By September, I’m frankly tired of making pesto, washing pint jars, slicing cucumbers for pickles or heating water for tomatoes or peaches. No, the pantry isn’t full but I need a break, another way to put food by without heating up pots of water. It’s time to dig out the 5 gallon crock and make sauerkraut. This is a beautiful blog with lots of photos and easy directions. Here’s a Russian version with similar steps but from a grandma’s point of view.
Humans have used fermentation to produce food and beverages since the Neolithic age. For example, fermentation is used for preservation in a process that produces lactic acid as found in such sour foods as pickled cucumbers, kimchi and yogurt as well as for producing alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer.
They often begin as whole foods, and with the help of microorganisms, their sugars and carbs are converted into compounds like lactic acid—the stuff that gives pickles and sauerkraut their signature sour taste. The process also turns these foods into probiotic powerhouses that boost levels of good bacteria in your digestive tract, improving the health and balance of your body’s collective microbiome, or bacterial community. A healthier microbiome, in turn, has been shown to aid in digestion, increase immunity, prevent disease, and—according to some preliminary studies—reduce blood pressure and keep you slim. What’s more, fermented foods are also easier to digest because they’re already partially broken down by bacteria, says Dana White, RD, a culinary nutritionist. And whatever nutrients are in there—say, vitamin C, in the cabbage that turns into sauerkraut—are actually enhanced during the fermentation process.
So, besides being a very simple way to preserve cabbage and other vegetables, fermentation is a healthy addition to your diet.
When I really wish to impress folks, I pick up some Napa cabbage, a few Thai hot chiles from the garden and whip up kimchi. Not to everyone’s taste but if you enjoy southeast Asian foods or Korean food you will need to learn how to make this favored condiment.
Sandor Katz, known as the king of fermentation, writes that kimchi typically includes red chili peppers, garlic, ginger, and scallions. Sauerkraut might include caraway seeds (his favorite), juniper berries, apples, or cranberries. Got a batch in the pantry right now. Now to get some rye bread from Backwoods Bakery this Saturday at the Market and some corned beef. There are ruben sandwiches in my future! YUM!
Curious to learn more? Come to Malaprops Book Store in Asheville, NC in September
and meet SANDOR KATZ !
Malaprops is thrilled to welcome fermentation and living foods expert Sandor Katz back to Malaprop’s for the re-release of his classic, Wild Fermentation! This James Beard award-winning author has given hundreds of workshops and presentations across the world, inspiring a global audience to create delicious, healing foods. This book, a New York Times bestseller, has been hailed as starting the fermentation revolution, and Newsweek calls it “the fermenting Bible.”
Event date: Saturday, September 10, 2016 – 7:00pm]