Dairy products, such as the organic half-and-half I prefer for making L. reuteri and other yogurts, are among the most forgiving of foods to ferment. You can use other liquids such as coconut milk to ferment, but additional steps are required and the end-result is rarely as satisfying or tasty as the dairy counterpart.
But I recognize that there can be hazards in over-reliance on dairy, even though our method of prolonged fermentation minimizes the problematic components of dairy. (Prolonged fermentation maximally converts lactose to lactic acid and the resultant drop in pH to 3.5 denatures the casein beta A1 protein and thereby some of its immunogenic potential.)
I am therefore continually on a search to identify other vehicles for fermentation. Let’s distinguish fermentation of vegetables and other foods using microbes that are resident on the food, e.g., bacteria and fungi present on the skin of a cucumber, from fermentation by inoculating with one or more bacterial species, e.g., L. reuteri or Bacillus coagulans. While the former process used in, say, fermenting pickles or radishes yields wonderful fermented foods containing a variety of naturally-occurring microbes, I am presently focusing on using fermentation as a means of proliferating specific bacterial species to obtain specific health effects. In this way, for instance, we proliferate L. reuteri (DSM 17938 and ATCC PTA 6475 strains) to increase dermal collagen or L. gasseri BNR17 to reduce visceral fat.
I fermented hummus, i.e., pureed chickpeas with tahini (sesame seeds), using B. coagulans GBI30,6086 as the fermenting microbe. This yields a cheesy-scented hummus after 48 hours of fermentation. I fermented without added raw potato starch or inulin, since hummus already contains prebiotic fiber and starch. I also thinned the hummus with 50% water, i.e., 1/2 cup water per one cup hummus. The end-result was, despite thinning, as thick as the original product. The end-result was delicious spread on a non-grain bagel I made. I have also fermented mango juice with L. reuteri, the two strains we choose for their skin-smoothing and other oxytocin-mediated benefits. Fermentation yielded a less sweet juice after 72 hours of fermentation.
I currently have salsa, pureed strawberries and banana, and applesauce all fermenting, also with B. coagulans GBI30,6086. (I chose this microbial species/strain only because it yields one of the tastiest yogurts in addition to providing several unusual health benefits such as reduced inflammation, reduced arthritis pain, reduced symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, and proliferation of the probable keystone species Faecalobacterium prausnitzii that is a vigorous producer of intestinal butyrate.)
This is a work in progress that will undoubtedly yield new lessons in both fermentation and on health benefits of jacking up the counts of specific bacterial species/strains. I shall be submitting the occasional sample for formal bacterial counts. In the meantime, should you join me in this adventure of fermenting specific microbes in various foods, be sure to report back on the lessons you learn.