A word many of us have heard before, but perhaps with only a vague understanding of what it is.
In short, it refers to a regular household practice that has been lost in North America since the invention of refrigeration and canning, and with it, numerous health benefits.
“The pathogen is nothing. The terrain is everything.” -Louis Pasteur
–> In other words, if your gastrointestinal flora is robust, you should be able to handle most any assault. And what better to keep your gut strong than a daily dose of lacto-fermented vegetables?
Here’s how lacto-fermentation works:
- Lactobaccilli are present on the surface of vegetables and are further provided by the addition of whey.
- They convert the starches and sugars in vegetables to lactic acid.
- Lactic acid acts as a preservative and antibacterial.
- It promotes the growth of good gut flora.
- The process increases vitamin levels, digestibility, produces helpful enzymes, and anticarcinogenic substances.
- This is different than industrialized fermented products which use vinegar and pasteurization, destroying the health benefits of fermented foods.
Fermented vegetables make an excellent addition to any daily meal.
Below are two delicious beginner recipes as well as instructions for making whey, a required ingredient for both recipes. It is easier than you think, and once you’ve done it once, it can become as regular a part of your life as watering your plants or walking your dog.
Whey & Cream Cheese
- High quality plain yoghurt
- Line a large strainer set over a bowl with a clean dish towel.
- Pour in the yoghurt, cover and let stand at room temperature for several hours. The whey will run into the bowl and the milk solids will stay in the strainer.
- Tie up the towel with the milk solids inside, being careful not to squeeze. Tie this little sack to a wooden spoon placed across the top of a container so that more whey can drip out. When the bag stops dripping, the cheese is ready.
- Store whey in a mason jar and cream cheese in a covered glass container.
- Refrigerated, the cream cheese keeps for about 1 month and the whey for about 6 months. Makes 5 cups whey and 2 cups cream cheese.
- 4 cups grated carrots, tightly packed
- 1 TBSP freshly grated ginger
- 1 TBSP sea salt
- 4 TBSP whey
- In a bowl, mix all ingredients and pound with a wooden pounder or a meat hammer to release juices.
- Place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar and press down firmly with a pounder or meat hammer until juices cover the carrots.
- The top of the carrots should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and leave at room temperature about 3 days before transferring to cold storage. Makes 1 quart.
- 4-5 pickling cucumbers or 15-20 gherkins
- 1 TBSP mustard seeds
- 2 TBSP fresh dill, snipped
- 1 TBSP sea salt
- 4 TBSP whey
- 1 cup filtered water
- Wash cucumbers well and place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar.
- Combine remaining ingredients and pour over cucumbers, adding more water if necessary to cover the cucumbers.
- The top of the liquid should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage. Makes 1 quart.
Source: Sally Fallon, 2001. Nourishing Traditions; The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, 2nd ed. NewTrends Publishing, Inc. USA.