Tag Archives: fermented food

Purple Top Turnip Kimchi


Kimchi with purple top turnips
Always weigh the vegetables before chopping and placing into your fermenting vessel so you will know how much salt and water to add

All the purple top turnips have been pulled out of the ground. What do we do when we have access vegetables? We ferment them. So this was a good time to make purple top turnip kimchi.

Kimchi with purple top turnip
Cleo loves the turnip greens

What fun we had collecting our harvest. Horses poked their curious noses over the fence for a nibble at the green turnip tops. We always give the greens to them fresh and that means within minutes of pulling those turnips out of the ground.

Normally I would just pick what I need for the day’s meals and leave the rest in the ground but summer was upon us and these turnips are a winter crop. So I had exhausted my flexible-harvest time frame and had to move into full clearing.

Kimchi with purple top turnip
I washed the turnips in my laundry basket

This is a shame as these green tops contain four times the percentage of  daily value of calcium  as its less bitter counterparts such as cabbage, for instance. One serving also provides 588% vitamin K which is needed for our bodies to use calcium effectively for the bones. Without Vitamin K, calcium can be directed to the wrong places such as arteries and organs causing problems that include hardening of arteries. So one serving of these greens provides enough Vitamin K for a whole week!

If we didn’t give these green turnip tops to the horses, most of them would end up in the compost bin as they have a bitter taste and not popular on the dinner table [don’t know why horses like them. Probably for the same reason I like bitter melon].

To create a myriad of flavours I have included beetroot and their leaves too in my ferment. Beet leaves and turnip leaves are high in oxalic acid which can bind important minerals such as calcium and make them inaccessible to our bodies. Fermentation breaks down this oxalic acid and releases these minerals so our bodies can easily metabolise them.

Purple top turnip kimchi
Grate beetroot and turnip
Split the stems of the turnip leaves to ensure they are not too thick
beetroot leaves
chop up the beet leaves so they are not too long and stringy in the ferment

Purple Top Turnip Kimchi

It is not necessary to soak the vegetables in a brine as fermentation will occur without it, but you will have a mushy kimchi instead of kimchi with crunchy vegetables.

Salt holds back the activity of the yeast so that your vegetables stay crunchy. Some probiotics enthusiasts believe too much salt kills probiotics and you end up with just a “brine-cured” food and not a healthy lacto-fermented food.

Sandor Katz leading fermentation revivalist does not agree. He believes, the beneficial bacteria we’re after, Lactobacillus, is salt-tolerant and abundantly present even in salty krauts. He agrees salt-free ferments may be more biodiverse but the mushy texture compromises taste. So if adding salt produces a far superior flavour and texture with just as much beneficial bacteria, he argues in favour of using salt. His basic formula for salt is 3 tablespoons for 5 pounds of vegetables. The general rule in salting your ferments according to Sandor Katz: “More salt to slow microorganism action in summer heat; less salt in winter when microbial action slows”. I use special led-free crock pots imported into from Poland to ferment my purple top turnip kimchi.

Purple Top Turnip Kimchi Recipe

5 kg of both purple top turnip and beetroot

1.6 kg of the leaves of purple top turnip and beetroot

10 cloves whole

1 cup honey

4 spring onions


stone weights to press down the vegetables so they stay submerged

I fermented my vegetables in my 10 litre crock pot. I filled my crock pot with 5 litres of water and made a brine brine solution consisting of three tablespoons salt, based on Sandor Katz’s guidance on preparing brine. There are more complicated guidelines based on the type of vegetables you use, but this simple form works for me. Remember some vegetables such as cabbages will produce a lot of water. Keep this in mind when you add water. The idea is to keep the vegetables completely submerged to ensure good anaerobic fermentation takes place in this purple top turnip kimchi.

Lead-free crock pot

My crock pot comes with a water moat in which the lid sits. I poured water into this moat at the rim of the crock pot and placed the lid on top of the water.This creates an airlock and thus provides the perfect anaerobic environment. At the same time it allows the carbon dioxide released by the vegetables during the fermentation process to bubble out, thus preventing pressure build up. This same concept applies for brewing wine.

I did not use the stone weights that came with the crock pots to press and keep the vegetables under water because I did not have enough vegetables to fill the whole pot 10 litre pot. You can still use the weights if you do not add as much water as I did.

