Drifter, the re-emergence of Fermentation Illustrated, and Community Supported Ferments

Greetings from Northern New Jersey! This month through October 2020 I’ll be running a pop-up called Drifter, even though I’m a little more driftless than usual these days. So until I drift again, join me at Get Juiced Health Bar Cafe every third Thursday from 6 to 9 pm for dinners inspired from as far as Southeast Asia to as close as your [favorite] neighborhood diner. Menus will highlight traditional foods and fermentation techniques. Ingredients will be organic and sourced as locally as possible. I’m emphasizing vegetarian cuisine but will often offer meat options.

The first dinner will showcase Rueben-style sandwiches. We will offer protein options (lamb for $18 or tempeh for $16) with sauerkraut and miso mayonnaise on naturally fermented sourdough bread, served with hand-cut fries, and three dipping sauces — almond-cilantro pesto, malty mustard, and fermented ketchup. Fermented pickle plates of seasonal, local vegetables will also be available as a side for $5. Inner Love Foods will brew up Sassy Soda, a fermented soda made with sassafras for $3.50 a pop. We are in the brainstorming phase of very fancy vegan milkshake, too. Everything, down to the tempeh, will be made in house. The fermented ketchup is made from tomatoes that were grown in my garden last summer! The mustard is made with my favorite malt vinegar, started by my friend Lou Bank of SACRED. It’s a simple yet decadent menu.

drifter reuben_4
Drifter’s vegetarian option is a coriander-garlic marinted tempeh Reuben with hand-cut sweet potato or regular French fries, almond-cilantro pesto, fermented ketchup, and malty mustard. 

Seats at Drifter are available as first come first serve and reservations are strongly suggested. Contact Tara at tara@fermentationonwheels.com to reserve. We will also have a take-out option available if you pre-order at least a day in advance. Guests with reservations will go home with a complimentary 4-ounce jar of something fermented.

New issues of Fermentation Illustrated, my monthly zine, will come out every third Thursday at Drifter. Fermentation Illustrated shares cultural, historical, and personal stories of fermentation, inspiring and empowering people to do it themselves. It’s also very silly and will hopefully fill you with a little more laughter. This issue will be the first since Tempeh Demystified was released in January 2015. Issues are regularly $10 but you can receive a half-price discount if you dine at Drifter the night of a zines’ release.

And finally, this dinner adjoins the upcoming launch of Community Supported Ferments, my monthly subscription program of fermented foods. Shares will include tasty ferments such as kimchi, tempeh, vinegar, yogurt, and sourdough. Fermentation Illustrated will also be in each share. For more details on Community Supported Ferments, download the brochure here.


Sauerkraut with Dandelion Greens, Turmeric, and Spice

I’ve been loving sauerkraut made with bitter greens and turmeric this fall and winter. Turmeric has natural anti-inflammatory compounds, increases the anti-oxidant capacity of the body, and helps prevent heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. With all its benefits, turmeric is such a powerful medicine that I try to get a healthy dose of it, especially during sick season. The bioavailability of its nutrients is increased during fermentation, so I choose to simply add it into my bi-monthly sauerkraut routine.

Bitter or winter greens, such as dandelion, kale, arugula, beet greens, and spinach, act as gentle diuretics, purifying blood and cleansing the system, and are also great for digestion. Integrate bitter greens into sauerkraut to get the health benefits without getting slammed by the bitterness. Dandelion greens are my favorite.











Yields 1 gallon, 1–4 weeks


7 lbs cabbage (2 medium-size heads)

6 to 8 dandelion leaves

3 inches turmeric root

1 tsp Szechuan pepper

2 scotch bonnet peppers (or other hot pepper available to you)

2–3 tbsp salt


1-gallon glass jar or crock

Weight and cover


1) Cut cabbage into quarters and finely chop. Place chopped cabbage into a large bowl. If you have outer leaves of cabbage, rather than compost them, place them aside for later.

2) Finely chop dandelion greens and add them to the bowl with the cabbage.

3) Add 2 tbsp of salt and massage the cabbage for 5 to 10 minutes. Your cabbage will release water, which will serve as the sauerkraut’s brine. Taste the cabbage—you may want to add more salt to your liking.

