Fermenting on the road

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It has been 10 weeks tomorrow that we have been on the road.  There are lots of things we have changed about the way we are living however there are a few that have remained the same …. my ferments are some of these.  I was determined to keep up my kombucha and milk kefir on the road and so far so good.  It felt so good having this practice continue that I have even tried to do another batch of sauerkraut.

The large kombucha jar simply gets a screw top lid put on it and placed in a cupboard with ‘non-slip’ matting on the bottom whenever we travel.  When we arrive at our destination  out it comes, the lid is taken off and on the bench top it is left.  Easy as!  I did notice though that after a week or so the kombucha didn’t taste as sweet as my usual batches however soon I realised that where it was sitting never got sunlight on it, as it did in our house.  My solution?   I simply try to get it into the sun for a bit each day (when I remember) and it seems to be back to its usual sweet, fizzy self.  I usually only leave it for a week before creating another batch and apart from judging cooling time for the tea before adding to the SCOBY. The SCOBY is incredibly healthy and continues to grow happily, thankfully.  I have given loads away and still had to pop this big bit (see photo) in the compost today.

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Another Sunday and a fresh batch of Kombucha on the go

The kefir grains, which I use in Rice Milk, are much easier.  They are transferred into fresh milk daily as I consume the fizzy goodness for breakfast.  The other equipment needed is a clean jar (I have 2 in total to swap), a plastic spoon and the milk.  Once again they are simply popped into a drawer with the cups when we travel and then brought out onto the bench while we are parked.  I think they would be my favourite ferment for ease of making (without thought involved) and also that I get to enjoy it everyday without running out.

Finally my sauerkraut.  We came onto the bus with a jar just freshly opened, so that lasted us for most of the 10 weeks however when that came to an end I had to either justify storing an empty jar or fill it.  I decided on the latter.  As we had found some fresh, homegrown radishes in a road side stall I decided to create a radish, cabbage and carrot version.  It is the first time I have used radishes and I’m hoping for a kimchi taste (fingers crossed!).  The process of preparing the vegetables, while very messy and harder to clean up when you are trying to converse the water you have, was straight forward enough and I was feeling very pleased with my self as I packed it tightly into the jar.

Into the cupboard it went … out of sight and out of mind.  Well that was until we next stopped and I realized that my sauerkraut had been jiggled around so much that it had seeped out in all directions as it fermented away.  I have had this happen before at home when I didn’t have a tight seal on the jar or there isn’t enough room for ferment to do its thing.  So after a lot of cleaning up and double bagging the jar we are all set.  Time will tell on the taste and I will have to remember to be less enthusiastic with the amounts of vegetables I am preparing next time to avoid a repeat performance!

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Bagged up and ready for fermenting

Well that is it for now … just a wee insight into domestic life on the bus. 🙂 Until next time.  I hope this finds you enjoying your own little rituals

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Changes

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We are a week into our new/old home now and loving it.  The kids have been outside more than inside as they re-discover huts and hiding places along with playing with the chickens (yes we have up our quota to 3 now) and the neighbours.

View out the back down to the chooks

View out the back down to the chooks

I have already made a batch of kombucha which has brought with it some revelations of a different kind.  Each time we move (yes there has been quite a few shifts as my friends will tell you) we adjust to things – new water, new oven, new neighbours, new surroundings. This time however we have returned to a known and I have had that false sense of thinking I know all there is to come.  It is however the first time I have had a dog here, it is the first time I am home-educating here and the first time I am making kombucha.  The batch didn’t turn out that great (I think it is the water so will be off to get some good Petone stuff for the next batch) and it made me realise that while things seem the same they are in fact ‘same, same only different’ 🙂

The new batch of kombucha

The new batch of kombucha

My kombucha actually made me realise that I needed to take a step back and just go with the flow a bit. Accept what is happening rather than trying to replicate our life of 3 weeks ago. Part of me definitely feels the urge to get back into routine as soon as I can and create a life similar to our routine down south. Partly because I feel I should and mostly because that is just me – I like to be organized and know that ‘bases are covered’. The thing is that there is a bigger part of me saying ‘let it be, take your time’ and for once I am listening to that part in a bid not to have our days filled just quite yet.

It is hard in many ways (bloody hard for someone as ‘anal’ as me) yet it feels bloody good at the same time. It is great watching the kids play, explore and discover and it is great not to feel we need to rush off somewhere…… well not yet anyway 🙂

Herself creating

Herself creating

Hope this finds you at ease with the changes in your life.

