Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Junk Food in a Pickle!

From left: Kimchi, pickled asparagus (with a variety of herbs), curtido rojo, and spicy pickled cauliflower! Source: Imogen

This Friday we are very lucky to be having Octopus Alchemy coming along to provide a free work shop on fermentation. They will be teaching us how to transform ‘waste-food’ into ‘super-food’


But what is fermentation?

Fermentation is a nutrition enhancing method of food preservation that is used on a variety of foods in a variety of cultures. Here at the Junk Food Project we use fermentation as a way of coping with a glut of vegetables. So far we have used it to preserve asparagus, cabbages, carrots, cucumbers to name but a few.

Fermentation does not just preserve the food it also increases its health benefits, for example fermented cabbage contains higher levels of vitamin C and of soluble iron than normal cabbage. It also introduces probiotics into the gut, supports the immune system, and good news for vegans, it is a natural way of introducing the elusive vitamin B12 into the diet

From left: Carrot & cucumber, Ginger carrot, Red cabbage & fennel seed, Cucumber & dill, Cucumber & chilli Ginger, cucumber & fennel. Source: Imogen

If you want to try fermentation at home (and we highly recommend that you do its simple and delicious!) here are some tips to ensuring your ferment goes as successfully as possible.
  • Wash hands before starting, but not with anti-bacterial soap as this can impede the fermentation process, and make sure that all utensils are clean.
  • Taste your ferment before packing it into your jars. It should taste salty but not overpoweringly so.
  • Store your ferment in a place where it won’t be too disturbed and out of direct sunlight. You don’t want it in a place where you will forget about it though!
  • The salt you use is important. Unrefined sea salt is best, and make sure the salt doesn’t have any anti-caking agents in it.

Sauerkraut! Source: Octopus Alchemy

Simple Sauerkraut Recipe



1.5 kilos of cabbage
1-1½ tablespoons of unrefined sea salt



  1. Rinse the unblemished cabbage leaves in cold water
  2. With a stainless steel knife or a mandoline chop the cabbage into thin slices and place into a bowl
  3. Add one tablespoon of salt and start massaging it into the cabbage. The cabbage should start to go limp, and its juices will start to come out
  4. Taste the cabbage. It should taste the salt without it being overpowering. If you are happy with the result now is the time to start adding herbs and spices if you so desire. We often use carroway, fennel, cumin, chilli flakes, dill, garlic.. The list is endless!
  5. Now start packing into the clean jar a few fistfuls at a time, making sure to pack down as you go. There should be some brine on top of the cabbage as you press down
  6. Once the pot is full, add a clean jam filled with water or weights onto the top to keep all the cabbage submerged in the brine. This is important as any vegetables that are not submerged in the brine can become mouldy and therefore unsafe for consumption.
  7. Place the filled jar in a quiet location, out of direct sunlight for anywhere between 4-14 days

How to know if your sauerkraut is ready?

  • It should look like cooked cabbage, slightly trancelucent and more yellow than green
  • It should smell sour
  • It should feel firm or soft, but it should not feel slimy.
  • It should taste sour, but not with the type strong acidity you would get with vinegar for example
You can now use your sauerkraut in sandwiches, salads, on jacket potatoes, soups.. The possibilities are endless!

Bon appetite : )

It's time to pickle! Source: Octopus Alchemy

Workshop details


Friday the 1st of May from1400 to 1500
One Church
Gloucester Place
Check out the event page on facebook here
We look forward to seeing you there!

Until then, 

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