Did you know there are more bacteria in our body than cells so can say that we are more bacteria than we are humans! These colony of bacteria living in our gut makes up our microbiome and they govern many of our body’s key functions so they are critical to our overall health. A balanced microbiome regulates the immune system, metabolism, sustains the gastrointestinal tract, supports mood and brain function, produces crucial vitamins and nutrients, and helps us maintain a healthy weight.
So how do we make our microbiome healthy – Eating Fermented foods is the key!
Fermented foods are part of every cuisine across the world. Fermentation was the technique used to preserve foods and drinks long before the refrigeration was availble. During the process of fermentation, bacteria convert sugars and starch into alcohol or acids. The environment for fermentation boosts the growth of healthy bacteria. Even a small portion of fermented foods provides trillions of good beneficial bacteria. As a side benefit, the bacteria in fermented foods produce vitamins (like B vitamins and K) and other important nutrients as they digest the starches and sugars.
The good news is fermentation is a simple process and there is a variety of fermented foods to pick from. Some of the most popular fermented foods from around the world are yogurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha and sauerkraut.
Most of us are already familiar with making yogurt at home but I recently tried fermenting cabbage/carrots (Sauerkraut) and the outcome was amazing. This probiotic rich food not only improves digestion and immunity but also helps lose weight.
Here is a simple recipe for vegetable fermentation.
Cabbage, Carrot and Ginger Sauerkraut
Half medium size cabbage finely shredded
2 medium carrots grated
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1.5 teaspoons fine-ground sea salt (Do not use a regular iodized table salt)
1 cup brine (1 teaspoon of sea salt dissolved in 1 cup of filtered water)
1. Shred the cabbage and grate ginger and carrots in a food processor. Sprinkle half teaspoon salt over.
2. Start pounding the mixture with a wooden spoon or mix it well with your hands. This will release the juice from the vegetables. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes.
3. Pack the vegetables into a glass jar tightly to remove as many air pockets as possible. Cover the vegetables with the brine so the vegetables are completely immersed in liquid.
4. Place the outer leaf from the cabbage on top to cover the mixture. The leaf will make sure the contents stay in place and are submerged. If you have a small weight like cooker whistle or small glass cup, place it on top of the leaf before closing the lid.
I used fermentation lids but you can use any cheesecloth with rubber band to secure.
5. Leave it at room temperature for the fermentation to happen. Make sure the room temperature is between 67-72 degrees.
6. Let it ferment for week to three weeks depending upon the season. It will be faster in summer than the cold winters. You could tell if it ready when it has a nice crisp, tangy smell to it and no signs of mold or discoloration.
Once ready, put it in the fridge and enjoy your healthy, delicious probiotic right vegetables.
You can use any vegetable for fermentation. My next batch includes beetroot and purple cabbage. Play with it, experiment with different vegetables and discover the unique taste of fermented foods!