Fermented Vegetables is your most valuable investment in health. Kirsten and Christopher Shockey (The Fermentista's Kitchen) have assembled a do-it-yourself guide that makes fermenting your own vegetables fast, simple, fool proof and delicious. Importantly, their crock ferments provide a rich source of probiotics and prebiotics (soluble fiber) that can go a long way toward repairing the epidemic of damaged gut flora (microbiome) and inflammatory diseases. Yes, you can cure autoimmune diseases and allergies.
Old Friends Become Fermentista
I have known the Shockeys, since we homeschooled our kids together, they started their homestead farm in Oregon and they began to ferment. I got interested in diet, inflammation and disease mediated by gut flora, and they got interested in growing food for their family and feeding their gut flora. I was trying to figure out how to repair gut flora and they were figuring out how to make gut flora food.
Fermented Vegetables are a Source of Gut Flora
It took me a while to realize that my crock-crazed friends had provided the answer to my gut flora repair problem. It was a modern approach to a traditional answer. Fermentation is a natural solution to the problem of food spoilage. Crushing vegetables in just the right amount of salt provides the sugars needed for lactic acid fermentation and inhibits spoilage microbes. The lactic acid bacteria convert the sugars to lactic acid and the mild acid and salt stop other bacteria and fungi from growing. The result is tasty, crunchy vegetables with the pleasant sour and mouth feel of lactic acid. The removal of the vegetable sugars leaves the low-glycemic, complex polysaccharides, a.k.a. soluble fiber or prebiotics, that are the major food for gut flora.
The Guide to Fermentation
I was so excited when the Shockeys were starting a fermented veggies business and began writing Fermented Vegetables. As my readers may have noticed, I tend toward the terse and scientifically esoteric. They just cut to the taste and tell you how to make your crocks work miracles. I struggle with the BIG picture and they just make the next meal delicious, so their kids (now adults) want more kraut and kimchi.
All of the Answers to Fermenting Vegetables
Fermented Vegetables is divided into four parts that simply, but thoroughly explain 1) what happens in a fermenting crock, 2) how krauts, brines and kimchi works, 3) how to make every kind of fermented veggie, and 4) how to cook with them. It is all in the book. Approachable. Safe. Delicious. For beginners, cooks, chefs, kraut connoisseurs. I have made a quick, tasty cabbage kraut starting with knife, salt and Ball jar in 15 minutes, plus three days of waiting in a cool, dark place. They tell you how to get great results with what is already in your kitchen, or how to use specialty water-seal crocks, onggi pots, tampers, followers, mandolines, etc., etc. From pint jars to multi-gallon crocks, the how-to is there. All of the details to slice, shred, salt, submerge, seal and sample are in the book, along with lots of food porn pictures to tempt you into making your first crockful of kraut or rhubarb infused with ginger and cardamom. Just to make you feel comfortable, they also have an appendix on scum, the yucky, but harmless, fungal mat that can form where air meets the brine.
The Cure for Damaged Gut Flora and Inflammatory Diseases
I have written hundreds of posts that link modern inflammatory diseases to diet and damaged gut flora. The immune system develops in the intestines in response to gut flora and without those bacteria and fungi, the regulatory function of the immune system is lost and disease begins. Autoimmune diseases and allergies are caused by damaged gut flora. Repair of that damage will cure the diseases, but repair requires adding back the missing bacteria. [Drugs to treat symptoms have antibiotic activity that further damage the gut flora.] Some of the missing bacteria are present in each batch of homemade fermented vegetables and eating krauts and kimchi can fix gut flora. Homemade is better than commercial, because batches made from the bacteria clinging to vegetables have more diverse bacteria than commercial krauts made with starter cultures of just a few species of bacteria. It should also be obvious that cooking, heating or canning fermented vegetables eliminates the desired, live fermenting bacteria.
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