All hands on deck during a recent workshop on fermenting foods. Our guest speaker was Maureen Diaz of Mamasfollies. Maureen is a talented writer and speaker on homesteading and whole foods cooking. We were delighted to have her at The Rosemary House. First, she discussed the health benefits of fermented foods from detoxification to increasing nutrient content to decreasing anti-nutrients (foods that block nutrient absorption). Of course the #1 health benefit is the probiotics found in fermented foods. Probiotics build up the beneficial microbes which are often destroyed by pharmaceuticals (antibiotics and others), stress, and toxins in the environment. Probiotics also increase assimilation of nutrients and can annihilate pathogens.
The basics of fermentation include veggies, fruits, salt and whey. She encourages a quality unrefined sea salt such as Himalayan or Celtic. Whey is used as an activator and is easy to acquire from whole milk yogurt. To give you an idea of a basic Sauerkraut recipe: 2 heads of cabbage, 1 T salt, 1/4 C whey and water only if needed (most fresh cabbage is juicy enough). Certainly you can add others such as carrots, granny smith apples, garlic, onions, or caraway seeds. Slice and knead the cabbage until the juice is released. Add the salt and whey, pack tightly into a glass jar, loosely tighten to allow the gases to escape. Allow to ferment for 7 days or until it tastes perfect to you. Then refrigerate to end the fermenting process.