Updated July 5th 2019
In Ayurveda, getting the different tastes at meals promotes health for multiple reasons. Each taste stimulates a particular part of the tongue, which in turn corresponds to a specific organ, and activating all of the organs enables them to collectively function well. Different tastes also facilitate aspects of digestion and have effects on the doshas, or elemental energies. And of course, fermented foods contribute to a happy ecosystem in the gut. (I'll share more about taste and physiological effects in another post)
With this concoction, the ferment itself creates the sour taste; kale brings in the bitter; beetroot, carrots, and apple bring sweet; apple and turmeric bring astringent; the salt brings salty; and garlic, ginger, and chili bring pungent. I like to use whatever I have around - sometimes I throw dandelion greens into the mix. Having a spoonful with your meals enhances gut health and adds some zing!
Below is kind of the recipe to the best of my recollection. There's no need to be precise - it's all about experimenting and tweaking until you find what works best for you, and will probably be different each time. The following is just what I did on this occasion, and I ended up with about a quart, which I split into two jars just because I didn't have a big jar.
3 medium carrots
A few stalks of kale, de-stemmed
1 medium fruit (depending on where you are and season - apple, peach, etc)
1 medium beetroot
1 fresh chili
Fresh garlic and ginger
Turmeric (fresh or dry)
Dried chili or chili flakes
Other herbs to your taste (rosemary, thyme, cilantro, etc)
Fresh lemon or lime juice - optional
Core and chop cabbage and place in a large bowl (if you have a giant cabbage, you might want to just use half). Sprinkle some salt, massage the cabbage, and pound down to remove the air. Let this rest for at least 20 minutes and meanwhile chop up whatever else you'll use.
Add the other chopped veg/fruit to the cabbage, mix, and massage. Some people make a paste with chili, garlic, and ginger and massage this through. I wanted to make it more sattvic (calming) as my constitutional tendency is wired and stimulated, so I just chopped a little bit of fresh chili (seeds removed), ginger, turmeric, a little bit of garlic, and mixed this in rather than adding lots of garlic and chili paste. Do what you like! Cover with a kitchen towel and leave for about six hours, then pound down some more.
I'm trying a new thing for the actual fermenting part. After successfully using a regular old jar - not even a Kilner - several times (sterilizing of course), the last batch went off while fermenting. So when searching for a better setup and looking at reviews on Amazon (avoid as much as possible, but good for reviews), someone mentioned in the comments that he used a French press. What a brilliant solution! So I'm using this now...Place the mix in a cafetiere/French press and push it down so everything's submerged. Then put the jar in a tray or bowl to capture any fluid that might erupt during the process.
Every 12 hours or so, open up to release gas (although it should be released in the cafetiere anyway) and push down and make sure everything's still submerged before replacing lid. It will probably be ready in 72 hours, and you can taste some at that point, or you can leave it for up to 10 days or longer. When it's done, keep in the fridge. It can last a while, but the idea is to have some everyday. However, this, and fermented food and drink in general, is meant to be consumed in small amounts daily. More than that on a daily basis is probably going to throw something else out of balance in your internal ecology.