DIY ferment

How to Make Soy-Free Tempeh with Yellow Split Peas

For us, tempeh is one of those foods that is so much tastier when made at home. We’ve never been wowed by shop bought tempeh or considered it worth spending money on, but since we’ve been making this from scratch we’ve become complete tempeh converts. Making your own tempeh means you can get really creative with different legumes & flavourings too. This version with yellow split peas has a delicious, nutty flavour and due to the fermentation it’s a great option for people who find it hard to digest beans and other legumes. We also have a great tandoori marinade recipe for tempeh here.

How to Make Soy-Free Tempeh with Yellow Split Peas
How to Make Soy-Free Tempeh with Yellow Split Peas
How to Make Soy-Free Tempeh with Yellow Split Peas

What is Tempeh?

Tempeh originally hails from the island of Java in Indonesia. It often gets thrown into the same category as tofu, quorn and seitan as being a somewhat bland meat-replacement, but for us tempeh has a lot more flavour and also contains a lot of nutritional benefits. Traditionally, tempeh is made from soy beans which are soaked, cooked and then fermented using a specific culture called rhizopus oligosporus. As the beans ferment, they form into a block that is held together by a white fibrous network of mycelia. The tempeh can then be cut into slices and used in stir frys, curries, salads, sandwiches and more. It sounds like pretty freaky stuff on paper, but it has a great nutty flavour and is especially delicious marinaded!

Nutritional Benefits of Home-made Tempeh

Making your own tempeh definitely takes a lot more time than buying it from the shop, but we think it’s completely worth the effort in terms of flavour and also the variety of legumes you can use. Some nutritional benefits of home-made tempeh are as follows:

  • The fermentation process breaks down the phytic acid and anti-nutrients from the beans, which makes it easier to digest and absorb.

  • Studies show that tempeh is rich in prebiotics, which promote beneficial bacteria in the digestive system.

  • A rich source of protein & calcium

  • A whole foods alternative to tofu or quorn. Homemade tempeh is unprocessed & unpasteurised, therefore maintaining a lot more nutritional benefits and bacteria.

What You Need to Make Tempeh

  • A vented container: We use a freezer bag with 7-8 small holes in it that are large enough for air circulation. Using a clear container allows you see the tempeh as it ferments and you can reuse the bags after use. You could also a Tupperware with holes in.

  • A warm place for the beans to ferment: The beans have to be kept at a temperature of 25-30 degrees to begin the fermentation process. This takes around 12-24 hours. We use a dehydrator for this, but you could also use an oven with the light on (& the door slightly ajar), an electric blanket or a warm area in your house such as an airing cupboard.

  • A fermentation starter: You will need to purchase a starter to make the tempeh. We recommend this brand in the UK, you only need to use a small amount for each batch so it works out as good value.

  • Dried Beans: As mentioned, soya beans are traditionally used in tempeh recipes, however our favourite to use is yellow split peas as they have a great flavour. You can try various other types of beans and get creative with it. We recommend buying organic whenever possible.

  • A Tea Towl to wrap the tempeh in during the fermentation.

How to Make Soy-Free Tempeh with Yellow Split Peas
How to Make Soy-Free Tempeh with Yellow Split Peas

Ingredients

  • 500g of yellow split peas (or your legume of choice)

  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)

  • 1/3 teaspoon of tempeh starter

Method

  1. Soak the split peas overnight (or at least 6 hours).

  2. When ready, drain the peas and rinse once or twice with cold water.

  3. In a large saucepan add the peas and cover by 2-3 inches with water. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently for 20-30 minutes until just tender but not falling apart.

  4. Drain the cooked split peas in a colander and allow to cool, you want them to be almost completely dry. They should dry left out in the colander over 1-2 hours, or you can spread them on a clean tea-towel and pat dry.

  5. Add the peas to a bowl and stir in the apple cider vinegar and tempeh starter culture.

  6. Now spoon them into your vented container (freezer bag with holes poked through, or Tupperware, see above)

  7. Lightly press down the split peas in the bag so it lies flat and fairly even. Now store at 25-30 degrees C until you see a few areas of white, dust-like spots forming inside the bag (these can be quite subtle so look closely).

  8. Once the fermentation has started the tempeh will start creating its own heat, so you want to lower the temperature slightly to around 20-24 degrees C. Leave the bag/container wrapped in a clean tea towel for 24-36 hours (max 48) until the bag is fully colonised with the culture and has formed a solid block (see photo below). For this part we place the container in our airing cupboard.

  9. When the tempeh has become a solid block, remove it from the bag/container (this can take a bit of jiggling/squeezing to get it out) and store it in an air tight container in the fridge. Enjoy it fried, baked, grilled or on the barbecue.

