Fermented foods are high in probiotics. This is one of the reasons why we want to include them in our diet. Probiotics are living microorganisms that are beneficial to the host that eats them. There are about 35,000 species of probiotic bacteria out there, only a tiny fraction of them have been characterized, and each strain seems to have a unique effect on the body. They can have a profound effect on the immune system and can decrease the populations of less favorable bacteria in your gut. This may impact a number of health conditions ranging from autoimmune diseases, to allergies an diabetes.
Fermentation is a traditional form of preservation that dates back thousands of years. The bacteria that is naturally present on food breaks down sugars and starches in food. This produces lactic acid which halts the growth of bad bacteria, therefore the fermented foods are preserved without rotting or degrading.
Through fermentation we preserve the food, and it makes the food healthier and more nourishing that it was before. The process of fermentation actually increases the amount of vitamins like K2, A,C, and the B vitamins.
Within our gut there are millions of bacteria of which 15% are classified as bad bacteria and 85% As good bacteria., if we have a proper balance. One of the main good bacteria in the gut of healthy people is lactobacilus plantarum, but with our western, diet that most people eat now, we have destroyed or greatly reduced this bacteria in our guts. Some experts say that each small 1/2 cup serving of fermented foods can contain up to 10 trillion probiotic organisms. Dr. Mercola states the following in an article on his website…
“It’s worth noting that each mouthful of fermented food can provide trillions of beneficial bacteria—far more than you can get from a probiotics supplement, which will typically provide you with colony-forming units in the billions. I thought this would be a good analysis, so I tested fermented vegetables … to determine their probiotic potency and was astounded to discover they had 10 trillion colony-forming units of bacteria. Literally, one serving of vegetables was equal to an entire bottle of a high potency probiotic!”
If you have illness that may be caused by poor gut bacteria then you need a probiotic. If you look to purchase then as a supplement it gets really expensive and you don’t really know what you are getting, how old the product is or how many probiotics it contains. In addition to learning how to make probiotics, I recoment reading the book Guts and Psychology Syndrome, by Natasha Campbell-McBride, it contains a diet that can help heal many diseases that stem from gut health.
There are many benefits of adding fermented foods to your diet. It lowers you Ph and optimizes the immune system. 80% of our immune system lives in the gut. This means that is we keep our gut healthy then our immune system will be doing its best work. It makes our food more digestible because the bacteria predigests the food making it easier for us to digest it. This also increases the vitamin content of the food. additionally it will increase the flavor of the food and may reduce sugar cravings.
There are three types of fermentation:
- Bacterial fermentation is what is used in fermenting vegetables and fruits, such as; sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar, and chutney. Of course these are all raw. This is also what is used in making most cheeses, sour cream and buttermilk.
- Yeast fermentation is commonly know as sourdough or natural yeast. These are added to flours to ferment them and rise the dough, and are usually baked after the fermentation process. This reduces the phytates that are found in the grain and makes the bread more digestible. This process can be used to allow those with gluten intolerances or celiac disease to eat wheat.
- Mold fermentation is used in making blue cheese or other cheeses.
Fermenting foods at home is really easy. The first foods I recommend trying are sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar and yogurt.
what tool do you need to ferment vegetables and fruits?
- You need a fermentation container. You can use a pickling crock like this one here, or you could use a glass gallon jar like this one here. Another option would be a wide mouth quart or two quart mason jar like these with a plastic lid found here.
- You will also need a weight to hold down the vegetables that you are fermenting. If using a gallon jar I use an old brags apple cider vinegar bottle. The pickling crock can be weighted with a plate and a canning jar filled with water to weigh it down. for the quart jars use a 4 oz. jelly jar to weight it down.
- You will need a sharp knife to cut the vegetables, or a food processor to slice the cabbage with.
- A pounder to pound the sauerkraut to release the juices like this one here, or you can use a rolling pin or pastry cutter.
- for Apple cider vinegar you will need cheesecloth and a large elastic band.
- The fruits or vegetables must stay below the liquid to prevent molding.
- Never use chlorinated water.
- In most cases sea salt will be used in the ferments.
- Some ferments need to be in the dark to work properly.
- Always make sure your containers and tools are clean.
- Never eat out of the storage jar as you could contaminate the entire batch with bacteria from your mouth.
- You can add a starter to shorten the ferment time.
- the starter can be the juice from sauerkraut, or whey from making cheese or Greek yogurt.
Here are the videos from the fermented foods class I taught. Youtube video of the class
Start with the cabbage, you can use red or green cabbage or even Chinese cabbage, or a combination of them. I like to use one head of red and one of green cabbage.
Slice the cabbage into very thin slices. This can be done with a knife or a food slicer/processor.
Additionally you may add other ingredients to your sauerkraut such as carrots or beets, these should be shredded. Seasonings can also be added such as garlic, dry mustard, or caraway seeds. I often use these in my sauerkraut.
For each head of cabbage you will need 1 Tablespoon of sea salt.
In your crock or a large bowl layer the ingredients and using your pounder, begin pounding the cabbage to release the juices. As you work this you should start to see the juices release from the cabbage.
Once all the cabbage has been pounded and the juices are released add a weight to the top of the jar or crock and cover with plastic wrap to keep air out. If you are able to ferment this in a dark place away from the light that is best. Ferment at room temperature for 3 weeks, then transfer to quart jars and refrigerate.
I use the peels and cores of the apple after making pie or processing apples for canning or drying.
Always use organic apples or those you grew yourself and have not treated with pesticides.
Remove any worm holes or bad spots from the apples first. Place the peels and cores in a glass jar and cover with water.
At this point you may add a small amount of apple cider vinegar as a starter for this batch.
add a weight to the jar if needed and cover with a cheese cloth, secured in place with a rubber band. Let sit at room temperature in an dark closest for 3 months. At the end of 3 months taste to see if it is done. If so strain and bottle. If it does not taste done leave to ferment for another month.
Dill Pickled Vegetables
Cucumbers, green beans or carrots, enough to fill a 2 quart jar
4 cloves of garlic
3 heaping tablespoons of dill weed
Wash the vegetables and fill the jar to 2 in from the top.
Poor the spices over the top of the vegetables.
To make the brine, mix 5 cups of filtered or well water with 3 3/4 Tablespoons of pink Himalayan sea salt. Poor the brine over the top of the vegetables.
Place weight in the jar. If you are using a wide mouth mason jar you can use a 4 oz jar as the weight, it fits perfectly inside the 2 quart jar.
Allow to ferment for 2 weeks at room temperature. Then refrigerate.
Start by skimming the cream off your fresh raw milk.
Set the cream out on the counter in a glass jar for 18-24 hours.
Poor cream into a bosch mixer and whisk until the fat separates.
Strain through a mesh strainer to separate the butter from the buttermilk.
Reserve the buttermilk for future recipes.
Wash the butter with cold water until the water runs clear. Squeeze the water out of the butter with your hands by pressing it together. Add salt to taste, wrap and refrigerate.