Written By Amy Clark
Let me start with a confession. I am obsessed with eating fermented foods. I strive to eat 1/4 cup per day. I treat it like a vitamin, critical for my health. It has fully given me the confidence to eat that sourdough without guilt! It's naturally lower in gluten and technically fermented too, although quality and source do matter, homemade is best! My favorite snack in the world is kimchi toast. Sometimes I butter up the toast with Mykonos cultured vegan butter or my all time favorite Follow Your Heart Veganaise.
I have been perfecting my ferments for the better part of seven years. At least that is what Facebook tells me. I am always shocked to see how long I have been doing it now. My first attempts were weird to me at the time and I realize now that I did not have throw away those four quarts of carrots. It still pains me to have "failed" at fermenting. But in reality, it is actually pretty tough to screw it up and it literally takes no time at all, we could all be doing it.
I have been desperately trying to find the perfect fermented veggie that my family will eat with me, especially my eight-year-old. I am on a mission to colonize their guts with healthy bacteria to keep us well. While I live on sauerkraut and kimchi they have not joined me yet. But I have got them hooked on my Kombucha!! "Clark Booch" – I need to sell this stuff for real. Berry-Ginger flavor is our go-to. We tell all my daughter's friends that is pink soda and they all love it.
Let's talk about why this is important to me. I believe what I read about our immune system and 95% of it living in our gut. I was diagnosed with IBS in 2003. I was given no choice but to address my gut. TMI...I was losing control of my bowels involuntarily away from a bathroom. This was a deal breaker clearly, I had to figure it out. I was close to 30 years old. The good news about my gut and I, we have become good friends. I have learned that the healthier it is the healthier I am.
Thus my obsession with making and eating fermented foods. There is one more thing. I also do this because I cannot afford to spend $100s on store-bought probiotics or store-bought fermented foods. This has been the single best effort for our health with a small impact on our monthly budget. Win, win!
Outside of eating fermented foods to build up our immune systems, I digest and utilize what I eat more. When your gut is working better it helps to keep healthy serotonin levels, because that is where is made, in your GI tract. Serotonin is very important, it helps to regulate mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire and function. Using ANSHI daily on my belly is another small effort that makes a big difference. Detox Aloe and Nurturing Peppermint help keep inflammation in check so my intestines can do what they do best. Since ANSHI has so many uses, I also indulge in a weekly Turmeric mask and even a scalp scrub with Peppermint when I need it!
Additionally and maybe most importantly fermenting has helped me scale through a big life trauma. I have had a Chronic Complex Post Traumatic Stress diagnosis for a few years now. There are two reasons why I feel sauerkraut has saved my life. One, it is hands down a brain food and anyone who experiences trauma has the potential to have loads of biochemical stress in their brains. Two, the process gives you purpose and agency. It holds you accountable to something other than getting stuck in your head about what happened.
Fermented foods are so healing in so many ways. My regulars today are Kimchi, Kombucha and Sauerkraut. With my most recent first try at sauerkraut made with red cabbage and dill, OUTSTANDING!!! Clapping emoji, so good.
Here is how simple it is.
- Wash your vegetables.
- Remove the outer layers of the cabbage to use as a cover and weight for later.
- Quarter and remove the stem saving for weight.
- Shred in a food processor or chop your cabbage to how you like it, even is the key but always do some larger pieces to weave on the top to help keep the cabbage submerged in the brine.
- Chop your herbs.
- Salt cabbage and herbs, I like to let mine sit for about 15-20 minutes to let it sweat naturally. 7. Massage generously to release the natural juices which will become the brine, do this for at least 15 minutes it will get really juicy.
- Stuff into a jar, layer your bigger pieces cover with your saved outer pieces of cabbage add a fermenting weight.
- Secure fermenting lid.
- Store in a cool dark place for 7-21 days.
After fully fermenting move to a jar with a lid and store in the fridge. You can taste it along the way to see if it is to your liking, you will notice how time changes the complexity of the flavor over time. I like mine very sour.
Stay tuned for more ways to fit fermenting into your busy schedule and as I find my perfect kid-friendly go-to!