Carrot Spice Kombucha Recipe

Carrot Spice Kombucha Recipe

Drinks Gluten-Free Paleo Probiotic Vegan Vegetable Vegetarian

Thanks to Fillmore Container, I did several demos at the PA Farm Show last week 2 weeks ago (Sorry! My cookbook photo shoot days were 18 hour days, and this baby just didn’t get posted!) and I brought a few samples along. I wasn’t sure who exactly would be in the audience. Would I be chatting with 10th-generation, farm-dwelling fermenters? Health-seekers? The never-heard-of-it crowd? Families? Phickle readers? Turns out, there was a little of everything and it was wonderful!  I’ll have more about the Farm Show later, but for now, I wanted to share one of the recipes I made to share with folks there. I wanted to have a mix of both non-traditional and more standard flavor options for each demo, so for kombucha, I chose an old standard, raspberry ginger, and something a bit more fun, carrot spice.

Carrot Spice Kombucha Recipe with Star Anise, Clove and Bay, GingerThe carrot version included a mix of whole spices that I like to include (in powdered form) in a wannabe Morrocan carrot salad that I love to make in warmer months, but honestly, this kombucha is better than that salad.

Carrot Spice Kombucha Recipe. Learn to flavor kombucha!
Warm, wintry spices keep my tastebuds toasty.

I served both booches room temp (it was just easier) and while the raspberry option would have benefited from some fridge time, the carrot was lovely as can be at Farm Show temp. I poured every drop of it at the show, so my first order of business upon returning home was making this again so my husband, booch fiend #1 in our house, could enjoy it.

I hope you dig it as much as we do!

Click here for the Carrot Spice Kombucha Recipe

Why We Chop Our Vegetables for Fermentation

Why We Chop Our Vegetables for Fermentation

Basics Easy fermenting Gluten-Free Paleo Pickles Probiotic Sandor Katz Vegan Vegetable Vegetarian

At its core, vegetable fermentation is native microbes (bacteria that live in the soil and come out of the soil on the peels/skins of vegetables) eating the sugars that are naturally present in those same vegetables. I often talk and write about giving those microbes the “right conditions” so that they can vigorously feast and make wonderful fermented vegetables for you to eat.

What I usually mean by the “right conditions” is the proper temperature (room) and the proper contact with air (little to none). Other than that, there isn’t much more that your vegetables need to become tangy, tasty, probiotic ferments. One thing that does help the process along, however, is making those sugars a bit more available to our friends the lactic acid bacteria. That’s why we chop vegetables. It’s also why the size of the piece is important.

One citation I love from Sandor Katz’ The Art of Fermentation concerns how the good bacteria grow from a teensy fraction of the total bacterial population on a live plant, to being the dominant strain during fermentation. On living plants, lactic acid bacteria may only account for “0.1% to 1% of the total microbial population,” the study, from the FEMS Microbiology Review, states. While they’re there, they may help protect the live plant from bad bacteria, but it’s once the plant is harvested, the real fun begins.

Fermented Vegetables Cookbook

The act of harvesting the plants breaks down some of the cell walls and gets the party started makes nutrients more available to bacteria. For the first couple days of fermentation, the good guys (lactic acid bacteria) and the bad guys (pathogenic bacteria or bacteria or enzymes that break down plant material rather than make it tasty and healthy) battle it out, fighting over the limited resources available. The pH is still too high for the bad guys to have been killed, but after a few days of fermentation, the lactic acid bacteria have lowered the pH, the bad guys lose, and your lactic acid bacteria are able to live long and prosper.

But that key, kickstarting ingredient is the freeing up of the plant nutrients through harvesting. When we chop vegetables, we do more of that. We give the bacteria food to eat. I like to think of chopping my vegetables for fermentation as giving the LAB a fridge full of freshly prepared salads versus giving them a fridge full of whole vegetables. Of course they can do the work required to eat the whole vegetables, but it’s so much easier to eat those already-made salads.

