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Fermentation Nation

September 2, 2014
Fermentation: when bacteria become your (guts') friend.

Fermentation: Sounds like something that you don’t want anywhere near the inside of your kitchen, right?

Far, far from it, Brander Byers, the creator of and the author of The Everyday Fermentation Handbook: A Real-Life Guide to Fermenting Food—Without Losing Your Mind or Your Microbes, says we all need to be embracing fermentation in a big way.

His refreshingly clear book makes a resounding case for microbial transformation, from the positive probiotic effects of fermented foods, to saving money and having fun by making sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, sourdough bread and kombucha at home.

Start playing around with some recipes and along with expanding your gut flora, you may just broaden your palate too. Byer admits, “Although a picky eater as a child, I now crave the complex, intense, and sometimes funky flavors of fermented foods.”

The bacteria filled world is yours for the taking: “Start simple with something that sounds appetizing and the next thing you know, you may have a zoo of microbial diversity fermenting in your home, too,” says Byers.

We’re taking the cue and starting with his simple (three ingredients!), but elegant lacto- fermented leek rings. In the recipe, leeks, sea salt, thyme and naturally-occurring lactic acid bacteria combine to mellow out the leeks. When the rings are ready, celebrate your fermentation project by trying them with goat cheese on a toasted cracker.

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Leek Rings




10 min


00 min


Salt: 5% brine

4 large leeks, sliced into 1⁄4 inch rounds

700 grams (3 cups) water

35 grams (21⁄2 tablespoons) sea salt

8 grams (2 tablespoons) thyme


Gently transfer the leeks to a quart-size jar while attempting to keep most of the inner rings intact. Combine the water, sea salt, and thyme in a separate jar or bowl until the salt dissolves. Pour the sea salt brine over the leeks until submerged. Weighing down the leeks below the brine is optional but not necessary if checked regularly.

Leave to ferment, away from direct sunlight, for at least 3 weeks until leeks are tender.

Make certain to release any CO2 buildup in the first week by quickly opening and closing the lid.

Taste and when fermentation is to your liking, move to long-term storage (i.e., refrigerator, basement, root cellar).

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