Guest Post: Fermented (Cultured) Foods Rock!
Here's our second guest post of the week from my friend Caroline Cain. She found me on Twitter and just happened to be traveling around Southeast Asia the same time I was in Bangkok working on the SEA cookbook and we were able to meet. I think if we lived in the same city we'd be the best of friends. Today you get to learn about fermented foods and a few easy recipes to make your own!
Did you know that approximately 80% of your immunity is located in your gut? From the second you begin your journey down the birth canal to then take your first breath of air, your gastrointestinal tract is busy being colonized by armies of "good" and "bad" bacteria. You guessed it, the "bad" bacteria lead to disease and the "good" bacteria encourage the growth of beneficial gut flora
boosting our immunity and protecting us from disease. Signs that your good bacteria are outnumbered and struggling can be seen in various digestive issues, a poor nutrient uptake (which manifests in disease), candida, allergies and more serious illnesses. What to do? Well, the bad bacteria need to be crowded out by good bacteria to tip the balance back in our favor, allowing us to thrive in
optimal health. In an age where antibiotics are prescribed as soon as one sneezes – certainly useful when necessary, but the over-use of antibiotics greatly weakens our natural immunity by destroying our good gut flora – looking to ancient food preparation practices has a lot to offer. Preserving fruit and vegetables using the process of lacto-fermentation was used by the most ancient of societies thousands of years BC. These practices are still commonly used worldwide (think: German sauerkraut, English chutney, Korean kimchi, Japanese pickled ginger as a side serving with your sushi).
A bit of science:
The lactic acid created during fermentation acts as a natural preservative and its probiotic (‘good’ friendly bacteria) qualities increase the growth of healthy flora in our intestine. Fermentation increases the bioavailability of food as the food is partially digested through the process, making these foods more readily available to us, increasing our ability to absorb vitamins and minerals, whilst also actually creating certain vitamins such as B12. Fermented foods are raw which means that they maintain all their enzymes, vitamins and minerals which otherwise are reduced or destroyed through heat. Your body has a limited reserve of enzymes, so adding them, rather than constantly using up your reserves is an essential part of any health promoting diet.
How to Make Fermented/Pickled Foods:
It is actually very easy and super quick to ferment your own vegetables at home. I modified this Cucumber Kimchi recipe to match what I had in my kitchen.
Preparation Time 10 mins
Total Time 1 day
3 large cucumbers (English variety)
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup white onion, diced
1.5 tablespoons cayenne Pepper or chili flakes/powder
Chop up cucumbers into squares and place in bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and mix thoroughly. Cover. Allow to sit at room temperature overnight.
Add garlic (more or less, according to taste), onion, cayenne pepper and agave and mix well. Place in glass jar – including 1 tablespoon brine, leaving 1 inch between the vegetables and the top of the jar.
**I left the vinegar out of the original recipe to ferment the vegetables rather than simply pickling them. I also realized why it’ s important to leave 1 inch or so between the vegetables and the top of the jar – when I opened the jar (not having left this space), the liquid came fizzing out all over the place due to the fermentation process!
These pickles last about 3-6 months. Alternatively you can use these three simple steps below to ferment almost any vegetable.
Only use pure (filtered) water, as you want the beetroot to absorb only the best water possible. You need to use a mason jar or a jar that can be closed using a rubber band and some cloth for the first 3 days. Once it is ready to be put into the fridge make sure you use an airtight container and it will then keep for a couple of months.
Preparation Time 10 minutes
Total Time 3 days
Beetroot, peeled, then sliced or cubed
Put the beetroot into a jar until it is filled about 2 cm from the top. Take one cup of pure water and mix in the salt, then add it to the jar. Fill the rest of the jar with pure water until all beetroot is covered. Leave at room temperature for about 3 days without opening it, then store it in the fridge.
Have you made your own pickles before? What are your favorite combinations?
Caroline Cain (BA, BSoR) is a Holistic Reflexologist and two papers away from qualifying in Nutritional Healing. Caroline guides clients, friends, family in creating the healthy, happy life they want through borrowing Mother Nature's gifts, feasting on (mostly) vegan, whole and raw foods and establishing positive lifestyle choices and habits. Caroline's blog posts stem from her educational and professional experience as well as personal experience. "I won't blog it unless I've tried it. Establishing a healthy balance in life through living consciously within forever changing parameters learning what works for each of us, is what I'm all about".