Fermented Foods Primer

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I’ve known about the benefits of fermented foods for a long time yet have always eaten them without too much thought. A bonus for your digestions and all those bugs living in there, fermented foods are worth adding to your diet.

I also love the tangy, sour taste of kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi or plain yogurt.  I am sure I got this from my Jewish grandmother.  Meals at her house always consisted of something salted, or pickled – pickled herring, borscht.  My grandmother already knew the benefits without even realizing it.

Lately, fermented foods are getting some renewed buzz.  Word on the street is that your gut, and all those good bacteria living in there, are like your second brain.  Immune system central.  We need those bugs more than we realized.

When you ferment, a food community of friendly bacteria move on in.  These bugs not only create the distinctive sour taste but also help build a strong community of super bugs in your intestines.  In turn, your immune system is fired up, your digestion works better and everything hums along at a much better pace.

sauerkraut1
making my very own sauerkraut

There has been talk lately about how we are killing all the good bugs, and I couldn’t agree more.  We all know that overuse of antibiotics or keeping our hands too clean has led to some super sensitivity in our immunity.  Another big contributor: processed foods and refined foods, all stripped of the nutrients they came with in order to keep them shelf stable. We need to feed these good bugs, not starve them.

I didn’t have much experience creating my own fermented foods but knew I had to add this to my kitchen repertoire.  I have been making sourdough bread for years (another friendly bacteria food) and even have a starter in my refrigerator that I have kept alive and well.  Next on the list, sauerkraut. It all tastes better when you make it yourself.

At the start of making my sauerkraut I got nervous.  The good news about fermenting is that you are passively leaving food out to sit on your counter (it’ss that easy) and do its thing. The bad news is that the potential for mold to get in and poison the whole jar does exist. I actually threw out my first batch of sauerkraut and started again.

Sauerkraut - done!
Sauerkraut – done!

As I researched, became consumed, with exactly knowing how to make sauerkraut, I quickly saw that there are 1,000 variations on the recipe.  I concluded that sauerkraut, and fermenting, have been around for so long that there really is not one true recipe, just a lot of folklore and stories passed through the generations.

I consulted with my friend Sandra, a first generation Latvian who has been making sauerkraut for years.  She assured me that my sauerkraut was plugging along just fine and alleviated my fears of poisoning from sauerkraut.  She learned from her mother, who in turn learned from her mother.  Really,  it’s all the recipe you need.

Grab the recipe to make your very own sauerkraut HERE, you won’t regret it.

What’s your experience with fermented foods? Do you ever make your own? Tell me about it below!