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Monday Mission: Ferment Something

Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to start a new fermented food this week.

Fermented foods add probiotics to your diet, assist digestion of the other foods you’re eating, and usually unlock vitamins or nutrients within the fermented foods that would be otherwise unavailable to you. Many say we should start each meal with a spoonful or two of fermented food.

But I don’t. *cringe*

This will be a rare mission when I’m doing it right with you.


Now don’t get me wrong: our family does consume some fermented foods. There’s my homemade yogurt incubating in the cooler right now, and I need to mix up another batch of water kefir. I lacto-ferment my homemade mayo and Caesar dressing… and that’s where it ends.

I’m a pretty big fermentation failure in the real food world!

I don’t make kombucha (although I had a mushroom staring me in the face for 6 months before I finally threw it out).

I don’t make sauerkraut (even though I’m literally 50% Polish; the stuff should be coursing through my veins!).

I’ve never even tried ginger carrots.

And the one time I made lacto-fermented pickles and salsa, we hated it.

This week I’m making a plan to try something new: 5-spice apple chutney from Traditional Cooking School. (photo above courtesy of Wardee Harmon at TCS)

I’m not exactly sure what chutney is – sort of like a jam, maybe? It’s got nuts, fruit, and spices in it, and I have all the ingredients. I’ve been eyeing this recipe up for about a year now, wondering when I’ll get up the guts to make it.

Thanks for pushing me, KS community.

The gentle nudge of peer pressure can be a great thing.

UPDATE: It was good! I liked it a lot on top of oatmeal. My family was mixed on it, but we’ll keep trying!

My Recipe Goal

This is definitely a Back to Basics “Advanced” Monday Mission, as I explained at the beginning of January. Basics of real food for some, leaps for others.

Back to Basics at Kitchen Stewardship

I have all the ingredients – there are still fall apples in our garage, and I picked up lemon juice and walnuts (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!) just an hour ago. (Mental note: I should ask Wardeh if ferments are still safe with funky apples, the kind really only good for applesauce!)

I’m thinking we can add this to our yogurt, in our oatmeal, or maybe even next to a slice of Butternut Squash Bars that I’m planning to make for dessert. (The recipe is in Smart Sweets – gotta keep some secrets!)

Here’s what I’ll have to do to make this happen:

  • drain yogurt cheese to get whey – already in the calendar for Wednesday after guests leave
  • mix up Chinese 5-spice blend
  • make sure I have two very clean quart jars (or maybe one…I might just try half the recipe out of prudence)

So…what are you going to ferment?


A bowl of homemade yogurt topped with fruit in a bowl.

If you’ve never grown bacteria in your own home intended for consumption, the joy is indescribable. You really must try it.

If you’re a total rookie, I recommend starting with yogurt. My recipe is incredibly simple, makes no dishes, and yogurt is pretty recognizable by the fam.

Feel free to leave a link to your favorite ferment in the comments, or if you’re looking for more ideas, you can order starters for things like water kefir from Cultures for Health and learn via video (plus TONS of recipes) from the fabulous GNOWFGLINS eCourse on fermentation. (By the way, sourdough bread counts, too! It’s just no longer a living ferment when you eat it…)

No Way, No Fermenting For Me!

Aw, really? I’m sure we’ve got a couple nervous Nellies out there, and that’s okay. Growing bacteria ain’t no joke. Winking smile

How about this as an alternate mission: grow something anyway. Sprout something. Then at least you’ll have some living food in the dead of winter. Sprouting is SO easy, and also really cool. Be sure to show your kids if you have them. (Kids, that is, not sprouts.)

Sprouting peas

Do you make fermented foods regularly? What’s your favorite?

Disclosure: I partner with the eCourses and will receive a percentage – but I also teach with them and LOVE all the work they do! I am also an affiliate with Cultures for Health. See my full disclosure statement here.


Need More Baby Steps?

Monday Missions Baby Steps Back to Basics

Here at Kitchen Stewardship, we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.

That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and got them all spruced up to send to your inbox – once a week on Mondays, so you can learn to be a kitchen steward one baby step at a time, in a doable sequence.

