Sarah’s Favorite Cultures


While I culture many foods, I thought I’d talk about some of the foods that can always be found in my fridge and why. Each of these foods makes it quick and easy for me to add cultures to a meal without extra planning since they are always on hand.

From the Editor: Please welcome Sarah, CFH Customer Support Rep and Cultured Kitchen-Keeper.

Let’s start left to right!


I recently made miso cultured onions. While this particular recipe is new to me, I always keep something like it to use as an all-purpose topping or salad addition. Not only is it delicious, it is versatile. I tuck them in a sandwich, mix them in some potato salad, or mix them into some roasted veggies.

Sauerkraut! This is perhaps my favorite culture and I’m (almost) never without it. Kraut was the first veggie I ever cultured. I had made plenty of sourdough and yogurt, but never thought about keeping cultured food on hand intentionally until I started making sauerkraut. This is a red cabbage kraut made with just salt and water. Plain, but anything but boring! I add it to warm soup, to salads and sandwiches and love it with some cooked greens and eggs.

Lacto-fermented garlic. I am a big garlic lover, but I found myself not using it much. The kids think it is too spicy or strong. Then I heard about fermenting garlic from Jerri. Life changer! I love adding the chopped cloves anywhere garlic is called for. The fermentation makes the garlic mild and almost sweet. But my favorite part is probably the liquid. Just a splash of brine brings a rich garlic flavor to anything without hassling with chopping garlic or dealing with chunks. I have vowed to always have at least one jar of this garlic on hand.

Ketchup. With 4 kids, ketchup is a staple in our house. Shh, don’t tell anyone it is made with honey instead of sugar and has kombucha in it to culture it! It is still popular on everything.

Piima or buttermilk. I change my mind about my favorite of these two cultures, but I am always using at least one of them I do like yogurt, but I find the more liquid versions of cultured dairy to be versatile. I add them to smoothies, make salad dressing, and make my own sour cream and cultured butter. They can even be used as cheese starters. I really do find myself using some every day for one thing or another. I have also been known to just mix up kraut and piima to eat over rice.

Water kefir and kombucha. I struggle with drinking enough water. I really do. Keeping a glass of these cultured beverages nearby encourages me to drink much more since I like the taste so much. They can also be used as starters for other cultures. Kombucha can be cultured for a month or more to produce vinegar, and I have a jar of it on the counter for just that purpose. Water kefir makes delicious soda. This means my kids enjoy drinking it!

All of these cultures are easy to make. While the picture of them all lined up looks daunting, I spend very little time maintaining them. Which gives me more time to find other things to culture!



I live in Oregon with my 4 kids. I hop between my kitchen and sewing room. As the daughter of a ranch-girl turned County Extension Agent, I really believe that with enough ingenuity and know-how, anything can be made. I try to keep some cultured vegetables and condiments on hand, as well as a robust supply of yogurt. What really excites me though is finding old ways of culturing foods from around the world and making it work in my life. “I wonder” is a phrase I utter a lot, and can make my kids nervous! I love to learn and share what I’ve discovered.

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    • Sarah says

      Thanks for your question! Green (or blue) garlic seems to be caused by a reaction with the sulfur compounds in garlic and the amino acids. Using fresh garlic and handling it as gently as possible can prevent discoloration.
      Even if your garlic does discolor, it is still perfectly safe to consume, as long as their are no other signs of spoilage.

  1. Megan says

    I’ve been wanting to make fermented ketchup, and already had the recipe you link to pinned. But a few questions after reading your article – do you use kombucha instead of they whey and honey instead of the sucanat? If so, what measurements? The same? Thanks in advance!

  2. Jane says

    I read recently that garlic is even healthier after the cloves have sprouted (which makes sense, I guess, though garlic is not a seed or nut). Just curious if you have tried fermenting sprouted cloves?

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