RECIPES – that provide Probiotics (the Good Bacteria)

Fermented Vegetable Recipes

Basic Sauerkraut Recipe

  • 1 medium Cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1 Tablespoon caraway seeds or juniper berries
  • 1 Tablespoon Sea Salt
  • 1/4 cup whey

In a bowl, mix cabbage with caraway seeds, sea salt and whey. Pound with a wooden pounder or a meat hammer (non-metallic) for about 10 minutes to release the juices. Place in a quart/half gallon or gallon size jar. Press firmly with you pounder until the juices come to the tope of the cabbage. The top of the cabbage should be a least 1-inch from the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage. The sauerkraut may be eaten immediately, but improves with age.

This is the basic recipe for sauerkraut. There are a couple of guiding principles that you should glean from this. #1 – You use approximately 1 Tablespoon of sea salt (always, always use sea salt) for 1 cabbage.

If for some reason you are not able to express enough liquid to keep your veggies submerged, you can add some brine (1 TBS sea salt to 1 cup of water).

Variations – During Harvest season, whatever is ripe and freshly picked goes into my kraut.

Cortido – Latin American Sauerkraut – this is our favorite

  • 1 large cabbage
  • 1 cup carrots – sliced or grated
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 TBS dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. chili powder or red pepper flakes
  • 1 TBS sea salt
  • 1/4 cup whey
  • Mix and make like sauerkraut – above.

Kimchi – Korean Sauerkraut

  • 1 head Napa Cabbage
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1 cup carrot – finely sliced or grated
  • 1/2 cup daikon radish – grated or finely sliced
  • 1 TBS ginger – fresh-grated
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 TBS sea salt
  • 1/4 cup whey

Feel free to experiment with vegetables and spices. Oregano is wonderful. If you are a fan of Curry, try cumin, coriander and turmeric. The whey can be optional. When you add whey, you are introducing the probiotics from the milk. This is your starter. If you omit the whey, then you will develop a “wild fermentation” and the ever-present good bacteria will take hold and have lactic-acid producing bacteria will ferment your food. Whether you use a whey starter or go wild, you will end up with a powerfully nutritious food.


My kids like our homemade ketchup better than store-bought

  • 3 – 6oz cans of organic Tomato Paste
  • 1 – 15oz can organic Tomato Sauce
  • 1/2 cup raw Honey or Grade B Maple Syrup (always use Grade B Maple Syrup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper powder – add more or less depending on desired spiciness
  • 1/4 teaspoon Clove powder
  • 3 cloves fresh Garlic or 1/2 tsp dried garlic granules – more or less as desired
  • 1/2 cup Fish Sauce – we use Thai Kitchen – it is salty so no additional salt is needed
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup whey
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

Mix all ingredients in blender or hand mix with whisk. Leave at room temperature for 2 days before transferring to the refrigerator. This creates a healthy lacto-fermented probiotic healthy ketchup. Makes about 5 cups.

Beet Kvass

  • 3 medium or 2 large organic Beets – peeled and coarsely chopped – not grated
  • 1/4 cup Whey
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Sea Salt
  • Filtered Water

Place beets, whey and salt in 2-quart glass jar. Add filtered water and cover. Keep at room temperature for 2 days before transferring to the refrigerator. Beets are loaded with nutrients. One 4 ounce glass, morning and evening is an excellent blood tonic, support regularity, aids digestion, and supports liver and kidney health. Beet Kvass may also be used in place of vinegar in salad dressing or in soups.

Whey & Cream Cheese

1 quart raw milk – In a clean glass container, let stand at room temperature for 1 to 4 days until the milk visibly separates into white curds and yellowish whey. Strain through a cheesecloth or clean dishtowel. They whey will run through and the milk solids will stay in the cloth. Tie up the towel/cloth with the milk solids inside, being careful not to squeeze. Hang so the whey can continue to drip. When the bag stops dripping, the cheese is ready. Store the whey in a mason jar and the cream cheese in a glass-covered container. Refrigerated, the cream cheese keeps for about 1 month and the whey for about 6 months. Use this whey in all of your lacto-fermented recipes.

