Strange as it may seem sauerkraut has always intrigued me. Maybe it was because it was food form another country, maybe it was because of how it sounded or maybe it was just because living here in NZ (and never having tried it) it seemed exciting and new. Like I said strange I know!! However that intrigue did sow a bit of a seed to learn more about this mysterious food.
I had not idea that sauerkraut was in fact fermented cabbage nor that fermentation has been around for centuries as a way of preserving food and maintaining a healthy system. It wasn’t until recently that these revelations came as I began to hear more and more about fermentation and the benefits of it. As with many things in my life I have to hear and see them repeatedly before I am called to action. Fermentation was no different. Friends were getting right into it and letting me know the benefits however it all felt a bit too hard for me, ‘the lazy, non foodie’ that I consider myself to be. Even though I loved the taste of sauerkraut from the get go, I was reluctant to go further than sampling.
I did however go so far (after an e-mail with a friend) as to purchase a few books on the subject. Both (Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz and Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon) were great; I just still didn’t feel confident in giving it a go. Luckily for me one of these friends lives locally and also runs home fermentation classes. Yay!! Finally I was able to go and see the process in action, ask questions and dispel my fears of creating some toxic, fermented concoction with which I would poison my family rather than nourish them. The workshop was fantastic and it awakened in me a desire to get fermenting and improving my family’s health with real foods.
Traditionally used as a way to make food last, fermentation is when an organism uses sugar for energy without using oxygen at the same time. The process not only preserves (as mentioned) it also enhances the nutritional value of the food. Fermented foods are rich in vitamin B12, they aid digestion, support the immune system, have hundreds (if not thousands) of good bacteria for our bodies and give us a wider variety of foods with which to nourish our bodies. All sorts of cultures and countries have used the process for thousands of years. It is only in relatively recent times, when we had refrigeration to keep food, that we have let these practices go. Fortunately there seems to be a growing awareness as to its benefits and a growing amount of people ‘having a go’.
After being given a SCOBY ( Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast) I now have a big jar of Kombucha on the go. Sauerkraut will be the next thing as soon as I hit the shops and then, after we return form a weekend away, it will be sourdough time. Until the course I didn’t think that I had tried fermentation at all. Then I understood that my attempts at yoghurt and making rewena (Máori Bread) for Matariki both used the process of fermentation. See I told you I was a ‘non foodie’ :). Anyway with Matariki less than 2 weeks away and my Kombucha in the making it looks like I will be busy fermenting for the next wee while. I’ll keep you posted as to my progress, of that you can be sure!
Hope this finds you happy and healthy, ‘fermenting’ your thoughts about good food.