4) Check for a puddle at the bottom of your bowl and squeeze a handful of cabbage above the bowl to check whether it has produced enough brine. Once gently squeezed, brine should drip with ease from the cabbage.

5) Finely chop the turmeric and scotch bonnet peppers and add them with the Szechuan pepper to your bowl of salty cabbage and dandelion greens. Distribute with caution — the heat of the pepper might irritate your hands and the turmeric will stain your hands (temporarily). I recommend tossing with salad servers.

6) Once the ingredients are distributed, pack the cabbage into your gallon jar until it’s submerged below brine. Take the cabbage leaves you set aside from earlier and layer them on top of your kraut, pressing down.

7) Add a weight, such as scrubbed and boiled river rocks or a small jar filled with water, on top of the layer of cabbage leaves. Secure a tea towel to the mouth of your jar with a rubber band to keep dust and bugs out.

8) Wait a week and taste—you may want to keep it going another week, but it’s good practice to try your ferments along their journey. Vegetables will ferment at different speeds depending on their environment—the warmer it is, the faster it will ferment, while the colder it is, the slower it will ferment. Most vegetable ferments thrive best between 68° to 76° F.

9) When the sauerkraut is to your liking, cover it with a lid and store in the fridge. You may also pack it into smaller jars if that’s easier. Keeping your new kraut cool slows fermentation, so you can enjoy the fermented flavor from when you sealed the jar.


Indo-Thai Sauerkraut


Yields 1 gallon, 1-4 weeks


6 lb cabbage

2 lb carrots

1 tbsp caraway seed

1 tbsp cumin seed

3 dried thai chilis

3 tbsp unrefined sea salt


1 gal glass jar or crock

weight (river rocks, yogurt lid or plate & heavy things)

cloth & rubber-band


1. Prep your cabbage and carrots. We thinly slice cabbage and cut our carrots julienne style. Put them in a big bowl. If you have outer leaves of cabbage, rather than compost them, place them aside to use as a top layer between your kraut and your weight (We will explain this in more detail shortly).

2. Add 1 tablespoon each of caraway and cumin to your veggies.

3. Cut open 3 thai chilis and collect the seeds – add them to your ingredients. Chop the skin of the chilis and add these too.

4. Add 2 tbsp of salt and massage into your ingredients for 3-5 minutes. Your cabbage will release water, which will serve as your kraut’s brine. Don’t forget to taste prior to packing – you may want to add more salt to your liking. The addition of salt is important for a multitude of reasons, but how much you add is up to you. Here’s a nifty chart on salinity percentages for your reference.

5. When the ingredients are nice and wet, pack them into your container. The goal is to pack your vegetables until your brine is above your veggies. Note: this can take time and a lot of strength! We have friends who use wooden spoons or even wine bottles to pack their kraut down below the brine. This is important, because any veggies exposed to air can grow mold. You can scrape off the mold (it’s not dangerous), but you will lose a little bit of kraut.

6. Once it’s packed down, take the cabbage leaves we recommended you set aside from the beginning of the recipe and layer them on top of your kraut. This way, the outer leaves will grow mold first, and you can simply toss them into your compost.

7. Your weight: It’s easy to fill a small jar with water and sit it on top of your ferment – if you have other ideas for weights, that still allow your ferment to get some air exposure, give it a try. As you can see, our winning method on the bus is using 3 outer cabbage leaves on the top layer of our kraut followed by several scrubbed & boiled river rocks. Our river rocks were gathered from the Willamette River back home, so we know our ferments carry a little bit of our beloved Oregon with each bite.


There are a lot of good methods, and many come straight from our creative common sense. Cover your vessel with a cloth and rubber band, to keep random bugs and dust particles out.

8. Wait a week and taste – maybe you’ll want to keep it going another week, but it’s good practice to try your ferments along their journey. Ferments will work at different speeds depending on their environment. Temperature is a huge factor – most ferments thrive best at 68-76 F, just like us.

9. When your ferment is to your liking, cover it with a lid and place in the fridge or other cold storage. Keeping your new kraut cool stalls fermentation process, so you can enjoy the fermented flavor from when you sealed the jar.