I have been having the best summer, enjoying all the lovely sunshine, going for lots of adventures with Bruce our old Vw Camper Van and generally fermenting everything!!
To say it has become an obsession is a bit of an understatement! I now dream about fermenting stuff!!
My fridge is full of all sorts of jars of starters, milk kefir grains, water kefir grains, seasonal ferments and my cupboard is full of various ferments bubbling away!
Now much as I would love to say I grow all my own veggies, that would be far from the truth! However I am a fan of seasonal eating and in the summer we have so much incredible produce to choose from!
Think juicy tomatoes, crisp green courgettes, shiny peppers, lush green herbs, colourful edible flowers, rosy pink radishes, rainbow coloured salad leaves! I could go on but you get my drift!
I do however grow lots of herbs and I have courgettes and tomatoes this year but none are ready yet! So I'm experimenting with all sorts of flavoured kombuchas, water kefir and fruit Kvass and making use of all my abundant herbs, mint, basil, lemon balm, lemon verbena, thyme, oregano, fennel, borage and nasturtiums!
I ran a workshop last week with my awesome friend Sonnda Catto, a Cordon bleu trained chef, pattisserie expert, nutritionist with the most developed palate I have ever come across! She creates the most amazing freefrom foods I have ever tasted! They may be glutenfree, sugarfree, grainfree, dairyfree but they are most definitely not flavour free!
Sonnda has a restricted diet because of her ME but she certainly makes the the most incredible food from the best quality ingredients! We will be collaborating again and running regular workshops so watch this space for details.
And I will be launching a new programme of workshops, covering all things fermented, details coming soon!
Anyway as usual I digress, I have so much to share with all you lovely people that I simply become overwhelmed and don't know what to share first, so end up sharing nothing!!
So I have decided to focus on tomatoes and give you two new recipes, both fermented, for awesome flavour and health benefits!
These are both really simple and all you need are your ingredients and a glass jar! No cultures or special fermenting equipment required!
Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, which after fermentation becomes more bioavailable, which means your body can use it more efficiently! All sorts of magical stuff happens when you ferment food and its all good!! Lycopene has been associated with reduced risk of several cancers and it can also protect your skin from sun damage! Tomatoes are also rich in potassium which regulates fluid balance and are an excellent source of vitamin C, which also increases during fermentation!
So there you have it! Tomatoes, like all fruits and veggies, are extremely good for you, but fermenting them takes the health benefits to another level, as well as adding lots of gut healing lactobacillus bacteria, which just support every system in your body!
So no excuses, go and ferment some tomatoes!!
These are very aptly named and are indeed wee bombs of flavour with a delicate fizz on the tongue, that only fermentation can provide!
The recipe is so simple, you can hardly call it a recipe!!
CHERRY TOMATO BOMBS
So gather together some wee organic cherry or wee plum tomatoes, or better still use homegrown ones, about 500g.
Find yourself a large glass jar and give it a wash in hot soapy water then rinse it well. I used a large olive jar from Lidl but any glass jar will do.
Make a wee hole in each tomato using a wooden cocktail stick or skewer, pop them in your jar, add 3 or 4 bashed garlic cloves, a few sprigs of basil, any other herbs you have like flat leaf parsley, rosemary, oregano or thyme. Make a brine by dissolving a tablespoon sea salt in 1 litre filtered water then pour it over the tomatoes. Leave an inch or so headspace to stop the brine overflowing. I covered mine with a big grape leaf from my garden but nasturtium leaves also work well or a large lettuce leaf or cabbage leaf. The idea is to keep the tomatoes submerged in the brine. You can also use a ziplock bag then fill it with water to keep everything weighed down.
Put the lid on loosely and leave it to ferment for 4 or 5 days, at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. You should see bubbles after a few days indicating that fermentation is proceeding normally.
After 4 or 5 days you should have delicious probiotic flavoursome tomatoes with a gentle fizz when you eat them.
Transfer to the fridge and enjoy!