NOTES - You may see some grey/black spots develop on the tempeh - this is normal and safe. It’s also common for the tempeh to smell slightly sour. If it begins to smell really bad/off or develops other colours then trust your instinct and discard it. (Thankfully this has never happened to us!)

How to Make Soy-Free Tempeh with Yellow Split Peas
How to make soy-free tempeh with yellow split peas

Have you tried tempeh before?

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Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel Seeds

We're back with another fermented recipe ... this time, it's our favourite sauerkraut recipe - made with purple cabbage and infused with fennel seeds. We love eating this with just about anything, it's such a delicious addition to a meal. You can make this recipe with green cabbage too, but we love the vibrant colour of red cabbage & the fact that it's more nutritionally dense. In fact, we recently read that purple cabbage actually has more vitamin C than oranges, as well as so many antioxidants that are healing for the body. 

Eating sauerkraut regularly has really transformed my digestion over the past couple of years. During a difficult patch of stomach issues a few years ago, I dove deep into so many nutrition and holistic health books/podcasts to try and find a cure. Once I started to uncover how much our digestion is linked to our entire system, I became so determined to heal my gut and find balance again. It's pretty fascinating that our gut bacteria is so related to our brain function, immune system, happiness and so much more.

Food can be such a powerful medicine if we look at the source of illness instead of trying to suppress the symptoms. Alongside avoiding stress, one of the most important ways to strengthen our digestion is to feed our guts with friendly bacteria. Making your own fermented foods at home is such an affordable and tasty way of doing this. Especially as it's been shown to be more beneficial if the sauerkraut has been made and fermented in your local area. This is due to the relationship between the bacteria in your environment and the original bacteria in your gut. If you buy a sauerkraut that has been produced far from where you live, you may not receive the full benefits. For more fermented recipes, click here!

Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel Seeds
Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel
Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel
Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel

Vegetable to salt ratio - the magic formula for ferments
After a lot of experimenting, we've reached a good understanding of the salt/vegetable ratio for pickles and ferments. As a general rule of thumb, we always weigh our vegetables, then add 1.75% of this weight in salt. For example, 1kg of cabbage will need roughly 17.5g of salt. 500g of cabbage will need roughly 8.75g of salt. For reference, 1 teaspoon of salt is 5.7g. 

To make 1 large jar you'll need:
1 large jar, sterilised with boiling water
1 large red cabbage, sliced finely
1.75% weight ratio of good quality salt (see above)
6 whole peppercorns
3-4 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds

Method

1. Before you chop your cabbage, peel away 1-2 of good quality outer leaves and put to one side for use later.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients so that the salt is thoroughly mixed with the cabbage. If you have time, leave it for 15-30 minutes - this will help draw the moisture out of the cabbage. 
3. With clean hands (or with gloves if you don't want purple stained fingers!) begin to mix and massage the cabbage. Continue for around 5-10 minutes, until liquid squeezes out of the cabbage. This purple liquid will help the fermentation process.
4.Add all the ingredients to your sterilised jar, pushing down as you go so that no air is trapped in the bottom of the jar. Keep pushing down as you add more cabbage (the back of a wooden spoon is helpful for this). The idea is to pack everything really tightly into the jar. 
5. Once you've added all the cabbage to the jar, continue to push it down until the cabbage is submerged in some of its liquid. If your sauerkraut seems dry, leaving the jar for an hour or so between pressing down can allow more of the liquid to release. 
6. Fold the cabbage leaves you set aside at the beginning to form a 'lid' that will fit in your jar. Place this on top of the sauerkraut and again, push the ingredients down with the back of the wooden spoon. Add a weight on top of the cabbage to keep it submerged in liquid. We use a small glass with some weights inside. Cover the jar with a fine cheesecloth. 
7.Now it's time to let the cabbage ferment! Around 7 days is the perfect amount of time. If you live in a very hot climate then you may need less time. Everyday, check on your jar and firmly push down the sauerkraut with the back of a wooden spoon. You should see air bubbles rise from the bottom of the jar. The cabbage should remain submerged in liquid.
8. After around 5-7 days, taste the sauerkraut to see if it suits your taste buds. 
9..Once your satisfied with your flavour, secure the jar with a tight lid and store in the fridge. It's now ready to be eaten and shared and should last for months if sealed well. The flavour generally improves after the sauerkraut has been in the fridge for a few days. 

Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel
Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel
Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel
Purple Sauerkraut with Fennel

Have you ever fermented anything at home? We'd love to hear your experiences! 

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Fermented Broccoli

We're all about making healthy foods accessible to everyone. Having little tricks & condiments on hand when life gets busy and time is scarce. It's no secret that we love adding fermented foods and pickles into meals ... it's one of the best ways to aid digestion & boost healthy bacteria in the body. We've already shared a few fermented recipes on the blog, but this one is definitely our best yet. The broccoli has an amazing, crunchy texture after a week of fermentation, as well as tasting so good!