Sign up to get weekly challenges and teaching on key topics like meal planning, homemade foods that save the budget (and don’t take too much time), what to cut out of your pantry, and more.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

About The Author

54 thoughts on “Monday Mission: Ferment Something”

  1. Just discovered your site and really enjoying it. I bought a Perfect Pickler on amazon (they have their own website too, and made pickles, saurkraut and salsa. Love it! Chutney is great on curry dishes, it is sweet and sour at the same time.

  2. Can I ferment vegetables with raw, unpasturized apple cider vinegar instead of whey? It would be so much easier for me and give a different set of good bacteria, right?

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I really have hardly fermented anything myself – is my go-to site for all things fermented. 🙂 Katie

  3. I have been making saurkraut for the past 6 months and it turns out well. I have tried ginger carrots twice and both times the whey turned to slime and they tasted off. I used the recipe in Nourishing Traditions.

  4. Katy via Facebook

    I am making Kombucha, sourdough, yogurt (incubating).. soaking rice and oat groats today for the fist time.. Made a ton of sauerkraurt last summer and pickles.

  5. Lisa via Facebook

    We also made the chutney, ours for 48. It’s really good on oatmeal. We have discovered we don’t like it solo, but it’s a great addition to things!

  6. I made that chutney thinking it looked so good and ended up throwing it away. It’s a little heavy on spice so might want consider that when mixing it up.

    1. Lori,
      Oh, how sad to throw away food! 🙁 Thanks for the note, though – I am stuck on the pepper part of the 5-spice blend and thinking I’ll just skip it or use cinnamon…but I’ll shoot low, too. Thanks! 🙂 Katie

  7. Let’s see – I do yogurt every week, do fresh and hard cheeses, and have done sauerkraut. We also ferment all sorts of fruits and grains and honey. =) If you every want some basic wine recipes, I lots (potato wine? dandelion wine? check!).

    I need to run and add a tablespoon of sugar to our soda starter. That is my BIG baby step – we are starting this week to make our own soda! Ginger ale, cola, and root beer? Making it all. Probably will start with a lemon lime soda and keep making different kinds. I am really excited about this one.

  8. I really, really like the 5-spice apple chutney in your post! I mix it with homemade yogurt and your homemade soaked granola. I’d like to use the spice mix in other recipes, too, if anyone has any suggestions. I’ve also made fermented carrots—tastes like pickles and are still crunchy.

  9. Katie,
    I made crock pot yogurt for the first time this past fall and we all LOVE it! My kids especially, with just a little drizzle of honey. I just finished a bowl with granola on top…yum.
    But this other fermenting thing is foreign to me and kind of scares me. Any books or other resources you would recommend? I have an organic cabbage(that was given to me) staring at me in the fridge and have no idea what to do with it! My family doesn’t like cabbage but I like sauerkraut. Maybe I should look into that.

    1. Sandi,
      I have perused Wild Fermentation – super interesting – and many love the recipes at Cultures for Health and other food bloggers too. The fermentation eCourse is marvelous too, and the eBook is coming out soon:

      Good luck!
      🙂 Katie

  10. I loved your top posts of the year because it helped me gauge where I am in my baby steps. I was happy to say in the year I’ve been following your site, I’m on a good steady course! We absolutely love the yogurt, switching to natural cleaners (bye-bye parabens, bleach and the like) we are just embarking on our sour dough journey and sprouting beans ( within a day of each other-newby here! I’m not on Face book-but if I were I’d post-I have bubbles in my starter! and some people would think I was nuts!) we are excited about continueing our North Dakota homesteading journey with you and GNOWFGNINS just a short click away! Thank you for being real and your baby step suggestions! It’s just what I need! God Bless you Katie!

  11. Emily @ Random Recycling

    I’m just getting back into making yogurt again, this time with a crock pot. I should try to make the whey one of these times.

  12. I’m proud to say that my kids and I gobble up lots of homemade yogurt. I switched to your much easier method a few months ago, and it’s wonderful! While on the GAPS diet last winter, I made lots of NT sauerkraut, but we all hate the taste. I make it out of obligation when it runs out, though, and I eat some now and then in a feeble attempt to follow through on that goal. Good thing it lasts so long, thanks to the fermentation! I need to try some more fermented foods, so thank you for this reminder to get going with it.

  13. I would love to try making kefir. Is there anyone in the DC metro area that would let me pick up some kefir grains? Either milk or water would be great! I could trade a kombucha mushroom for them.

