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Eat Local! Fermented Foods

July 31, 2015

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1438359507888{padding-top: 10px !important;padding-right: 10px !important;padding-bottom: 10px !important;padding-left: 10px !important;}”]Inland NW Food Network - Fermented foodsNot just the ‘next big thing’ in the food industry, fermented foods have had a place at the table for thousands of years. In fact, fermenting foods was the primary form of food preservation preceding the invention of the refrigerator, or “ice box”, in the mid-1800’s.

Fermenting food is the process of enhancing nutrients, breaking down fibers and converting sugars to lactic acid via probiotics. Probiotics are microorganisms, including bacteria, yeasts and other single-celled microbes, that are vital to your gut and overall health. Over 100 trillion microorganisms reside in and on our body and they must work in a delicate balance to achieve optimal health. The SAD (Standard American Diet) is virtually devoid of these organisms although they are essential to our well-being.

Eating just 1 spoonful of a fermented food per day can start to improve digestion by decreasing the frequency of bloating, gas and constipation. If eaten just before a meal, it works as a digestive aide to start the process of digestion strong; releasing adequate stomach acid and digestive enzymes, bile to break down fats and contributes a diversity of microorganisms to the gut. Fermenting foods releases enzymes that help break down food while also improving the B-vitamins and phytonutritents.Inland NW Food Network - Fermented foods dinner

My favorite fermented foods are kefir water, milk kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, beet kvass, tempeh, miso, sourdough bread, cheese, pickles and beer. The easiest fermented foods to start experimenting with on your own are fermented vegetables and kombucha.

 

 

Power-to-the-Purple Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is traditionally a fermented food but it’s hard to find it that way anymore. In fact, it’s usually sold in jars in the grocery store, pasteurized and 100% bacteria-free. Bring your cabbage back to life and embrace the power of probiotics!

1 medium red cabbage (about 2 pounds)

1 tablespoon sea salt

2 large carrots, grated

1 bunch green onions, diced (1-2 cups)

1 tsp cumin, coriander, caraway, dill or fennel seeds

  1. Cut cabbage in half core-to-tip. Remove core and peel away outside layer. Using a sharp knife, thinly slice cabbage and place in large bowl or crock. Evenly distribute salt. Avoid using metal utensils, bowls or storage wear.
  2. Using your hands, a pestle or large wooden kitchen utensil, begin to aggressively massage or pound the cabbage mixture for several minutes until salt and agitation begins to release juices. Add carrots and green onions.
  3. Using 2-3 quart glass jars and a wide-mouth funnel, distribute vegetable mixture into jars. When jars are loosely filled, use the pestle or end of a wooden spoon to compact. Cover with a breathable material such as tea towels, paper towels or cheesecloth.
  4. For the first 24 hours, check on the cabbage at least every 8 hours, continuously pounding out more juices. The goal is to submerge the cabbage completely in its own juices. After 24 hours, if cabbage hasn’t released enough juice, add cold-filtered water to cover.
  5. Place a weight over vegetables to keep them submerged, cover and leave in a warm, dark place. Fermentation time varies* greatly so check on it at least daily. When the cabbage produces bubbles and the texture and taste are where you’d like, refrigerate.

*Depending on the time of year, the temperature of your home, and the climate you live in, fermentation times vary. If you see anything “funky” growing on the top, scrape away or start over.

 

Basic Kombucha

Kombucha is a great way to trick yourself into thinking you’re enjoying a light, refreshing adult cocktail. I like to serve mine up in a wine or martini glass with a slice of lemon or lime and sparkling mineral water. My favorite days in the kitchen are experimenting with new flavor combinations and second ferments. Get creative!

1 SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast) – can be found in stores, online or donated by a friend

1 cup sugar (sugar in the raw, honey* or raw coconut sugar)

2-3 bags black tea

2-3 bags green tea

1-2 cups of kombucha (store-bought or from a friend)

Large glass or ceramic fermenting vessel

Filtered water

  1. Wash all cookware and glassware in hot, soapy water. Let air-dry.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring 4-6 cups of water to a boil. Turn off the heat and add tea bags.
  3. Mix in sugar until dissolved. Allow tea bags to steep for at least 10 minutes or until cool. Sweetened tea must come to room temperature before making contact with SCOBY.
  4. In the large fermenting vessel, combine the sweetened tea mixture, the kombucha “starter” and fill with filtered water – leaving about 3-6” from the top.
  5. Gently add the SCOBY to the top and securely cover with a breathable top (such as a kitchen linen or paper towel). Taste-test kombucha every couple days until desired taste is achieved. If you like it sweeter, do not ferment as long. For a more potent and astringent taste, ferment longer.

*Honey plays nice with some SCOBYs and not with others. If you are using raw, unfiltered honey, beware that the bacteria in the honey may kill the SCOBY. I recommend experimenting with this on a hearty, weathered SCOBY only.

Article and recipes by Darci Barman, MSN, RDN, LD, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist practicing “foods-first”, functional nutrition at Pilgrim’s Wellness Clinic, inside Pilgrim’s Market in CDA, ID. For more information, see www.darcibarman.com[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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