Fermenting, Health & Disease, Processing & Food Preservation, Recipes — by Elisabeth Fekonia May 30, 2011
3 types of lactic ferment
The world is full of bacteria but there are certain bacteria that are fast becoming an endangered species. The bacteria that live in the gut of homo sapiens, particularly those of Caucasian origin, are fast disappearing. These particular bacteria comprise of the good bowel flora that is needed to create vitamins, break down undigested food particles and generally be a dominating presence within the nether regions. The importance of these bacteria cannot be overestimated as more and more victims can attest to the symptoms that a lack of these organisms will create.
Another class of endangered species is food enzymes. These enzymes are needed for the optimum digestion of food. The body’s own supply is diminishing day by day by eating mostly cooked food, and these enzymes are not being replenished through our modern diets.
Food allergies, candida, irritable bowel syndrome and even cancer, are all symptoms of a lack of friendly bacteria and enzymes in the gut. It has been noted that no cancer patient has healthy bowel flora. That speaks volumes doesn’t it? The balance needs to be put back so that the pathogens don’t gain a foothold. We need to put back those organisms that are disappearing from our health and well being.
So what can be done about re-instating these important organisms?
There are plenty of supplements on the market that will help to put back those missing enzymes and bacteria, but this is not the real solution. I don’t believe that we can have the good health as nature intended us to have if we pop pills instead of having all our nutritional needs met through our food. It’s a well known fact these days that we are short-changed by the quality of the food we buy. Food grown with chemical input is not adequate to meet our mineral and vitamin needs. If our food isn’t grown in healthy, living soil then we won’t have all our nutritional needs met.
We must insist on having access to organic food and nothing else will do! Buying organic food is out of the reach of many people as it is more expensive. If you are able to grow some of your own fruit and vegetables then consider yourself privileged as growing your own food has so many benefits. When you have access to fresh organic produce then we can go to the next step of creating the life we need to put back into our daily diet.
Make your own living food — living food that is raw and fermented
You might be familiar with sauerkraut, a ferment made from cabbage. The cabbage is rich with lactic bacteria that will readily ferment the cabbage into sauerkraut. Eating some sauerkraut with your cooked meals will add health giving lactic bacteria and digestive enzymes, thus helping your digestion and the assimilation of nutrients. Another example is making your own yoghurt. Yoghurt is full of friendly bacteria needed for your gut flora and when you have the right bacterial strains these will help put back those missing bacteria into your lower bowel. Acidophilus and bifidus are the two bacteria strains that we are born with and having these in great numbers will keep us healthy on the inside. We are often lacking in these two bacteria strains due to our modern lifestyles and a regular intake of fresh yoghurt will go a long way to giving us robust good health. Making your own yoghurt with a yoghurt culture will be the most beneficial, as this yoghurt will have not have mere millions, but billions of these bacteria in it. It’s all about numbers.
These are about the only examples of ferments that we still include in our western diet. Unfortunately the sauerkraut you buy will most likely be pasteurized and so won’t give you those much valued enzymes and those beneficial bacteria. The yoghurt you buy is likely to be pasteurized and sweetened, and has very little value in adding the life you need for your inner health. These fermented foods need to be raw, that is, alive, to be of benefit for your health.
Fortunately we can easily ferment our food so we can add these living organisms in our daily diet. When fermenting any food, it is wise to look for the best quality ingredients. The produce needs to be organic and nutrient dense for the enzymes to do their job to their full capacity. The water used needs to be pure and the addition of some sea salt and whey is also essential. The whey must be naturally soured to be effective, as it is the lactic bacteria that we need from the whey to inoculate a new ferment with. If you make your own yoghurt and find that there is a layer of whey on top, then pour that off and add this into your new ferment.
All vegetables, fruit, grain, nuts and seeds can be fermented and these will add a tasty and vital addition to the daily diet. You will find that every traditional culture will have some fermented food with their meal. Beet kvass, butter milk, kefir, yoghurt, amazaki, kombucha tea are but some examples of drinks that we can have with our meals. Sauerkraut, kimchi, traditional lactic bread and butter cucumbers and other lactic fermented vegetables are all enzyme rich additions to help us to digest and assimilate our food. Grains are also fermented in many cultures and sourdough is making a come back again as more people recognize the benefits of this type of bread. In traditional cultures all grains and most starches are fermented first before cooking them. These are all ancient practices that we have forgotten about since the advent of the industrial age and our modern day food processing methods. We have suffered ill health long enough as a society and we need to take serious steps in getting back to home food production and the fermentation of our food.
Once you discover the taste of fermented food and see how easy it is to make, you’ll wonder how you got on in life without it. You will find that you will feel lighter after meals and have more vitality and resistance to disease as your inner health has been re-vitalised with healthy gut flora.
- Take a wongbok cabbage and shred it coarsely and pound to break down the cellulose
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 3-4 red hot chillies, finely chopped
- fresh grated ginger
- sea salt
- some naturally sourced whey
Mix a brine of about ½ litre of water and enough salt so that the water tastes a bit salty. Add a couple of tablespoons of whey.
Add all the other ingredients into the brine including the kimchi base if you are using this.
Place a plate on top with a weight on it to keep the vegetables submerged.
Keep on a bench for five days, and pack the contents into jars and place in the fridge. Press most of the liquid out so the mix won’t go too sour.
Note: There is a Kimchi base available at Asian supermarkets and this is the genuine Korean chili taste for the kimchi. It comes in a glass bottle and costs around $10. Make sure you read the label though as some have monosodium glutamate (MSG) in it.
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