  14. i love how you break goals down depending on where people are. i have to say, i just made my 1st batch of yogurt in months last night and the kids have already devoured half of it! i linked to your yogurt post in my most recent post today. i need to start making my water kefir again…

    my recent post: even them? you have got to be kidding me.

  15. I make homemade yogurt every week, and I created my sourdough starter over Christmas and made the soaked sourdough crackers for the second time– delicious! And strangely enough, I made the NT fermented cranberry relish yesterday. I haven’t tried it yet but it looks great.

  16. I’ve been going crazy with fermentation after discovering that my local food co-op carries veggie kvass. It’s a perfect alternative to whey as a starter. Since my kids and I don’t do well with dairy, I usually end up throwing out the yogurt cheese when I make whey for cultured veggies.

    So far I’ve made regular saurkraut, a kale/cabbage/burdock root/carrot version that is delicious, cortido (no pineapple vinegar, unfortunately), pickled turnips and carrots (which I have yet to taste–just made today) and kimchee. After reading the previous comment, I realize I should ask about whether the kimchee at our Korean market is still alive. That would save some effort, but it would probably be a little spicy for my son, and I bet they use sugar instead of the apple/pear/onion puree called for in my recipe!

  17. Right now I’ve got water kefir and pineapple vinegar brewing. I also bought a head of cabbage for another batch of sauerkraut.

  18. Not all fermented foods taste the same. I’m not a fan of sauerkraut… although my 6 year old daughter said “This would taste better with pepper.” And by george she was right… Although I still need to eat it with something to get it down. I do, however use the “juice” to season soups with. I just don’t salt the soup and then after it’s dished up put a spoonful of juice in it. It’s a great way to get the good stuff without eating it… We do eats LOTS of kimchi, but not the normal nourishing traditions Kimchi (which is more like spicy sauerkraut). We eat the real Korean stuff that is blood red, made with fish sauce in it, and REALLY spicy. For my kids we wash the spice off and they enjoy it. We also like dilly carrot sticks. I found the recipe on The Nourishing Gourmet. There are also LOTS of other Korean fermented side dishes. If you have a Korean market like H-Mart in your area I would say to check them out. Ours has tables out everyday with at least 12 different side dishes and most of them fermented. The ingredients might not be all organic, but you can at least try them and then find recipes online. That is what I do. And no I am not affiliated with H-Mart. I shop there, but they do not know who I am. I just like to remind people that there are lots of other options out there and don’t feel the need to stick with Nourishing Traditions recipes. 🙂

  19. It is so funny to me what different families love, while others can’t stomach the thought! We love ferments – and may I suggest, since I have heard several comments that NT recipes are too salty, that you try the recipes on Cultures for Health? We love their salsa; I use the juice from my fermented jalepenos to innoculate, instead of whey. Very good. Oh, but when they say two tomatoes, they must mean REALLY BIG tomoatoes, because I always have to use 3-5 to get a quart.

  20. I’ve got to get this mayo thing down!
    Saurkraut: check. Beets with orange rind and clove: check (thank goodness it keeps forever at the rate we eat it though!). Kimchi, preserved lemons, hella spicy pickled zucchini: check, check, check. Yogurt: not applicable. So short of the ginger carrots (which y’all are NOT selling me on!) it’s back to condiments.
    We’re away for a long weekend so my husband can’t get freaked about me leavings tuff out to “rot”!

  21. I’ve been making Nukazuke or Japanese rice bran pickles for years now. It took a couple weeks to create the fermentation medium, but after that it is super simple to make fresh tasty pickles.

    My dtr even took some of my well-developed rice bran bed to college with her to make pickles as study snacks. She simply buries veggies from the salad bar in rice bran for a couple days before digging them up to eat. Tangy and nutritious — way better than the junk most college kids nibble while studying.

    1. Every once in a while I see that recipe in my big Whole Foods book and think about trying it. That is so great that your daughter took it to college and can ferment right from the salad bar!

  22. There’s a loaf of sourdough bread in the oven right now! My bread has been exclusively sourdough for about 1.5 years now, yum. The jar of starter is named Bob, btw…

    I’ve been wanting to try making saurkraut for a while, maybe this is the time to just do it! I have done it once before– in a high school biology lab. But we weren’t allowed to actually eat it. (Somehow, the slop served in the cafeteria was deemed to be safe to eat, but our saurkraut wasn’t).