Fermented Broccoli Pickle

Unlike some ferments, this is pretty simple and quick to prepare. We recommend using good quality salt (either himalayan or sea salt) & buying organic broccoli if it's available to you. Heads up, Aldi now sell organic broccoli for 80p, so it's really affordable to make! 

Vegetable to salt ratio - the magic formula for ferments
After a lot of experimenting, we've reached a good understanding of the salt/vegetable ratio for pickles and ferments. As a general rule of thumb, we always weigh our vegetables, then add 1.75% of this weight in salt. For example, 1kg of broccoli will need roughly 17.5g of salt. 500g of broccoli will need roughly 8.75g of salt. This formula can be applied to other ferments and pickles, such as sauerkraut & kimchi. So far, it hasn't failed us! 

To make 1 large jar you'll need:
1 large jar, sterilised with boiling water
500g Organic Broccoli, chopped into strips (including the stalk!)
8.75g good quality salt (1 & 3/4 teaspoons)
5 whole peppercorns
2 bay leaves
Optional flavourings: 1 whole garlic clove, 1 sprig of rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds

Method
1. In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients so that the salt is thoroughly mixed with the broccoli. If you have time, leave it for 15 minutes - this will help draw the moisture out of the broccoli. 
2.Add all the ingredients to your sterilised jar, pushing down as you go so that no air is trapped in the bottom of the jar. Keep pushing down as you add more broccoli (the back of a wooden spoon is helpful for this). The idea is to pack everything really tightly into the jar. 
3. Once you've added all the broccoli to the jar, top up with clean water. Cover the jar with a piece of cloth, or loosely place the lid on top. 
4.Now it's time to let the broccoli ferment! Around 7-10 days is the perfect amount of time. Everyday, check on your jar and firmly push down the broccoli with the back of a wooden spoon. You should see air bubbles rise from the bottom of the jar. The pieces of broccoli need to remain submerged in liquid, so if you find it gets too dry, add a little extra water.
5. After around 5-7 days, taste the broccoli to see if it suits your taste buds. If your ferment tastes really salty, leave it for a few extra days to let the flavours mellow. 
6.Once your satisfied with your flavour, secure the jar with a tight lid and store in the fridge. It's now ready to be eaten and shared and should last for months if sealed well.

Fermented Broccoli Pickle

Have you tried fermented foods? We'd love to hear your experiences! 
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Fermented Carrots with Turmeric & Mustard

We've already expressed our love for fermented foods a few times on this blog, especially for homemade kombucha which we've been making for the past year. But as the days begin to get colder and we edge towards winter, fermented foods have become an even bigger part of our meals as a way to boost the immune system and fight off illnesses. Having a few fermented pickles or vegetables in the fridge is a really quick and delicious way to boost healthy stomach bacteria and add extra goodness to meals. And it's cheap to make your own too! We've been having a spoonful of these carrots with our stir-fries or curries recently  ...they're tangy, crunchy and full of healing properties from the turmeric. Overall, a great way to liven up your food when you're feeling sluggish and bunged up! 

Mustard Fermented Carrots with Turmeric

People are often a little unsure about making their own ferments at home, but we promise, it's not as difficult as you might think and it's a satisfying process to see your foods transform over time. As with a lot of things, it's really about using your instincts  to decide when the ferments are ready. The flavours will develop and change throughout the fermentation - keep tasting and decide when the flavours are how you like them! 

 

Ingredients (Makes around 800g - 2 medium jars)
750g organic carrots, chopped into thin slices
1 inch of fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped   
4 teaspoons of lightly crushed mustard seeds
3 teaspoons of fresh turmeric (grated)  or 2 teaspoons of dried turmeric powder
3 teaspoons of sea salt
Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Method
1. Sterilise your jars with boiling water. 
2. Add all the ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Massage everything for 5-10 minutes (be warned that the turmeric may stain your fingers!). The carrots will eventually begin to release some water. 
3. Add everything to your jars, including the water from the carrots. Squeeze everything down into the jar as much as possible with a wooden spoon or hands, trying to get rid of any air bubbles. 
4.If the carrots are not completely submerged in their own juices, then cover them with a small amount of water. Place the jar lid on loosely. 
5. Leave the jar somewhere out of direct sunlight for around 4-5 days. The carrots are ready when they've reached your desired tangy-ness. Store them in the fridge once ready - the flavours will continue to change and mellow in the fridge. Like many fermented products, we really do find that the flavours get better with time. Good things come to those who wait.... 

Happy Fermenting <3  
Have you ever tried fermenting anything? We'd love to hear your thoughts & experiences!