In addition to making milk kefir I've started culturing vegetables. My first go at it was with carrots and garlic. VERY garlicy as I put in about 6 cloves of garlic, but I enjoyed them. Then I went and got myself a cabbage and attempted sauerkraut with kefir grains as the acting agent. Quick, as far as sauerkraut goes apparently, and saltless.
My methods are still a work in progress, although both things I've made have turned out great. Here's what I've done:
Kefir Carrots and Garlic
1 Tbsp rinsed kefir grains (to get the milk off)
3-6 (or more) cloves of garlic
3-7 carrots - enough to fill a quart sized jar
whey to help start the process (optional)
Place about 1/2 of the rinsed kefir grains in the bottom of the jar. Top with HALF the carrots peeled and cut into 1 inch sized pieces and peeled garlic cloves. Add in the rest of the kefir grains and the rest of the garlic and carrots on top. Put in a couple Tbsp of whey if you want to help get the process started, fill the jar with water (filtered preferably) leaving a bit of head room and cap. Leave at room temperature for 4-6 days. The mixture should fizz a bit if you loosen the cap (that's the CO2 that the yeast produces). After 4-6 days place in the fridge for 2-3 days to stop/slow down the fermentation process.
After it's matured in the fridge for a few days take some out and do a taste test. They should still be crisp, not soggy. I liked mine rinsed of some of the water/whey mixture to make it slightly less sharp. With the 6 cloves of garlic it was VERY garlicy. I ate it both warmed up and straight out of the fridge. You can take the kefir grains out before you eat, or leave them in and eat them, too. If heated, the grains get stringy like cheese.
1-2 Tbsp rinsed kefir grains
1 head cabbage
1/2 apple, quartered (or ~1/2 cup apple juice)
large glass or ceramic container
Wash cabbage, remove 2 outer leaves and save to the side. Cut, core and shred the head of cabbage into 1/2 wide pieces or less. Place ~1 Tbsp rinsed kefir grains in the bottom of the container and top with a layer of cabbage. Start to bruise and pack the cabbage in tight to the jar. You need to release some of the juice from the cabbage to get it to start fermenting. Continue to put in and crush/pack the cabbage shreds into the jar until it's about half full. Put in the last of the kefir grains and the quartered apple half, core removed. Top with the remainder of the cabbage, packing and bruising as you go. When it's all in there with a little head space, fill with water to the top of the cabbage and push down with the saved cabbage leaves. Weigh down the top leaves with a jar, plate, etc to keep the cabbage submerged under the liquid. It WILL make more as it begins to ferment.
As with the carrots and garlic, leave on the counter for 4-6 days making sure to monitor that the cabbage all stays under the liquid. If there gets to be a ton of liquid on top scoop some out so it doesn't overflow. After it's been through it's 4-6 day counter ferment, place in the fridge for a few days to chill and slow down the fermentation process. Again, the cabbage should still be crisp.
I found this to be very tasty after a 5 day ferment and 3-5 days in the fridge (forget how long). Not too sharp or tart or sweet. It's good both straight and cooked. I used it first in a dish with smoked sausage and potatoes, then again similarly with hotdogs (it was for the kids), and rice. I'll get to those recipes soon as well. Promise!
Next I want to make cucumber kimchi - or kefir-chi?? Gotta find my Korean hot pepper sauce...
Kefir cultured vegetables have the same probiotic properties as the kefir yogurt. So make some up and enjoy!