Fermenting foods may be a current craze with countless workshops and classes becoming available, but fermented food is one of the oldest forms of helping healthy gut flora, dating back some 5000 years.
Fermented foods have been used in many cultures throughout the world and fermenting is one of the oldest preservation methods. The Japanese, for instance, drink miso soup for breakfast as a protein rich, nutritious meal.
With 70% of our immune system living in our gut it is very important to build a healthy nest for our food to effectively digest.
So, What is it all about?
Fermentation creates a host of beneficial micro-organisms in food increasing its digestibility. When food is fermented it breaks down the cell walls and improves the absorption of nutrients in food. It can also increase the nutritional content of food.
DIY Fermented and Pickled Foods
12 medium beetroots
Seeds from 2 cardamom pods
1 tbsp. celtic salt
4 tbsp. whey (if not available add another tbsp. salt)
1 cup filtered water
Prick the beetroots in several places, place on a baking sheet and heat in a low oven for 3-6 hours or until soft.
Peel and cut into 1⁄4 inch pieces.
Place beetroot in a glass container with a wide mouth and press down with a meat hammer.
Combine the remaining ingredients and pour them over the beetroot. Add more water if necessary to cover the beetroot. It is best if the tops of the beetroots are at least 1 inch below the top of the jar.
Cover tightly with a lid or cloth and keep at room temperature for 3 days before putting it in the fridge.
- Beetroot is an antioxidant and a good source of iron.
1 tsp. miso paste, mixed with a little cold water
1 cup hot boiled water
Nori seaweed torn into small pieces
Stir ingredients together, take care with the temperature. A little cold water is best to keep the properties of miso intact.
- Miso can be bought in paste form and is made by fermenting soybeans with rice and barley with a starter called koji. Miso is high in protein, B vitamins and is quick to digest.
Spicy Kim Chi
1 green or red cabbage chopped
1 green or red cabbage juiced
4 large carrots chopped
4 large carrots juiced
1⁄4 cup freshly grated ginger
1 tbsp. cumin seed
1 tsp. dried red pepper, ground
1 tsp. miso
1⁄4 tsp. cayenne pepper 3 cloves garlic chopped
Blend carrot juice, cumin, cayenne, red pepper and miso.
Mix all ingredients by hand and place in a jar, making sure vegetables are covered with juice.
Cover the jar by placing several cabbage leaves on top.
Place a weight on top of the cabbage leaves and allow it to ferment for three or four days.
- Kimchi can be eaten on its own or served as a side dish to aid digestion.
TIP: You can buy a vegetable press from a health food shop and add shredded/grated vegetables and a couple of teaspoons of salt. The lid has a press and within 24 hours the cellulose membrane of the vegetable will break down and water will emerge. You can put the fermented vegetables in a glass jar and store in the fridge; they last about a week.
The art to perfecting fermentation is patience. These foods are great to have on hand to add to your meal, easily enhancing the nutritional content and aiding digestion.
Michèle Wolff is a leading health practitioner and a qualified naturopath, nutritionist, herbalist and nurse, owner of Ultimate Detox Solutions www.detoxspecialist.com.au. Her new book ‘Digestive Solutions – 101 Proven Methods to Solve Your Tummy Problems Naturally’ is available from bookstores and good online booksellers. Visit www.digestivesolutions.com.au RRP $39.95