Lately, my kitchen lately looks less like a place for dinner prep and more like a science lab. I blame it on my sister, Anita, who shared her recent health benefit discovery of cultured (fermented) foods. She shot over a recipe and after looking at it, I realized I had everything in my fridge to experiment. Anita shared the idea of using glass jars in lieu of crocks. Brilliant!! I had two one-gallon jars from my summer jag of Thai tea. (After seeing the added dye it was quickly nixed.)
With serious reservations, I made her mild vegan kimchi recipe (no anchovies please) and within a week, became a believer. That happened in August. Since then Iâ€™ve made over a dozen different ferments and helped my daughter Sam recover her digestion (see the link below.)
Who ferments food?
Fermented foods helped homesteaders, Amish and many people the world over preserve a bountiful crop through winter. My dad was one of these back in the day. We bought one or two crocks and attempted pickles and sauerkraut. The flavor of the latter I have searched for all of my life.
My husband, Jack,Â is a go-along-get-along kind of guy, even when it comes to food (lucky me!) He didnâ€™t seem to mind the strange looking jars filled with vegetables and bubbling liquid doing strange and wonderful things. The pickled radishes which started out red, then turned pink and then whitish, he said looked like eyeballs. (That did bother him.)
A gallon of Kombucha that was happily working on my kitchen counter this warm fall, took on a different look one day after a cold snap. The SCOBY had fallen to the bottom of the gallon jar. We keep our house pretty chill in winter and two days searching for a warm place didnâ€™t result in a floating SCOBY, until I set it in the warmest place in the house in winter: My office.
The next day, the SCOBY hung sideways until the brewing cycle completed. And I now write from my office/lab. Since then, all the kvass, water kefir, and 1st & 2nd ferment Kombucha are living in here with me. Iâ€™d like to tell you it isnâ€™t crowded in here, but when I tell you that there are billions of bacteria sharing my space, the comment takes on a different quality. So, I have strange mascots to inspire my writing these days.
It makes me happy to ferment interesting (if odorous) food and improving the health of family members. It helpedÂ Jack recover his sometimes fickle immune system. We donâ€™t have scientific measurements (for that youâ€™d want to follow David Perlmutterâ€™s work) but weâ€™re excited enough to share it with anyone in our circle brave enough to try it. Itâ€™s been met with a mix of interesting responses from â€œWow, I love this, I want to buy it!â€ to “I’m afraid to eat this” and, â€œIt makes me gag.â€
Certainly Kimchi is an acquired taste, unless you grew up an adventurous eater, like my daughter Sam. But there are hundreds of ways to go about ingesting fermented foods. Not only that, after talking to Katie Courage whoâ€™s writing the book CulturedÂ due out next year, the resulting food from wild fermentation contains the most diverse and beneficial probiotic qualities. It has been said, â€œSuperior to what you’d find on the probiotic shelf of yourÂ local health food store shelf.â€
What does this mean for you?
In a world where the general populationâ€™s health is in serious jeopardy, and escalating medical costs are the number one reason for bankruptcy in this country, itâ€™s time we take charge of ourÂ own well being. Not medicating our illnesses, but becoming well. It all starts in the gut, where most of your immune system lives.
Since we’ve begun eating this, Jack has not been sick even when surrounded by sick people, nor have I. My daughter bounces back faster than ever. These are just our observations. Try it and see what your experience is. Cultured foodÂ is definitely a strange step in the right direction.
You can see a lot more by joining the Facebook groups calledÂ Wild FermentationÂ and Wild Fermentation Uncensored.
Iâ€™d love to hear your comments. If you happen to be a fermentista, please letâ€™s connect and share notes.