Fermented Foods

Welcome to lesson 3

 

Hi, I'm Juliette, welcome to lesson 3 of this course. I'm so grateful you're here and can't wait to tell you about our lesson today which is about fermented foods and drinks - I LOVE them!

I love to share what foods I enjoy and fermented ones are a biggie. Fermented foods have been made for thousands of years by people in all parts of the world as a way to preserve food and they come in all different types, flavours and colours, the creations of which are limited only by your imagination. They're fun to make and use pretty affordable ingredients taking then only time itself to develop and deepen their flavour. Fermented foods include things you'll already be familiar with such as wine, yogurt, cheese, pickles and miso, as well as kraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir and many more.

While you can buy pickles and kraut and many of these things from your local supermarket there's something very special in the process of making them and then enjoying them yourself. Supermarket versions are mainly pasteurized and so the aliveness, the essential living part of them will have been eradicated in their production. Make them yourself or buy them marked RAW in your health food store and you can benefit from their microscopic bacteria we know as probiotics, which can increase the number and strains of good bacteria in your tummy.  These are understood to have health benefits such as improving digestion and helping the immune system and its a growing area of science I'm excited to learn more about.

Prebiotics are great food for the probiotics and help them to grow. They're a type of vegetable fibre which can't be broken down by the body. They're found in raw jerusalem artichokes, under-ripe bananas, raw garlic, raw chicory, raw dandelion greens, asparagus and cooked onions.

The microorganisms found in many raw fermented foods include the strain called Lactobacillus (hence the term lacto-fermentation) which are present on the leaves of plants such as cabbage leaves (cabbage is used in making sauerkraut and kimchi).  The essential brine in lacto-fermented foods creates an anaerobic environment which means there is no oxygen present. The lactobacillus convert sugars into lactic acid and this limits the growth of harmful bacteria and also preserves the food.

In creating recipes yourself the wonderfully diverse flavour and intensity of fermented foods is in your hands and the longer you permit your inventions to bubble away quietly the more flavoursome they'll become. With lacto-fermented veggies you should check them regularly and burp them so that the gas doesn't become too much and when they're ready - according to your prefered taste - you can pop them in the fridge to settle down and then keep the tangy flavour just as you like it. Before you know it you'll be concocting another. They're wonderfully moorish...and also by the way make fab. gifts.

Check out recipes for the following types of fermented foods and see which ones you enjoy most:

  • Sauekraut: the most well known western european fermented food made with cabbage. Fermented in its own brine made by massaging the cabbage with a little salt
  • Pickles: veggies pickled in vinegar or a brine
  • Miso: a Japanese ferment made using salt and Koji with barley, rice or soybeans often used to create a soup or added to broth
  • Tempeh: made from fermented soybeans this food originated in Indonesia
  • Natto: originating in Japan this is made using fermented soybeans
  • Kimchi: a traditional fermented dish from Korea made using cabbage and other vegetables
  • Water Kefir: fermented drink that's bubbly and made with water kefir grains, sugar and filtered water. Add fruits you like to get different flavoured drinks.
  • Kombucha: made from black tea and sugar the ferment creates bubbles so is a fab alternative to soda
  • Rejuvelac: a refreshing fermented drink using filtered water with a grain and popularised by Ann Wigmore
  • Ginger Beer/ Ale: made using ginger root, sugar and filtered water
  • Beet Kvass: a traditional eastern european fermented kvass drink was made using bread but this is made using beetroot instead

 

soaking, germinating, sprouting

It's becoming more popular again now to soak nuts, beans, grains and seeds before using them and there's good reason for this. When you pick up a seed and feel it it'll be hard, right? It's tough outer layer needs darkness and moisture in order to germinate and grow. This protective layer - the bran or outer hull - keeps the seed protected for months if not years until the right conditions allow it to change. The outer layer contains phytic acid and this is often referred to as an anti-nutrient as it can bind together with other minerals (such as zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium) preventing your body from absorbing them. Soaking, sprouting, germinating and fermenting have an effect of reducing the phytic acid and other anti-nutrients.

Soaking

Anyhoo, as an example of why I like to soak things, if you take a handful of raw almonds and soak them overnight in filtered water and then compare them to the unsoaked ones they taste so much better. They're no longer dry, and tough to eat they're softer and their taste is more delicate they feel plump, I actually prefer them this way. And as I have an impaired digestive system I like to make time to do this - it doesn't take much effort actually. Generally speaking I soak things overnight keeping them covered and in the fridge and then take them out in the morning or just before I want to use them.

Germinating

Once your seeds have been soaked you can take them from the fridge to rinse and drain them. If you keep them in a warmer environment and regularly rinse then drain them after a few days the outer hull falls away and you begin to see the beginnings of a tiny shoot.

Sprouting

The next stage after germination. Continue to rinse and drain the sprout regularly until it grows into the shoot of a young plant to your preferred length before eating.

 

 

take action

Here's a basic sauerkraut recipe for you to try at home. I'd love for you to let me know how your ferments turn out and what you think!

Lesson 4 is about clearing out your kitchen and processed foods

I'm off to make some tea of course so tata for now and see you soon.