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 10 to 14 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....
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!
FERMENT GARLICS AND BOOST ITS POWER
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!!
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!
STEP BY STEP
1- 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.
2- Peel loads of garlic, enough to almost fill your jar.
3- Add the peeled garlic cloves to your jar, add some peppercorns if you like
4- 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.
5- 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.
6- Put your jar out of direct sunlight but at room temperature for at least 2 weeks. I left mine for six weeks. You should see small bubbles of carbon dioxide which is a sign that the fermentation is proceeding normally and the brine will turn cloudy.
7- Once fermented you can store it in the fridge where it will keep happily for up to a year! Alternatively just leave it at room temperature to keep slowly fermenting. My latest batch has been fermenting for 6 months. Just make sure all the garlic cloves are submerged in the brine. You can top it up if it gets a bit low.
Occasionally some of the garlic cloves turn blue, which is just due to the sulphur compounds and nothing to worry about!!
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
🍃 Health educator🍃