Category Archives: Probiotics

Green Living Guest Posts Probiotics Real Food Reviews

Getting Started with Fermented Foods, With Wardee Harmon

I’d like to share an introduction to my good friend Wardee Harmon’s e-book Lacto-Fermentation. Wardee is a wonderful and passionate educator and blogger on the subject of fermentation as well as other real food and natural health topics.

If you are new to fermenting, you’ll discover a bit about the benefits of fermented foods, why you might want to make them yourself rather than buy at the store, and get some inspiration for doing your own preparation.

Lacto-Fermentation is a companion ebook to the online Lacto-Fermentation ecourse on her blog GNOWFLGINS. In this book you’ll learn to make sauerkraut, condiments, preserves, relishes, pickles, kvass, kombucha, and much more. 

Her other book The Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods is already on my shelf and I am thrilled to have this one in my collection as well.

Some years ago when I first started fermenting, I was pretty intimidated.  But as I discovered, the process is not difficult. And once you get going, it’s really fun.   I always feel motivated by the fact that I know the fermented foods I make are not only delicious but also have increased nutrient value over just eating those same foods raw or cooked. Now I can’t imagine my life without these probiotic-rich foods; including them in my daily diet has improved my health in ways I never knew possible.
I would have loved to get my hands on a great book like this with which to begin my journey into fermenting. Wardee definitely makes learning how to ferment fun and easy, something any beginner will appreciate.  

Wardee’s book Lacto-Fermentation is one of  the many superb offerings in the Extreme Health Digital Library, with 50+ health & wellness titles – e-books, videos, white papers, and more with a value of over $800…available for just $39.97 (each title costs just .75 cents each) all day today, March 7th until midnight at 12 a.m. PST.


What are fermented foods?

I heard recently that “ferment” would be the health buzz word of 2013.

The word ferment, when you use it together with food, can be a little scary for some people. The ick factor is high. But the good news is, this is lessening as more and more people become aware of the health benefits of fermented foods and become accustomed to the complex, sweet-sour-salty taste.

I’m happy to be a guest here today. Raine’s a good friend and she asked me to talk about the benefits of fermented foods, the advantages of making them yourself, and also give you some encouragement and tips for getting started. So that’s what I’m going to do.

First, what’s so great about fermented foods? Get ready! They’re really, really awesome.

Wait: I think I’d better explain what’s happening when a food is fermented. I’m talking about a particular type of fermentation — lacto-fermentation. What’s happening is that beneficial organisms, called lactobacilli, are encouraged to eat the food and proliferate throughout the food (this process is also called culturing). While they’re eating, they’re producing an acid that effectively preserves and protects the food form spoiling. Also they’re making the food better for us.

Here’s where the benefits come in.

Fermented foods experience a nutrition boost. Minerals are more readily absorbed, vitamin and enzyme content increases, the beneficial acid (lactic acid) aids in digestion and overall health, beneficial organisms re-populate the gut to increase the health of our immune system and overall health, and foods get pre-digested, making them more digestible for us. It really is a miraculous and highly beneficial process!

So, next question. Why would someone (namely, you) want to go to all the trouble of making fermented foods yourself?

Keep in mind, you certainly don’t have to make them yourself to get the benefits. There are merchants making high-quality fermented foods and you can find them in the cooler of your health food store or health food department — Kombucha, kvass, sauerkraut, old-fashioned pickled, cheese… These foods are really delicious and I love supporting these companies when I can’t make something myself.
But when you make them yourself, you’ll save money — all those bottles of Kombucha add up! Also, you can tweak flavors to get unique results and tastes all your own. Or perhaps you’ve just got gobs of garden produce to put up. Well, fermenting is a whole lot easier than canning, because the fermenting organisms do all the “cooking” while you sit back and wait for their work to be done. Plus, fermenting is more nutritious than canning. (You do need cold storage, like a cellar, to keep fermented foods long term. If you don’t have a cellar, certainly consider fermenting on an as-needed basis.)

Now let me encourage you to get started.

