Simplifying nutrition and using food as medicine - one bite at a time.

My goal with this blog is to set folks straight about what good nutrition really is! Starting by discarding the info we get every day from 'sponsors' that do not really have our best interests at heart, I want to inspire you to eat better AND realize it is much easier than you thought it would be!

Just about any health issues can be addressed with nutrition (and meditation), from mild to chronic to acute. We truly have the ability to heal ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually...

And you can use your daily routine as your vehicle to drive that change :)


Join me...

Quote of the Month

"When food, in the minds of eaters, is no longer associated with farming and with the land, then the eaters are suffering a kind of cultural amnesia that is misleading and dangerous"
~Wendell Berry

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ferment Fervour

Have you ever fermented food? On purpose?

Well ever since I picked up a copy of Wild Fermentation several years ago I've been intrigued by fermenting and have done several ferments now, namely honey wine (I gave it as Christmas presents for family and friends in the past) and, most recently I made ginger beer.

The author, Sandor Ellix Katz, says, "Microscopic organisms - our ancestors and allies - transform food and extend its usefulness. Fermentation is found throughout human cultures. Hundreds of medical and scientific studies confirm what folklore has always known: Fermented foods help people stay healthy."

As a nutritionist I agree with this statement and that is one of the reasons why I loved this book so much. I believe that one of the commonalities between the most healthful societies of the world (ie: Japan) is the ‘living foods’ they consume (ie: fermented pastes such a miso). North Americans don’t really have a staple food that is traditionally fermented, other than perhaps yogourt, which is so highly processed and contains little of the vitality it does when homemade with fresh milk/cream. Pickles and sauerkraut are now fast-food processed with vinegar and not really fermented at all.

Another aspect of this book I love is that the author is humorous, very knowledgeable and provides great practical tips and creative ideas for those of us who like to 'cook outside of the box'.

So this is the first post in what I plan to be a series of posts on fermenting foods (note: not consecutive posts). I hope that they will be informative and inspiring enough for you to try for yourself and see if you get hooked on the flavour and vigour that you get from these living foods!

Ginger Beer (aka Ginger Ale) - from Wild Fermentation

*Note this is a (healthy) ‘soft drink’ not an alcoholic drink, the fermentation creates enough carbonation for a bubbly beverage but not enough to contribute an ‘appreciable’ amount of alcohol.

*You’ll notice that the recipe calls for sugar (or honey) and because during the fermentation process the microorganisms fully metabolize the sugar, it is considered not the same as consuming refined white sugar in its usual form (On pg. 7 of Wild Fermentation, it states; “Fermentation also removes toxins from foods. This is vividly illustrated by the case of cassava, an enormous tuber native to the equatorial regions of Africa and Asia. Certain varieties contain high levels of cyanide and are poisonous until they have undergone a soaking fermentation. The fermentation process eliminates the cyanide, rendering the cassava edible and nutritious.”)

Timeframe: 2-3 weeks

Ingredients:
3 inches or more of fresh ginger root
2 cups sugar or raw honey (I prefer honey)
2 lemons
Water

Process:
1.) First you need to start the 'ginger bug': Add 2 teaspoons grated ginger (skin and all) and 2 tsp. sugar/honey to one cup water. Stir well and leave in a warm spot, covered with cheesecloth to allow free circulation of air while keeping flies out. Add this amount of ginger and sugar/honey every day or two and stir, until the bug starts bubbling, in 2 days to about a week.

2.) Make the ginger beer any time after the bug becomes active. (if you wait more than a couple of days, keep feeding the bug fresh ginger and sugar/honey every 2 days). Boil 2 litres of water. Add about 2 inches of gingerroot, grated, for a mild ginger flavour (up to 6 inches for an intense ginger flavour) and 1 ½ cups sugar. Boil this mixture for about 15 minutes. Cool.

3.) Once the ginger/sugar/water mixture has cooled, strain the ginger out and ass the juice of the lemons and the strained ginger bug. (If you intend to make this process an ongoing rhythm, reserve a few tablespoons of the active bug as a starter and replenish it with additional water, grated ginger and sugar.)

4.) Add enough water to make 4 litres (one gallon).

5.) Bottle in sealable bottles; rubber gasket “bail top” bottles are great or capped beer or wine bottles. Leave bottles to ferment in a warm spot for about 2 weeks.

6.) Cool before opening. When you open a ginger beer, be prepared with a glass, since carbonation can be strong and force liquid rushing out of the bottle.

This is a family favourite in my house and does not last. Consider making a double batch once you get the ‘feel’ for fermenting.

ENJOY!

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