There are so many interesting and funky ways to make fermented food. Here is an overview of all the different types of fermentation with links to recipes so you can try fermenting at home.
It’s hard to say that any form of fermentation is simple. But there are certain types of fermentation that don’t require a special culture to make them at home. These are great recipes for fermentation newbies.
- Sourdough: Sourdough bread is made from a free-range culture of yeast and bacteria that is easily caught by leaving a mixture of flour and water out on your counter for a few days. Here’s how to make your own starter, or gluten-free starter.
- Dairy: Yogurt, sour cream and buttermilk are all made with different strains of lactic cultures. All you need to ferment dairy products at home is to start with a store-bought culture. It’s fun to experiment with different brands of yogurt.
- Vegetables: Most vegetables come in from the garden with their own lactic bacteria culture. Try making sauerkraut, relish and pickles!
- Alcohol: Beer, wine, cider and other alcoholic ferments were all traditionally made with wild yeasts. Now days we use specific strains of yeast that are optimized for vigor and flavor.
In my view, specialty cultures are any type of fermentation that requires a culture that isn’t widely available. You may be able to find these cultures at specialty stores or online. Check out my Resources Page for links to cultures available online. There are TONS and TONS of specialty cultures out there. Humans have been fermenting for a really long time and most countries and regions have developed some of their own unique forms of fermentation. So this list is not complete, but these are my FAVORITE types of specialty cultures.
Apple Cider Vinegar
REAL apple cider vinegar is made with a Mother. There are actually a lot of brands of apple cider vinegar that are properly fermented with a Mother, including: Viva Naturals, Braggs and Dynamic Health.
While I do admit that making homemade miso is not really for beginners, I do think a probiotic miso should be in every Fermentation Foodies’ fridge. Miso is so easy to add to soups and salads. And I like using it to culture hummus and other dips.
Kombucha is the darling of the health-food soft-drink world. Though the bottled beverages in your grocery store are nothing like a homemade fermented batch of kombucha tea. Homemade kombucha is sweet and sour, sparkling and probiotic!
Kombucha is made from a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts) that thrives on brewed black tea and sugar.
Kefir is traditionally used as a drink, but it’s also great for smoothies or as a buttermilk substitute. It can even thicken so you can use it like yogurt.
Tempeh is an Indonesian mold culture that is used to ferment soybeans until it forms a cake. It can also be used to ferment other high-protein grains and nuts.
Homemade tempeh is deliciously creamy with a nutty flavour. It can be smoked, marinated or sauced which allows for all sorts of interesting flavour options.
Water kefir is made with grains (another yeast and bacterial colony) that eat sucrose and molasses. The result is a sparkling probiotic beverage, that is sweeter than kombucha, and perfectly refreshing on a hot summer’s day.
Water kefir grains can be harder to come by as they don’t reproduce as much as kombucha SCOBYs. However, you can find the grains online.