Recently, I attended a class on fermentation and found it very interesting. According to our speaker Amy Lee Udall, fermentation is an ancient art of food preservation that improves gut flora and digestive health and boosts the immune system.
Of course, there is much to know about various types of fermentation, and Mrs. Udall's recommendation for the best beginning book is Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig (gift idea, hint, hint). To ferment most fruits or vegetables, though, all you need is the produce, salt (which keeps unbeneficial bacteria at bay), and a starter/innoculant (there are many of these available for purchase but one of the very best is whey from a raw-milk cheese). Clearly, I've got plenty of whey around here! In fact, I was asked to bring some whey to the class so that class members could take some home. You should've seen how quickly it went! Everyone wanted some of what I consider a by-product of cheesemaking that typically either goes down the kitchen sink or gets fed to the backyard animals. ;)
I've basically tried 3 recipes since the class: garlic baby carrots (they were okay), dill pickle sauerkraut (which I really like), and kombucha, which is a fermented black tea. I've flavored the kombucha with blueberry and ginger, and really like both of those. I'll expound a little more on kombucha in a later post. I will say, though, that if your gut is not used to probiotics, you should add them to your diet slowly. I eat homemade yogurt every morning, so my gut is pretty used to probiotics, but when I pounded a big glass of kombucha after a long run the other day, even my iron gut turned some flips. So proceed with caution, but definitely proceed. I, for one, am looking forward to learning more about fermentation and what it can do for our health and bring to our table.
Has anyone else experimented with fermentation and been pleased with the results? Do you have any favorite recipes to share?