Cultured or fermented foods have a very long history in virtually all native diets, and have always been highly prized for their health benefits.
The culturing process produces beneficial microbes that are extremely important for human health as they help balance your intestinal flora, thereby boosting overall immunity. Moreover, your gut literally serves as your second brain, and even produces more of the neurotransmitter serotonin – known to have a beneficial influence on your mood – than your brain does, so maintaining a healthy gut will benefit your mind as well as your body.
Fermented foods are also some of the best chelators and detox agents available, meaning they can help rid your body of a wide variety of toxins, including heavy metals. It effectively restores your own detoxification system, and the fermented/cultured foods are instrumental in this self-healing process. And you don’t need to consume large amounts either.
- Shred and cut your chosen veggies (beets, cabbage, bok choy, etc.).
- Juice some celery. This is used as the brine, as it contains natural sodium and keeps the vegetables anaerobic. This eliminates the need for sea salt, which prevents growth of pathogenic bacteria.
- Pack the veggies and celery juice along with the inoculates (starter culture, such as kefir grains, whey, or commercial starter powder, all of which can be used for vegetables) into a 32 ounce wide-mouthed canning jar
4. Top with a cabbage leaf, tucking it down the sides. Make sure the veggies are completely covered with celery juice and that the juice is all the way to the top of the jar to eliminate trapped air.
5. Seal the jar store in a warm, slightly moist place for 24 to 96 hours, depending on the food being cultured. Ideal temperature range is 68-75 degrees Fahrenheit; 85 degrees max. Remember, heat kills the microbes!
6. When done, store in the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation process.
How to make your own kefir:
- You can obtain kefir cultures from The Kefir Lady, her “grains” are amazing. I have used them for nearly a year and have been endlessly pleased. You can also find some local grains via craigslist (of all places).
- It’s best to use raw cow or goat milk. You can usually find this through a local community sponsored agricultural (CSA) program. Raw milk is much more nutritionally robust than pasteurized milk, but if raw is not available, organic pasteurized milk is the next best thing. Avoid ultra-pasteurized milk, it is essentially ‘dead’ and will not perform well.
- As a general recipe (although temperature will change timing). Place 3 tbsp. of kefir grains in a quart size glass jar and fill with milk.
4. Leave on the counter at room temp for 24 hours, at that time, you will have a thick creamy kefir. If it is more “curds and whey”, use more milk next time and perhaps less time. The goal is to get the milk to grain ratio so that you have kefir right around the 24 hour mark. Temperature will have an affect of the process, if you are in a warm climate, the fermenting process will go faster. Once you have your kefir, strain the grains out and add to a clean jar and start the process over again. The kefir grains can be used over and over again as long as they are given plenty of fresh milk to thrive in.