I bought some great bargains at Holland and Barrett yesterday, among them, two bags of lovely dried Lerida Figs!
I absolutely love fresh figs but dried ones are also delicious and perfect in chutneys and this fabulous Fig & Olive Tapenade.
An intense sweet and salty at the same time, totally versatile, delicious, packed with nutrition and containing two fermented products, olives and apple cider vinegar, this is well worth making and its so simple.
Just remember to buy preservative free olives. I used black Kalamata from Aldi and green olives from Lidl, both delicious and a great price but if you want to push the boat out and splash out on some more expensive deli olives, then go right ahead!
Olives are a great source of monounsaturated fats, minerals, vitamins, fibre and various powerful antioxidants. I think we are all aware that the Mediterranean diet is an extremely healthy one, olives and quality olive oil are consumed in large amounts, along with plenty of seasonal colourful veggies and locally caught fish. Not forgetting regular consumption of red wine which we all know has various benefits for our health!!
Figs are a brilliant source of calcium and magnesium for strong bones, fibre which provides a laxative effect and balances blood sugar, and lots of other trace minerals.
This is a great wee accompaniment to tapas style food and pairs particularly well with goats cheese on toasted sourdough bread or to accompany a cheese board.
It has a really intense flavour so a little goes a long way.
This would make a lovely gift, in a nice glass jar with a hand written label!
On that note, this is so good I'm off to make another batch!!
Here is the simple recipe.....
FIG & OLIVE TAPENADE
.....your health in your hands....
What can I say, where have the last two months gone? I have been neglecting my blog and I do apologise!
But I have been having so much fun fermenting stuff and working on my workshops, which are going from strength to strength! This is seriously addictive, I have been researching, buying books, joining Facebook Groups and experimenting like a mad scientist, in the kitchen! Well I actually am a scientist and some folks would say I am mad, especially my family, who have to live with me and all my weird concoctions!
My fridge is full of jars of ferments, sourdough starters, kefir, kefir cheese, whey and coconut kefir and numerous bottles of kombucha!
I have a scoby hotel with spare kombucha scobies ( you will have to come to a workshop to find out more about these amazing cultures, they look a bit like slimy aliens but they create the most delicious, probiotic, health affirming drink!
Kefir grains are similar microbial and bacterial cultures but they look like wee mini cauliflowers and magically convert organic milk into one of the most probiotic foods on the planet. Home made is way superior to anything you can buy and its so much cheaper, once you have the cultures, they just keep on growing!
So I think I am justified in calling myself a Fermentista..., someone who ferments things! I rather like that!
So for my first blog post in quite some time, and since we are in BBQ season I thought I'd share a really simple recipe for Sweetcorn Relish but this isn't standard run of the mill, full of refined sugar relish you buy from the shops! Oh no this is totally different and actually has no added sugar at all and its fermented so its packed with beneficial probiotics too!
You can use frozen or fresh sweetcorn but if you are using fresh try and use the freshest you can. The longer corn sits on the shelves after harvesting the more the natural sugar turns to starch and the big appeal of sweetcorn for most of us is the delicious natural sweetness!
Frozen sweetcorn is generally frozen directly after harvesting, as are peas, so the majority of the vitamins are preserved and the sugars should be relatively intact!
Aldi and Lidl stock delicious supersweet frozen corn, which is a great price too. I always have a bag in the freezer! There is less waste since you just use what you need, rather than opening a tin and only using half of it.
Anyway back to this delicious summer relish! It incorporates a rainbow of colours from red onion, red pepper, courgette and fresh green coriander as well as vibrant yellow corn!
Every colour contains different phytochemicals all with amazing power to heal us and keep us well.
The process of fermenting harnesses the power of the natural lactobacillus bacteria (LAB for short), present on all fresh fruit and vegetables and these guys are among the toughest bacteria out there! Given the right conditions they will destroy any pathogenic or harmful bacteria leaving a fantastically powerful ferment full of these health affirming wee guys!
Magic happens when you ferment foods, problem compounds are broken down, vitamins are made more bio available meaning they are easier to digest, vitamins are formed especially B vitamins and Vitamin K essential for strong bones!
These probiotic foods are so powerful, we should all be including them in our diets.
The main thing to remember with fermenting veggies is to keep the veggies submerged in the brine solution. This creates the perfect environment for the lactobaccillus bacteria to work their magic and keeps moulds and yeast at bay! So wee mantra to remember when fermenting veggies
Under the brine and all is fine!!
The easiest way to do this is to use a small ziplock bag, press it down onto the top of your ferment then fill it with water or brine solution (2tsp salt per 500ml water) to act as a weight to keep the veggies under the brine. If you use brine solution, if your bag leaks, the salinity of your ferment won't be compromised! Remember to put a plate or bowl under your ferment to catch any leaking brine. As the fermentation progresses, carbon dioxide is produced which can build up if not released, so don't tightly screw the lid on your jar. Just seal the ziplock bag and cover loosely with the lid. Also its important to leave a bit of headspace in your jar so don't fill it right to the top. You need room for the ziplock bag! All the supermarkets, Aldi, Lidl, Home Bargains sell Kilner jars which are perfect for fermenting but any large glass jar will do. We save all our jars, especially large ones, olives and coconut oil are our favourites for fermenting. Once your relish is ready, you can transfer it to smaller jars where it will keep in the fridge for around a month.