A lot of people think that if they don’t like sauerkraut, they won’t like other fermented foods. This is simply not true. So many foods can be fermented, and with so many different end flavors, that I’m pretty sure every person can find a fermented food to like. My eBook, Lacto-Fermentation, shares recipes to ferment practically every food group. You’ll create kefir and yogurt and real sour cream, cheese, sourdough bread, probiotic ice cream, pickles, chutneys, relish, salsa, beverages, and even pickled meats.
For the person who is particularly wary of sour foods, I’d recommend venturing into the world of fermented foods with one of these more mild ferment recipes (found on my blog): fruit chutney, fermented guacamole (video included), fermented ketchup, or fermented cranberry-apple-orange relish, just to name a few. Each of these recipes uses simple, real and whole food ingredients, and no special equipment other than jars or crocks — and a little time for the organisms to do their thing.
Doesn’t sound so hard, does it? And it sounds delicious, right? So get out there and get fermenting!


I’d like to thank Wardee for kindly providing a great introduction to fermented foods. Now, aren’t you a little more motivated to learn more about these beneficial foods and get healthier?  :)

To purchase this book…

plus, all 50+ great health and wellness titles available in this bundle, click here Extreme Health Library Sale  for more information.

Hurry! This is the last day for this amazing sale, which ends tonight, March 7th at midnight PST.

Healthy Living Probiotics Raw Dairy Real Food

The Amazing Health Benefits of Fermented & Cultured Beverages & Foods

In modern society, one of the things we don’t do much of is eat real cultured and fermented foods. These foods have been staples of the human diet all over the world for thousands of years. Since the Industrial Revolution, the advent of packaging, processing, and convenience foods have seen the disappearance of these highly beneficial, nutrient-dense foods.

Throughout time, cultures all over the world have created cultured foods and beverages out of necessity. When a dairy cow produced a surplus of milk and all of it could not be consumed at once before spoilage, fermentation was born. Fermentation allowed the food to be preserved so it could be consumed later, and it was done simply by using the naturally-occurring healthy bacteria in the food.

Because this process improves nutrient content and increases the beneficial bacteria of the food, it is not only healthier but also made easier to digest. Other foods were produced in a similar manner such as kombucha (a feremented tea generated from a scoby or mushroom) or kvass using cultures, bread, and water. Kvass can also be made using vegetables such as beets. It was also customary to culture and ferment many of the vegetables people ate through lact0-fermentation with whey from dairy products or salt.

Today on the consumer market, you will find many foods and beverages which are labeled as healthy and full of nutrients. Because the bottom line in the consumer market is profit, over time the integrity of many of these traditional foods and drinks has been lost.

Even though the label claims otherwise, you will not in fact find dense, probiotic activity in a cup of commercial yogurt or non-dairy cultured foods like sauerkraut because of two main reasons:

  1. Commercial dairy is subject to pasteurization, which destroys and denatures probiotics, fats, proteins, enzymes, and other elements critical to creating a real probiotic food.
  2. Even though commercial companies add back in cultures to the food after pasteurization, the culturing process simply isn’t long enough to generate the diversity and numbers of beneficial bacteria which our bodies need for health.

Many other products are subjected to high-heat temperatures or pasteurization. By the time you open the bottle, package, or container, you are essentially eating a dead product with no live foundational enzymes, nutrients, or bacteria.

Sports and energy drinks like Gatorade, Vitamin Water, Red Bull, and Rockstar rely on caffeine, sugar, chemicals, artificial colors and flavorings to sell their product and make it “taste” appealing. Even higher-priced “professional” grade products such as Heed or Accelerade which contain synthetic vitamins and minerals or herbal ingredients are inferior because they lack the real nutrition found in long-fermented foods and beverages.

Most probiotic supplements on the market except for an exclusive small percentage do not contain the bacterial count listed on the label, and also have other undesirable ingredients which can be harmful to health.

Fermentation of real food uses either whey from dairy foods like milk, yogurt, or sour cream to produce a lacto-fermented food, a scoby culture or mushroom as when making kombucha, or preparing a brine with salt, or wine for culturing vegetables.

