Food For Thought: Get Your Culture Here – It’s For Your Gut!

Taco or Tostada Bar Anyone? Nachos? You can have cultured foods that are easily made and stored in the refrigerator so you are ready to make many yummy dishes in a flash. Just add your creativity!

Some of my favorite meals include tacos, tostadas or nachos – once I have collected several cultured toppings and sauces and stored them in my fridge, dinner is so easy to make. And the best part is that I have so many choices! You decide how much time you want to spend creating cultured foods but I guarantee they won’t be like anything you buy in the store! From cultured veggies to sauces to toppings, the list is long so get ready to choose your favs. You can also easily add the usual toppings like cheese, lettuce, olives, tomatoes, avocado and sour cream.

[Foodie Tip: “cultured” means “fermented” and created by using salt, apple cider vinegar (ACV) or whey, etc.]

We have all read info recently on the value of probiotics in cultured (fermented) foods. Our grandparents probably ate real unpasteurized sauerkraut and pickles regularly but they are harder to buy today, yet still an important part of our diets. My favorites are cultured radishes, red onions, and kraut.

I also like to have toppings on hand like cultured salsa, beechup, and guacamole. They are easy to make, healthy, and keep for a long time in the refrigerator. Write to me and I will share my recipes for anything that you don’t see here.

[Foodie Tip: Here is good info about lacto-fermentation.]

There are different ways of culturing (fermenting). I use organic apple cider vinegar (ACV), sea salt, or organic plain yogurt whey. (On occasion, I have used the contents of a probiotic capsule.) Using just sea salt works well but takes 7-10 days to culture. Using good apple cider vinegar or whey only takes about 3 days to culture.

The first step is making one or two cultured veggies and then adding a new one once in a while to keep your cultured veggie collection fresh and appealing. Remember, they keep for a long time in the fridge!

Now you have 3 cultured veggies as toppers for your tacos or tostadas or salads.

[Foodie Tip: Corn is almost always a GMO unless you buy organic – buy organic food as often as you can!]

I also love good salsa! This one is easily made in a food processor, takes about 3 days to culture, and keeps well. Recipe for Wild Salsa here.

And one of my essential toppings is Beechup. OMGoodness it’s good! Recipe is here and I add the cultured part by letting it sit on the counter for about 3 days.

[Foodie Tip: Did you know that you can substitute good organic plain yogurt for sour cream and not taste the difference? In my opinion, the probiotics are better quality than most purchased sour creams.]

Did you know that you can make an easy, dairy-free Crema in minutes? Just put 1/4 cup of coconut cream in a bowl and whisk in a little lemon, lime, or orange juice. Let mixture sit on the counter in a warm place for an hour or so. Add heat and cilantro if you like and use as a topping for your tacos or tostadas!

Or try this recipe.

So I am guessing that you’re getting the idea that you can create cultured foods over a period of time, store them in the refrigerator and have ready for a quick meal, where you might add fresh ingredients like lettuce, tomato, and cheese with your favorite protein. I often use leftover meats.

[Foodie Tip: “Not all sour cream varieties contain probiotics, although it is a fermented dairy product. Manufacturers commonly use Lactobacillus lactus (L. lactus) or B. bifidus to make sour cream. These bacteria can die off during processing. Some manufacturers, such as Horizon Organic, add live cultures to each batch of sour cream toward the end of the batch processing, which continue to be active during transit and all the way into your refrigerator.”]

It is important to have good tortillas on hand. You can buy organic flour or corn tortillas or you can make them. I make corn and plantain tortillas about once a month and then I have them on hand for easy tacos or tostadas or nachos anytime. If you want to make tortillas, write to me and I will give you the easy recipes and walk you through the process. It takes about 30-45 minutes to make a batch of 12-15 fresh tortillas and I use a $20 cast iron tortilla hand press.

Making corn tortillas is easy, although I find it challenging to purchase organic corn masa locally so I buy it online. Plantain tortillas are my favorite. They are easy and only require green plantains and a lime. I store my tortillas in the refrigerator, as you will even if you purchase them.

Here are some of my creations… send me pics of your creations because I love to hear from you!

1) Chipotle Salmon Tostadas with the fixins, including Spicy Okra Chips
2) Chicken Taco with Radishes, Red Onions & Yogurt
3) Eggplant Tostada with Beechup, Radishes & Guacamole
4) Shrimp Taco with the fixins, and a side of Chili, Kraut & Red Kale Salad
5) Nachos! Nachos! Nachos!

Easy Kraut
1 small head cabbage
2 small Carrots
3 cloves Garlic
**2 T salt
1 t celery seed
2 scallions
1/2 t ground black pepper
Process cabbage in food processor or slice it very thin. Add all other ingredients and process. **Salt is a necessary part of this natural fermentation process. If kraut is too salty, add more cabbage. Pack kraut into crock or a quart canning jar. If using a crock, save a cabbage leaf and place it on top of kraut to hold the kraut down. If using canning jars, you turn them upside down and then back once a day. Leave kraut on the counter in a warm place for 7-10 days. You may have to release the pressure by loosening the lid and then re-tightening. Store in the refrigerator. *Try making kraut with brussel sprouts instead of cabbage.
For the basics, I like to make kraut, red onions and radishes so that I have variety in the refrigerator.
Cultured Onions or Radishes
1/2 C apple cider vinegar (ACV)
1 T honey
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 large red onion, thinly sliced or 2 bunches of radishes thinly sliced
Whisk first 3 ingredients with 1 cup water in a small bowl. Place onion slices (or radishes) in a quart canning jar; pour vinegar mixture over them. Let them sit at room temperature for 2-3 days. Refrigerate. Remove veggies from the liquid to serve. Store the remainder in the refrigerator.

Sandy McCall’s day job is working as the Broker/Owner of Southern Life Realty. When she’s not being the “mad scientist” in the kitchen or loving-up her cat and dogs, she enjoys being the Food Editor for WNC Woman Magazine and volunteering in the community. Check out my Blog at and Search FB for Sandy’s Food for Thought; email or call 828.273.9755 or visit

Sandy McCall
Written by Sandy McCall