fermented foods

Fermented Ketchup recipe

When I started making fermented foods, I dove right into making all the things. I loved the idea that for thousands of years, this was how people preserved their harvest.

I’m often encouraging my patients to increase probiotic foods in their diet but am sometimes faced with comments of “but I hate sauerkraut!” Or “but I can’t eat dairy”. I get excited when I can share with people the fact that there are LOTS of options. You don’t have to like sauerkraut to enjoy the plethora of fermented foods.

Most people like ketchup and my guess is you’re probably looking for a way to “sneak” some probiotic foods into your kids diet too, am I right?

The way I’ve made my fermented ketchup over the years has evolved but this is the way I enjoy it best. I use either sauerkraut brine (sometimes kimchi brine) or whey (liquid runoff from yogurt) as the probiotic culture. You can use some from store-bought fermented veggies or you can purchase the brine separately from your natural foods market, make sure they are labeled “raw” or “probiotic” and are from the refrigerated section.

fermented ketchup

Fermented Ketchup


  • 2 6-oz cans tomato paste

  • 2 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar

  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed

  • 4 tbsp sauerkraut brine or whey

  • 1/4 cup raw honey

  • 2 tsp sea salt

  • 1/4 tsp onion powder

  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice

  • 1/4 tsp ground clove


  1. Stir all ingredients into a pint-sized jar and blend fully with a hand blender/immersion blender.

  2. Cover loosely and allow to sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

  3. Cover tightly and refrigerate.

Note: If you are following the 21-Day Sugar Detox, see this recipe for a 21DSD friendly ketchup recipe that uses slow cooked green apples as the sweetener.

Probiotic Indian-Spiced Sauerkraut

Some cabbages from a friend's garden

Some cabbages from a friend's garden

Sauerkraut is one of the best and easiest ways to increase probiotics in your food. We've all heard about probiotics: beneficial bacteria for your gut. Let's explore where they come from and why you should be striving to include them in your everyday meals. 

Where do these probiotics come from?

There are a variety of bacteria present on the surface of all vegetables (actually, on most things). The process of lacto-fermentation creates an environment where the beneficial bacteria, Lactobacilli, can feed off of the carbohydrates in the vegetables to preserve and proliferate causing the "harmful" bacteria to die off because the lactic acid environment that's created is a poor environment for their survival. For lacto-fermentation, you can use salt or whey (the liquid from active yoghurt). In this recipe we will use salt, so be sure not to omit it!

Why are probiotics important?

With the many modern lifestyle factors present today, there are a lot of reasons why many of us struggle with maintaining a healthy digestive tract. Some of the many factors include antibiotic use, toxic exposures (like heavy metals or pesticides), SAD (Standard American Diet), C-section births and a lack of breastfeeding. All of these can kill off bacteria found in our GI tracts, good and bad, often leading to symptoms or conditions like diarrhea, constipation, dysbiosis, IBS, and GAPS. This is why it is so important to replenish our gut microbiome with beneficial bacteria to help balance our flora and improve our bowel movements (don't be embarrassed, I'm a nutritionist; I can talk about poop all day). 

Need a kickstart to your fermentation endeavors? You can schedule a cooking demonstration with me by email if you live on the Eastside of King County, WA. 


Probiotic Indian-Spiced Sauerkraut

I've made this recipe once before and it is by far my husband's favorite. We eat this as a side or condiment to complement a main dish, on top of a salad, or just by itself as a snack. The variety of spices provide some added vitality and bioactive compounds where you may not find a place in your diet to squeeze them in elsewhere. This recipe can be made as a simple sauerkraut by omitting the spices, onion and garlic.

Yield: 3 quarts

Preparation time: 30 minutes +1-2 weeks of fermentation

Equipment needed: Knife, Mandolin (optional, but makes slicing much easier), 3 quart sized mason jars or a fermentation crock, Large bowl



  1. Cut each head of cabbage in half and remove the core with your knife. Save some outer leaves to cover your sauerkraut in the end.
  2. Using a mandolin or a sharp knife, slice the head of cabbage into thin pieces. The thinner they are, the faster they will ferment.
  3. As you add the cabbage to the bowl, sprinkle a little salt and massage to coat the cabbage.
  4. Once all the cabbage is in the bowl, sprinkle the rest of the salt and massage until the juices are released.* This may take 5-10 minutes.
  5. Add the onion, garlic, and spices and massage for 30 seconds or until fully coated.
  6. Stuff the mixture into your mason jars and fill 3/4 of the way. Cover with the cabbage leaf you set aside. Pack it down until the juices rise above the mixture.
  7. Cover tightly with a lid and store for at least 1 week, checking about every two days to make sure the sauerkraut is still underneath the brine since fermentation causes it to expand. The longer it ferments, the more probiotic and less crunchy it will be. After 2 weeks, move it to the refrigerator to prevent further fermentation.**
  8. Once the sauerkraut has reached a desirable consistency, enjoy! Be sure to keep it away from heat as the probiotics will no longer be available. 

*Note: If you have an older head of cabbage, you may need to add some salt water to have enough brine. Mix 1 warm cup of water with 1/2 tablespoon salt and dissolve.

**Note: In colder months, it will take longer to ferment since cold temperatures slow the proliferation of bacteria.

For more detailed information on how to further improve your health with food, give my office a call to schedule a visit with me. 

Recipe inspired by: Ashley Thomas's Indian Sauerkraut from the My Heart Beets blog