Posted on

Fermented Foods

Today is Health Tuesday. I am designating different days of the week for writing topics. This is mainly because I have been neglecting this page and need to encourage myself to keep on keeping on.

Eat Well Move Well Live WellToday’s advice comes to us from a book I am reading: Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well by Roland and Galina Denzel. It is a wonderful book of good natural health advice. Unlike other books, this is not necessarily read cover to cover. At the end of each chapter, it suggests different chapters to move on to. So expect some of these random topics to end up here. If you are interested in the book, the picture is linked to Amazon for you to purchase.

From Chapter 17 – Ferment Your Foods

One of those Lost Ways that modern society has forgotten is the food preparation technique of fermentation. And I say forgotten mostly because most of us do not prepare and store our foods. We buy it by the cans or fresh from the store, because we can. But by forgetting about it, we also have lost the knowledge of a very powerful source of nutrition.

Yogurt

Of these, the least understood in importance is that of Yogurt. Yogurt replaces healthy bacteria in your gut. This should be done just because – helping your basic digestion. But it becomes a magic health food source when your gut is under attack. This happens for many reasons. But most often we see it when we are on antibiotics. Usually you take these to help you fight off other diseases. But they also kill off some of the good bacteria that help your digestion process.

I found out a lot about this a few years ago when I ended up in the hospital after I was bitten by a spider. I was on heavy antibiotics for 3 weeks, which caused a variety of problems (diarrhea). In addition to eating a lot of greek yogurt, I also took the advice of a friend, Sol Luckman. He suggested making my own Kefir.

Kefir is yogurt-like variation that is a regular staple in other parts of the world – especially the Middle East. I drank it for about 2 weeks. It is thinner than yogurt, but thicker than milk. The taste (depending on how you flavor it, is like stronger, not name brand yogurts.

I also have used yogurt (primarily plain Greek yogurt) while on cleansing diets. It can be eaten plain (yuckish), added to smoothies, substituted for mayonnaise. The list is endless. I liked smoothies, made with Greek Yogurt, coconut milk, fruit, and sometimes honey.

Probably the best takeaway I have gotten from eating yogurt is to STAY AWAY FROM PROCESSED YOGURT. Yoplait, Danimals, Activia, and Go gurt ARE NOT FOOD. They are so filled with sugars, colors flavors and the like that they cease to be indentifiable as food.

First batch of PicklesVinegar

Vinegar used to be an absolute staple in all kitchens. Its uses range from being a base for salad dressing to a perfect substitute for Cascade in your dishwasher.

For fermentable foods, here is where you find your pickles, sauerkraut and Kimchi. If you have been following Astrogardens, earlier this summer, we pickled the cucumbers from our garden. As we found, early on, the recipe was pretty sour. As they sat, the tartness has settled somewhat and made the pickles a tasty treat.

Another pickled substance we see here in Pennsylvania is called Chow Chow. To make it, you put a bunch of vegetables in a jar and put a sugared vinegar solution over it. Frankly it is repulsive. But if you think about it, this was a great way for farmers to preserve a lot of vegetables that they would not otherwise use. It has carrots, celery, cucumbers, carrots, cauliflower, tomatoes.

Apple Cider Vinegar

I discovered the magic of ACV back in about 2010. I was looking for a natural cure for allergies. Two books I was reading at the Time (The Vinegar Book and Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You to Know About) extolled the use of ACV to help. So I decided to try it out.

<PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT – THIS IS NOT A CURE AND I AM NOT SUGGESTING YOU USE THIS AS A MEDICINE. I am not a doctor and not part of the CDC and cannot recommend anything as a cure>

3 times per day, you drink 1-2 Tablespoons of ACV. You can try this plain if you are brave. But it is pretty intense. i usually add it to a glass of water or in ginger ale or 7up.

For the sake of my allergies, I stopped taking my antihistamine (generic Claritin) or using my albuterol inhaler during this test.

RESULT: Within a few days, my nose was not stuffy, my eyes were not red and runny, I did not have shortness of breath.

Since then, I have not taken ANY over the counter medicine for allergies. I still take ACV, but not every day.

The chapter ends with offering advice on going forward. I will list them with my own advice as well.

  1. Yogurt. Try some in the next week. What can it hurt. If you are even more adventurous, try making some at home.
  2. Other Fermented Foods. Try something new this week. Will it be pickles? Kombucha? Go out on a limb and buy some Chow Chow? Maybe something more than just an olive in a martini.
  3. Books. Check out a book on Fermentation. I suggest The Vinegar Book. But you may also want to look into both Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well and Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You To Know About
Posted on

First Batch!

First batch of Pickles

Organic Seed PacksFor this project, it feels like to story of the Little Red Hen. Not the part of the story where she does all the work but will not share at the end, since none of the other’s would help her. But more because getting to this point went through so many steps.

It started Back in March when I bought the organic seeds. In the omnibus pack of seeds there was a pack for pickling cucumbers. I had not planned on planting them, but through them into the germinator at the last minute. and wouldn’t you know, they sprouted.

Then in May when I plowed out the additional gardens at the end of my yard. Thanks to former boss and old pal Dave Lesser for the use of your rototiller. Come to think of it I had better return it.

Then there was protecting them from all the horrible dangers of a garden in our neighborhood. Rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, insane weeds, weeks of watering with no rain. Then the last 2 weeks of 5+ inches of rain.

Here are the Cucumber plantsAs of last night, we had picked about 45 cucumbers, and we have to start preparing them for winter (sounds pretty rustic).

I had wondered if there was something special about Pickling Cucumbers, making them different than regular cucumbers. I still do not know, but I did crunch down a wedge while we were preparing them and thought it tasted pretty good. And if I were to describe them, they do look like, well pickles.

So we started preparing the cucumbers for canning. And what a challenge it was finding a recipe. There are hundreds of recipes and variations available. We settled on a pretty simple recipe we found online.

We have not canned anything in a number of years (probably about 12). We used to make jams and jellies all summer long. We started doing it because my wife loves jelly, but most commercial jellies . . . suck. After Knott’s Berry Farm stopped shipping to the east coast, we needed another source. Over the years, we tried Strawberry, Blueberry, Sour Cherry, Peach, Raspberry and Blackberry. We also tried making juice Jelly – commercial juice out of a bottle.  We were kind of horrified when a “mixed berry” juice jelly became the favorite that we shared.

When I was growing up, we also had a concord grape vine in our backyard and would make grape juice and jelly annually. And I have to say the system my wife and I had was far easier and less messy than my Mom’s system for Grapes.

For Jellies, we also went to the trouble of heat sealing the lids, rather than using wax to seal them. Wax would have taken the process so over the edge with work we would never have kept it up. And so long as you have the right pots and utencils, it is pretty easy. Since we have them all, the process of jarring the pickles went pretty well.

As you see, that is 4 jars down. We have at least another 8 to go plus however many more we may want.

Also considering what we might want to do with the tomatoes, which should start coming in the next week or so. Spaghetti sauce? salsa? Stewed tomatoes?