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Make These 7 Fermented Foods Now, Eat Them (Much, Much) Later

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Whether it’s the fizzy feeling of sipping kombucha, miso’s funky punch, or sourdough’s tangy bite, fermented foods are some of our favorite ways to shower our taste buds with love. And it’s no surprise—for millennia humanity has been brewing and souring and letting food and drink, well, rot. Even if you’ve never made your own, we bet there’s a jar of miso in your pantry or tub of feta in your fridge.

Fermentation creates foods teeming with good bacteria, and also introduces new and exciting flavors to our palates. We believe some of the best fermented foods come from those wild bacteria already in your life, which is why we’ve gathered seven of our favorites to DIY. But don’t sweat it if you’re not ready to go on a yogurt- (or kimchi- or beer-) making adventure—we’ve included loads of ways to use up store-bought fermented ingredients, too.

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Pickles

Fantastic Fermented Green Beans

Fantastic Fermented Green Beans by Nicholas Day

Fermented Tomatoes (Квашенi помiдори | Kvasheni Pomidory)

Fermented Tomatoes (Квашенi помiдори | Kvasheni Pomidory) by Olia Hercules

While we’re big fans of a quick pickle for last-minute tacos or salads, they just don’t have the same bite as vegetables preserved in a long, briny soak. For the real dill (hehe) all you need is your vegetables, salt, and time.

What to do with them

Fried Cheesy Pickles

Fried Cheesy Pickles by molly yeh

Gherkin, Beef & Barley Broth (Рассольник | Rassol’nyk)

Gherkin, Beef & Barley Broth (Рассольник | Rassol’nyk) by Olia Hercules

Pickled Crudité with Green Goddess Dressing

Pickled Crudité with Green Goddess Dressing by Alexandra Stafford

Pickle Brine Martini

Pickle Brine Martini by Emma Laperruque

Kimchi & ’Kraut

How to Make Any Kind of Kimchi Without a Recipe

How to Make Any Kind of Kimchi Without a Recipe by Hillary Reeves

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Snappy, Sour, No-Recipe Sauerkraut to Keep Your Palate Bright All Winter

Snappy, Sour, No-Recipe Sauerkraut to Keep Your Palate Br... by Caroline Lange

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As silly as that Portlandia pickling sketch was (you know the one), you really can pickle almost anything. Kimchi and sauerkraut are two variations of the same process, letting cabbage soak in its own brine (with some spices) to transform into bright, flavor-packed bites.

What to do with them

Kimchi Stew with Pork Belly

Kimchi Stew with Pork Belly by Sara Jenkins

Caramelized Sauerkraut with Prunes, Herbs, and Honey

Caramelized Sauerkraut with Prunes, Herbs, and Honey by QueenSashy

Kristen Kish's Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Kristen Kish's Stuffed Cabbage Rolls by Food52

Crispy Kimchi and Cheddar Omelette

Crispy Kimchi and Cheddar Omelette by alison roman

Yogurt

The Beginner's Guide to Making Impossibly Creamy Yogurt
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The Beginner's Guide to Making Impossibly Creamy Yogurt

Creamy, tangy, homemade yogurt is really as simple as combining milk with a bit of culture over heat. To make your own, heat then cool your milk (to kill any bacteria that would compete with your starter), then add a tablespoon or so of yogurt (either store-bought or from a previous batch). Then tuck your pot into a warm place for a 4-to-12-hour rest—the longer it sits, the tangier it gets!

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What to do with it

Yogurt and Berry Tart with a Pecan Crust

Yogurt and Berry Tart with a Pecan Crust by fiveandspice

Kaddo (Afghan Pumpkin with Yogurt and Tomato Sauces)

Kaddo (Afghan Pumpkin with Yogurt and Tomato Sauces) by Joy Huang | The Cooking of Joy

Crispy Spiced Lamb and Yogurt Pasta

Crispy Spiced Lamb and Yogurt Pasta by EmilyC

Sweet Lassi with Rose Water

Sweet Lassi with Rose Water by A Brown Table

Kefir

How to Make Kefir at Home
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How to Make Kefir at Home

For an even easier dairy DIY, make kefir. Simply pour milk into a glass jar and add kefir grains (combinations of yeast and bacteria, similar to SCOBY). Cover the top of the jar with muslin and secure it with a rubber band, then place in a dark spot (like a pantry) for 12 to 24 hours. Once the liquid begins to separate into curds and whey, just strain, and you’re good to sip.