I frequently ferment whole vegetables, and there are traditional vegetable ferments made from whole vegetables, but I do considered them to be next-level vegetable fermentation. More salt is needed at the start, since salt is another thing that gives lactic acid bacteria a leg up versus its bacterial competitors in the early days of fermentation, and they take waaaaaay loooooonger to ferment than their sliced counterparts.

white pickles with mint

The other side of that coin is making very small pieces (grating, for instance). When very sweet vegetables (certain carrots and beets come to mind) are shredded into very small pieces, you get a little bit too much sugar availability. That actually gives a little bit of an advantage to the native yeasts that are in there, and while they will eventually acidify into pickles, the brine can be a bit viscous (and in my opinion, unpleasant). This is a very common issue with beet kvass if my email inbox is any indication.

So, if you’re just getting started with vegetable fermentation, try an average sweetness vegetable and do a little bit of slicing or chopping for best results. My go to for first timers? Radish Pickles.

Do you like to ferment whole vegetables? Had the slimy beet or carrot brine? Share your chopping-related story in the comments.

*The study linked to above is lots of fun. Most of it is easily understandable for those without a science background (not always the case with microbiology texts). Just keep in mind that it was published over 20 years ago and some of the questions that are raised therein are things we now know.

My Cookbook: Ferment Your Vegetables

My Cookbook: Ferment Your Vegetables


I have finished the taxing marathon/sprint combination that was creating and testing the recipes and writing the manuscript, but there is still work to be done! The photos will be done by the amazing Courtney Apple, and I’ll be at the shoot for a week. I’m currently in the process of remaking the bulk of the recipes in the book for said photo shoot. I have to do another big round of edits after my editor does hers. My cookbook-writing friends tell me that can be one of the most stressful parts of the process. After that, I know there will be back and forth on design details, edits and a whole host of little things that I probably have never heard of yet! In theory, though, no more all-nighters and I get to have a renewed focus here, with you!

Ferment Your Vegetables will be published this fall, and then I hope to hit the road with it and meet more of you face to face!

In the meantime, I have loads of recipes that I’m very excited to share with you in the coming weeks, I’ll be demo-ing it up at the PA Farm Show with Fillmore Container next week and my teaching schedule will be ramping back up in February.

Farmers' Market Fermentables
So many fermentable vegetables!

Before we get to all that, though, I thought it would be fun to share with you what the last few months have looked like for me, in numbers:

3 cookbook deadlines (kind of) met

1 finished manuscript (that still needs to be edited)

430+ recipes tested, plus variations

90+ recipes selected

3 interviews of fermentation professionals

4 farmers who sold me the bulk goods to test with

22 recipe tasters

9 recipe testers

4 all-nighters (take that, 35-year-old body and brain!)

2 weeks planned and taken off work

2 weeks unplanned, very abbreviated work schedule (thank you, client!)

1 Thanksgiving spent alone with computer and pit bull

17,000* Shot Tower Coffee cafes au lait

1 massive caffeine addiction relapse

1 life savings spent on groceries

22 trips to Fante’s Kitchen Shop five minutes before they closed

3,005 times I felt intensely grateful to live 15 seconds from the Italian Market

1 organic and local stand on the Italian Market (thanks, Ginger!)

14 workouts skipped or abbreviated

1 skipped dog walk

6,010* times I felt intensely grateful for the love and support of my husband

73 meals I ate that were prepared with love by aforementioned husband, although he didn’t have time to make them either

3 times I googled accupressure treatments for anxiety

2 times I meditated to work through writing issues

14 times I tried to meditate to work through writing issues

1 gratitude journal started to remind me to let go of frustration and appreciate all the things

9 reams of paper (front and back) used in the final 2 weeks before the manuscript was turned in (sorry, trees)

2 premature, celebratory meals with friends

1 enormous sense of relief and accomplishment

In short, it was a trip. I am immensely grateful to all the folks who have pulled me through and to have had this opportunity. It has been (and will continue to be, I’m sure) an education and the process fired up my fermentation soul. I’m so excited to share the final product with you in the fall. Thanks for reading!

*Estimation. Could be artificially low.

Farmer's Market Chives

Your Fermentation Favorites from 2014

Your Fermentation Favorites from 2014

Basics Drinks Easy fermenting Ferment Frugal Fermentation Gluten-Free Paleo Pickles Probiotic Recipes using Ferments Sandor Katz Vegan Vegetable Vegetarian

People used to tell me that time moves much more quickly when you’re older and now I know they were right.  I can hardly believe this is the last day of 2014.

