Not sure how to cook it, why not ferment it instead?

This March we partnered with The Natural Chef aka Nena Foster at one of her local, child focused cookery classes. Nena trained as a nutritional chef at the College of Naturopathic Medicine in 2016, since then she's worked at helping children and families eat better—eating more whole, unprocessed and organic ingredients and essentially, putting veg at the centre of their meals in a way that is both interesting and delicious.

As a chef, the work is quite varied, from running a veg-based afterschool school cookery club for kids aged 5-11, teach fermentation (think sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha), run cookery classes for mums, as well as other cookery classes such as healthy vegan baking. Nena also works with private clients providing cookery lessons focused on specific topics, such as baby-led weaning or on the basics of healthy cookery. Nena also works regularly with the amazing veggie chef, Anna Jones on her Guardian Feast Column and has honed children’s cookery skills as the Head Chef for a nature-based half-term and summer camp.

'I am very excited to now be working with Local Greens to develop recipes and classes that you, their lovely customers, will have the opportunity to enjoy.'

Let's get Lacto-fermenting!

If you're one for keeping up with food trends, you will know that lacto-fermented foods are everywhere; popping up on restaurant menus and filling high street shelves. And those of you who were into fermentation long before it became trendy, know that it is centuries old and rooted in many cultures and traditions around the world. But what is lacto-fermentation, why is it good for you? And why is it a great way to make use of the season’s baffling (or seemingly boring) veg?

Lacto-fermentation involves the clever little bacteria, lactobacillus, which is found on the skins of veg, particularly those that grow in or close to the soil (think cabbages, carrots, beetroot, turnips, etc). With the addition of salty brine and time, the bacteria eat the sugars and starches in the fruit or veg. In doing this, the bacteria replicate and preserve the nutrients in the food, boost the nutritional content, as well making the food easier to digest and the nutrients more available for your body to take up and use.

Lactobacillus is one of the most plentiful bacteria in a healthy intestinal tract and are one of the many responsible for maintaining good digestive health. Eating fermented foods essentially puts the good bacteria back into your gut, helping to maintain balance between good and the bad bacteria. Consuming fermented foods has been linked to improved immunity, reduced wind and bloating, clearer skin, improved memory and cognition as well as improved digestion.

To get started fermenting, you’ll need pure salt (not table salt or sea salt), glass or clay preserving jars with airtight lids, glass/ceramic or plastic bowls, veg of choice and any additional spices or flavourings. One of the things I enjoy most about fermenting is experimenting with different flavour combinations. If you need inspiration, think about the flavours that you enjoy together and start there. Equally, it is a great way to make use of any veg that you’re not sure how to cook or ones that you find un-inspiring. When fermented, veg take on a more complex flavour and can be used on salads, topping for soups, in sauces or just enjoyed straight from the jar. And an added bonus is that they can be enjoyed for many months. Simple, delicious, frugal and good for you!

Head to our reciepe section for a seasonal, spring-inspired sauerkraut. This recipe is a nod to the impending Spring and can be updated or changed as the seasons change. The general/basic principle is to combine 1kg of self-brining vegetables (vegetables that make their own brine when salted) with 15g or 1 tbsp of salt.