top of page

Cauldron Bubble by Heather

Well jars actually, because this blog is about fermented foods.

Humans have been pickling and fermenting fruits and vegetables to prolong their usefulness for thousands of years. Every day, possibly without realising it, we ingest fermented food such as wine, tea, cheese, bread and chocolate, all of which are made using different fermentation processes.

So what is fermenting enchantment? Fermentation encourages the growth and life cycle of good bacteria to transform the flavour and shelf life of ingredients. All vegetables are covered in the good bacteria lactobacillus and, when sliced, grated and squeezed with salt, they release their juices, which mingles with the salt to create a brine. Once contained within this briny environment, lactobacillus multiplies and begins to break down the ingredient, digesting the natural sugars and transforming them into lactic acid, which creates the tangy flavour and a sour environment that keeps the growth of nasty bacteria at bay.

The health benefits of fermented foods which have and are being investigated are -

The probiotics produced during fermentation can help restore the balance of friendly bacteria in your gut and may alleviate some digestive problems.

The bacteria that live in your gut have a significant impact on your immune system. Due to their high probiotic content, fermented foods may reduce your risk of infections like the common cold.

Fermentation helps break down nutrients in food, making them easier to digest.

A few studies have linked the probiotic strains Lactobacillus Helveticas and Bifidobacterium longum to a reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Some studies have found links between certain probiotic strains and weight loss.

Fermented foods have been associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

The most important thing is that your jars need to be sterilised. You can run them through the hottest setting of your dishwasher, but some domestic washers don’t wash at a high enough temperature, so if you want to be really sure your jars are sterilised, dry them in an oven.

To sterilise them, heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

Wash the jars and lids thoroughly in warm soapy water, then leave to dry on the draining rack, drying the lids with a clean tea towel.

Put the jars on a shelf in the oven for 15 mins, then remove with oven gloves.

Once cool, they are ready to use.

Screw top jars are best, because of the gas produced by the good bacteria, you need to burp the jars (lift the lid) every few days so that they don’t run the risk of exploding.

You will know when your ferment is ready by tasting it, most recipes tell you when to start doing this. It should be pleasantly sour and not smell bad. If you’ve decided that it’s tasting good for you after a few days, just put it in the fridge, this will halt the fermentation. Keep an eye (and nose) on your ferments, and also watch out for any mould. If you see or smell a ferment starting to go bad, or if it tastes unpleasant, don’t take any risks, throw it out.

Kept at a consistent cool temperature away from daylight, in the fridge, fermented vegetables should keep for at least three months, or longer. Fermenting vegetables will need the jar burping occasionally. If a white bloom appears on your preserve this is fine, but anything that looks like mould or anything green is an indicator that it’s not sterile and it’ll need throwing away.

One of the easiest ferments is Sauerkraut –

1 head of cabbage (green or red)

2% of cabbage weight in sea salt

1 tbsp fennel seeds or caraway seeds (optional)

Or 1 tbsp of an equal mix of your chosen seed with peppercorns, again optional.

Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage. Slice into quarters and remove the hearts. Finely slice the quarters into thin ribbons.

Place your mixing bowl on a scale and zero the scale. Place the sliced cabbage into the mixing bowl and measure its weight. Calculate 2% of that weight (by multiplying by 0.02) and measure out the result in salt. Sprinkle the weighed-out salt over the cabbage and add the seeds, if you’re using them. Using your hands (make sure they are clean), begin to squeeze the cabbage, massage for 5-10 minutes. The salt will draw water out of the cabbage creating its own brine. Allow the mixture to sit for 30 mins.

Pack the cabbage into your jar/s, adding in all the cabbage’s juices, then pack down the contents tightly, ensure you’re applying enough pressure so that the brine covers the shredded cabbage completely.

Put the lid on the jar/s and let it sit out on your countertop at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. After 24 hours, press down the cabbage again to ensure that cabbage is submerged beneath the level of brine. Start to taste test after 7 days. Once the sauerkraut has reached your desired tanginess, place it into the fridge.

Magical properties of the ingredients –

Cabbage – moon magic, protection, prosperity, fertility, love, releasing.

Salt – cleansing, purification, protection.

Fennel seeds – healing, purification, protection, courage, confidence, fertility, initiation. Growth, new beginnings.

Caraway seeds – lust, health, protection, memory, fidelity, love, initiation, growth, new beginnings.

Peppercorns – cleansing, purification, warding, protection, motivation, focus, jealousy.

Just to spice things up and cause confusion, you can watch me talking about making Kimchi here

The magical properties of the ingredients of my Kimchi are -

2 tbsp sea salt - cleansing, purification, protection

1L water – cleansing, emotions, purification.

1 Chinese leaf cabbage (napa) - moon magic, protection, prosperity, fertility, love, releasing.

2 carrots grated – clarity, fertility, passion.

1 bunch spring onions – passion, releasing, fertility.

100g radishes – protection, passion, happiness.

100g fresh ginger – healing, power, love, passion, success, prosperity, protection.

6 large garlic cloves – healing, protection, hex breaking, removing negative energy, lust, strength, courage, depression.

2 shallots - passion, releasing, fertility.

1-3 tbsp chilli flakes or cayenne pepper - creativity, energy, power, protection, passion, hex breaking.

Here is a picture of my prepared Kimchi, looking very pretty -

Sources, further reading and recipes –

A Kitchen Witch’s World of Magical Food by Rachel Patterson

A Kitchen Witch’s World of Magical Plants & Herbs by Rachel Patterson

Food for Life: The New Science of Eating Well by Tim Spector

55 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page