Stirring creates more oxygen for the wild yeasts and thus you want to keep stirring to a minimum. Your target is a sweet ferment and yeasts will tend to make it too sour. For example when you resort to an aerobic fermentation for grape juice which is where you allow oxygen into the juice it will fuel the yeasts more than it will the bacteria and you end up with vinegar instead of wine.

These crock pots are expensive and if you can’t afford one or don’t have access to one, simple use a food grade plastic container. However, avoid metal containers like  cast-iron, copper, aluminum, and tin, all of which can react with the acids in fermented food and give it a strange flavor. These metals can also leach into the food.

I left my vegetables alone to ferment in a cool and dark place in my pantry for one month. Two weeks will be appropriate for most ferments but I wanted a stronger taste. It was exciting to hear the concoction bubbling the first few days. After sometime the bubbling will stop and the lacto fermentation will begin under anaerobic conditions.

After one month, my purple top turnip kimchi was ready. I took the vegetables out of the water and placed them in glass jars. Sieve them to remove most of the water. They will still release some water in the bottle resulting in them sitting in a watery liquid in the jars and that is all right as you want them to remain submerged under water. Place these jars in the fridge and eat as an accompaniment to rice dishes or place them in sandwiches. 

I was looking to have a light meal for dinner and so I had two full boiled eggs, some kimchi and raw cucumber. Did you notice the double yolk in one of my eggs. I just love my chickens. They give me wonderful, healthy eggs. The bottle contains the Kimchi. The red condiment on the plate is the Kimchi. It becomes red due to the beetroot and if you add a little paprika it brings out the red colour more vividly


Related articles: Making Fermented Food Part Of Your Regular Diet

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Probiotic Juice

Probiotic juice is becoming popular among fermented food lovers and many are making them at home because it is so easy. All you need are the fruits and vegetables, sugar or raw honey, a large, clean jar and a lot of patience because the best ones are those you can ferment for the duration of at least 4 months. However, it is not necessary to wait that long and you can start using them at two weeks old.

probiotic juice
Cold pressed coconut oil at the Tropical Farm
probiotic juice
Labelled Jars of probiotic juice at the Tropical Farm, Penang

Consume probiotic juice only in small portions, anywhere between 1 – 4 tablespoons at one time, preferably an hour before taking any food. As the microflora in the juice break down the sugar or honey it makes the vitamins and minerals in the fruits and vegetables readily available to our bodies.

I use probiotic juice in my cooking too. I don’t cook them but pour it over the dish once I have finished cooking and turned off the stove. For instance I did this with my Anchovy Sambal dish. I skipped the brown sugar and poured the onion probiotic juice over the sambal when I had finished cooking it and gave it a good stir. It adds the sweetness I need for the dish while introducing good bacteria into it too.

probiotic juice
Jars of probiotic juice lined up against the walls of the store at the Tropical Farm, Penang, Malaysia
probiotic juice
My home-made onion probiotic and pumpkin, avocado and banana probiotic
probiotic juice
Pumpkin avocado banana probiotic 3 weeks old

I came across the largest display of probiotic juice I have ever seen under one roof at the Tropical Farm in Teluk Bahang, Penang. It has 250 different species of exotic tropical fruit spread out over 25 acres. The farm’s shop is lined up wall to wall with jars containing much of these fruits bubbling and gurgling in their own liquid at various stages of fermentation.

There must have been over a hundred jars. The Farm calls these Living Enzymes and sells them in bottles. I tasted a two month old probiotic juice and 4 months. Both tasted fantastic but there was a sharp difference in taste with the four-month juice being better in the way wine gets better with age.

Today I am starting to find probiotic juice sold at health food stores in Australia too. Whether in Malaysia or Australia, they are not cheap especially the longer they have been aged.  In Malaysia a 750 ml bottle could cost RM40 (AUD13) and if brewed longer such as four months like the one bought at the Tropical Farm, cost about RM110 (AUD36). The same size in Australia can cost about AUD40 and that too has no indication how long it has been fermenting. So why not make some at home?

probiotic juice
My paw paw and banana probiotic juice. I stopped the fermentation at two weeks.

I give you some samples of my choice of fruits and vegetables used for the probiotic juice and you can use the same method in different combinations.

Normally, these are made only with fruit but you can use vegetables too. I prefer to mix the two.

probiotic juice
You can ripen bananas by putting them in a brown paper bag with apples

When I returned from Malaysia, I had found my home-grown bananas had nicely ripened in their brown paper bags.

