“What is that SMELL?”, is something I’m used to hearing from my husband ever since I started fermenting vegetables, fruit, eggs, honey... practically everything! Prompted by a pre-diabetes diagnosis, I became interested in fermentation as a way of making healthy dietary changes. I soon picked up a copy of Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz and was bitten by the fermentation bug. There are so many benefits to freshly fermented foods: improves digestion, restores good gut bacteria, rich in enzymes, increases vitamin content, increases flavor and is inexpensive.
The phrase “freshly fermented” sounds like an oxymoron, right? I mean, putting vegetables and salt together, then leaving them on the counter for a month or so doesn’t sound exactly fresh, does it? However, fermentation is how food has been preserved for thousands of years. Besides preserving food, fermentation makes food more bio-available (easier to digest) and most fermented food contains high amounts of the same kind of probiotics that some people take in pill form. The same probiotics that researchers are being to find are not only healthy, but necessary for good gut health which leads to good overall health. Here is one website, but do an online search and you’ll find a wealth of information: http://blog.zintro.com/2011/10/14/the-benefits-of-gut-bacteria/
After a few months of basic fermenting, I began looking at different means of fermenting beverages. One of my first experiments was making ginger ale. I like ginger ale bought from the grocery store, so I thought I’d try to make my own. It was ridiculously simple and the taste is SO much better than the bottled stuff with all its preservatives and stabilizers. From there, my horizons expanded and I ordered water kefir from an online source. The little amount of water kefir “crystals” quickly multiplied into this huge mound of crystals and I was quickly filling up every bottle and jar around the house with water kefir. I’ve since gotten that under control.
These days, I’m still experimenting but I have my favorites that I keep going all the time. I usually always have sauerkraut, pickled beets, kimchi and assorted veggies. In addition, I always have several jars of water kefir going and make other beverages, as needed. My next project? Miso!
Our upcoming class on “Brewing Probiotic Beverages” will feature water kefir (you will go home with the means to start your own), ginger ale, sweet potato fly (an outstanding beverage made with sweet potatoes) and tepaché (a traditional beverage from Mexico, made with pineapple peels).
Come join us and learn how to brew your own drinkable probiotics!