Lacto-fermented foods have been around for a
very long time. Common in Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and North and
Central European cuisine, fermentation has been used to enhance the
flavor of food, create food, and help food having a longer shelf life.
Fermented foods are delicious and nutritious. These traditional
foods are key to our health.
Fermentation allows the bacteria, yeasts and
molds to "predigest" and therefore break down the
carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to create "Probiotics"
which offer friendly bacteria into our digestive tract. This helps
keep our immune system strong and supports our overall digestive health.
Probiotics are particularly important when we
are sick and are taking antibiotics. Antibiotics kill off all the
bacteria, the bad that are making you sick and also the good bacteria.
That's why many people get yeast infections when they take antibiotics.
Probiotics reintroduce good helpful bacteria into our digestive tract so
that while the bad bug is being fought by the antibiotics, we won't get
other sickness on top of that. Acidophilus pills are a Probiotic
which many of us take when we are taking antibiotics. Look for
pills that have billions of live flora. Look for pills that must
be refrigerated. Jarrow is a good brand. They make some just
for kids too that taste good and are cute shapes. Delicious
Organics will soon be carrying some of the best probiotics. Best
yet, keep your digestive flora healthy and strong by regularly eating
Fermented foods are enzyme rich foods that are
alive with micro-organisms. These foods allow beneficial
microflora to "colonize" in our intestines (and for
moms-to-be, also in the birth canal) to keep us healthy. Our
"inner ecosystem" helps support our health and fight
infection. A healthy gastrointestinal tract (GI) is critical
to a strong immune system. Diets rich in fermented foods, as well
as fruits and vegetables, are best for us to in order to maintain a
strong healthy body.
Fermented foods aid in digestion, promote
healthy flora in our digestive tract, produce beneficial enzymes, offer
us better nutrition and allow our bodies to absorb vitamins (in
particular C, and B12), minerals, nutritional value and omega 3s more
effectively from foods. They regulate the level of acidity in the
digestive tract and act as anti-oxidants. Fermented foods contain
the same is othiocyanates found in cruciferous vegetables and therefore
fight and prevent cancer.
Many fermented foods on the market today are
not true fermented foods because they are created to maximize profits
and shelf life instead of our health. They are not as beneficial.
It's important that we eat foods that are fermented with
"Active" or "Live" Cultures. Pasteurization
kills off the living bacteria so look for unpasteurized and fresh
fermented foods (in the grocery refrigerator section). Since
fermentation is a way to keep the living enzymes alive, it goes against
the theory to use pasteurized (or dead) milk, for example, but you can
make yogurt and kefir with pasteurized milk, it just won't be as robust
- Kumiss (Kefir from goat's
- Marinated Artichokes
- Marinated Mushrooms
- Nuoc Mam
- Sauerkraut (caution: salt
- Sourdough Bread
- Soy Sauce
- Umeboshi Plums
is a micro-flora commonly found in dairy products. It is
also in fermented vegetables. Lactobacillus Planatarum and
Lactobacillus Brevis are also helpful micro-flora found in
Fermented or Cultured vegetables. These bacteria are
destroyed when heated. Fermented foods are alive with
micro-flora to aid our digestive system. For a healthy gut,
and therefore a healthy body, consume fermented foods regularly.
You can purchase them or make them yourself.
With B12, Vitamin K, B1 and calcium that
is more readily absorbed into the body, Kefir
is good food. How to use it? Many people like to mix
Kefir with some orange juice or make a smoothie by adding some
fruit. Kefir means "feel good" in Turkish.
And it's no wonder because it does make us feel good!
Both Kefir and Yogurt have live
beneficial bacteria but Kefir has more strains (including
Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter, and Strepococcus).
Yogurt is traditionally firmer while Kefir is more liquidy and
Kefir is therefore easier to digest. The bacteria of Yogurt
cleans the digestive system and feeds good bacteria in the gut
while the bacteria of Kefir can actually colonize and grow there
and can therefore continue to be beneficial after being eaten.
Kefir also contains beneficial yeasts (that's what gives it it's
zing and may make the bottle bloat) which seek out and destroy
unhealthy yeasts in the body and therefore create a stronger
immune system. Kefir keeps the colon clean and supports a
healthy digestive system. While Kefir is more nutritious
than Yogurt, Yogurt is still a very healthy food.
Please note that many yogurts today
contain the FOS and Inulin. These occur naturally in Garlic,
Sunchokes, and Asparagus but is not a natural occurrence in
Yogurt. FOS and Inulin are both "sugars" and the
claim is that it assists the body to absorb calcium from the
yogurt. However, some research indicates that FOS and Inulin
are difficult or impossible to digest and can affect some people
negatively (heartburn, gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea)
after eating yogurt with these additions. Inulin and FOS
promote fermentation in the body which does feed good bacteria but
may also feed bad bacteria at the same time.
Use fresh, well-cleaned
cabbage either on its own or as the primary ingredient along
with beets, carrots, garlic, celery, kelp, herbs or any other
vegetable you enjoy. You may add a high quality sea salt if
desired. A five-gallon container will hold about 35 pounds of
vegetables and it is best to use at least 25 pounds per recipe.
You can either grind the vegetables using a Champion Juicer
(without the screen) or cut and shred them with a food
processor. If you use the latter process, pound the vegetables
to make them juicier.
Put the prepared
vegetables in a stainless steel, ceramic or a glass crock. Don't
fill the crock to the brim because the fermenting vegetables are
likely to expand and may overflow. Put lots of fresh cabbage
leaves on top of the ground up vegetables and using your hands
and a little body weight, gently and firmly compress the leaves.
Put a plate that is as
wide as possible in the crock and then add some weight to the
plate, such as a lidded glass jar filled with two-thirds of a
pint of water. A little weight will be sufficient, as too much
will force the vegetable juice above the fermenting vegetables.
Check the fermenting vegetables a few times over the next day
and a half to ensure that the plate is sitting evenly on the
vegetables and is not lopsided.
Let the fermenting
vegetables sit in a well-ventilated space at room temperature
(between 59-71º) for five to seven days. The longer it sits the
stronger it gets. After five to seven days (6-7 days at 62ºand
5-6 days at 70º), throw away the old cabbage leaves and the
moldy and discolored vegetables on the top. Put the remaining
delicious fermented vegetables in glass jars and refrigerate.
The Raw Cultured Vegetables will last from four to eight months
when kept at 34º and opened minimally. Do not freeze them.