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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Fabulous Ferments!

It's the time of year again where people begin to think more about their immunity and wonder whether or not their immune systems are "up to par". This is also the time of year when vaccine manufacturers take advantage of this legitimate issue. People often do tend to get sicker during the winter with influenza and colds ....but.....vaccines are not the answer to a healthy immune system. The proper nourishment and sunlight or vitamin D, and reduction in stress, are the main key elements in resisting disease. The numerous chemicals and other potentially unknown elements in vaccines only add to the body burden of toxins while they unnaturally upregulate our immune systems. Some people believe that many autoimmune diseases are caused by this artificial stimulation of the immune system.

The recipe above features beets, cabbage and apple. This combination has many health benefits. Beets are great for cleansing the liver, cabbage is great for healing the stomach, and the apple adds  some sweetness and texture... in addition to the sweet taste from the beets. This sweetness tends to offset the tartness of the finished ferment and is a good ferment to begin with if you are not accustomed to  eating live fermented foods. This beet, apple, cabbage recipe contains a bountiful amount of beneficial bacteria which is the foundation for our immune systems. Simply stated....the  good or beneficial bacteria keep the harmful microbes in balance so we have much less of a chance of becoming ill. This beneficial bacteria also produces certain needed vitamins while resident in our digestive systems.

Our grandparents and great grandparents used the process of fermentation to preserve their food in an age of minimal refrigeration. I often wonder if they realized that these fermented foods were a powerhouse of nutrition and immune factors.Our ancestors seemed to instinctively know what was needed for human health...without the benefit of chemistry labs and pharmaceutical companies. Sauerkraut the above photo, is a ferment that most people are familiar with and one that many of our ancestors always had a good supply of. Most foods today that come from the grocery store may have once been fermented but for storage sake they are pasteurized and hence denuded from the  powerful immune supporting activity of beneficial bacteria or probiotics (pro-life). Pasterization also disables beneficial enzymes.

Fermenting  food is really a very easy process to learn. Once you make several jars of a fermented product, they stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 6 months or more and become one of the most nutirtious fast food health foods there are. This life giving food is much healthier and cheaper than storebought supplements. The recipe for the beet/cabbage/apple ferment in the photo at the top was adapted from the Internal Bliss Cookbook which is a companion to the excellent Gut and Psychology Syndrome book by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBrid. The latter book instructs us on how to heal the gut which in turn heals the body.

Beet Cabbage and Apple Ferment

2 1/2 lbs of raw beets shredded (easy in food processor)
1/2 lb of raw cabbage finely chopped
3 oz. chopped apple 
3 oz chopped onion
1 TBSP plus 1 tsp Sea Salt

I also used several TBSPs of whey but that is not necessary. If whey is not used , do not cut down on the salt as that is what helps to preserve the vegetables and fruit.

Place beets, cabbage and salt into a large pan or bowl and with clean hands begin to mix the veggie mixture , squeezing it all as you go. Pretty soon the juices from the veggies and fruit will begin to flow. Add the apple and onion and mix well.

Pack mixture into quart jars, leaving 1 and one half to two inches of room from the top of the jar. Push down well so juice covers the mixture and no air pockets are left. Place jars on a cookie sheet in a corner for about 3 or four days. Do not screw lids down tight. Juice will probably run over onto the cookie sheet and that is ok. You may taste the ferment at this time to see whether it is tart enough for your liking. When you feel it is ready place the mixture in the fridge for two to four weeks before eating. During this time the mixture continues to ferment but at a slower rate. Flavors meld.
 If you uncap a ferment at any time and it appears brownish on top....this won't hurt you but all you have to do is scrape off the brown and you are set to go.

I think if you are successful...which you probably will will want to begin experimenting with the many different types of ferments and the many ways you can incorporate these life-giving foods into your daily life. This knowledge is a priceless gift to pass on to your children and grandchildren.
The link below is to a reliable company that sells everything you will need for fermenting different types of food. But for the recipe above, wide-mouth canning jars are really the only thing you will need...besides the food ingredients....and you can find them anywhere. 
Helpful Books on Fermentation

Click here for Kefir Starters