Resources for Fermenting Foods

resources for fermenting foods

I am very much a fermenting newbie, and so I am relying on many of my bloggers friends to help me learn!

Today I spent a couple of hours before lunch preparing both water kefir and kombucha, as well as vegetables to set aside and ferment for a couple/few weeks. Pictured above is sauerkraut (my first batch did wonderfully, so I’m excited to make more), fermented carrots, red onions, and a jar of cabbage, carrots, onion, and garlic. The latter three I’ve never made before, so I can’t wait to see how they/if they turn out.

{check out the Benefits of Fermenting if you’re wondering why in the world we would do such a thing.}

And you’ll probably also notice that I’m fermenting them in mason jars, which many people are starting to say is not the most correct way to do it. Pickl-It jars and fermenting crocks are all the rage now, but I do not currently have the funds to purchase them, so I’m using what I have.

The following are some of the resources I’ve been using:

1. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods by Wardeh Harmon

This book discusses the wonderful health benefits of live-culture foods and the techniques for preparing them. It also includes over 100 delicious recipes for all types of fermentations. I like this book because it’s simple to read and gives plenty of ‘how-tos’ and tons of different recipes. Her blog GNOWFGLINS is also a fantastic resource and she teaches classes on fermenting as well as sourdough preparation.

2. Nourished Kitchen, a blog by Jenny McGruther

This blog has a great list of fermented foods recipes (as well as other traditional foods recipes).

3. Feed Me Like You Mean It, a blog by Alex Lewin

I met Alex at Wise Tradition a few years ago, and his blog is a great resource for learning the ins and outs of fermenting. He recently released a book, Real Food Fermentation, which I’m sure is fabulous, though I have not yet read it.

4. Delicious Obsessions, a blog by Jessica

She posts a lot about fermenting foods and has a ton of recipes I would love to try! She has also recently switched over to the Pickl-It system, so she has updated recipes for using those jars as well.

5. Cultures for Health

This company offers starts of all kinds as well as supplies needed for fermenting. I also love getting their newsletter as it’s filled with good info, sales, and recipes for fermenting.

6. Cooking Traditional Foods, a blog by KerryAnn

Another great blog with lots of recipes. She also did an in-depth series last year about fermentation and the best ways to go about it.

I’m sure there are plenty of other resources, so if you know of a great blog or book that helps people on their journey to fermenting their own foods, please let me know in the comments and I’ll add them in.

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Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

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Benefits of Sourdough Bread and How to Make a Gluten Free Sourdough Starter

Fermented foods, of which our diets are severely lacking, have the ability to make food easier to digest as well as provide our bodies with needed nutrients and beneficial bacteria. Sourdough is one of those fermented foods.

It’s been a few years since I’ve taken the time to experiment with sourdough breads, it always seems so tricky and I got tired of baking bricks. I was able to make a few good loaves, but never with consistency. The one sourdough food we really loved though were pancakes. So easy to make and deliciously light.

We then went gluten-free and gave up bread for the most part, making only a loaf of yeasted bread every few months.

As we discussed yesterday in our post about digestion, preparing foods properly is really important. It helps our bodies absorb more nutrients and it is easier on the gut, causing less issues. One of the ways to properly ferment grains (breads) is to use a sourdough method.

This method has been used for centuries; our great-grandmothers worked in their kitchens making this traditional bread, their cupboards held a jar of the starter. Instant yeast was not easily accessible if available at all, so sourdough was the only way you could get a bread to rise.

“Sourdough breads are leavened by a starter that contain natural yeasts and acids. The airborne yeast creates the enzymes needed to eat up or predigest some of the toughest-on-your-belly parts of the grain. This action creates carbon dioxide, which gets trapped in tiny pockets of dough, resulting in a natural rising of the bread.” –Shannon

Preparing breads using a sourdough method is also known to break down the gluten when using a wheat flour, lowers the starch content of the grain as the bacteria present consume the sugars and starch, and it also nutralizes an enzyme within the grain called phytic-acid.

