Naturally Fermented Ajad (Thai Cucumber Relish)

I’ve been really quiet, I know. I have a good reason, well, sort of. Last year around this time, I returned to the world of working outside the home. It’s been a major adjustment. I haven’t adjusted. My heart is in the home, my heart is working on my blog. I won’t bore you to death, but, a few good things did come out of it. I went to a restaurant I would not have gone to had I not made friends who eat regular food. Not that I didn’t have friends who ate regular food before, but…well, you know. Anyway, I went to this restaurant, and I tasted the most delicious cucumbers ever. Thai cucumbers. I always thought I was not a huge fan of Thai food before I tried these.

So, I tried this cucumber dish and I thought, wow, this tastes SO delicious, I need to ferment it! So, I did just that. I have to share the recipe. It’s yummy!

Ajad - Thai Cucumber Relish

Naturally Fermented Ajad Recipe (Makes 1 Qt)

2 large cucumbers
4 small shallots (or 2 small onions)
1/2 of a chile pepper (use another hot pepper or garnish with red bell peppers if unavailable)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup raw honey
3.5% brine, about 8g salt per cup of water

1. Slice cucumbers thinly, then quarter and add to a mixing bowl.

2. Chop shallots, chile pepper and cilantro, then add to mixing bowl.

3. In a bowl or 2 cup measuring cup, mix 1 cup water with 8g Himalayan Pink salt, then stir in honey.

4. Add all ingredients to a 1qt jar.

5. Stir 8g salt with one cup water and add to jar. Repeat until vegetables are fully submerged.

6. Add a pinch of Caldwell’s starter if you’d like. Mix well.

7. Close jar, and allow to ferment for 12-24 hours. If your house is hotter than 76 degrees, you may want to refrigerate in the day to help retain crispness. Adding oak or grape leaves, liquid or powdered tannins are other options.

You can enjoy these as a side to almost any dish. I love them with chicken mostly. We also eat them as a snack. Yum!

Caraway Sauerkraut: Why Add Caraway Seeds?

I have been making plain sauerkraut for some time now, but just started experimenting with flavored krauts in the past year. I recently decided to try caraway kraut because I’ve heard it tastes good and offers some health benefits as well.

Caraway Kraut: Why Add Caraway Seeds?

What Is Caraway?

Caraway seeds are grown throughout Europe and Asia and have similar properties to other spices and herbs such as anise, fennel and valerian. The “seed” is actually the fruit! It is used to flavor breads, alcohol, cake, cheese, soup, fruit, dips and of course cabbage.

A curious superstition was held in olden times about the Caraway. It was deemed to confer the gift of retention, preventing the theft of any object which contained it, and holding the thief in custody within the invaded house. In like manner it was thought to keep lovers from proving fickle (forming an ingredient of love potions), and also to prevent fowls and pigeons from straying. It is an undoubted fact that tame pigeons, who are particularly fond of the seeds, will never stray if they are given a piece of baked Caraway dough in their cote. – Mrs. M. Grieve (Source 1)

What Are The Benefits of Caraway Seeds?

Caraway seeds have carminative properties–it helps to relieve gas by preventing its formation or helping to expel it. They are very soothing to the gastrointestinal tract and so helps with digestive issues such as stomachaches/indigestion. It has been used to sooth colic, earaches, and can help heal bruises when powdered and made into a poultice.

It is rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, selenium, phosphorous and potassium. It also contains a variety of vitamins including Vitamin C.

The seeds are also helpful for high blood pressure, cholesterol, gall bladder and kidney issues. The oil in caraway seeds is antihelmintic and antiseptic, so they effectively expel worms and infections from the body. It is useful for women trying to increase lactation or jump-start their periods, as well.

Caraway Kraut & The GAPS Diet

Sauerkraut made of things other than just cabbage and salt are allowed on the GAPS Diet. Any addition, of course, needs to be GAPS-legal and tolerated by the individual. The same rules as “regular kraut” apply–start with only the juice of the ferment if necessary and slowly work your way up.