Homemade Soda Basics


The Vessel: A one- or two-gallon glass jar is fine, but if you want to make larger quantities you’ll need a glass carboy, readily available at brewing supply stores for under $20. The three or five-gallon size works best. For a few dollars more you can also purchase a water lock, funnel and cleaning bottle brush. All utensils should be clean, but antiseptic cleanliness is unnecessary. Here are a couple of supply resources:

The Beer Nut, Inc.
1200 S. State
Salt Lake City, Ut. 84111
(801) 531-8182; (888) 825-4697
www.beernut.com – look under fermentation vessels

San Francisco Brewcraft
We’re located at 1555 Clement St. (@ 17th Avenue), San Francisco, CA 94118
You can call us at 415-751-9338, or toll free at 800-513-5196.

Other Equipment:
You will need bottles with good stoppers-I like the bail-top bottles because you can use them again and again. These are available at brewing stores. You will also need a funnel or siphon for transferring the soda from the vessel into bottles.

The Water:
Do not use chlorinated tap water, as this will inhibit fermentation. Most filtered or bottled water works fine. If you must use straight tap water, boil it to evaporate off the chlorine.

The Sugar:
We have gotten good results with organic raw sugar, maple sugar, agave, and honey. When we don’t have something healthier around regular refined white granular sugar can be used. The flavor from rapadura or molasses is too strong for most people. Honey is delicious but is best used as a flavoring rather than the main sugar source, because apparently honey inhibits bacterial growth. Even at half strength, honey soda can take months to finish. You can use fruit juice, but for some reason commercial canned fruit juice, even organic brands, produce noxious results. Remember that most of the sugar will be converted into lactic acid in the fermentation process. Use about 2 cups of sugar per gallon of water.

The Culture or Ginger Bug:
You can use a bottle of soda from the last batch as culture, or you can make your own from scratch. We usually make what is called a Ginger Bug. This is similar to making a sourdough starter. Your starter will take the bacteria that are natural to your environment and grow them into a healthy probiotic (the good bacteria) starter.

Ginger Bug Recipe

Dice fresh ginger root into tiny pieces (1/4″) and put a tablespoon of it into a mason jar 3/4 full of water, along with 2 teaspoons white sugar. Add another 2 teaspoons each sugar and ginger every day for a week, at which time it should become bubbly with a pleasant odor. If it gets moldy, dump it and start over. Even a small amount of culture will start a batch of soda going, but it’s best to use at least a cup per gallon so that these beneficial lactobacilli can dominate before less desirable microorganisms have a chance.

Flavorings: The water used to dissolve the sugar need not be just water! You can use any herbal decoction to make soda with the flavor or medicinal qualities you are seeking. For example, to make ginger beer, boil sliced ginger root in the water, about one thumb’s-length per gallon of soda, for twenty minutes. Peppermint, spearmint, or other mint can also be used to flavor soda. Put the mint in boiling water, turn off the heat immediately, cover and steep. Lemon juice is a good addition to almost any soda flavor and seems to help preserve the syrup before fermentation gets going. Use approximately two lemons per gallon of soda, depending on juiciness. With lemons I recommend the taste as you go method to determine how much. One of the favorite beverages in colonial America was root beer. The essential roots for flavor are sassafras, sarsaparilla and birch. Sassafras in particular lends a pungent aroma and beautiful reddish color to soda, and is readily available throughout the Eastern US. Common medicinal roots like burdock, chicory, dandelion, and so forth tend to impart a strong mediciney “herbal” flavor to the soda. It’s the sassafras, sarsaparilla and birch that make people say “Yum!”

Special equipment:
A good knife
A fine mesh strainer is a useful kitchen tool.
Use an instant-read digital thermometer for this recipe.
Bail-top bottles – or some other type of bottles to store your finished brew

Homemade Healthy Ginger Ale

Ingredients 1 Gallon 3 Gallons 5 Gallons
Ginger (about 6 inches long) 16″ piece 36″ pieces 56″ pieces
Sugar 2 cups 6 cups 10 cups
Water – non-chlorinated as directed in recipe to fill carboy or vessel
Fresh lemons – medium juiced 2 4 6
Ginger Bug 1/2 cup 1 1/2 cups 2+ cups
Whey – fresh homemade 1/4 cup 1/2 cup 3/4 cup

The whey can be optional – No Whey! – most times I don’t add it.


There are many ways to make ginger ale. I attempt to understand the principles involved and then kind of work within those parameters. I will tell you how I make it and then give you some delicious variations.