So at my workshop last week, we sampled all sorts of delicious fermented summer treats and this awesome fermented salsa was a big hit! Although so was everything else, but I'm focusing on tomatoes today, so here is the recipe, adapted from my favourite book The Cultured Club by Dearbhla Reynolds!
(Makes 1 litre jar)
This salsa just tastes alive, so delicious and the fermentation adds a lovely sour tang. This is a great way of using up tomatoes and who doesn’t love salsa with tortilla chips! Or on a slice of sourdough with avocado as a probiotic bruschetta! To be honest this tastes amazing as it is, so if you don’t have time to ferment it then you can still enjoy all the amazing flavours, you just won’t have any probiotics! It’s a fast ferment, only 3 to 5 days so not that long to wait!! Alternatively, just add a clove of fermented garlic, job done!
Oh and keep any remaining brine in a wee jar in the fridge, you can add a tablespoon to some mashed avocado for fermented guacamole or pour it over your salad with some of your favourite oil! My current favourite is avocado and walnut oil!!
This is so easy. Simply mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, then pack into a clean 1 litre jar, leaving 2.5cm headspace at the top. Pack it in tightly to expel any air and bring juices to the surface. You can omit the chilli or add more depending on how hot you like it! I'm a chilli wimp so only add a wee pinch of chilli flakes.
Close the lid and allow to ferment at room temp for 3 to 5 days. Taste it after 3 days, it should have a wee fermenty fizz and zing. You can leave it for another day or so, if the flavour isn't to your liking, but don't leave it much longer or you can end up with an alcoholic tasting salsa, which isn't very nice!!
Put a bowl underneath it to catch any escaping juices. Transfer to the fridge, it will keep for around 6 months but it will be long gone by then!
So I've been busy replenishing all my fermented veggies. All I had left was a sad looking grey kimchi and an equally sad lemon and dill kraut!
I had forgotten how much I enjoy fermented veggies, just a tablespoon per day can boost your gut bacteria and give you a whole host of health benefits.
I used to only make plain boring old sauerkraut with cabbage and salt but since I've discovered how versatile and delicious kraut can be I've been experimenting with lots of different flavour additions!
I currently have 3 batches on the go but this pineapple turmeric ginger kraut is my absolute favourite. I love all the ingredients individually but put them together and ferment them for a few days and you have the most delicious zingy, earthy, sweet, salty and sour flavour explosion that looks like summer days, its such a vibrant bright sunshiny yellow colour!
Apart from the amazing taste, each of the ingredients have a myriad of health benefits so go figure, if you add them all together and ferment them, you add even more benefits and a load of gut healing healthy probiotics! I love the fact that whole foods work in synergy and enhance each others effects. Nutrition can't be broken down to individual components, its not a reductionist thing! Foods are more than the sum of their parts! Thats why extracting and concentrating individual minerals, vitamins or antioxidants don't work as well as the whole foods they are extracted from. There is a whole world of interactions between fibre, protein, simple sugars, minerals, vitamins, enzymes, trace elements and co enzymes, which we will never know. It's just too complex!
In my opinion, you can't improve on nature. Eat foods as close to their natural state as possible, as fresh as possible, and be aware of how to enhance their health benefits.
Anyway I digress,
The brilliant thing about fermented veggies is you are providing your body with a whole host of probiotic good gut bacteria and the veggies are a food source for them! They thrive on fibre so it makes sense to eat the bacteria and the food at the same time!
Cabbage is a member of the cruciferous family, along with broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and kale, and has amazing gut healing and cancer fighting properties, due to the glucosinolate compounds it contains along with sulphur compounds and lots of vitamins and minerals.
Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain which helps to digest protein, and is especially useful for clearing mucous and sinus problems. It is also a great cough suppressant and works just as well as over the counter cough remedies! It's also a powerful anti inflammatory.
Ginger is great for soothing the digestion, relieving nausea and fighting inflammation in the body.
Turmeric is a superstar in the health stakes, it is a powerful anti inflammatory, relieves pain, kills cancer cells and just works on so many levels, you would be missing out on a whole lot of healing power if you didn't include turmeric in your diet! Black pepper enhances the action of turmeric and good quality fat enhancers its absorption even further.
