Nutrition: Fermenting 101 for Kids
Within our intestines live trillions of live bacteria. This type of bacteria is called the “good bacteria,” and this bacteria is essential to our health. When our gut bacteria become unbalanced, it can lead to unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms.
Fermented foods, such as pickles and sauerkraut, are great for our health. To create a diverse gut microbiota you need plenty of soluble fiber (oats, beans, etc.) and insoluble fiber (whole grains). These foods are not easily digested, so a strong gut is essential to prevent digestive issues.
Eating fermented foods may help restore your gut! Ensuring you are consuming a diet high in fiber and plant-based foods, will help your gut microbes flourish!
Here are some fermented foods to try:
Kombucha, Pickles, Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Yogurt, and Kefir!
NOW let’s try fermenting at home! It is an easy project that is kid-friendly!
You can pretty much ferment any vegetable! Some vegetables just require more care or a different process than others. For example, cabbages have a lot of moisture so you don’t need to brine them. Other veggies like cucumbers may get mushy during fermentation, so they need added ingredients like grape leaves or black tea leaves to help keep their form.
Recipe #1:Homemade Pickles
These taste amazing on sandwiches, salads, or just by themselves
3 Pickling Cucumbers (these are shorter cucumbers with a bumpy skin, not regular cucumbers)
¼ cup Vidalia Onion – a type of sweet onion (or a regular sweet onion)
4 sprigs of fresh Dill Weed
½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
½ cup Water
2 cloves of garlic, fresh is better
1.5 tsp Kosher Salt
¼ tsp granulated sugar
¼ tsp Black Peppercorns (optional)
Slice the cucumbers, onion, and dill springs. Take a pint-sized jar with the cucumbers, onions, and dill, leaving around ½ inch of space at the top for the liquid. It is important that the cucumbers get submerged.
In a small saucepan over a stove; slowly heat vinegar, water, garlic, and spices until it comes to a simmer. Then add in the salt and sugar, allow it to dissolve.
Remove the pot from the stovetop, and then allow the brine to cool down to warm. Add the cooled brine to the jar so everything is covered, filling the ½ inch space we left earlier.
Close the lid tightly and refrigerate for 24 hours! Enjoy!
Recipe #2: Pickled Onions
RD Expert Tip – I love adding these to Greek styled meals! These taste amazing with fresh falafel!
½ cup of apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
1 red onion, thinly sliced
Whisk the apple cider vinegar, sugar, and salt together in a bowl with one cup of water. Continue to whisk until the salt and sugar dissolved.
Add the thinly sliced onions into a pint-sized jar, and pour the vinegar mixture over.
Allow them to sit at room temperature for one hour. You can also place them in the fridge and can sit for two weeks. Drain onions before eating them!
If you liked this fermenting guide, check out our list of other helpful recipes and tips on the Home Base Nutrition page. If you would like to speak with one of our registered dietitians, click the “email a registered dietitian” button to get your questions answered.
About the Author: Emilie Burgess, MS, RDN, LDN s a Registered Dietitian within Home Base’s Warrior Health and Fitness Program and Intensive Clinical Program. Emilie brings her love for performance nutrition, wellness, and cooking to Home Base to help each person find a healthy relationship with food. She has volunteered for two NCAA Division-I Sports Nutrition programs around the country and is currently a Registered Dietitian specializing in sports nutrition and eating disorders at Laura Moretti Nutrition, a private practice in Somerville, MA. She believes in an individualized approach to nutrition counseling and wellness to help each person achieve their goals. Emilie is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as well as the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association (CPSDA).