This ferment combines two of the sweetest crops grown in the Cordilleras–yacon and beets. I like making Fermented Yacon and Beets because it is fairly easy and provides me with an alternative to sauerkraut.
The high sugar content of yacon and beets easily promotes the growth of the microorganisms needed for fermentation. They also consist mainly of water (yacon is 70% water and beets are 87%) so that there is no need to make brine. The salt will draw out enough moisture to keep them submerged.
Coming from a family with a history of Type 2 diabetes I knew about yacon early on. One of my uncles was always on the hunt for it. While it looks like kamote, the taste and texture are reminiscent of singkamas and sweet apples. Yacon is known as a natural alternative sweetener for diabetics, and despite its sweet taste, it has been studied for its ability to reduce blood glucose levels. It has an antioxidant and phytonutrient profile that fights oxidative stress and inflammation that lead to diabetes complications.
While beets have a GI of 61, it has a low glycemic load of seven so that it also has minimal impact on blood sugar levels, while delivering other benefits like decrease in blood pressure, improvement in cognitive function, and increase in our body’s total antioxidant capacity. And given how beets pair well with citruses and acids, I find that fermentation’s lactic sourness actually enhances beets’ flavor. In fact, TVN Brews by The Vegan Neighbors Kitchen has an outstanding kombucha made with beets! (Check out our interview with them.)
I like using fermented yacon and beets to my green salads–I love the contrast of the deep red color, the mild sweetness when it is still young, and of course the crunch! I also enjoy this on toasted rye bread or multigrain bagel smeared with cashew cream cheese.
For a step-by-step guide to this ferment, check out our burong repolyo or sauerkraut post, which you can use as reference.
- 1 large piece of yacon
- 2 small pieces of beets
- Sea salt
- Wash and peel the yacon and beets. Weigh them using a kitchen scale.
- Multiply the weight by 2% (.02) to get the weight of the salt you need.
- Shred the yacon and beets into a mixing bowl using a box grater.
- Sprinkle the salt and massage the yacon and beets for a few minutes. (Don’t worry, the red stain will wash off your hands, but take care not to stain your clothing.)
- Set aside the yacon and beets for 10 to 30 minutes to release moisture.
- When there is enough brine, stuff the yacon and beets shreds into a jar, pressing them down to remove air pockets.
- Add enough brine and use a fermentation weight to keep everything submerged, while leaving an inch of headroom.
- Seal the jar and set on the counter for a week or two, tasting daily. Burp once a day if you are using a tight lid.
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