So as I said earlier, if you put all these amazing ingredients together and ferment them with some sea salt, then you have an awesome inflammation fighting superfood, which just happens to taste amazing too!! Bearing in mind that every chronic disease involves inflammation on some level and pretty much all of us will have some low grade inflammation going on somewhere in our body, so we can all benefit from this amazing food. And fighting inflammation is only one of the health benefits of these powerful ingredients, there are many more......
So do yourself a favour and give this amazing sauerkraut a go!!
All you need is a white cabbage, preferably organic but at least locally sourced, 1/2 pineapple, some fresh ginger and some fresh or powdered turmeric, some sea salt and a large glass jar with a lid.
I don't sterilise my jars, just wash them in hot soapy water then rinse them really well to remove any traces of soap.
You can buy large glass Mason jars or Kilner jars with clip top lids in most supermarkets. Ikea and Home Bargains are particularly good value!
The most important thing to remember when fermenting veggies of any kind, is to keep the veggies submerged in the brine. In order to do this, you need what is called a follower, meaning something to place on top of the veggies, followed by a weight of some sort to hold it all down. A large cabbage leaf works well, with a glass gu pot to weight it down, which fits perfectly in a glass mason jar.
Alternatively you can use a ziplock bag, press it down firmly on top of your veggies and fill it with brine solution or water to act as a follower and weight in one!
The idea is to keep any small bits of veggies from floating above the brine, which can cause mould or kahm yeast, neither of which you want it your lovely ferment!
This is a fast ferment and only takes 4 to 7 days. Fermentation is affected by the temperature, if its too cold your ferment will take longer. 15 to 22 degrees C is the temperature range that the bacteria we are trying to cultivate, function best at, which is essentially room temperature. Keep your jar away from direct sunlight. Your kitchen worktop or a kitchen cupboard is ideal and allows you to keep an eye on it. If any bits of cabbage float to the top then remove them or push them back under the brine. You will see bubbles as the fermentation progresses which is a good sign that all is progressing normally!
This is truly delicious and a great accompaniment to any sandwich, wrap, snack, toast, eggs, savoury dish, buffet spread or just eaten as it is. You only need a tablespoon a day to boost your gut bacteria and reap the health benefits!
Wee point to remember, please use a clean spoon or fork when taking any of your kraut from the jar. You don't want to introduce any bacteria or moulds and ruin your lovely kraut!
So here is the simple recipe...
Pineapple Turmeric Ginger Kraut
....your health in your hands....
Hi everyone and welcome to my first blog post of 2018! I have been extremely busy redecorating the house since the new year, it's just what I felt like doing and once I started I couldn't stop!!
Sometimes we have to just go with the flow and do what we feel like doing, rather than what we feel we have to!
I have decided that I want to be more creative this year and develop a mindfulness and meditation practice and of course spend lots of time with Bruce our VW Camper Van exploring our beautiful country and going to lots of festivals!
So that's my plan, hope everyone has some fun things planned for this year!
Which brings me back to the purpose of my blog which is to spread the word on the power of food and nutrition to heal us and keep us well so that we can enjoy our lives to the full!
I succumbed to the flu type virus that was doing the rounds over the festive season, which brings into sharp focus how awful it is to be unable to do the things we want and spend quality time with our family and friends.
I'm not a fan of taking drugs and think in a way that by taking drugs at the slightest sign of symptoms, we are basically telling our bodies that we don't trust them to heal us. Our immune systems do an incredible job for us, fighting viruses, bacteria and all manner of other ills, if we support them with healing foods and let them get on with it.
So my plan was to rest in bed for a few days, and boost my immune system with shots of pineapple, ginger, lemon and turmeric, which worked great to suppress my cough, lots of healing soups and fruit to boost my vitamin levels and harness the awesome power of garlic and onions to fight the infection, which I'm happy to say they did!
It just brings into sharp focus the power of food to heal us on every level! Food is the original medicine, drugs are the new kids on the block!
Garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. Its usage predates written history! Sanskrit records document the use of garlic remedies approximately 5000 years ago, while the Chinese have been using it for at least 3000 years.
