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Book Review: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods by Wardeh Harmon & Giveaway

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Today I’m reviewing The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods by Wardeh Harmon of GNOWFGLINS.

I myself have become quite an enthusiast for fermented foods over the last few years with the observance that it has made amazing changes to my own and my family’s health. Since May of 2011 I have been on the GAPS diet and along with other nutrient-dense foods, fermented foods I’ve regularly consumed have made a profound difference in my health.

Wardeh’s site has been one of my favorites for years, and she was kind enough to send me a copy of this great guide for learning how to prepare these healthful foods, and I was delighted to find such a vast number of great recipes in this book.

I’ve been fermenting dairy foods for almost 7 years, and I started culturing vegetables about 3 years ago, so I’m very excited to try some of the interesting recipes out in this wonderful book.

If you have been wanting to try your hand at fermented foods but have been intimidated, this easy-to-follow guide  will change your mind!

Why are fermented foods so important?

For thousands upon thousands of years, fermentation was a time-honored method of preserving foods and beverages which would otherwise spoil and have to be discarded.

Not only are these foods convenient due to their long-term storage possibilities and easy to make at home, they confer numerous beneficial health properties.  People who consumed these naturally preserved foods knew that a small amount with each meal was an effective aid to digestive function and support for immunity.

Fermentation allows enzymatic activity and friendly bacteria to proliferate and “pre-digest” the food, making it easier to obtain and make use of nutrients found in the food. Depending on what you ferment, your body will be more fully able to digest Vitamins A, B, and C, and various minerals. Plants, grains, legumes, and other foods contain some amount of phytic acid (an anti-nutrient), and fermentation neutralizes these substances and renders the foods easier for the body to absorb.

As with many practices, traditions, and artistic endeavors in the modern age, fermentation of food went by the wayside with the coming of the Industrial Age. Since fermentation has many variables and is a true slow food, it became more convenient and cost-effective for leaders in the food industry to use vinegar with foods for preservation in the activity of mass production. Unfortunately, the health benefits of real fermented foods were lost for a period of time.

Fermentation revival

Since I started blogging 6 years ago, I’ve witnessed a remarkable devotion to the practices of preparing traditional foods on many nutrition, health, and recipes blogs that are part of the sustainable and real food communities. Wardeh has been fermenting foods for a number of years and shares her amazing knowledge and experience in this well-written book.

She also provides some interesting history and background to the hows and whys of fermented foods. You’ll find a wealth of recipes for making a full gamut of cultured foods: vegetables, fruits, condiments such as mayo, salsa, and dips, basic brine and whey, beans, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, grains, cheese, meats, and fish.

With permission, I am featuring one of the recipes from the book, Beet-Carrot Kvass. Kvass is a traditional “tonic” beverage used for detoxification and health maintenance.

These drinks are sour and salty, and can take some getting used to. They can be made quickly with a ferment time of about 2 days, and  are a great boost for the immune system and help keep digestion running smoothly – in particular, the liver cleansing qualities of kvass are quite magical.

Beet-Carrot Kvass

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Yield: 1 quart

Prep time: 5 minutes

Ferment time: 2 days

Ferment type: Lacto

  • 1 large carrot, ends trimmed and coarsley chopped into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 medium (about 3″ to 4″ diameter beetroot, peeled and chopped into 3/4″ – to 1″ wide pieces
  • 1 1/2 TB. plus 1 scant TB. sea salt
  •  1/4 cup Basic Whey (recipe from Chapter 4)
  • Water
  1. Put carrots, beets, 1 1/2 tablespoons salt, and whey in a half-gallon jar or other fermenting container. Add water to fill, leaving 1″ space at top. Cover tightly with a lid or airlock. Let ferment at room temperature for 2 days.
  2. Leaving carrots and beets behind, pour all but about 10 percent (does not have to be exact) of liquid into a wide-mouth quart jar. Cover the quart jar and transfer to the refrigerator. This is the first batch. It keeps many weeks.
  3. To make a second batch, add scant 1 tablespoonsalt to the half-gallon container that contains carrots and beets. Add water to fill, leaving 1″ space at top. Cover tightly with lid or airlock. Let ferment at room temperature for 2 days.
  4. Pour all liquid into a wide-mouth quart jar. Cover the jar and transfer to the refrigerator. This is the second batch. It keeps many weeks.
  5. Discard or compost carrot and beet pieces.

Variation: The second batch will be weaker than the first, and it may be possible to get a third (even weaker) batch as well. To do so, pour off all the kvass in Step 4, and repeat Steps 3 and 4 to make the third batch. For future batches with fresh carrots and beets, feel free to use finished kvass instead of whey in Step 1.

I am honored to have this wonderful book Wardeh produced with loving and careful detail in my own kitchen library as a reference for all things fermented. It would make an excellent addition to anyone’s kitchen who possesses a love and appreciation for real food.

This book would make a fantastic holiday gift this season, something that your loved one can use for the rest of his or her life as a way to maintain good health. What better gift is there? 

Wardeh is a blogger, home schooling mother of 3, and lives with her family in Southwest Oregon.  She teaches online classes focuses on the basics of traditional cooking, cultured dairy, sourdough, lacto-fermenting and cheesemaking.

More from GNOWFGLINS:

Be sure to listen to the weekly podcast with special guests talking about food and health Know Your Food With Wardee

Unlimited online cooking classes

Real food menu plans

Want to win a copy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods?

