Monday, September 8, 2014

Positively Fermented

I have been wanting to ferment my own foods lately. It all started when I didn't know how to get a sourdough starter and didn't want to pay for one. I was all "WHY do people say I have to get a starter- it had to have been started somewhere!!!" Then I read an article in the MPLS Star & Trib that featured a writer and his book Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. It talks of all the benefits of fermenting foods and gives a plethora of great recipes.

Fermenting in Benefits
  • One major benefit of fermenting is that it preserves food. The fermenting organisms produce alcohol, lactic acid and acetic acid all bio-preservatives retain nutrients and prevent spoilage.
  • Captain James Cook prevented his ship crew from dying from scurvy with fermented sauerkraut. 60 barrels of kraut lasted 27 months and no one developed scurvy.
  • Fermenting preserves nutrients, it breaks them down into more digestible forms. Many folks who are lactose intolerant can eat fermented dairy, like yogurt or kefir because the fermentation process basically "digests" part of it before it gets to you. The fermentation process breaks down the lactose into a simpler form- cool huh!
  • It also creates new nutrients. Cultures create B vitamins including folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, thiamine and biotin.
  • Eating fermented foods is an incredibly healthy practice, directly supplying your digestive tract with living cultures essential to breaking down food and assimilating nutrients.
  • Medical studies have identified specific anti-cancer and other disease preventing properties in fermented foods check out The Life Bridge: the way to longevity with probiotic nutrients.
The Overpasteurization Debate
It is so interesting what our government considers to be safe. *Warning* I am somewhat a non-truster of the FDA and second guess some of their decisions, so read on with that in mind.
There are studies "out there" that have looked into the overpasteurizing of foods. Basically meaning they require that our food is too "clean." Clean by FDA standards that is, which in my opinion is really questionable. Yogurt is one example of this. There are so many beautiful cultures that live in properly fermented yogurt, and the overpasteurizing of them kills some of those nutrients. Now- of you are like I was, you're all "HEY- I'm not eating dirty food." But stay with me- there are levels of pasteurizing milk. Essentially, the milk is heated and there are different levels of heating it. Did you ever notice milk that doesn't expire for like 3 months? That is VERY pasteurized milk. There are less nutrients in it because many of them were killed during the heating process. The same goes for yogurt. So when looking at yogurt in the store- look for something that says live active cultures and you will know that you are eating good stuff maynard.

Yum For Your Tum

WOW- bad heading. Sorry 'bout that. But you should know that cultures are SOOO good for your digestive tract. I bet you got that from above. So I wanted to add a section about kefir, a milk based drink. The creation of kefir is different from milk, it uses actual little kefir grains, that look like big tapioca's stuck together. So this kefir has different cultures than yogurt and may even be easier for the lactose intolerant to handle. The cultures in kefir are said to give amazing benefits to us by working really well with our intestines. Keeping things clean and running well- need I say more? If we consume it on a regular basis our systems will benefit greatly. Also, eating fermented foods can really help the immune system.

My Fermented Future
I would like to try to make kefir, I'm going to the Mississippi Market soon to purchase my kefir grains. I also will be trying to make yogurt, and ranch dressing from yogurt. I have made a sourdough bread starter and baked my first loaf with it last night. I have some perfecting to do, but it is yummy : )

Fermenting Your Future?

If you don't want to make it- buy it. You can find fermented foods at any store, here is a list of some great ones:
  • Sauerkraut
  • Wine
  • Beer
  • Herring
  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Miso
  • Pickles (many types)
  • Cheese