What to do with it

Sveler (Norwegian Pancakes)

Sveler (Norwegian Pancakes) by Hannah Petertil

Kale & Kiwi Smoothie

Kale & Kiwi Smoothie by Emma Laperruque

Kefir Farmer Cheese

Kefir Farmer Cheese by Food52

Pakora Fried Onion Rings with Kefir-Cucumber Raita

Pakora Fried Onion Rings with Kefir-Cucumber Raita by Kate Weiner

Tempeh

All About Tempeh (plus a Mizuna Salad with Miso)

All About Tempeh (plus a Mizuna Salad with Miso) by Gena Hamshaw

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Smoky, Savory Vegan Crumbles to Add by the Handful to Everything

Smoky, Savory Vegan Crumbles to Add by the Handful to Eve... by Gena Hamshaw

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Tempeh is made from whole and fermented soybeans, making it dense and textured and perfect for versatile, filling dishes. To make your own fresh, nutty-tasting loaf, you just need soybeans, a tempeh starter, and a warm, cozy place to keep it. After around 48 hours, you can refrigerate your tempeh and start planning dinner.

What to do with it

Peanut Noodles with Seared Tempeh and Fried Shallots

Peanut Noodles with Seared Tempeh and Fried Shallots by Sarah Jampel

Creamy Polenta with Tempeh Sausage and Tomatoes

Creamy Polenta with Tempeh Sausage and Tomatoes by Gena Hamshaw

Tempeh and Sweet Potato Hash

Tempeh and Sweet Potato Hash by Gena Hamshaw

White Curry Soup with Pressed Rice Cakes

White Curry Soup with Pressed Rice Cakes by Pat Tanumihardja

Miso

Make Miso from Scratch & Get Funky
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Make Miso from Scratch & Get Funky

It’s pretty difficult to mess up miso. Really. You’ll need to plan ahead (at least 2 months), but it’s essentially a mixture of cooked soybeans, white or brown rice koji, some salt, and water.

What to do with it

Six-Minute Eggs with Miso Butter Toast

Six-Minute Eggs with Miso Butter Toast by stephanie le

Misoyaki Roast Chicken with Shoyu Onion Sauce

Misoyaki Roast Chicken with Shoyu Onion Sauce by WuNotWoo

Miso, Ginger, and Scallion-Crusted Sweet Potatoes

Miso, Ginger, and Scallion-Crusted Sweet Potatoes by creamtea

Miso Butterscotch Bars

Miso Butterscotch Bars by Aliwaks

Beer

How to Brew Beer at Home (Especially if You've Never Brewed Before)
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How to Brew Beer at Home (Especially if You've Never Brewed Before)

Making beer isn’t complicated, but it is time-consuming and precise. You’ll need just over 2 hours of active boiling and steeping and stirring and straining, but otherwise it’s a hands-off 4-week wait. Bonus: It’ll make your home smell like warm grains.

What to do with it

Licorice Root and Malt Beer Beef Stew

Licorice Root and Malt Beer Beef Stew by Mettch

Michelada (a.k.a. Bloody Beer)

Michelada (a.k.a. Bloody Beer) by TheFlyingFoodie

Texas Breakfast Beer Bread

Texas Breakfast Beer Bread by aargersi

Toffee Sauce with Beer

Toffee Sauce with Beer by Alice Medrich

What’s your favorite fermented food to DIY? Cheese? Kombucha? Drinking vinegars? Share in the comments below!

Tags: Yogurt, Miso, Pickle & Preserve, Tips & Techniques, DIY Food