Urban Fermentation Project
One of my main real food goals is to increase my family’s intake of fermented foods. Why? Because the proliferation of beneficial bacteria in fermented foods:
- enhances digestibility;
- boosts vitamin content; and
- creates substances that are anti-carcinogenic and antibiotic.
Oh, and they taste good, too :) Even mainstream food culture recognizes the benefits of “probiotics,” but why not ingest probiotics through whole foods, instead of in capsules or (sugar-or-chemical-laden) commercial yogurts?
Long ago, food preservation did not involve the elaborate sanitization techniques described in modern preservation manuals. The point was not to kill the food (by bathing it in a vinegar brine and then pasteurizing it) to make it shelf-stable, but to preserve its life, and the life force of the micro-organisms in the food which are so essential for our own vibrant health.
Check out this article for a full explanation of the history and benefits of ‘lacto-fermentation’ (fermentation by way of lactic acid).
The Main Idea
My Urban Fermentation Project is like my farm in my little urban home. I don’t have a back yard (yet), so this farm is it for now. I’m cultivating micro-organisms instead of tomatoes, and tilling cultures instead of soil. On my kitchen counter. And I’m making my project a little challenge for myself (and you, if you’d like to join me!).
I plan to start at least one of the fermented goodies listed below every week until they’ve all been started, tested, and reviewed for your reading (and my tasting) pleasure. I’ll give each one a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down (and I’ll be picky, I promise), and rate how easy (or not) it was to make in relation to how good it tastes.
I’m also foreswearing a(n embarrassing) proclivity of mine for the duration of my project: pop. Soda. Soft drinks. Cola. Whatever you call it, and whether or not you like it, two things are true: it is bad for health, and I love it. I used to drink about a can every couple of days, and though I drink it less frequently now, I still crave it when I’m at my weakest. If I’ve had a bad day, it’s pop I consider consoling myself with. And, sometimes I give in. No longer. I intend to find at least one, if not multiple fermented beverages to re-place the place that pop holds in my heart. Kombucha doesn’t do it for me. There must be something that will. I also hope to drastically limit my intake of refined sweeteners of all sorts for (at least) the duration of this project, because I know from experience that avoiding sugar makes everything else you eat just taste better!!
I started with some basics before I started this blog, but by any standard I am a newbie to fermented foods. I started my real food journey with authentic bone broths, raw dairy and a healthy-fat overhaul a couple of years ago, but only now have I developed an interest in exploring the world of home-brewed fermentations. I make kombucha and soaked (fermented) porridge already, and in the past I’ve brewed my own yogurt. But I’m taking it to a whole new level. Pictured above are my first attempts at sauerkraut, beet kvass and marmalade. And I’m not stopping there.
The plan is to make each of the following fermented foods, and to chronicle the journey here. I’ve picked these ones because…they look tasty. I’ll save the adventurous stuff for later ;)
Vegetables & Fruits:
- Latin American sauerkraut
- Sauerkraut (see also Sauerkraut: Part Deux)
- Pickled garlic
- Pickled red peppers
- Pickled pearl onions
- Pickled turnip (sauerruben)
- Apple butter
- Berry preserves
- Cherry chutney
- Ginger Carrots
- Rye bread
- Sourdough wheat bread
- Amazake (sweet fermented rice)
- Hindu lemonade
- Water kefir
- Milk kefir
- Beet kvass
- Ginger Ale (added thanks to Marina’s comment below!)
By my count, that’s a 25 week-long project. Which will take me into May 2011. That’s assuming I don’t add anything to the list as the project progresses, which I doubt will be possible, as I’ve already added at least ten things to the original list I made in contemplation of this project :) I have added many things to this list by now (early December). There’s no time limit on my project – I’ll be fermenting ’til I’m done all of these experiments, and then I’ll continue making the ones I like best!
Care to Join Me?
Subscribe, or leave me a comment if you’re interested in joining me in this journey – whether by observation (consolation?) or participation, all are welcome. I would love to have some company!!
Here’s to vibrant health through fermented foods…