Lacto-fermented Kamias or Iba

Lacto-fermented kamias or iba is one of my more recent lacto-fermentation projects. It never ceases to amaze me how powerful and beneficial this ancient way of food preservation is. I still am a newbie in lacto-fermentation, though I have always made it a point to ferment something each week. The mainstay is Curtido, as it’s something that really agrees with my family’s palate.

We went on a two-week vacation last summer and my two older kids told me they miss my Curtido. So yeah, that’s how enamored they are with it. And I am one happy mom when I hear that, because lacto-fermented foods are loaded with nutrients from fresh, raw food as well as a host of beneficial bacteria which will greatly diversify and colonize our gut microbiome to keep us protected from bad microbes.

Kamias or iba is quite meaningful to me as my Mama said she craved this super-sour fruit when she was pregnant with me. You know how powerful and irresistible those pregnancy cravings are, right? Kamias or iba are very sour, like mouth-puckeringly and face-contortingly sour. When added to sinigang (Filipino sour soup recipe) however, they make delightfully flavorful souring agents with just a hint of fruitiness about it.

Kamias or iba can be found growing wild in most areas in the Philippines. The fruits are green, are the size of your thumb on the average and are cylindrical to pear-shaped. They can be seen profusely sprouting directly out of the main trunk and branches of the kamias tree.
In our city market, kamias is not really frequently seen, perhaps because most home cooks prefer the convenience of instant sinigang soup mixes and bouillons in place of these traditional souring agents. That’s sad as nothing can beat real, fresh fruit in terms of safety and nutrition.
Instant soup mixes, on the other hand, are not only loaded with salt and MSG but are also added with artificial flavors and colors.

To skip the instant souring mixes in the making of sinigang, use kamias or iba instead. And to make sure you have iba on hand, preserve jars and jars of it by lacto-fermentation. Lacto-fermenting kamias is so darn easy. As with any other fermentation recipe, you only need a glass jar, unrefined sea salt, water and time. That’s all.
  • You need a lidded glass jar as it is non-reactive.
  • Unrefined sea salt is simply the coarse, lumpy, slightly moist and grayish salt that is being sold in any wet market all over the Philippines. Read on its health benefits here.
  • Water here simply refers to ordinary tap water. I’ve been fermenting foods for months now and I’ve never had problems with using tap water.


  1. Wash iba in running water and drain in a colander.
  2. Nip off the buds and slice into thin circles.
  3. Dump the iba circles into a large bowl, add in salt and then toss to mix. You need about half a teaspoon of salt per cup of sliced iba.
  4. Gently pack the sliced and salted iba into a glass jar, taking care to leave about an inch of headspace at the top. Add enough water so as to submerge the fruits.
  5. Cap the jar with a lid. Leave the jars in a cool, dark place away from sunlight and heat.
  6. Twice in a day — in the morning and at night — let the jar burp by opening the lid and pressing the fruit downwards with a clean spoon. Fermentation of good bacteria will push the sliced fruits up out of the brine, potentially exposing them to air and molds. As such, keep the fruits submerged by pressing it down under the brine from time to time.
  7. After three days of leaving the jar at room temperature, fermentation would be complete and you can now transfer the jar to cold storage.

Fermented kamias keeps for a year, would you believe that? It’s because the multitude of good bacteria colonizing the food make it naturally resistant to bad bacteria that cause food spoilage. In fact, I still have a big jar of fermented kamias right now, in my ref, and it’s been 4 months. It has not spoiled. Isn’t that amazing?

How to use or consumer fermented kamias:
  • Use it as tangy toppings for fried or grilled meats.
  • Use about a cup to 1 ½ cups of lacto-fermented kamias to sour up a kilo of fish sinigang.
  • Use this instead of vinegar in fish paksiw.

6 thoughts on “Lacto-fermented Kamias or Iba

  1. hi! thank you so much for sharing this. I also like to eat healthy and try to find ways to nourish my family with naturally fermented food. I have a question, though about unrefined salt. Is this a must in the recipe or just a healthy preference? It is so difficult to find unrefined salt even in wet markets because they sell the iodized ones. God bless! ~ yoni from Cebu

    1. You will easily find unrefined sea salt in wet markets. They are coarse and not fine, granular and grayish rather than pristine white. They are also moist as opposed to the very dry refined salt. I know many put in iodine and so we just have to live with that.

      1. Yes, I found unrefined salt in Carbon Market here in Cebu. The margic word is “salt for anchiovies” and the sellers would know what you mean.

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