EHLC Blog
Nutrition

Fermentation, Self Reliance in Food Preparation

by Rosemary Tayler

On September 17, 2017  Earth Haven Farm and Learning Centre hosted a hands-on workshop on fermentation basics presented by Lorraine Schmid. With a background in nutrition, Lorraine owns and operates Thyme Again Gardens, an organic farm and Bed and Breakfast in Prince Edward County. For the past several years she has been experimenting with ferments made from all sorts of veggies.

She began her talk with an introduction to the health benefits of ferments. Not only do probiotics found in fermented vegetables help with digestion in the gut, they also contribute to overall bowel health, increase levels of certain B vitamins and vitamin K and assist in the detoxification of unwanted substances. Those people who eat well balanced meals including daily doses of ferments tend to be less depressed and more mentally alert. She pointed out that pickling veggies in vinegar does not have the same benefits as fermentation.

Lorraine then outlined several key factors one needs to follow when making ferments:

  1. No oxygen. Fermentation takes place in an anaerobic environment. One must press out all the air in the glass container and keep the veggies under the brine.

  2. Prepare the veggies as soon as possible after harvest. This way they have more moisture content than if they were stored for several days after being harvested.

  3. The brine must be at room temperature. The cooler the temperature, the slower the fermentation process.

  4. Tasting the ferment throughout the process helps determine when it is complete. The more sour the better.

  5. Reverse osmosis or filtered water makes a better ferment. Chlorinated water kills the probiotics.

  6. Unrefined sea salt is recommended as it is full of minerals and supports probiotic bacteria.

  7. Organic or biodynamic produce is preferred. Herbicides kill the good bacteria that contribute to the fermentation process. Thin skinned carrots do not need to be peeled.

  8. When fermenting veggies, keep them out of direct sunlight.

After this brief introduction, we then proceeded into the kitchen and started chopping up veggies and placing them (“massaging”) in a room temperature brine at the work stations. This practical hand-on session gave participants the confidence and knowledge needed to make their own ferments at home. Lorraine also demonstrated how to make Kombucha from a starter ferment called “Scoby” and Earl Grey black tea. The word scoby is an acronym for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast.

From a biodynamic perspective, Lorraine Schmid shared how it is better to make ferments when the moon is waning and in a fire sign, both of which occurred on that particular day. She always notes this lunar information on her labels together with the list of ingredients so she can better track the outcomes.  Another suggestion she shared is to undertake fermentation tasks with a happy disposition and not be in a rush. “Putting lots of love in what you do every day helps set the intention for a positive outcome,” she added."

For more information contact Thyme Again Gardens at www.thymeagain.com

 

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Tips Toward Healthy Food Habits
  1. Avoid eating after 6pm. Letting our gut rest and rejuvenate through the night allows for more energy and clarity.
  2. Taking a probiotic daily encourages friendly bacteria. These fermented foods keep our gut flora healthy.
  3. Source the free range, grass fed, organic meat and poultry.
  4. Eat a variety of nutrient-rich vegetables. One rule of thumb is to vary the colour of these vegetables because each kind contains different types of fibres which feed the microflora. Cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, califlower, bok choy, cabbage and kale contain lots of fibre and antioxidants.
  5. Spices and herbs including tumeric and cinnamon offer powerful healing properties to the diet.
  6. Fruit and berries need to be consumed in moderation. Choose ones with a low glycemic index such as blueberries.
  7. Avoid all processed meats containing nitrates and fillers, including hotdogs and pre-packaged sliced meats.
  8. Avoid all processed grains, artificial sweeteners and white sugar. Maple syrup and honey in moderation.
  9. Drink lots of water.  Avoid soft drinks and caffeinated drinks.
  10. Do not overeat, as this stresses our detoxification system.

Fermented Foods from Around the World

Every culture has fermented foods.  Here are but a few.

  • Kimchi - Korea
  • Sourdough Bread - Europe
  • Soy Sauce & Tempeh - Asia
  • Kefir & Yogurt - Middle East
  • Sauerkraut - Central Europe
  • Buttermilk - America
  • Kombucha - Japan
  • Borscht - Russia
  • Dosa - India

Article written by Rosemary Tayler, Celestial Planting Calendar 2016

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Nutrition

How humans and nature are integral parts of each other: 

According to scientific research, says Katalin Brown, who works as a Gut And Pychology Syndrome (GAPS) counsellor and a Nutritional Therapy Practioner (NTP), “The human body is 99.9% of what it was since the beginning of human evolution. Nothing has really changed – except for the microbial beings in our gut. We are no longer feeding our gut microbes the same kind of food as that which was consumed by hunters and gatherers a hundred thousand years ago. The types of microbes in our gut changed and adapted for better or worse as our food changed.”

