Thursday, December 16, 2010

Making live-culture foods . . .

About two months ago it suddenly hit me. The way I expressed it at that time was, "I like acidic foods." I'm not sure I got that right. Maybe I should have said "tart" foods or "piquant" foods--spicy tomato sauces in or for pizza or spaghetti; spicy (though not overly-hot) salsa and/or picante sauces; sauerkraut; pickles; SweeTarts® candies; vinegary salads; kefir; yogurt; sourdough breads (the sourer the better!) . . . --If I'm eating spinach or broccoli: give me lemon juice on them. (Yum!) . . . Oh! And that makes me realize: Yes, I love almost all citrus fruits. I'll suck on a lemon with pleasure. Straight. Grapefruit. . . .


Probably two and a half years ago, now, Amy introduced us to Bubbies® naturally fermented sauerkraut and pickled cucumbers. They were good, though I have continued to prefer more "modern" sauerkraut.

Early this past summer, while I was visiting Amy and Phil in Virginia, Amy offered me some homemade kombucha--a fermented sweet tea.

Oh, wow! Very refreshing!

I have never enjoyed the flavor of alcohol. As I have told many people, it always makes me think of cough syrup. Yucky! (It seems that at least a couple of my kids have inherited the alcohol-tastes-yucky gene from me.)

And kombucha, apparently, can ferment to alcohol. At least slightly. But if Amy's komucha contained alcohol, it was very slight, and I enjoyed the flavor.

Late this fall I decided I would begin brewing my own kombucha. I have now made and consumed two full batches and am brewing my third.

Sarita hasn't joined me. But I enjoy it.

A few weeks ago, as I was in our local Vitamin Cottage/Natural Grocers, Sarita asked me to find some kimchi--the Korean equivalent to sauerkraut but made with almost any vegetables rather than cabbage either necessarily or primarily. (Kimchi can be virtually the equivalent of sauerkraut, but usually not.)

Anyway. After trying kimchi, and realizing that the local fresh fruits and vegetables season is at an end, we got to talking about how we might preserve the remaining organic vegetables we have on hand, and especially cabbage.

"What if we make our own sauerkraut?"

So that's what I did beginning about two weeks ago.

I chopped a head of cabbage into relatively fine pieces, then dumped them into the crock from our crock pot along with some sea salt; mashed the mixture down as well as I could (and I mean mashed it!); placed a saucer on top of the mash; mashed that down; placed a half-gallon jar full of water on top of the saucer to apply continual pressure; covered the entire apparatus with a clean towel; used a rubber band to seal the edges; and let it sit in the kitchen for about a week and a half.

Then, two days ago: voìla! Finished sauerkraut!

We ate some last night.


I'm hoping to learn how to make more such fermented foods with the capable coaching of Sandor Katz.

A postscript.

Last week, while I was at the Acres USA conference in Indianapolis, it hit me: several speakers commented on how animals know what foods to eat for their health. If they are in need of a particular nutrient, they will seek out--somehow, naturally, through some "sixth sense," as it were, exactly the kind of plant or animal or whatever-it-is (even dirt!) that they need to ingest in order properly to nutrify themselves.

Is it possible, I began to ask myself, that I desire fermented foods because I could really use the bacteria--the "probiotics"--that inhabit them? Have I been "starving" myself, as it were, of the very things that would provide great benefits to my body?

--The hypothesis would certainly fit with what a lot of naturopathically-oriented people say: that people (like me) with autoimmune difficulties often suffer from "leaky gut syndrome" which, itself, is often the result of a poor biotic atmosphere in the gut . . . a problem itself that often arises from too much use of antibiotics earlier in life.

Well, with my asthma difficulties as a child, I received quite a lot of antibiotics just to keep me alive. I am sure they did their work. But I don't remember anyone ever worrying about re-seeding my gut with appropriate bacteria once the bad bacteria had been eliminated.

I wonder. . . .
blog comments powered by Disqus