Rebecca
    Thanks for all the info.
    I am trying so hard to find unadulterated milk to use ie raw milk which is difficult and although I can get organic milk it is still homogenised. Do you know if Kefir cancels out the bad affect of homogenisation. Otherwise I wondered how diluted raw cream would work as milk. Not having that much lactose in it would it thicken properly. I have just put my first batch of diluted cream in sort of 1 to 4 as don’t want to be drinking pure cream!! So far not thickening as the usual milk yet. I can only buy frozen goat milk which separates a lot on defrosting and never gets nice and thick like raw milk does but I suppose it is healthier than diluted cream. Any comments?
    Judy

    • Kefir improves a lesser product (homogenized milk), but doesn’t “cancel” out homogenization.

      I’ve not experience using diluted cream as per your experiment. Perhaps another reader can help. In the meantime, keep on experimenting and I’m sure you’ll come up with a system for your givens.

  11. Dear Rebecca,
    As a follower of nutritional information. I was delighted to find your blog on Kefif. I was curious as to the different fermentation process (fizzy) texture. It is delightful, refreshing and so beneficial.

    Thank so much of the great information. Vanessa

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Fermented Foods Strengthen Immune System

Why do some foods like chocolate, wine and cheese taste so delicious? Fermenting magically transforms their original ingredients into something more desirable. Besides upping flavor, some lactic-acid ferments, such as homemade sauerkraut, actually strengthen your immune system. Pickling, brewing and culturing are other terms to describe this process by which friendly enzymes, fungi and bacteria… Continue Reading

2 Responses to Fermented Foods Strengthen Immune System

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Pickles for Health

Accompanying recipe: Dilled Red Radish, Carrot and Cauliflower Pickles You probably know that quality yogurt and pickles are remarkably healthful fermented foods that aid digestion and strengthen your immune system.  However, not everyone knows that pasteurization strips their superfood ranking by destroying  fragile nutrients such as lactic acid micro-flora.  Therefore, insist on living fermented foods including… Continue Reading

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