My Top Five Ferments, In Order of Ease of Preparation

photo from How to Make Open Crock Sauerkraut

You know how there are periods of time when you feel like you can’t handle one more thing on your plate? Like that one extra chore or project or undertaking in the kitchen might just be the last straw? We all go through these periods where we must simplify, not out of some quaint idea of what simple living looks like, but out of a need for sheer survival.

And so it is with my ferments. We are committed to eating them, mostly because it’s food that makes us feel good. And when life gets very full, these little tasty bits of extra enzymes, probiotics, and vitamins can really make a huge difference.

But I’m not opposed to playing it safe, knowing where my limits are, and only doing what is truly needful. So, I make these ferments out of pure functionality. Okay, they’re delicious too, but these are the ferments I’m making when one more dirty dish in the kitchen could lead to my own mental demise.

These are the cultures we love to eat, that are easy to fit into my own personal circumstances, and help us take in the cultures we need.

1. Sour Cream Made From Buttermilk.

This is a mesophilic culture, meaning it requires no specifically warm temperature. It’s also as simple as dumping a couple of tablespoons of live, active buttermilk into cream (not ultra-pasteurized), stirring, and waiting 12-24 hours. Plus, it’s delicious.

2. Water Kefir.

Strain off fresh water kefir, add sugar water. Let sit a few days, strain, flavor, and bam! Probiotic soda pop that tastes good, feels good, and is fairly simple.

3. Milk Kefir.

This is exactly the same process as for the water kefir, except it doesn’t always go along with a second fermentation. From that stand point, it’s easier. But I just personally enjoy drinking water kefir more than milk kefir, so I can get more of it in than milk kefir. From an ease standpoint, however, milk kefir is at the top of the list.

4. Fermented Vegetables.

Sometimes making a huge batch of cultured veggies just seems so impossible. Like you have 30 minutes to just chop vegetables, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be a huge batch, as we explored last week, and it can be squeezed in to the dinner prep when the cutting board, knife, and veggies are all just sitting staring at you. Add salt, take your pent up busy person aggression out on the kraut, and let it culture itself.

5. Kombucha.

Because you can make large batches of kombucha less frequently, it might fit very well into your schedule. The struggle I always have is actually remembering to harvest and reboot the kombucha. But if you can just stay on top of the scheduling of it, the actual process is very quick and simple. Brew sweet tea, cool or add cold water, decant fresh kombucha, feed kombucha, and flavor and bottle kombucha as desired. Plus, its super tasty and easy to feed to the family, like water kefir.

Some of my other favorite cultures are sourdough, yogurt, and the various types of fancy vegetable and condiment ferments. But I find those to be more well suited to times in my life when I have more time and space for dabbling in the kitchen.

What are your favorite easy ferments?


Shannon is a mama to four small children, homesteader, freelance writer, and picture-taker. She lives with her husband on their off-grid homestead where they make and eat kefir, kombucha, sourdough, and fermented vegetables.

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  1. Patty says

    I finally gave up on Kombucha – I had trouble throwing out SCOBYs so had ever more jars all around my tiny kitchen, and not enough people to drink all the results before the next batch was ready (although the batches I flavored with Ginger Bug were pretty yummy…) I rarely got the 2nd ferment right. I’m also not sure that Kombucha is really good for me, personally – couldn’t decide quite how it made me feel. I decided that, for the amount I want to drink I could just periodically buy a bottle at the market (I forget the name of the brand but they really know what they’re doing…)or get some on tap from the barrel at the health food co-op.
    Kefir is the one ferment I can easily manage and which I love. Fortunately, my mother makes raw organic Yogurt and cultured butter, and lives right next door.
    I mean to culture vegetables more often.

    • says

      Patty – We all seem to have “our cultures” don’t we? :)

      What luck to live next door to your mother who is also culturing. Good luck with the vegetables and thanks for commenting!

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