  1. Fill the carboy or your brewing vessel up half way with cold or cool water. You cannot use tap water that is chlorinated as the chlorine will kill the microorganisms that cause the fermentation process to happen.
  2. Dissolve the sugar in water over the stove. Some recipes suggest that you need to heat up or boil at least half of the water, but I find this results in a lot of waiting for your temperature to come down before you can add the bug. I like to spend about 20 minutes total making ginger ale and so enough water to dissolve the sugar into a syrup is all that is needed.
  3. Pour your dissolved syrup (sugar water) into the vessel/carboy.
  4. Test the temperature – I use a digital thermometer that has a probe that can dip down into the carboy. Your temperature should be between 75 – 100 degrees F.
  5. In a blender or food processor, blend your ginger mixed with enough water to make a watery slurry. Once blended, strain through a fine mesh strainer into the carboy. Repeat, by adding more water to existing ginger mash and strain again.
  6. Taste ginger ale for sweetness and ginger flavor.
  7. Add juice from fresh lemons. I usually add some, taste, add some more taste, etc. until it is just right. The lemons will add a flavor of freshness and take out the flat sugary taste.
  8. If the temperature is under 100 degrees, you can add the strained ginger bug and the whey. The ginger bug or ginger starter is what will cause the fermentation process. The bacteria in the ginger will eat the sugar creating lactic acid (very healthy!), lactobacilli probiotics and enzymes. The whey also offers probiotics and minimizes alcoholic fermentation. A teaspoon or two of sea salt can be added to increase the minerals as well as reduce alcohol from forming. I typically don’t use sea salt in my sodas.
  9. Taste again. To make a stronger ginger flavor – one that will give you a good ginger kick, add a ginger extract. I will often add a 2 ounce bottle of ginger tincture.
  10. Fill your bottle up to the gallon, 3 or 5 gallon mark. It is not necessary to fill it all the way up, but you want to make as much as you can, because once the kids start drinking it, it will go fast.
  11. Once satisfied with the taste put on the airlock filled with water. Now it is time for the microbes to do their job.
  12. Depending on the temperature, your ginger ale can ferment quickly or take its sweet time. During the summer, I’ve been able on occasion to bottle my ginger ale the next day. During winter and colder times it can take two weeks. Depending on how fast it is fermenting, 2-5 days is usually enough time to create the optimum level of carbonation.
  13. You will begin to see small bubbles rising to the top of the jar and causing the airlock to out-gas the carbon dioxide.
  14. Taste the ginger ale periodically for the level of carbonation. When it is mildly carbonated, it is ready to bottle.
  15. Funnel into bottles, cap and label (We make up fun names and date each bottle) I like to use the bail-top bottles, but I know people who have used mason jars or gallon jugs. Refrigerate or put into a cool basement storage. Your ginger ale will continue to ferment and become more carbonated, but the cool temperature slows this process down. The soda continues to ferment in the bottles, giving off carbon dioxide gas. Since the bottles are sealed, the gas has nowhere to go. It stays in the bottle and makes the soda fizzy. Too much fermentation, not cool enough temperature and weak bottles can result in exploding bottles or bottles that will shoot foam all over when opening. One batch last summer shot a stream out of the bottle over 20 feet. As you drink your ginger ale, you may notice more carbonation with time.
  16. Drink it! Lacto-fermented soda is an excellent thirst quencher and contains beneficial lactic acid, vitamins, enzymes and beneficial lactobacilli that can inhabit your gut, where they protect you against pathogenic bacteria and yeast.


Plain old ginger ale is wonderful, but we really like:

Blueberry Bubbly – for 3 gallons add to cooking syrup 1 cup of powdered blueberry juice

Raspberry Ripple – for 3 gallons add to cooking syrup 1 cup powdered raspberry juice

Cherry Jubilee – for 3 gallons add to cooking syrup 1 cup powdered cherry juice

Raspberry Lemonade – omit the fresh ginger add more lemon and raspberry juice.

Ginger Ale – ala food storage – No fresh ginger or lemons available? Substitute 1/4 cup of dried ginger pieces (cut and sifted) for each gallon of finished product. Boil the ginger in water for 20 minutes to make a strong decoction. Strain and add to your syrup (dissolved sugar). Add reconstitute lemon from a bottle in place of the fresh lemons. Admittedly, this is not as wonderful, but it is still pretty darn delicious.

