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Sometimes the calendar is just too full to prepare everything from scratch. The good news is that even with a busy schedule, you can still add nutrition to the foods your family eats through fermentation. A little bit of whey reserved from other culturing projects, kombucha, or water kefir, allows you to add health-promoting probiotics to a number of store-bought foods.
Choose foods in glass jars with as few additives as possible. Avoid preservatives or ingredients like added sugar or vinegar, which can interfere with the fermentation process if present in large amounts.
How to Ferment Store-bought Foods
NOTE: Freeze-dried vegetable starter cultures are not appropriate for culturing tomato-based foods or fruits. Use whey, water kefir, or kombucha as starter culture instead.
Try some of the following fermented condiments:
Add 2 tablespoons starter culture to a pint of prepared hummus. Cover and ferment at room temperature for 2 days before refrigerating.
Look for an organic brand without high fructose corn syrup. Pour out enough ketchup to make room for stirring in 2 tablespoons of starter culture. Cover and ferment at room temperature for 2 days before refrigerating.
Look for an organic mustard that has no sugar added. Sugar may cause over-fermentation and an undesirable result. Add 1 tablespoon of starter to an 8-ounce jar. Cover and ferment at room temperature for 2 days before refrigerating.
Look for a brand without preservatives. Citric acid does not seem to interfere with fermentation. Add 1 tablespoon of starter per 8 ounces of salsa. Cover and ferment at room temperature for 2 days before refrigerating.
Choose a brand with no added sugar or preservatives. Add 2 tablespoons of starter to a 14- to 16-ounce jar. Cover and ferment at room temperature for 2 days before refrigerating.
While buying already-prepared foods may not be ideal, every little step you make to improve the nutrient content of prepared foods will be beneficial.
When you have more time, make those condiments from scratch!
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