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Getting Started with Fermented Foods, With Wardee Harmon

fermentedsoda
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!

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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.

Giveaways Green Living Healthy Living Recipes Reviews

Real Food Fermentation by Alex Lewin: Book Review & Giveaway

www.mypicshares.com

I am a big advocate for fermented foods, and have committed to making them a regular part of my dietary habits. That’s why I am reviewing another great book about fermentation this week, Alex Lewin from Feed Me Like You Mean It’s recent book Real Food Fermentation.

Whether you are new to fermenting and are intrigued…or have already been doing it for a period of time, this wonderful book with gorgeous pictures (I’ve considered adding it to my coffee table collection for that reason) will delight any reader who is curious about flavors and textures, and the important role that microbes, enzymes, and bacteria play in preserving food.

It will also help you to appreciate that the art (yes, art) of culturing food is really one of the best and simplest ways to incorporate these essential living enzymes, good bacteria (probiotics), and increased vitamins and minerals in your diet for improved health.

Why make fermented foods, anyway?

You may be wondering what’s so great about fermented foods. They support digestion, immunity, and overall health by breaking down the elements in foods that our bodies might not otherwise be able to do and making nutritional elements more available. For an overview of the benefits of fermented foods, read The amazing health benefits of fermented & cultured foods & beverages. These foods support digestion, immunity, and overall health.

We are currently seeing a resurgence in interest of creating fermented foods for flavor and health, and what better time of year to learn something new like this than during the holiday season when there is so much focus on food anyway. This book would make a great gift for someone special in your life who loves and appreciates food and is perhaps thinking about taking their health to the next level.

What you’ll get out of this book and learning to ferment

In this book you’ll find basic recipes for fermented vegetable creations such as sauerkraut and pickles, kimchi, pickles, pico de gallo and more adventurous foods like hard apple cider, kombucha as well as a whole array of cultured dairy foods such as yogurt, whey, kefir, and crème fraîche, butter, and buttermilk (swoon!).

Recipes include clear instructions accompanied by images showing the reader just what his or her efforts will yield at various steps, and in effect bring to life the recipes discussed. I appreciate that, and I think someone who is just starting out on adventures in fermentation would too.

After meeting Alex in person, I have found that his book is written in a manner that is every bit as conversational as if you were actually talking to him.  His relationship with food is very comfortable and it’s evident that he’s delighted to share his knowledge with the reader.

As you read this book, you’ll discover that it’s meant to be read not at all in the way you’d approach most “cookbooks”, but as a way to become better acquainted with, enthused about, and as a way to unleash the desire to understand food and experiment in the kitchen in ways you may never have felt you could.  I hope the way he writes about food will not only compel you in this direction, but will inspire you to want to investigate this fascinating world of fermented foods, and try something for yourself.

I love the friendly, open explanations Alex provides  about how enzymatic activity and oxidation occur, and definitions of preservation and fermentation – which helps remove the mystery from the unique process of fermentation and how it can benefit health…as well as the conditions under which optimal fermentation occurs. There is also some valuable discussion of the ways in which the slow food movement has taken form and how it is affected by the mainstream, commercial food system, and genetic modification, and other factors.

In this recent radio interview, Alex talks about the qualities of fermented foods and why they are so good for our health. In a world where so many people have digestive compromise from poor lifestyle and dietary habits, fermentation reduces the stress on the body of creating enzymes for digestion. Raw foods are more difficult to digest, and fermented foods which really fall between raw and cooked are actually easier because microbes and enzymes act on the parts of the raw foods that our bodies have trouble assimilating.

Here is one of the fabulous recipes in his book:

Fermented Carolina-Style Slaw

www.mypicshares.com

Yield: 1 quart (950 ml) or 2 pounds (900 g)

Prep time: 20 minutes

Total time: 4-7 days

Ingredients:

1 pound (450 g) green cabbage

1 large onion (red, yellow, or white)

1 large green bell pepper

1 large carrot

1/2 apple (optional)

1/4 pound (115 g) celery root, or 1 teaspoon celery seed

4 teaspoons (20 g) sea salt

1/4 cup (80 g) honey (or less, if you have included an apple)

6 tablespoons (90 ml) oil (mixture of sesame, coconut, and olive oil works well)

2 teaspoons dry mustard

1 piece (1/3 inch, or 8 mm) gingerroot, peeled and grated (optional)

Freshly ground black pepper

Equipment

  • Large cutting board (wood is ideal)
  • Large knife (a chef’s knife is ideal)
  • Large mixing bowl
  • 2 mason jars (1 pint, or 475 ml each) or similar glass jars with tight-fitting lids
  • Colander or strainer

Preparation

  1. Thinly slice the cabbage, onion, and bell pepper. (For tips on how to cut a bell pepper, see page 65.)
  2. Grate or shred the carrot, apple, if using, and celery root, if using.
  3. Ferment the vegetable mixture with the salt using the recipe for Lacto-Fermented Vegetables on page 75 (here’s a link on his site to this recipe), to the desired degree of sourness. Four to seven days is probably about right.
  4. Once the vegetables are fermented, drain them in a colander set over a mixing bowl, and press the liquid out with your hands, reserving the liquid.
  5. Combine 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the liquid with the honey, oil, dry mustard, and ginger, and mix well with a fork, whisk, or blender. Pour the dressing mixture and combine. Add salt and pepper as needed. Add more of the reserved liquid if you want more sourness. Refrigerate.
  6. Save any leftover fermentation liquid to use as a starter for your next project. Or mix it with oil and spices to use as a salad dressing. or drink it in the morning as a digestive tonic!

Alex studied math at Harvard University before graduating from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, as well as the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. He also serves on the board of the Boston Public Market Assocation, and teaches people how to put fermenting into action.

You can read more about what Alex is up to by visiting his blog Feed Me Like You Mean It site or on his Facebook page.

Listen to Alex’s interview about his book with Cary Nosler on Talk 650 KSTE, on Wide World of Health (Sacramento, CA).

Win a copy of Real Food Fermentation!

Giveaway rules:

The giveaway starts today and ends on Wednesday, December 20th at 11:59 p.m., MST.
Here are all the different ways to enter:

  1. Click in the comment box below and leave a comment saying you want to enter.

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The contest is open to anyone in the U.S. If you are outside the U.S. you must pay shipping charges. The winner has 24 hours to e-mail me about the prize. If I don’t hear from the winner, I’ll pick someone else with Random.org.

Best of luck to everyone entering. I will announce the winner here on Thursday, December 20th.

Photo credit: Quarry Books