Here are just some of the many benefits of preparing and consuming cultured and fermented foods and beverages:
  • Improves or eliminates gastrointestinal issues such as heartburn, bloating, gas, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and constipation by eating a small serving with each meal.  Your overall diet, should of course exclude processed foods and incorporate real, whole foods with healthy fats and proteins, organic fruits, grains, legumes, and vegetables. Processed foods eaten on a regular greatly contribute to digestive problems and other health issues.
  • Deepens and broadens vitamins and nutrients like magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, B Vitamins, fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K2, K1, and beta carotene. Fermented dairy imparts increased amounts of folic acid, pyroxidine, B vitamins, riboflavin and biotin, depending upon existing bacterial strains.
  • Raw fermented vegetables are useful in reducing inflammation and lowering the risk of degenerative disease like cancer.
  • Strengthens immune system function to stay healthy and avoid flu and colds.
  • Promotes weight loss.  In a study from 2008 at Stanford University, Dr. John Morton, M.D., associate professor of surgery at the medical school, showed that “patients who take probiotics after the gastric-bypass procedure tend to shed more pounds than those who don’t take the supplements.” Since supplements are usually much lower in bacterial counts than live cultured and fermented foods, it would be easy to conclude that higher bacterial counts would promote weight loss and the ability of the body to balance your normal weight.
  • Provides probiotic support to the digestive system. 85 percent of our immune system is located in the digestive tract, and having a proliferation and diversity of friendly bacteria is critical to immune health.
  • Reduces the proliferation of harmful bacteria such as salmonella, E.coli, salmonella, and yeast or candida overgrowth
  • Fermenting sulphur-rich foods such as sauerkraut produces antioxidants like glutathione and superoxide dismustase, which remove free radical activity
  • Assists in breaking down difficult to digest lactose from dairy foods to create lactic acid, which is easier to digest
  • Although lactic acid fermentation does not necessarily raise mineral content, it lowers the effects of phytic acid found in grains, legumes, and vegetables. Phytic acid is a nutrient inhibitor which prevents absorption of minerals in the body. This process allows the body to absorb more minerals from grains, vegetables, and legumes.
  • Helps to pre-digest and allow for better absorption of nutrients
Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride who developed the GAPS diet, talks about the benefits of fermented foods in her book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome. I have been on GAPS since early May of 2011 and have found great improvements in my health as well as disappearance of problems that have bothered me my whole life such as anxiety and panic-symptoms.

Cultured dairy foods:

These foods are in no way, shape, or form like what you will buy in the store.  With few exceptions, most commercial products are pasteurized which destroys enzymes, proteins, fats, and probiotics. These foods are also not cultured long enough to produce high numbers and diversity of necessary beneficial bacteria.

Cultured dairy foods you make at home from raw milk that comes from healthy cows on pasture are superior in every way in terms of quality and amount of diverse bacteria produced which our bodies need to support digestive, immune, and total health.

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Buttermilk
  • Sour cream or creme fraiche

Cultured, dairy-free foods

Like commercial dairy products, most commercially produced sauerkraut, pickles, and other non-dairy foods you buy in the store have only been processed with vinegar as a base, and subjected to high-heat temperatures. This does not culture or ferment the food, but rather destroys enzymes and bacteria.

If you have issues with dairy, which are often caused by digestive compromise from poor lifestyle and diet, there are a variety of cultured and fermented foods which are highly beneficial in the process of healing the digestive tract. Consuming these foods can be integral in helping you to be able to once again digest real, raw dairy foods. Casein, a protein found in dairy, can irritate the digestive tract lining which has been compromised from poor diet and lifestyle, and which then penetrates the walls of the intestinal lining and enter the bloodstream to cause super-immune response. This is why many individuals have “dairy allergies” or sensitivities when they consume dairy products.

Here are sources for buying culture starter for culturing your own vegetables as well as quality dairy cultures.
It is a great idea to make your own fermented vegetables and cultured dairy foods at home. If you find that you don’t have time for these preparations, here are a few good store brands which contain live probiotic bacteria:

More information: 

How to make sauerkraut
with Wild Fermentation expert Sandor Ellix Katz
Time and money saving tips – getting the most of your vegetables  - with ideas for how to make your vegetables delicious and easy-to-digest by eating them with healthy fats and also some cultured vegetable recipes from Sally Fallon Morell’s Nourishing Traditions
This post is part of Sarah The Healthy Home Economist’s Monday Mania Carnival