Giveaway rules:

The giveaway starts today and ends on Tuesday, December 18th at 11:59 p.m., MST.
Here are all the different ways to enter:

  1. Click the link below and leave me comment telling me you did.

For extra entries, do the following and leave comments:

  1. Subscribe to my blog. Use the Feedburner subscribe feature on the main page.
  2. Like  on GNOWFGLINS on Facebook (blog posts on Facebook about giveaways aren’t permitted by FB rules). You’ll receive extra entries for “liking” only.
  3. Sign up for the GNOWFGLINS Newsletter.
  4. Follow Wardee on Twitter (GNOWFGLINS) and Tweet about the giveaway.
  5. Follow Agriculture Society on Twitter.
  6. Like Agriculture Society on Facebook (again, blog post about giveaways on FB are not permitted). Extra entries are given for “liking” only.
  7. Please Stumble my page or any other articles you want to share!

The contest is open to anyone in the U.S., but not outside. 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 Wednesday, December 19th.

Photo credit: Wardeh Harmon

Activism Green Living Healthy Living Reviews Toxin Alert!

What is Fluoride Doing To Your Health?

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Ever since I was a child fluoride has been heralded as the  messiah to save teeth from cavities and decay. 

In the 70s, I remember my parents taking me to get fluoride treatments at the dentist. And several times at the elementary school I attended, a dental hygienist visited who required us to chew red pills to show where we weren’t brushing, and gave us fluoride treatments. I don’t recall my parents ever objecting to this, but maybe they would have if they’d known about the dangers.

Why children are given fluoride treatments in school is beyond me. Isn’t it the parent’s job to decide whether to take children to have some medical or dental service done? Apparently not. This brings about the issue of having no choice in something that should definitely be a choice. In fact, you will not find any other example where a drug is added without the consent of the people taking it.

And despite how many fluoride treatments I took, how much fluoridated water I consumed, or how much I brushed and flossed, I still had numerous cavities and dental work done when I was a child and young adult.

Fluoride – hazardous waste as a “health treatment”

What do you do when you have toxic waste that’s expensive to dispose of? Sell it to the municipal water agencies under the guise of “protecting dental health”. Besides a short-lived experiment where iodine was added to water many years ago, this practice has never been done anywhere else, with any other substance like this that is considered a drug (and hazardous waste). Another important thing to consider is that there have been no real scientific, conclusive studies supporting the effectiveness of putting fluoride in the water supply to combat tooth decay.

The fact is, the fluoride going into our water systems is not a safe or natural substance to consume, and fluoride toxicity is well-documented. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a naturally-occurring substance, nor is it even pharmaceutical grade. The fluoride put in our water is actually hazardous industrial waste from the phosphate fertilizer industry.

These substances are recognized as toxic by The Environmental Protection Agency and other regulatory entities, and it is illegal to dump it in the ocean or inland water bodies, and yet policy-makers see no problem with its use in our water supply. Many European countries have banned fluoride use in municipal water systems. So what is the U.S. ‘s problem? This program receives zero oversight from the FDA, and the Environmental protection Agency (which declares the substance toxic) shows no accountability for fluoride being added to the water supply. What’s more, the Center for Disease Control and The American Dental Association continue to mandate statewide water fluoridation practices.

Please watch these important video interviews from Dr. Joe Mercola with Dr. Paul Connett, the leading expert in the world and a chemist who specializes in environmental chemistry. He is the co-author of The Case Against Fluoride: How Hazardous Waste Ended Up In Our Drinking Water and the Bad Science and Powerful Politics That Keep It There from Chelsea Green Publishing. Please be sure to pick up a copy of this well-researched book which blows the lid on the theory that fluoride is necessary for dental or any other aspect of health.

Part II
Part III

Part IV

Part V

Fluoride affects bone health (causes brittle bones, osteoporosis), thyroid, energy levels, and the pineal gland in the brain (the pineal gland is an endocrine organ which regulates seratonin, melatonin which affect wake/sleep patterns). Read some scientific research documenting the numerous health studies showing all different health issues that result from using fluoride.

According to Dr. Mercola and Dr. Connett, there are many other sources from which you can ingest fluoride distiller or reverse-osmosis filters are required to remove fluoride from water. It is also found in many bottled beverages including soft drinks, energy drinks, teas, juices, infant formula, processed foods like cereal, tea, wine, seafood, teflon pans, salt, commercially-raised poultry, anaesthetics (Enflurane, Isoflurane & Sevoflurane -used in surgery to put you to sleep), and cigarettes – just to name a few.

This harmful chemical is also added to most toothpastes on the market, and many other dental products like rinses. If you look at the label, there is a clear warning which reads something to this effect: “contact poison control center if you swallow more than necessary for brushing”. That amount is equivalent to one glass of water. So if you are drinking tap water everyday, just imagine how much fluoride you are ingesting every day of your life!


Want more information about the health dangers of fluoride?

Read The Cellulite Investigation’s Fluoride Content of Farm-Fresh Thanksgiving Turkey

A Better Alternative to Toothpaste – Healthy Home Economist

More from Agriculture Society:Dental crowding, cavities, and health problems – what’s the connection?


Fluoride in the water – does it really help prevent cavities?

For more information about the risks and dangers of fluoride use, visit the Fluoride Action Network.

This post is part of Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays Carnival.