Katalin remembers as a child growing up with her family in Hungary, where people ate fermented foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut on a daily basis. She said, “I remember as a small child seeing my grandfather shred hundreds of cabbages harvested from our field and placing them in a large wide oak barrel.  He threw in a handful of salt and we took turns stomping on the cabbage to soften it up. Water was released from the cabbage as it mixed with the salt to become brine. Boards were placed over the cabbage just beneath the surface of the brine. The floating yeast foam was removed daily for about two weeks using a wooden paddle. Then, depending on several conditions, including temperature, this process continued until the taste of the salt was transformed into a sour taste. My grandfather was an expert in deciding when this fermentation process was over and the sauerkraut was ready to eat. We made enough sauerkraut to last from one year to the next.

“Having grown up eating fermented foods, such as yogurt and sauerkraut that are easy to digest, I went on to learn how these probiotic foods build up a healthy microflora in our gut. Microflora are the tiny, invisible bacteria and fungi that live in our gut as well as in the outside world. The ones in our gut contribute to the overall well-being of each person and animal. 

“Among other things, they help with food digestion and absorption, waste elimination. They provide all of our B vitamins and other nutrients.  Our gut flora comprises 80% of our immune system. In an adult these microflora weight five to six pounds and they cover the entire surface of our gut, which if stretched out, is the size of a tennis court. This is why it is so important to feed these microorganisms.

“Refined and processed foods play havoc on our gut flora. With each generation of people eating refined and denatured foods, these gut flora become weaker and are replaced by less healthy microflora. Studies show that children growing up on farms have more diverse species of healthy gut flora compared to children living in cities eating processed foods.

“In the mid 1900s, Dr. Weston Price, a prominent American dentist became a well-respected scientist and travelled the world to find out that children with beautiful, straight, decay-free teeth were healthy and more resistant to disease, while those eating refined carbohydrates had cavities, facial abnormalities and crooked teeth.  He made the connection between healthy teeth and healthy bodies. The children, as well as the adults, who ate  traditional primitive diets rich in animal foods, such as butter, fats, fish, eggs, shellfish and organ meats, were the most healthy.

“He came to the conclusion that feeding our bodies fermented foods and animal bone broths is essential for healthy teeth and overall well-being.”

Katalin’s deep conviction in what she teaches and cooks for her family, clients and friends inspires others to explore how to eat a nutritionally dense diet.

Her recipe for bone broth calls for a whole chicken, celery stalks, carrots, onions, garlic, parsley and a tablespoon of quality salt, such as Celtic Salt, is simple and easy to make.  Place these ingredients in a tall stainless steel pot with lots of water, and after it comes to a boil, skim off the foam and let it simmer for 8 to 12 hours. The broth and the fat is then poured into food-grade containers and frozen, or it is consumed right away. “I recommend one cup of this bone broth with every meal,” says Katalin. “Organic chicken is preferable as these birds have not been given antibiotics, hormones and processed grains, which wipe out friendly and unfriendly bacteria. When this soup stock is taken together with a diet of sardines, salmon, some meat, lots of fresh vegetables, sauerkraut and yogurt, one can reinoculate one’s gut with good healthy bacteria.  Fat must be included in this diet as it plays a crutial role in the assimilation of protein.”

Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD, Katalin’s mentor, is the author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome.  In her revised edition, she goes into detail about the connection between the gut and the brain from the moment the food enters the body until it leaves.  To quote Dr. Campbell-McBride, “In our modern world where people are regularly taking antibiotics and other pharmaceutical drugs, where food is laced with chemicals alien to the human physiology, an increasing number of people have damaged, abnormal gut flora dominated by pathogenic microbes. As a result, a person’s gut is unable to nourish the body properly; instead it produces large amounts of toxins that absorb into the bloodstream, get spread around the body, and cause disease.”

Katalin recently attended a workshop by her mentor where she learned that agriculturalists and other scientists commented that when one looks under the microsope at the gut lining of a human, all those finger-like projections and villi are quite long and hair-like. They resemble the roots of plants embedded in soil.  The soil around the roots feed the plants and look after and protect them.  Our gut flora is “our soil.”  It is the basis of our health. 

Article written by Rosemary Tayler, Celestial Planting Calendar 2016

 

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