UNC Health Care
A photograph of a jar of pickles.

3 Delicious Ways to Eat More Fermented Foods

Fermentation may not sound like the most appetizing way to prepare a food, but it actually yields some pretty tasty results. Here are three recipes that get you fermenting on your own and incorporating ready-to-eat fermented items that promote good gut health.

Quick Refrigerator Pickles

Munch on these for an easy snack, slice them to add to your favorite sandwich or burger, or serve them as a side on a charcuterie board at your next get-together.

    • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
    • ½ cup water
    • 2 cloves fresh garlic, smashed
    • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
    • ¼ teaspoon granulated sugar
    • ¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
    • ¼ teaspoon whole yellow mustard seeds
    • Pinch red pepper flakes (or more to make spicier pickles) 
    • 3 pickling cucumbers (these tend to be shorter and have bumpy skin)
    • ¼ cup Vidalia onion, sliced
    • 3-5 sprigs fresh dill weed
    1. In a small pot heat the vinegar, water, garlic, salt, sugar and spices until the mixture comes to a simmer and the salt and sugar dissolve. Set aside to let the brine cool.
    2. Wash your cucumbers and cut them in your desired style: spears, chips or leave them whole.
    3. Pack a clean, pint-sized jar with the cucumbers, onion slices and dill sprigs. Leave a ½ inch of space at the top of the jar for the brine.
    4. Once the brine has cooled, add enough of it to the pickle jar to cover everything.
    5. Close the jar’s lid tightly and refrigerate for 24 hours before eating.

Adapted from “Best Homemade Refrigerator Pickles,” A Spicy Perspective

Yogurt with Honey Thyme Walnuts

Not all yogurts are created equal when it comes to gut health. When buying yogurt, check the label to make sure it has “live active bacteria” as an ingredient. Also be aware of how much sugar has been added. Yogurt options that tend to be best for your gut’s microbiome are Greek and Icelandic styles. 

    • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter or oil
    • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
    • ½ teaspoon dried or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
    • 2 tablespoons of good quality, mild honey
    • 2 cups nonfat plain yogurt
    1. Melt butter/oil in a skillet over medium heat.
    2. Add walnuts and stir until just toasted and beginning to brown.
    3. Remove from heat.
    4. Quickly add thyme and honey and stir to coat walnuts.
    5. Divide yogurt into bowls and top with walnuts.

Makes four servings. 

Fried Kimchi Cauliflower Rice

Kimchi is a staple in Korean cuisine and is made of salted and fermented cabbage. You can find it refrigerated in the produce section of most grocery stores. Serve this fried cauliflower rice as a side dish or make it the main attraction by adding a lean protein or a fried egg.

    • 3 cups cauliflower, finely chopped or grated (or use 1 bag frozen riced cauliflower)
    • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
    • ½ cup diced onion
    • 1 stalk celery, diced 
    • 1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
    • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
    • 2 green onions, sliced
    • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots
    • 1 cup chopped kimchi
    • 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
    • Toasted sesame seeds for garnish
    1. If using fresh cauliflower, chop it finely with a food processor or knife to get a rice-like consistency.
    2. Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large sauté pan or wok on medium-high heat. 
    3. Add cauliflower and sauté, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes, until tender and golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.
    4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil to the pan with onion, celery, garlic and ginger. Sauté about 2 minutes.
    5. Add cauliflower back to the pan along with peas and carrots, kimchi, green onion, soy sauce and sesame oil. Stir to combine and heat through until everything is hot. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.