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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.

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 Feed Me Like You Mean It on Facebook (blog posts on Facebook about giveaways aren’t permitted by FB rules). You’ll receive extra entries for “liking” only.
  3. Follow Lactoferment on Twitter and Tweet about the giveaway.
  4. Follow Agriculture Society on Twitter.
  5. Like Agriculture Society on Facebook (again, blog post about giveaways on FB are not permitted). Extra entries are given for “liking” only.
  6. Please Stumble my page or any other articles you want to share!

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

 

Giveaways Green Living Healthy Living Kids & Family Recipes Reviews

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

www.mypicshares.com

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