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Friday, June 11, 2010

Eleven Ways to Get More Fermented Foods into Your Life

Why do you want to get more fermented foods into your life? In short, they are good and good for you. Fermentation increases the taste and nutritional value of food. It was the main way of preserving food up until the invention of the refrigerator. Humans more or less evolved to be eating fermented foods full of probiotics daily, and many of us have found we do a lot better eating fermented foods with every meal. You can take commercial probiotics, but why not just choose to cultivate a healthy gut flora by consuming good bacteria in your food? If you are not used to fermented foods, go slowly. Like any dietary change, suddenly eating tons of sourkraut can cause, well, a gastric reaction. Start small and work your way up to eating something fermented with every meal.

1. Sauerkraut--in sandwiches, with eggs, in salads, with meat, with nut butter on toast, on top of soup, and so many more...I make it myself but am also a big fan of Cultutred's wonderful krauts and pickles. I consider their stuff pharmaceutical grade. Find Alex slinging sauerkraut at the Berkeley Farmer's market, drop by their pickle shop, or visit their site to find out where else to buy it http://www.culturedpickleshop.com/. Also check out their cool video from Chow on the site.

2. Yogurt--the real kind. That is, full fat, local and unsweetened. Sweeten it yourself if you must, but beware commercial sweetened yogurt. Did you know that a cup of Yoplait lemon yogurt has more sugar than a cup of chocolate Haagen Daz? Yogurt by itself, on top of so many things, for breakfast lunch or dinner. Today I am marinating lamb chops from my local farmer in yogurt with garam marsala, lemon, garlic and cilantro to be grilled on tomorrow's camping cookout and served with Cilantro Chelation Pesto (see last post) under the stars...

3. Creme fraiche. Make your own by stirring 1 tablespoon of buttermilk into 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream and letting it sit out, covered, for 24-36 hours in a warm place. Use as you would sour cream, enjoying it's milder flavor and French sophistication, or whip it to use on desserts. I make cultured ice cream with 1/2 creme fraiche and 1/2 buttermilk, sweetening it with maple syrup and whatever fruit is in season. Divine!

4. Buttermilk. What to do with the rest of the carton after you make creme fraiche? My grandmother used to drink it plain and marinate chicken in it, I prefer it in pancakes, waffles and muffins, combining it the the flour the night before baking to soak overnight, neutrallize the phytic acid in the grains, and render them more digestible and nutritious! Or try it in one of those wacky northern European style fruit soups.

5. Kombucha, kvass, lactofermented sodas, and oh yeah, wine and beer. Extra points if you make your own. I have instrucitons on how to make the kvass and sodas in my previous post here:
http://gastronicity.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2009-08-07T16%3A15%3A00-07%3A00&max-results=7. Brew your own bubbles!

6. Dill pickles, pickle relish, cornichons, etc. The pickled cucumber is a wonderful thing. I like Bubbie's Pickles if I'm not making my own, they are the real deal. Mix their pickle relish with your creme fraiche for a high-class tartar sauce for fish, asparagus, etc. And that pickle brine must never go to waist. I use it in salad dressings more a health-giving zing. I'll be showing you how to make your own at next Sunday's class, see below.

7. Capers. Get the real deal, salt-cured capers, at a gourmet market, and give them a good soak in water for 10-30 minutes before you strain them and use them to flavor, well, salads, fish, pestos, salad dressing, what-have-you.

8. Fermented fish sauce. I use this to give salt, umami and fermented enzyme power to many curries, stir fries, soups, anything southeast Asian. Doesn't taste fishy when used in small quantities, just flavorful.

9. Miso. Miso soup of course, from the simple stir a teaspoon of miso into hot water style to more elaborate preparations with seaweed, onions and vegetables, but also chickpea miso in pesto, miso in creamy soups, sweet miso spread on the top of halved summer squash and baked until tender, miso as a shortcut to stock and a vegetarian alternative to bone broth. Protects the body from the harmful effects of radiation incurred from mammograms, flying or dental visits or too much sun. Then there are the other soy ferments, tamari, shoyu, tempeh, don't forget those.

10. Anchovies. I get the big ones in bulk at Berkeley Bowl, soak them to remove the excess salt, and make Salade Nicoise or cut slits into lamb and poke in anchovy bits and garlic that no one suspects are the reason behind the roast or chops' wonderful flavor. Or blend into salad dressing for calcium and enzyme power.

11. Learn how to do it yourself! Come and take my class on Basic Fermentation next Sunday June 20th from 1:30-4pm in Berkeley. Follow this link to register: http://www.biofueloasis.com/?page_id=7. See you there!

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