Root Beers

Root beer is made following the same principles as the ginger ale directions, just with a different recipe. There are endless varieties. Here are a couple root beer recipes that we like.


This combines the herbs sassafras and sarsaparilla = Sassparilla

Ingredients 1 Gallon 3 Gallons 5 Gallons
Sarsaparilla – cut herb 1/2 oz 1 oz 2 oz
Sassafras root – cut root 1/4 oz 1/2 oz 1 oz
Licorice root – cut root 1/8 oz 1/4 oz 1/2 oz
Boil these herbs in water for at least 20 minutes to extract the herbal goodness and flavor.
Sugar 2 cups 6 cups 10 cups
Water – non-chlorinated as directed in recipe to fill carboy or vessel
Fresh – medium juiced 2 4 6
Ginger Bug 1/2 cup 1 1/2 cups 2+ cups
Whey – fresh homemade 1/4 cup 1/2 cup 3/4 cup
Molasses * 1 TBS 3 TBS 5 TBS or to taste

Add the strained herbal extract to the syrup (dissolved sugar) and follow ginger ale recipe directions.

Birch Beer

Ingredients 1 Gallon 3 Gallons 5 Gallons
Birch – cut herb 1/2 oz 1 oz 2 oz
Sassafras root – cut root 1/4 oz 1/2 oz 1 oz
Licorice root – cut root 1/8 oz 1/4 oz 1/2 oz
Boil these herbs in water for at least 20 minutes to extract the herbal goodness and flavor.
Sugar 2 cups 6 cups 10 cups
Water – non-chlorinated as directed in recipe to fill carboy or vessel
Fresh – medium juiced 2 4 6
Ginger Bug 1/2 cup 1 1/2 cups 2+ cups
Whey – fresh homemade 1/4 cup 1/2 cup 3/4 cup
Molasses * 1 TBS 3 TBS 5 TBS or to taste

Add the strained herbal extract to the syrup (dissolved sugar) and follow ginger ale recipe directions.

Sometimes I will add birch essential oil to the finished brew before we set it out for fermentation. I add several drops, taste, add some more, until it’s just right. I’m a firm believer in the taste as you go method.

*All molasses is not created equal – find one that you like and tastes good to you. I like Grandma’s and don’t like blackstrap.

No Knead Artisan Bread

There are many versions of this recipe floating around. The concept is so simple and the results are so delicious. There are endless variations you can play with such as adding fresh rosemary, asiago cheese, chopped Kalamata olives or walnuts.

  • 15 ounces of flour (3 cups) – we like half whole wheat and white
  • 1/4 tsp. Dry active yeast
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp sea salt – you can use most any kind of salt but why would you want to?
  • 1 & 1/2 cups of warm water.
    • Whisk flour, salt and yeast mixing thoroughly.
    • Add water folding to form a shaggy ball.
    • Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 12 to 18 hours.
    • Lay a sheet of parchment paper inside a skillet.
    • Turn out on to a well-floured surface and fold over twice. Remember this is NO KNEAD bread.
    • Form into a ball and place on parchment in skillet seam side down.
    • Lightly flour the top of the dough.
    • Make a couple of slices into the dough with a serrated knife (optional).
    • Cover loosely with plastic wrap.
    • Let rise at room temperature until loaf doubles in size (1 to 2 hours)
    • Preheat oven to 475 F with a cast iron Dutch oven pot with lid. Get a Dutch oven without legs that will easily fit into your oven.
    • Remove Dutch oven and lid from oven.
    • Pick up the dough by lifting the parchment and lower into the pot. Let excess parchment hang over the pot.
    • Cover the Dutch oven and return to oven for 30 minutes.
    • For a deeper brown loaf, the lid of the Dutch oven may be removed and bread can be baked for an additional 15 to 30 minutes or until the center of the bread registers 210 degrees using a digital probe thermometer.
    • Cool on a wire rack for two hours before eating, if you can wait that long.

The dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or until you are ready to bake. Refrigerating will further develop the flavors.

Want to Impress your Friends with the “6-3-3-13 Rule”?

This is the basic bread recipe for 8 loaves of bread

    • 6 cups water
    • 3 Tablespoons salt
    • 3 Tablespoons yeast
    • 13 cups flourIngredients are mixed and set over night, then prepared and baked as above. Make a big batch and bake one or two loaves at a time or cut the recipe in half or in quarter.