Fermented Millet Porridge

Reprinted with permission from Leda Scheintaub’s Cultured Foods for Your Kitchen

Millet becomes surprisingly thick and creamy when it’s fermented (see Three Reasons to Soak, Sprout and/or Ferment Grains) and then cooked, making it a satisfying breakfast option for folks who are dairy free and those just looking to add more whole grains into their diets. Fermenting millet and other grains lends them a slightly tangy taste, opening up a new world of flavor to your grain-eating experience. While fermenting your grains takes a little advance planning, the good news is that there is almost no active prep time involved; all you need is a little starter such as raw apple cider vinegar to activate the fermentation and you’re good to go.

This porridge also becomes the basis for the Millet Polenta Cakes with Zucchini, Daikon, Cherry Tomatoes, and Cilantro-Miso Pesto; to make this a one-pot, two-meal recipe, spoon half into bowls for breakfast, then pour the rest onto a baking sheet to set, keep in the refrigerator, and in the evening make into millet polenta cakes. If this sounds like a plan, you’ll need to remember to pour the polenta-cake-bound porridge into the baking sheet as soon as it’s cooked, as it starts to set almost immediately.

Serves 4

1 cup (200 grams) millet
2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar or other fermentation starter
1/2 to 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Sweet topping options:
Unpasteurized honey or maple syrup
Fresh fruit
Topping recipes from Cultured Foods for your Kitchen include:
Sparkling Berry Salad
Tipsy Fruit
Coconut Cream
Countertop Crème Fraîche.

Savory topping options:
Small spoonfuls of miso and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil
Avocado slices and a ripped nori seaweed sheet
Extra-virgin olive oil, diced cucumber, and fresh herbs
Topping recipes from Cultured Foods for Your Kitchen include:
Cultured butter and a sprinkling of flaky sea salt
Grated cheddar cheese, scallions, and Live and Kickin’ Hot Sauce
Fried egg and Salsa Alive
Sweet Lemon Miso Tahini Dressing.

Rinse the millet in a glass measuring cup until the water runs clear, then drain. Put the millet in a bowl and add the vinegar and 3 cups (700 milliliters) water. Cover with a clean dish towel and set aside for 1 to 2 days to ferment depending on the season and kitchen temperature. It will be ready when it smells just slightly fermented; it won’t change all that much. Drain, then transfer the millet to a blender, add 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) water, and blend until the mixture is smooth and thick, adding a little more water if needed. Return the millet to the bowl, cover loosely with a clean dish towel, and set aside to ferment for another 1 to 2 days, until the millet has an aroma somewhere in the vicinity of sourdough.

Pour the fermented millet into a saucepan and whisk in 3 cups (700 milliliters) water. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt if you’re making sweet polenta or 1 teaspoon salt for savory polenta. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer; reduce the heat and simmer, whisking frequently, for about 10 minutes and whisking almost continuously for the last 2 minutes or so, until very thick, adding more water to the pan if needed. If it gets too thick and starts to develop lumps, you can whiz it for a few seconds with an immersion blender.

Spoon into bowls and serve with your choice of toppings.



9 Responses to Fermented Millet Porridge

  1. I accidentally fermented my millet for two days. It had a funky smell but I cooked and ate it anyway. Reading this gives me peace of mind.

  2. Hi Rebecca,

    Good day. Can I cook the millet first before fermenting so I don’t have to cook again and eat that right after fermentation, is that OK?

    Best regards,


    • Yes, cooking a fermented food destroys the desirable cultures. However, cooking enhances the flavor and, in the case of grains, makes it more digestible. To enhance the flavor is why we sometimes cook fermented foods including olives, wine, cheese, etc. To make a fermented food more digestible (like sour dough batter, tempeh or fermented millet) we cook it.

  3. I just made my first batch of fermented millet this evening and, oh my, it was delicious! The slightly sour flavor reminds me of Ethiopian injera and I’ve already begun my next batch soaking. Thank you for your wisdom and humor, Rebecca. Your website and The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia are among my “go tos!” Warmly, Erin from Texas

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