I usually take them off the tree while still green but with the fingers a reasonably large size to ripen indoors.

To start my first probiotic juice, I used some store bought paw paw and my own bananas. I let it ferment for two weeks and then salvaged the juice.

Next I moved on to make two 2.2 litre bottles of onion enzyme and then one four litre jar of home-grown pumpkin, bananas and avocados.

Banana and Papaya Probiotic Juice


1 kg banana

500 gm paw paw

1 kg raw honey or 4 cups sugar

Onion Probiotic Juice


1.5 kg red onions

1 kg of of raw honey or 4 cups of sugar

4 litre clean jar

Pumpkin Probiotic Juice


Whole pumpkin weighing about 2 kg

2 – 3 avocados

1 – 2 kg of bananas


1. It is important that the fruits and jar are absolutely dry. So if you must wash the fruits, wash before cutting and then leave to dry completely on clean plates, overnight if possible. One person who could not wait is said to have used a hairdryer to complete her drying off segment 🙂

2. Ensure all utensils you use are clean and dry.

3. The idea is not to let any water get into the mixture.

4. Place the fruits and vegetables in one layer in the bottle. Then cover with a layer of honey or sugar. Then top that with another layer of fruits and vegetables. Place another layer of honey or sugar on top of that. Keep layering this way. The final layer at the top should be the honey/sugar.

5. Ensure the jar is only 80% full because the fermentation will be bubbling due to the activity of the probiotic liquid and could spill over if too full.

6. Leave the top loosely shut. Do not tighten as the fermentation releases gasses and bottle could explode [I’ve heard it has happened though not to me]. Every few days open the cap of the bottle to release the gas and close it. Do not leave it open for longer than a minute.

7. Store in a dark, cool place to ferment. You can also wrap the jar with aluminium foil if you like.

8. During the first week it is best to stir every day or every other day because there won’t be enough liquid yet to immerse the fruits and veggies and stirring helps prevent mold.

9. If you do see a whitish mold at the top over the next few days and weeks, don’t worry. Just scoop it off and stir. If the mold is blackish it is a different story. It could be contaminated.  This could be anything from rotting fruit to water particles having entered. You might want to check the odor and if it is suspect then get rid of the enzyme.

10. Most people stop the fermentation at the third week. I stopped my paw paw and banana fruit enzyme at two weeks, 2 litres of my onion enzyme at 3 weeks. I am still fermenting my other 2 litres of onion enzyme and will stop that in a month which will be in three days time. As for the pumpkin, banana and avocado I am hoping to go the full nine yards and take it to 4 months. At one month old today, it is doing good and smells alcoholic but sweet and only mild mold which I just scooped off and stirred.

11. Store in old wine bottles that you have washed clean and dried. Some people store in ordinary jars and keep them in the fridge.

If you are not sure why you should drink probiotic juices, please read my article Make Fermented Food Part of Your Regular Diet



Make Fermented Food Part Of Your Regular Diet

I’m enjoying Paper Dosa on banana leave in Malaysia. Dosa is now on the list of fermented superfoods
Aubergine chutney
My home-made aubergine chutney made with eggplant from a neighbouring farm



Fermented foods are found in all cultures around the world. Preserves, jams, pickles, chutneys, sourdough baking, Dosa from India, Kimchi from Korea, Kombucha from China, Moroccan preserved lemons, yoghurt in a variety of cultures and so on.

While our ancestors have been eating fermented foods for centuries, most people today include little or no fermented foods in their daily diets and they are paying the price with a poor digestive system. Why is it so important to have a healthy digestive system? As far as most of us are aware, it is the immune system that keeps our body in check.

According to Dr. Natalia Shulzhenko from Oregon State University people’s intestines contain more immune cells than the entire body.

“In a healthy person these microbes in the gut stimulate the immune system as needed, and it in turn talks back,” she said.

fermented food
fermented food maintains a healthy gut

“There’s an increasing disruption of these microbes from modern lifestyle, diet, overuse of antibiotics and other issues. With that disruption, the conversation is breaking down.”

This conversation takes place through the assistance of good bacteria living in our gut. The gut is home to 70 – 80% of our immune cells and with a healthy immune system your own body can ward off and fight any disease effectively.

Until 10 years ago biologists believed the human body was a physiological island capable of producing all the enzymes needed to break down food and absorb the nutrients.