Most GAPS patients have multiple infections including parasitic ones. These patients also have an increased need for vitamins and minerals. Fermented foods are a very important part of the diet, and sauerkraut is one that should definitely be included. If you suffer from histamine intolerance, get anaerobic fermenting vessels such as Pickl-It and ferment your sauerkraut for 12 weeks or more. Sauerkraut is amazing for many GAPS complaints such as constipation, diarrhea, low stomach acidity, issues digesting fat, heartburn, indigestion, stomachaches, detoxification and more. The addition of caraway seeds definitely adds to these benefits.

Caraway Sauerkraut

Caraway Kraut Recipe (Yields 1 Quart)

Approx 2.5lbs cabbage
2 tsp-1tbsp caraway seeds (I used a little less than a tbsp)
Approx 22 grams of salt (Click Here for my measuring scale recommendation)

1. Shred Cabbage. I use the smaller side of this slicer because I like the finer shreds.

2. Add caraway seeds, salt, and a starter if you are using one and mix well.

3. You may pound/massage cabbage at this point if you wish. I tend not to do so.

4. Stuff into jar and press down as much as you can. Leave a few inches of head space.

5. Close jar and let ferment for 24 hours, then check brine level. If cabbage is not well-submerged, you may need to add more water.

6. Ferment at room temperature for 1-2 weeks (if your house is on the warmer side, you’ll ferment at room temperature for less time). Then move to the fridge where you will leave it an additional 9-10 weeks.

Yes, I ferment my sauerkraut for a full 12 weeks and it is delicious! If you are used to making sauerkraut in other ways, you can follow those fermenting instructions for the caraway kraut. It likely will not produce great results when fermented for a long time unless you are using a special fermenting vessel.

There are ferments that take less time as well, such as this spicy daikon or this chunky tomato salsa!

Let me know if you have tried any of these recipes. I love hearing your thoughts!

Source: 1, 2.

Fermented Food Discovery

Fresh Vegetables for Creating Fermenting FoodFermented food have made such a huge difference once added to our diets. It has played an important role in regulating our digestive systems. We’ve had IBS-like symptoms in pretty much all our family members and it is barely an issue these days. It has also greatly improved acid reflux, and along with probiotics has significantly helps arthritis-like symptoms in two of our family members. Although there were no official diagnoses, all the signs were there.

We have always considered ourselves pretty healthy because we rarely got sick and never had the need to go to the doctor. The longer we’ve been in the US and the more we adopted the “easy way” of eating, we did notice that our health was slowly declining. We began having more cavities, aches and pains, issues with bowel movements, allergy-like symptoms, adrenal/thyroid issues, the list goes on and on. Once we changed our diets, and especially once we began including a wide variety of fermented foods, these issues improved dramatically.

Fermented vegetables and dairy, such as daikon and milk kefir, are an essential part of anyone’s diet. This is because they play so many important roles in the body, from populating the digestive tract with beneficial bacteria to reducing inflammation. Beneficial bacteria are important for synthesizing B vitamins such as Biotin and B12, nutrients that many people are deficient in. Some probiotics also synthesize vitamin K2, which is important for overall health and well-being, and especially important for pregnant and nursing mamas and their babies. Fermented foods also contain enzymes that help us to break down foods and absorb nutrients better, as well as fight bacteria, yeasts, molds, fungi, viruses, etc. Why wouldn’t you want to eat these amazing foods?

For me, the best part of discovering fermented foods is experiencing a whole host of new flavors. I enjoy adding this and that to a jar, leaving it for a few days (or months…) and ending up with something that is truly amazing. At first I did not think I could ever enjoy ferments besides pickles, but set out to eat them anyway because of the health benefits. We needed to heal and my son deserved to live without constant stomach aches, bowel issues and asthma attacks. I have quickly discovered that there is a ferment for everyone, regardless of how picky a person is. It just takes some trial and error to find exactly what will work for you!

Do you eat fermented foods? What are some of your favorites? I’d love to hear about them, let me know by leaving a comment.