  23. I make yogurt and dairy kefir, but that’s it I’m afraid. I have been wanting to try that chutney too, though, so I’ll give it a shot along with you!

  24. I really can’t stomach yogurt, but just started making buttermilk, which I love. Also eat lots of cottage cheese & would be thrilled to learn how to make that.

  25. Rita via Facebook

    I love this mission. Perfect timing I have he book wild fermentation on hold at the library!!

  26. Rita via Facebook

    I love this mission. Perfect timing I have he book wild fermentation on hold at the library!!

  27. I make crockpot yogurt almost weekly. We LOVE it. I used to make sauerkraut regularly, but when we moved, I had no whey. I tried making it with the salt only method in NT, but it was WAY salty. We are still working on finishing it up (I add water to the jar, to make it less salty), and I am planning on getting some more going. I have made pickled beets and they have also gone over very well with my family. The ginger carrots were YUCKY to us. I want to try kefir, but am too cheap to buy grains…anyone in north central Montana have some to give away??? Thanks for this challenge…I’m off to pound me some cabbage!

  28. I have fermented some foods. I tried carrots and didn’t like them at all. My next foray was to make sauer kraut using the NT method and it has turned out really well. My family loves it and I honestly like it so much better than the stuff in vinegar that you buy. It has a milder taste. I have some cabbage in the fridge right now I’m getting ready to do. I make my own yogurt in the crock pot and make my own bread letting it ferment and get sour doughy using the Artisan 5 minutes a day bread method. It is a fantastic way to make all of your own bread. I tried fermented beets, but didn’t care much for them and have gone back to pickling them with vinegar. There are so many things to try and I’m still learning.

  29. We love Kombucha: get your free scoby here:
    and ( your) yogurt with cranberry sauce – double whammy I call Ultimate homemade yogurt:

    I ferment cabbage and recently turnips – but haven’t blogged about those – it’s the basic NT recipe with or w/o garlic and less salt.

  30. Beth @ Turn 2 the Simple

    I make at least a gallon of yogurt each week…I was hoping for a water kiefer starter for Christmas (no such luck, will just need to buy one!)…would LOVE to make my own cheese (but first we need a raw milk source)…and my husband HATES fermented foods! I think for this week I’ll stick to yogurt…and sprouting chickpeas — I did it last summer and there were really good, even my husband liked them…and he barley tolerates chickpeas!

  31. We love the salsa recipe in Nourishing Traditions. We can’t taste the ferment at all until it’s a month or two old and then it’s more bubbly but not really sour. We make ours with mild chilies and we use it by the heaping spoonfull on any mexican style dinner. Of course I really like cilantro which it has a lot of. So if you don’t like cilantro you might not like it. It does not, however, fit in a quart jar like she says. It fills a half gallon 3/4. I guess if you had tiny tomatoes and onions…

    This week I’m trying pickles, sliced. I couldn’t find the right type of cucumbers but hopefully it will work.

  32. Toni via Facebook

    Waiting for my raw milk to turn so ill have whey. My 1st thing im going to try is garlic.

  33. Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

    Fermenting is awesome! I’ve been doing kombucha for almost 2 years. You must make it and put strawberries and lemon juice in it, so yummy.

    I am going to get back into yogurt. I have started doing milk kefir (two batches so far — my so loves it), water kefir (trading someone local a SCOBY for water kefir grains), and sourdough. A little afraid of fruit/vegetable ferments still but I want to try. And cheese making! We are going through about 5 – 6 lbs. a week I think…I need to learn to make it!

      1. Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

        Yes! A live one this time. 🙂 A year ago we bought a whole butchered cow. But I need a milk cow. Like RIGHT STAT NOW! lol.

        It’s odd because other than cheese I really don’t care for fermented dairy. But my son does…hoping the other son does too…and all future children. So I better get used to making it. 🙂

  34. Katie, try culturing your mustard, ketchup, etc. It’s not as “in your face” as ginger carrots or sauerkraut, it’s easy and fast and no one will be the wiser.

    This week we have ginger carrots, creme fraiche, komubucha with chia seeds, buttermilk, yogurt and cheese working.

  35. We’ve been working on this. We’ve done yogurt a lot but haven’t really gotten past that. A few weeks ago we did our first ever batch of sauerkraut and it turned out really well and we also started up a jar of preserved lemons. Interested to hear how the chutney turns out.

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