There are a lot of people out there who need to make do with what they have not because the idea of “simple living” sounds fun, but because they have no choice. If you’ve ever been there then cultured foods should be right up your alley for a few reasons:
- Most cultured food products are actually higher in nutrients than the food you started with.
- Culturing extends shelf life which can prevent food waste.
- Culturing your own foods like yogurt and cheese can save you loads of money compared to store-bought versions of the same.
- Culturing vegetables is a great way to put up the harvest without tons of resources for canning or freezing.
WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR EXTRA...
One of the most important factors in being frugal and making the most of what you have is to never waste. Throwing away food or other items that can be useful in some other way is wasteful and was never done in times gone by when you would have to be frugal and resourceful... or you would starve.
So, here are a few ideas to make the most out of the items coming out of your cultured foods kitchen.
Because kombucha scobys perpetuate themselves with every batch, it is easy to have them piling up in your trash bin. Before you toss them out, though consider doing one of these things with them:
- Give to a friend who wants to start making kombucha.
- Add to the compost pile to create wonderful soil for growing vegetables.
- Feed them to your pets: dogs, cats, or chickens!
For more ideas, check out our list of Uses for Extra Kombucha Scobys.
If you’re making yogurt or kefir cheese or culturing your own cheese you will have plenty of whey. Don’t toss it out. Use it instead of water in any baking recipe for extra nutrients. Drink it as a natural electrolyte drink. Use it as a skin toner on your face. Add it to salad dressings or pour it over the soil in your garden to give the plants a boost of vitamins and minerals.
For more ideas, check out our list of Ways to Use Whey.
If your milk or water kefir grains are going gangbusters and you just don’t seem to have a use for them, you have a few options. Because of their gelatinous texture you could combine them with a bit of sweetener or fruit juice and eat them like a gelatin candy. You can feed them to your compost pile, chickens, or pets. You can also just blend them up with the kefir you already are using in your morning smoothie for an extra hit of probiotics.
Cultured Vegetable Brine
If you are culturing lacto-fermented pickles, dilly beans, or other naturally brined pickles then you will end up with a jar full of pickle juice once all of the vegetables themself have been devoured. Don’t toss it out. Instead:
- Add it to salad dressings or tuna salad.
- Add it to the next batch of vegetable ferments to ensure a good ferment.
- Blend it up with tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers for a probiotic gazpacho.
- Let your chickens or pets drink it.
For more ideas, check out or list of 8 Uses for Leftover Vegetable Brine.
You’ll notice there is a trend here: if you can eat it yourself then do it; if not, add it to something else; and if all else fails... give it to your animals because they like probiotics too!
CULTURE YOUR VEGETABLE SCRAPS
One more tip that some people don’t think of is to save those vegetable peelings and scraps. Carrots, zucchini, parsnips, celery, broccoli and cauliflower stalks and more can be washed well and cultured.
To do so simply set aside your vegetable scraps for a few days in the refrigerator until you have enough. Then wash them really well since they are the roughest parts of the vegetables. Chop them into small chunks and throw them into a jar. Make a brine with a ratio of 1 quart water to 3 tablespoons salt. Pour the brine over the vegetables, and allow to culture. This makes a great multi-colored condiment for your dinner plate.
As in many aspects of kitchen work, culturing can be done frugally and sustainably with only a small amount of extra effort. Waste not, want not!