So go have some fun and impress everyone at your next BBQ with your homemade, refined sugar free, probiotic relish!!
So here is the simple recipe..
Fermented Sweetcorn Relish
I am a big fan of all things fermented and brew my own kombucha, make coconut kefir, ferment veggies and most recently bake my own sourdough bread. That is almost like another wee family to look after, these are all living organisms and need to be fed and looked after if they are to thrive and multiply.
That is pretty much the complete spectrum of naturally fermented foods and drinks and I am sure my gut bacteria are plentiful and happy and I reap the benefits!
The wonderful thing about all these cultures is that they grow and multiply, if they are looked after correctly, so you can give some away and what a gift to give someone!
I have shared kefir grains with many people who are now happily making their own and given a few Scobys to those brave enough to brew their own kombucha! Scobys are rather horrible looking things but they make the most delicious, health affirming drink from sweetened green tea!
Happy Kombucha sell a wonderful range of all things for fermenting your own foods and drinks and I'd highly recommend them for kefir grains, scobies, equipment, bottles and everything else you need. You can find them here
I was talking at The Good Food Show last week on all things fermented and had a lot of interest in fermented veggies, the easiest to prepare yourself, since no special cultures are needed, its just sea salt, veggies and flavourings!
I had a few requests for a good Kimchi recipe, which is the Asian equivalent of sauerkraut.
Napa or Chinese Cabbage is the main ingredient which have more delicate leaves than other types of cabbage and lend themselves well to Kimchi!
Kimchi has way more flavour than sauerkraut, its spicy and delicious, flavoured with ginger, garlic and chile pepper flakes but not for the faint hearted!! You can adjust the amount of chilli if you prefer less spicy food!
Traditionally vegetables were fermented to preserve them, in the days before fridges, freezers and chemicals! Magic happens when veggies are fermented naturally, the vitamin C content shoots up markedly, beneficial bacteria are produced, gut healing compounds are formed and the immune system is given a tremendous boost!
When you compare how the food industry preserves food, it invariably involves heating to high temperatures, which kills any pathogenic bacteria but also all the beneficial ones!! Next is a wide array of chemicals, none of them with any benefit to you whatsoever and most of them are detrimental to your good gut bacteria and are linked with all sorts of allergies and health issues, so we essentially end up with a food which is less healthy than we started with!!
It just makes more sense nutritionally to go back to the way things were done traditionally when preserving foods resulted in a healthier and more nutritious product.
All we need to preserve food naturally is salt and some patience! A lot of the so called advances in food production are about speeding up natural processes since time is money and if we want cheap food, there is plenty of choice, but at what cost to our health.....?
Killing off beneficial bacteria is extremely detrimental to health, and, as mentioned previously the use of chemicals is further depleting our good gut bacteria, resulting in a huge increase in chronic disease, gut issues, digestive problems, skin problems, allergies, autoimmune diseases, cancer and pretty much every other health issue you can name!
So at Nourished by Nature, natural processes are followed, using the best quality ingredients, preferably organic, free from chemicals and using traditional health affirming methods!
For anyone seriously interested in fermenting vegetables I can highly recommend the book
Fermented Vegetables by Kirsten & Christopher Shockey.
Its a great book with recipes for Krauts, Kimchis, Chutneys & Relishes, using every vegetable imaginable!
Traditional kimchi involves an additional brining step which makes it a much longer process so I prefer this simpler but equally beneficial method. You need to use napa or chinese cabbage, not the hard white variety, which is used for sauerkraut. Try to eat a spoonful every day, its great on a wrap or sandwich or as a side to any hot dish!
It's the best form of medicine, packed with beneficial bacteria, gut healing compounds, anti inflammatory and antibacterial benefits from the ginger and garlic, tons of minerals from the seaweed and loads of vitamin C to boost the immune system!
So here is my favourite Kimchi recipe
1 head of napa or chinese cabbage, chopped
3 carrots, grated
1 large daikon radish, grated or a cup of small red radishes, finely sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup of dulse seaweed flakes (I use Mara seaweed flakes)
1 tablespoon chile pepper flakes (or less if you prefer it less fiery!)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons good quality sea salt (himalyan salt is good)
1 teaspoon of tamari sauce (or fish sauce if you are not vegan)
1. Simply mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and let it sit for 30 minutes.
2. Pack the mixture into a large glass mason jar or 2 smaller jars. Press it down firmly.
3. Top with a water filled ziplock bag to keep oxygen out and keep the veggies submerged under the brine.
4. Put the lid on loosely and set aside to ferment for at least 3 days. Taste it after 3 days and decide whether it tastes sour enough. Its a matter of personal taste so just keep trying it until you like it!
5. Once you are happy with the flavour you can store the kimchi in the fridge where it will keep happily for months, if it lasts that long!!
. .....your health in your hands.....
A healthy lifestyle blog with green living tips, plant-based recipes and natural health magic.