Interest in sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha are evident in many grocery carts lately. At a recent cooking class I attended at Peter Berley’s kitchen in Jamesport, I learned how easy and economical it is to make your own at home. I now have jars of vegetables bubbling away in my kitchen, much to the olfactory dismay of my family. But I can’t wait until next week when I can dip into my jars of kimchi and sauerkraut.
For thousands of years we’ve been using the art of fermentation to preserve foods. In modern times we’ve discovered the health benefits of cultured products. Here’s why you should learn more about it.
Fermented foods like yogurt, miso, and sauerkraut contain helpful bacteria that feed on their natural sugars. This creates lactic acid which preserves food and gives these foods their signature sour taste. These beneficial bacteria help breakdown some food components, making digestion easier and nutrients absorbed more readily. Yogurt or kefir are often easier to digest for those lactose intolerant just for this reason, as it’s partially digested by the bacteria in it.
Fermented foods provide food synergy by increasing nutrient’s bioavailability and absorption. Nutrients like amino acids, Vitamins A, C and B vitamins are more readily absorbed. For example, cabbage fermented into sauerkraut or kimchi increases the glucosinolates or anti-cancer compounds within. All of these friendly bacteria are a bonus for immunity in our gut and may help decrease inflammation, allergies and auto-immune disease. Consider adding some fermented foods daily, not only for the health benefits but to add dimension and flavor to your dishes. Think crunchy pickles, tangy sauerkraut, savory miso and creamy yogurt. It adds texture, umami and heft to a recipe and its easy to add as a condiment, sandwich topping or snack.
Lacto Brined Beans by Peter Berley
Brine Ratio: 3 Tbsp salt and 1.5 Tbsp vinegar per quart water
Green beans or Wax beans, dill, garlic, fresh chilis
Note: Beans must be blanched 2 minutes in boiling water to destroy toxin before pickling
Pack beans, dill, garlic and chills into crocks and pour in cool water, drain the water out and measure it. Salt according to the brine ratio and cover the beans with the brine. Weigh and ferment for 7-10 days at room temp. Then refrigerate.