Many illnesses and diseases later we are finding out that much of these nutrients are not even available to our bodies without the help of trillions of bacteria that live in a symbiotic relationship within our bodies to ensure our perfect homeostasis.








Fermented food does several things to promote this:

  • It introduces these healthy bacteria into our body. A person chronically deficient of these healthy bacteria would normally be advised to take probiotics but rather than take supplements it is better to take fermented foods which are rich in this. To maximize absorption of vitamins and minerals it is always best to take them in their most natural form.
  • Beneficial microflora or bacteria living in our gut is so complex and so rich in diversity with many different strains that it is hard to accept that Man can harvest and bottle them in a capsule to imitate the kind naturally occurring in our gut. Even the medical profession is not in one mind about widely prescribing probiotics. Pharmacies sell them under the label of a health supplement.
  • The good bacteria in fermented food releases natural chelators that latch on to toxins in our body and removes them and can even change them into less harmful substances.
  • The bacteria in fermented food has already broken down the sugar and starch of food and creates lactic acid that makes the living enzymes and vitamins in our food more digestible by the body
  • The good bacteria in fermented food cuts down the sugar content of food because it consumes the sugar to create lactic acid and this acidic environment it creates kills off disease-causing bad bacteria or pathogens.

Instead of nurturing and protecting these helpful bacteria, we have been destroying them through poor diet, antibiotics and in the process destroying ourselves.

Antoine Béchamp discovered and promoted this fact well over 125 years ago, but was ridiculed by the scientific community who favoured Louis Pasteur – who insisted that a “healthy” human body was completely sterile.

This opened the door for pharmaceutical companies to infiltrate the medical profession and today with pharmaceutical companies funding medical research, it will be hard to find the medical profession on the side of holistic healing as it will be in the interest of the pharmaceutical companies to keep people dependent on drugs rather than keeping them healthy.

So with this we entered the era of war against all bacteria and even today people see bacteria in a negative light. If you go to Wikipedia and look up Fruit Enzymes and Kombucha, popular among the health conscious, you will get information stating that there is no reliable evidence that these are beneficial to your body and even subtle warnings about such home prepared fermented food.

Fermented Food expert Sandor Katz describes this war against bacteria. “Beyond antibiotic drugs that individuals take, sometimes for important reasons (but typically overprescribed), we routinely feed antibiotics to livestock, chemically sterilize our water, and use antibacterial soaps marketed with seductive promises of killing 99.9 percent of bacteria. The problem with killing 99.9 percent of bacteria is that most of them protect us from the few that can make us sick. Continuous indiscriminate killing of bacteria in, on and around our bodies makes us more vulnerable to infection (disease) rather than less vulnerable.”

So rather than treating diseases head-on which is the conventional medical practice, it is better to strengthen the body to use its own immune system to find that perfect state of equilibrium again. Dr Thomas Lodi explained this best when he said “Disease is only an outcome required by the human body in response to internal and external stimuli to maintain homeostasis. The body never makes mistakes. We only perceive disease as a malfunction because we don’t truly understand its (the body’s) function.”

I have learned to incorporate fermentation into my cooking to ensure my family obtains the best nutrition from the food we eat.

Most of us take for granted that if we eat organic, we should no doubt be able to absorb all the wholesome goodness of that organic product. But if you use unnatural additives in the organic flour and cut down on the fermentation time, it makes no difference that the flour is organic. Your body is not able to extract the nutrients from that wheat in the flour.

This is why in our generation we are seeing more and more intolerance to gluten and people blame the wheat. Wheat is not the problem. The additives we put into it is what causes the problem. Wheat also has to be properly fermented before you consume it

For example I make bread every five days and add to that pastries and buns and cakes. I use only sourdough starter. This starter is nothing but bacteria and yeast, living organisms, existing in my fridge. In order for your body to be able to absorb the nutrition from the wheat, the dough or cake must be allowed to ferment for a few hours. Commercial bakeries take the short cut of factory cultivated yeast and skip the fermentation time because they are motivated by profit. Your health is not their priority. We have brought this practice of using commercial yeast and cutting down fermentation time into our homes by buying this commercial yeast and using it in our baking.

Yet this practice has only been around these last few decades. For hundreds of years people baked only with sourdough starter.

I’ve given dough from wheat as just one example of the multitude of different types of fermented food we should be exploring in our homes to strengthen our gut and gut bacteria so these good bacteria can continue to keep us healthy.

Watch how I use fermentation in my cooking