Hippocrates and Aristotle cited numerous therapeutic uses for garlic.
Its multifaceted in its healing power. It's antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal & anti parasitic. It can clear heavy metals from the colon, fights infection due to colds, flu, strep throat, pneumonia and viral related cancers. It can lower blood pressure, protect the heart and lower cholesterol. Not bad for a lowly garlic clove!!
Many of the therapeutic effects of garlic are thought to be due to the many sulphur containing compounds it contains. It is also an excellent source of Vit B6, manganese, selenium, phosphorous, calcium, potassium and iron.
There are 27 known active ingredients in garlic and dozens more that work in ways we haven't discovered yet! Many of these compounds work synergistically in the body to fight infection.
Many serious bugs, among them MRSA and staphylococcal strains of bacteria, have developed resistance to most antibiotic drugs, but not to the awesome power of garlic, due to the chemical complexity which these superbugs can't fight!
The other interesting thing about garlic is it only kills bad bacteria and leaves all the good guys unaffected, whereas antibiotics wipe out most of the good ones as well as the bad ones, leaving your immune system compromised and your gut microbes decimated!
Not good on any level for your health!
Which brings me back to another of my favourite topics, Fermentation!!
Now bearing in mind all the benefits I have just told you about, you can take garlic and boost its power by a large degree by simply fermenting it in a salt brine for a few weeks and then keeping it in the fridge, to use whenever you like! I add it to all my dips and dressings for a real flavour and health boost! It's definitely best used raw to preserve all the probiotic bacteria but you add it to any recipe requiring garlic at the end.
This simple process increases the vitamins, makes them more bioavailable and adds lots of beneficial lactic acid bacteria (the good guys!) So this is indeed a win-win situation!
Additionally the strong flavour mellows out during the fermentation process and magically doesn't linger on your breath!
The only drawback to making fermented garlic is the number of cloves you have to peel first! However, in my positive world, I see this as some time out, sitting comfortably, listening to some nice music and usually with a nice glass of wine or a lovely coffee, depending on the time of day!!
Mindfulness in action right there!
If you really don't have the time to sit and peel a massive pile of garlic, you can try putting your separated cloves into a big pot, putting the lid on and giving it a good shake! Apparently it works but I haven't tried it myself!
Also if possible, buy organic garlic! Best to start with the best quality ingredients you can find!
So all you need is a clean glass jar, enough garlic cloves to fill it, some salt water and a few black peppercorns (optional) and some patience! Bearing in mind it takes at least 2 weeks but preferably nearer 4 to ferment, then it's really worth making a lot. It will keep up to a year in the fridge!
Firstly find yourself a decent sized glass jar and give it a good wash in hot soapy water then rinse it well to remove any traces of soap. Then the hard bit,
peel loads of garlic, enough to almost fill your jar. Add the peeled garlic cloves to your jar, add some peppercorns if you like! Then make up a 2% brine solution using a good quality sea salt without any additives or anti caking agents! This is simply 20g of sea salt dissolved in a litre of water. It depends on the size of your jar how much brine you will need. If you are using a smallish jar then just make up 500 mls brine with 10 g sea salt.
Pour the brine over the garlic cloves and make sure they are totally covered. Leave at least 2.5cm of headspace at the top of your jar. It's a good idea to add a weight of some sort to keep the garlic submerged. A small ziplock bag filled with extra brine works well or a large cabbage leaf or a small glass gu pot. Put your jar out of direct sunlight but at room temperature for at least 2 weeks. I left mine for 6 weeks. You should see small bubbles of carbon dioxide which is a sign that the fermentation is proceeding normally. Once fermented you can store it in the fridge where it will keep happily for up to a year!
Occasionally some of the garlic cloves turn blue, which is just due to the sulphur compounds and nothing to worry about!!
You will find endless ways to use your fermented garlic! It tastes like a cross between raw and roasted garlic and adds great flavour and amazing health benefits to any food you add it to!
..... your health in your hands.....
🍃 Health educator🍃