This has been quite a year! I taught many fermentation classes and had tons of fun doing it. I collaborated with the amazing people of High Street on Market on fun and inventive, fermentation dinners. I met my fermentation hero, Sandor Katz. I wrote a vegetable fermentation cookbook, Ferment Your Vegetables, A Fun and Flavorful Guide to Making Your Own Pickles, Kimchi, Kraut and More (check your local bookstore this fall). 2013 sucked, and I vowed that this year would be better. It was. It was infinitely better and more fun, and it has left me full of gratitude and so excited for the opportunities for collaboration and more fermenty fun in 2015.

NBD!!!!!!!!!! (Don't mind my sweaty face and frizzy hair. Seriously. Don't mind it.)
NBD!!!!!!!!!! (Don’t mind my sweaty face and frizzy hair. Seriously. Don’t mind it.)

Thank you so much for reading this year. And thank you especially for sticking around after the big ol’ lull that occurred in the final months of book-writing. I wish you a joyous and gratitude-filled 2015!  Here are your favorite posts of 2014!  Click to see your favorite ferments of 2014

Last Minute Fermentation Gifts: Water Kefir and Kombucha Starter Kits and More

Last Minute Fermentation Gifts: Water Kefir and Kombucha Starter Kits and More

Dairy Drinks Easy fermenting Equipment Ferment Frugal Fermentation Gluten-Free Paleo Vegan Vegetarian

Happy Holidays! I hope you are enjoying the dawn of that wintry mix of parties, family and too much good food. Writing a fermentation cookbook has been very exciting. It has also been very, very time-consuming, so this is definitely a year when I would not mind having access to a jolly old elf/personal shopper to provide perfect gifts for all of my friends and loved ones. The good news, though, is that giving quality, last-minute gifts can be pretty easy when you’re a fermenter, especially if you make cultured ferments.

Here are a few last minute gifts that an active fermenter could give to a new kid on the block. I guarantee they’ll be very grateful and for you it will be cost-effective and simple.

Sugar, Tea and SCOBY are all you need for a great gift!
Sugar, Tea and SCOBY are all you need for a great gift!


If you currently make kombucha, there’s a good chance you’re overwhelmed by the number of SCOBYs that brewing booch produces. Here’s your chance to surprise a DIY type with a great gift while getting rid of something you really don’t want.

What you need:

1 SCOBY – Take a spare SCOBY and put it in a small ziploc bag with a little bit of finished kombucha. Seal the bag tightly.

9 tea bags or 2 tablespoons loose tea – Include a box of your favorite kombucha tea. I like a blend of oolong and sencha. Loose or bagged tea is fine, just make sure that you include enough for at least one batch of kombucha. If you have them, linen or cotton tea bags make a nice addition. Small jars or baggies also work wonderfully.

1 cup of sugar – I have best results with plain cane sugar, although I do use an organic, fair trade brand.

2 cups of finished kombucha – Give the gift of starter tea. You can put this in nice pint jar or in a decorative bottle. Anything that fits inside your larger jar will do. Recycle condiment jars often make great options. More on Last Minute DIY Gifts

Kombucha Guide is Up! (And I’m Back!)

Kombucha Guide is Up! (And I’m Back!)

Basics Drinks Easy fermenting Equipment Gluten-Free Paleo Probiotic Vegan Vegetable Vegetarian

Hi Everybody! I’m so so so happy to have put up another post. I’ve been a bit tortured by the minutes ticking away between my last post and the current one, but that’s all over now!

I turned my manuscript, Ferment Your Vegetables: A Fun and Flavorful Guide to Making Your Own Pickles, Kimchi, Krauts and More, into my publisher (huge yay!) and then, frankly, I caught up on work and relaxed and drank bubbly and ate dinner with friends and snuggled my husband and dog. Christmas shopping is not so much with the started, but I really have no complaints. And I am supremely happy to be back writing Phickle posts for you.

I hope you enjoy the Kombucha Guide I put together and the future posts that are coming your way!

I REALLY, REALLY MISSED YOU!! Thanks so much for your patience during my crazy time. The book has been a major labor of love and I can’t wait to share it with you (next fall).

Make great kombucha every time with this guide