Through the process of lactic acid fermentation is also activates the phytase to hydrolyze (dissolve) the phytates, thus freeing up minerals such as: zinc, iron, magnesium, copper, and phosphorus. (source: Katie Kimball)

All in all, sourdough breads are much easier for the body to digest and as an added benefit, the bacteria also add nutrients into it as well.

In my goal to make 2013 the year of the ferments in our home, I’m beginning to experiment again, and we currently have a nice little gluten-free sourdough starter happily fermenting away on the counter.

gluten free sourdough

How to Make a Gluten Free Sourdough Starter

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How to Make a Gluten Free Starter
Author: 
Recipe type: Breads and Grains
 
Ingredients
  • 4 cups brown rice flour
  • 3 cups filtered/non-chlorinated water
  • optional - 2 tbsp water kefir
Method of Preparation
  1. It's important to have water free from chemicals, specifically chlorine as it may damage the starter. If you have city water (versus your own well) you can place a jar or bowl of water, uncovered, out on the counter overnight. You can also boil the water for ten minutes and let cool to room temp.
  2. Day one - four you are going to place ¼ cup of flour and a scant ¼ cup of water into a jar and stir with a wooden (or plastic) spoon every morning and every night. I find that when making a starter, it's helpful to feed it twice a day for the first few days. Cover your starter with a thin towel or cloth jar cover. (I've also used coffee filters and rubberbands which work well)
  3. If your starter doesn't seem every active, you can "boost" it a bit by adding a tablespoon of water kefir.
  4. By day five your starter should be bubbling along and able to sustain just one feeding per day, so each day you add ½ cup of brown rice flour and ⅓ cup of water. The consistency we're looking for is going to be like cake batter, so add more or less water based on how yours looks.
  5. At day seven you should have enough starter to make your first sourdough recipe! If you're not looking to use it immediately,place it in a mason jar with a solid cover and refrigerate, feeding once a week or so to keep it active.
Notes
It is important to keep your starter in a warm place; if it gets to cold it won't be active enough to work. I find that keeping mine in the oven with the pilot light on can help immensely during the cold winter months. Others find that they can place it next to the stove or on top of a refrigerator for warmth.

 

If you are not completely gluten-free, you can also add a few tablespoons of whole wheat flour (I’d recommend spelt or einkorn flour) as it can help boost the health of your starter. You can also make a whole wheat sourdough starter.

gluten free sourdough

Check out this month\'s sponsor, Natural Fertility Shop. They are 100% focused on helping you during your journey towards parenthood and have expert staff and knowledgeable customer service here to help you every step of the way.

All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

I am not a doctor and don\'t pretend to be one. Use everything you read only to inspire you to do your own research and be an advocate for your own health. Please read my disclaimer in full.

Benefits of Fermenting Foods

The following is a guest post from Scott Grzybek, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the Wise Traditions conference back in November. His post covers not only his own personal story and experience with fermentation, but also why you would want to ferment your own food, and the cheerleading to do it!


Hi! I’m Scott Grzybek, the founder of Zukay Live Foods, and I’m a fermentation freak. Honestly, I’m not sure exactly why fermentation got its hold into me so hard, but it’s been a wonderful trip so far, so I’d love to share a little bit of my story and why I find fermentation so fascinating, healthy, and, well, magical –

A little background  – over the years, I became a hardcore natural food person, trying to make sure what my wife and I ate was as healthy as possible. Being raised in relatively poor and rural Pennsylvania, it didn’t exactly come naturally, but we did our best. However, through the utter confusion of what is pushed in the media, I stopped eating most meats, milk, and all kinds of other good stuff, and replaced it with soy, whole grains, etc – and paid for it with a expanding gut and a lack of energy I had never had before in my life. Thankfully, I was given a copy of Nourishing Traditions by a friend – still, probably the best gift I received in my life. And I was hooked.

