Wednesday, 10 October 2012

'Tis the season for fermenting

I love the spring time – it’s not too hot and winter is all but over. When it comes to health, spring is often a time when people embark on “detoxes”, which I think is just an easy, acceptable way of saying:


Yes…. “detoxing” is a somewhat easier way of putting it.

In essence, this “detoxing” biz is all about resetting your body, right? (In reality I know it all comes down to looking better ‘cause we are vain little suckers. Am I right or am I right? But just humour me this one time).

OK, so we want to look and feel our best so we “detox” our body of all the junk in order to reach optimal health and peak performance (and to have hot buns. Ha!). Well not only do we need to ensure that we get the ‘tox out of our system, but we need to, in a sense, “re-inoculate” our bodies with the good stuff. I’m talking bacteria baby! I mentioned in a previous post that maintaining good gut flora (AKA probiotics) is essential for optimal health and wellness. For the purpose of adhering to my strict blog word limit, I will point you in the direction of said post with a handy little hyperlink here. Ahh where would we be without the inter-webs?

So, probiotics – where do we get them? From a bouncy little blue pill asking you if you have had yours today? Well, yes you can get probiotics from supplements however as with everything else, it is always better to focus on food first! Now please don’t be turned off by the idea of “fermenting” foods. It’s totally natural and really good for you (and delicious once you wrap your head around it). Alrighty then, because I love lists and dot points, let’s start with some common probiotic-rich fermented foods that you can make at home:
  • Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage)
  • Kim-chi (spicy fermented veg)
  • Kombucha (fermented tea)
  • Kefir (fermented whole milk – kind of like a runny yoghurt drink)
  • Yoghurt (if I need to tell you what this is we have other problems)
Successful sauerkraut!

In terms of making these at home, they vary in difficulty. I have only made sauerkraut and kefir and the former took a little practice and attending an excellent workshop held by my friend Soulla. Seriously, if you live in Sydney and want to learn how to make your own fermented foods (or bone broth, or casseroles, or pate, or chocolate…..) and learn about nutrition at the same time, I strongly suggest you attend one of her workshops – totally invaluable and you get to taste-test too (and who doesn’t love a taste-tester?!).

The absolute easiest one to make is kefir, and now that the weather is warming up, it is the ideal time to make it as these little babies (the bacteria – don’t freak out!) need warmth in order to work their magic. I did make kefir once this winter, but it involved putting the jar of milk in front of a fan heater for a day. It worked, but really not ideal. On a hot day, you could leave your goods out on the bench for 12-24hrs and it would be done!

But how???

OK, to make kefir you will need:
  • 1 litre of whole, unprocessed milk (raw goat milk is legal in Australia, however the cow’s milk is not – make of that what you will)
  • 1 sachet of Nature’s Goodness Kefir Turkish Yoghurt Probiotic ($8.95 for 5 sachets – you do the math! Buy it here.
  • 1 mason jar (or vessel of your choosing)
  • Some muslin cloth/cheesecloth to cover the mouth of the jar
  • One rubber band

What you need to do:
  • Open sachet and pour contents into jar
  • Open milk and pour contents into jar
  • Stir
  • Cover jar with cloth and rubber band
  • Sit on bench for 12-24hrs in warm weather (longer in cold – unless you put it in front of a fan heater or next to your slow-cooker) . It will be ready when the top starts to get a little thicker and you may see a separation of liquids. It will not be as thick as yoghurt. When you taste it, it will be tart like good quality, natural yoghurt. The longer you leave it, the more tart it will become.
  • Remove cloth and close lid of jar. Store in fridge. This stuff will probably keep for around 2mths, maybe longer. Have around ¼ cup per day to get a good dose of probiotics. I like to mix it in with my brekkie, for which you can find the recipe here.
Kefir - note the separation - this was almost done!
Also note that you will not get this result from crappy processed milk!

I know some of you may be weirded out a little by now. I was at first too. I was all like “you want me to eat what now?” But I have come around and I am so glad I have! As a result, I have seen improvements in my digestion, mood and my skin! Hurrah! I have also had clients report back on benefits that they have seen since starting on the kefir (including weight loss to all of you “detoxers” out there).

So give it a try – just think of it as a yoghurt-drink! And it is SO much cheaper than probiotic supplements. For a good supplement, you are looking at around $80.00 (I like Bioceuticals or Metagenics if you really want to go that route), whereas home-made kefir costs around $15-20 to make 1L, and it is giving you so much more than just good bacteria (think calcium, good fats, potassium etc).

So tell me – is this something you might try? If not, why not? Have you tried it already?

P.S. Failed on word count – 941 (double my limit. Sorry)