Eating fermented foods is like giving our digestive system a special treat that helps us stay healthy.
These foods contain probiotics–tiny living superheroes of our gut. They help digestion, making sure our food gets turned into energy and nutrients our body need. They also help boost the absorption of important vitamins and minerals–perfect for keeping our immune system in great condition.
After finding The Modern Pioneer Cookbook at my local library and finding Mary’s Next YouTube channel, I’ve been experimenting with a variety of fermented foods. Some are easier and less time consuming than others, but all well worth the effort.
Kefir: A Probiotic Powerhouse
Kefir is the easiest of all the fermented foods I’ve made so far. It is a fermented milk drink with numerous health benefits.
How to make keifer
- Purchase keifer grains or get them from a friend who’s already making keifer
- In a lidded jar, add 1 Tablespoon of keifer grains to 1 cup of milk.
- Let it sit overnight in a warm place that’s out of the sunlight, like a cabinet or dark corner.
- In the morning, drain the keifer into a bowl or measuring cup, straining out the keifer grains.
- Add the keifer grains back to the lidded jar.
- Drink the strained keifer or add it to your morning smoothie.
Kombucha: A Refreshing Elixir for your Gut
Kombucha is a fermented tea. It contains black tea, sugar, and a SCOBY. It’s gained popularity not only for its distinctive taste but also for its potential health benefits. Kombucha, like keifer, is a rich source of antioxidants and probiotics. These play a crucial role in supporting the immune system, decreasing inflammation and may contribute to a lower risk of a variety of digestive issues.
How to make Kombucha
- You will need a 1-gallon jar and a cloth napkin or even a coffee filter, with a rubber band, that can completely cover the top of the jar
- 4 to 5 black tea bags
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 quarts filtered water, not distilled
- 1 SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast)
- 1 cup of starter tea (kombucha from a previous batch or store-bought)
- Five 16-ounce bottles (ones that are made for brewing)
Prepare the Tea:
- Boil about 3 quarts of water.
- Stir in the sugar until it dissolves, about 5 minutes.
- Add the tea bags and let them steep for at least 5-7 minutes. I like strong tea, so I leave the bags in until the water is cool.
- Remove the tea bags,
- Allow the tea to cool to room temperature.
Combine Ingredients: In the large glass jar, combine the cooled tea with the starter tea. Gently add the SCOBY to the jar. Cover the jar with a cloth and secure it with a rubber band. This allows the mixture to breathe while preventing unwanted contaminants from entering.
Fermentation: At this point, place the jar in a warm, dark place (ideally around 75 degrees) for about 7-14 days. The fermentation time will vary based on temperature and your personal taste.
After a few days, start tasting the kombucha using a straw. Once it reaches the desired level of sweetness and acidity, it’s ready for bottling.
Bottling: Remove the SCOBY and set it aside for your next batch.
Place the kombucha in a bottle, leaving some space at the top. You can add flavorings like fruit juice, fruit, ginger, or herbs at this stage if desired.
Secondary Fermentation: Seal the bottles and leave them at room temperature for another 7 days for a secondary fermentation. This step adds carbonation to the kombucha. Refrigerate the bottles to slow down the fermentation process.
L. Reuteri Yogurt: Strengthening Digestive Resilience
I learned about this yogurt by reading Super Gut by William Davis, MD. After reading it, I started researching and came across Donna Schwenk’s podcast and website CulturedFoodLife.com. I was convinced I needed to try to make this yogurt,
I purchased a starter culture and Prebio Plus from Donna’s website. And I bought a yogurt maker from Luvele. It was a little pricy and took a few weeks for the yogurt maker to arrive but it was worth the cost and the wait. It’s an amazingly accurate appliance. I’ve had perfect yogurt every time.
Health Benefits of L. Reuteri Yogurt
The benefits of this yogurt seem too good to be true. If I only get improved deep sleep from it, I’m sold!
Here’s a list of some of the potential benefits:
- Increased oxytocin–to help you feel more love and connectedness.
- Improved IBS and SIBO–natural antibiotics called bacteriocins are in L. Reuteri. They are effective against undesirable bacteria that live in the small intestine that can cause SIBO and IBS.
- Candida–L. Reuteri has antifungal properties against five of the six most common oral Candida species.
- Thicker and more plentiful hair.
- Thicker skin, with a substantial increase in dermal collagen—less wrinkles!
- Acceleration of skin healing
- Weight loss and appetite control, increased metabolism
- Reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol
- Reduced age-related bone loss in women 75 to 80 years of age who have low bone density.
- Restores youthful muscles
- Improves insulin sensitivity and balances blood sugar.
- Increased testosterone.
- Increased libido.
- Colic–may help infants with colic, with some studies showing by 95% in breast fed babies!
- H. pylori–L. Reuteri has the potential to help eradicate H. pylori and reduce the ulcers that often come with it.
- Deep Restful Sleep–Yes please!
How to Make L. Reuteri yogurt
To learn all about making L. Reuteri yogurt, use this link to go over to CulturedFoodLife.com. Donna Schwenk has a fantastic web site where she explains all the benefits of this magical yogurt and how to make it a whole lot better than I can. She even reviews yogurt makers and sells starter cultures for the yogurt (and for keifer and kombucha).
I’ve been using Donna’s recipe for making small batches of apple sauerkraut for the last month or so. Every batch tastes delicious. I encourage you to try it.
- 1 large cabbage finely shredded or chopped into fine pieces
- 1 tablespoon Celtic Sea Salt
- 4 apples shredded or finely chopped
- 1 package Cutting Edge Cultures or you can use ½ cup kefir whey
- 1 cup spring or filtered water to mix with the starter culture
- extra filtered or spring water with minerals
- If using the starter culture, stir together the culture and water. Let the mixture sit while you prepare the ingredients—around 10 minutes. If using kefir whey, add it when the recipe calls for culture
- Remove the outer leaves of cabbage.
- Finely shred the cabbage using a food processor or a hand shredder.
- Slice two of the apples in thin slices and chop or shred the other two apples.
- Add the shredded apples to the cabbage and add salt. Toss to combine.
- Place the apple slices around the jars and then add the cabbage mixture to keep the pieces in place. You may only want to add two slices at a time and tip the jar on its side and fill with shredded cabbage then rotate and add more apple slices and cabbage until the jars are full but leaving two inches at the top for expansion.
- Add the Cutting Edge Cultures or kefir whey and cover with water, leaving two inches at the top
- Seal the containers and let them sit on your kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight, for 6 days. After 6 days, place in the refrigerator. They are ready to eat after 6 days but taste better as they ferment in the fridge.
- Check the vegetables every day to make sure they are fully submerged in the water. If they have risen above the water, simply push them down so they are fully covered by the water. If any white spots formed because the veggies rose above the water, do not worry. Remember, this isn’t harmful. Just scoop out the vegetables that have the white spots on them and push the rest back under the water.