As a former engineer, I wanted to figure out how to make everything – the harder it looked, the better. But fermentation looked like the most mysterious of all the different types of foods in the book. Why? One word – whey. It was like this one magical, mystical ingredient that performed miracles on already healthy foods, but you can’t buy it, and it looked kind of daunting (dangerous, even!) to make it yourself. But, as a man on a mission, I finally got the courage to make my own, and I started to ferment everything I could get my hands on – every vegetable in my garden, grains, potatoes, fish, even corned beef (that one didn’t work out well, at least as far as my wife was concerned). Each new fermentation made me feel like a ancient alchemist, turning lead into gold. Some were better than others (I’ve got a few of my winners below), but each one made me more and more addicted to the process. After awhile, I came up with the idea for Zukay and bringing the health benefits of fermented foods to everyone’s table – but that’s another story.

So, why do you want to do your own fermentation? Perhaps you’ve read about the health benefits, perhaps not, so if you have, bear with me – because I personally think that eating raw and fermented foods are one of the best things you can do for your health (outside of getting rid of all refined sugars/high fructose corn syrup and refined flours, MSG, and  Aspartame). You see, all health starts in the gut – and if your gut is bad, so goes the rest of your body.

Consider the probiotics in all raw and fermented veggies as Green Berets in the fight against disease – the more you intake, the better your chance of living a strong and healthy life. These wonderful little guys do all kinds of cool stuff – they kill off and take the place of bad bacteria and yeast, they actually aid in the physical and chemical digestion of food, and they even help train your immune system to work better by training it to better know friend from foe. They’re who you want on your side. And they like being in you, too – if you treat yourself well, you’re a mighty fine home for them as well. It’s a win-win situation.

But that’s not all. This is where I think it gets really cool. You see, these lactobacilli, in fermenting the foods, actually create vitamins and antioxidants that weren’t there before. It’s magic. AND! They even make the vitamins and minerals easier for your body to absorb. It’s almost unfair, in a good way. And personally, they’re super tasty. It may take a little while for you to get there – you certainly need to get used to the tart taste of any fermented food  – but once you do, the flavor becomes so welcome, and I think it even weans your taste away from sweet foods (but that’s just my experience).

And it’s the ultimate fast food! Once you learn how to do it, you can set up a quart jar of fermented goodies in considerably less than an hour. Once it’s in the jar, the probiotics do the rest – you just have to make sure they’re in a 65-75 F place away from direct sun, and come back to it at your leisure. Once it’s done to your liking, pop the jar in the frig and eat from it whenever you like. Don’t know what to cook for vegetables tonight? Don’t worry! It’s in a jar in the frig! And it’s crazy healthy!

I’ll be honest with you – my family has never had health problems, so I can’t tell you that fermented foods have made us healthy. It may have been part of my weight loss (about 25 lbs) after I got serious about the Nourishing Traditions way, but I chalk that more up to getting rid of grains and sugar than anything else. But I will say this – we eat fermented foods pretty much every night (and some mornings – raw sauerkraut goes SO well with egg yolk from a fried egg), and my wife and my 2 sons almost never get sick and we have no digestive issues. My oldest did get severe pneumonia and ear infections when he was very, very young, and was unfortunately doused with antibiotics for some time, but constant fermented foods and kefir kept him healthy throughout, and there were no long term (or really even short-term) effects from the medicines. He’s not missed a day of school in several years, even during this killer winter. And he loves sauerkraut (he calls it Wowerkraut!), daikon, green beans, carrots, and, of course, Zukay products.

If you’ve never done it before, here’s my suggestion: make some sauerkraut. It’s easy, and you don’t need any starter, as sauerkraut starts itself (assuming you’re using organic cabbage). When it’s done, use the juice as a starter for other ferments – and on, and on.  If you need a starter, I use yo’Kefir culture (available in most natural food stores)  – 1 packet in a quart of water gives you enough starter for 4 quart jars of whatever.

And have fun! Outside of rotting (which you’ll be able to tell real quickly), there’s no right or wrong. Experiment! Throw in all kinds of cool stuff! And enjoy the magic of fermentation!

Scott founded Zukay Live Foods in 2008 to bring the health benefits of raw and fermented foods back into the American diet through foods we already use. Zukay makes delicious and healthy salsas, relishes, and salad dressings, and will shortly be launching a line of tasty veggie drinks (kvass) very, very soon. If you have any questions about fermentation or Zukay products, he’d love to talk to you at scottg@zukaylive.com, and you can check out Zukay at www.zukay.com.