Arohanui

Y

Thanks a Million

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So as you read this I am away on holiday enjoying my family.  Having written and scheduled this in I’m also free to enjoy the fact that I am one year older and wiser without having to ‘work’ on a Monday night 😉 So without further ado here are a few things from the past month which I am grateful for.  As always I invite you to join along and write, post, blog or share with the world in some way all the wonderful things you have in your life which you are grateful for 😉

A Mama Weka and her chicks remind me that Spring is on its way

A Mama Weka and her chicks remind me that Spring is on its way

Many thank yous for:  a schedule button on wordpress, a schedule button on Facebook too, family, my health, being alive in a country which is free from war, catching up with friends, having the ability to home educate our kids, The Food Renegade site for educating me on Kombucha, the local Play Centre for hosting my talk on ‘Creating a Stress-Less Life’, Bach Flower Remedies (Man, where would I be without those), living in a country where I can legally home educate our kids, our local library, living in a country where I can (as a woman) go out for runs and enjoy the freedoms of life, hot pools, Resonate Emag for including me again in their subscription, EFT, Scouts and Brownies groups, yummy home grown veg, himself ;), living in New Zealand full stop!, being able to holiday with my family mid week, friends who write, flat traveller exchanges, meals over at friends, Native Bush and birds which I can enjoy right on my doorstep, tourists who bring a smile to our faces and remind me how awesome the West Coast is, being part of a community running, Hokitika SPCA, having enough food in our cupboards (a recent trip to the local food bank with a scout group reminded me of what a luxury that actually is for some people), local toy library,  the support of like minded women, soap making with the kids, Night classes and courses, Glaciers which are still there to be seen, a warm cottage thanks to the hard work of himself and the promise of Spring which the recent sight of budding daffodils, Weka chicks and new born lambs brings.

There are many more people and things I could add on here, which I’m sure will come to mind as soon as I publish, so for those people/places/things, just know that I am so grateful to have you in my life 😉

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

What is so good about Kombucha?

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I am being a bit lazy here and also sharing a good source that I found in the Food Renegade website.  Kristen Michaelis summed it all up so nicely that I have decided to repost on here.  Like a said a bit lazy but it is a good article with all the bits you need to know in it 😉 If you would like a copy of the quick and easy recipe which I have then feel free to message me.

Kombucha Health Benefits

by Kristen Michaelis (Copyright © 2014 Food Renegade)

Have you heard of Kombucha, the beverage the ancient Chinese called the “Immortal Health Elixir?” It’s been around for more than 2,000 years and has a rich anecdotal history of health benefits like preventing and fighting cancer, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases.

Made from sweetened tea that’s been fermented by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (a SCOBY, a.k.a. “mother” because of its ability to reproduce, or “mushroom” because of its appearance), Kombucha didn’t gain prominence in the West until recently.

In the first half of the 20th century, extensive scientific research was done on Kombucha’s health benefits in Russia and Germany, mostly because of a push to find a cure for rising cancer rates. Russian scientists discovered that entire regions of their vast country were seemingly immune to cancer and hypothesized that the kombucha, called “tea kvass” there, was the cause. So, they began a series of experiments which not only verified the hypothesis, but began to pinpoint exactly what it is within kombucha which was so beneficial.

German scientists picked up on this research and continued it in their own direction. Then, with the onset of the Cold War, research and development started being diverted into other fields. It was only in the 1990s, when Kombucha first came to the U.S., that the West has done any studies on the effects of Kombucha, and those are quite few in number. As is typically the case in the U.S., no major medical studies are being done on Kombucha because no one in the drug industry stands to profit from researching a beverage that the average consumer can make for as little as 50 cents a gallon.

Thanks to it’s rising commercial popularity in the last decade, the older Russian and German research has been made available in English to Westerners, and a few wide-spread anecdotal surveys have been sponsored by Kombucha manufacturers, but that’s about it. While there are limited amounts of research done on the beverage, there has been lots of research done on many of the nutrients and acids it contains in large quantities (such as B-vitamins, antioxidants, and glucaric acids).

Regardless of the “lack” of scientific evidence, the fact remains that this beverage has 2,000 plus years of tradition behind it and an ardent and addicted following.

What are the health benefits of Kombucha Tea?

Kombucha Health Benefit #1 — Detoxification

Detoxification produces healthy livers and aides cancer prevention. One of kombucha’s greatest health benefits is its ability to detox the body. It is rich in many of the enzymes and bacterial acids your body produces and/or uses to detox your system, thus reducing your pancreatic load and easing the burden on your liver. Kombucha is very high in Glucaric acid, and recent studies have shown that glucaric acid helps prevent cancer. I know 2 people in my immediate circle of friends who have had cancer (pancreatic and breast) and fought it into remission without any chemo or radiation therapy. Instead, they warded it off by detoxing their lives (going 100% organic, removing chemical cleaners and agents in their home, changing their diet to be at least 80% raw or fermented, etc.) Central to the detoxification process was drinking Kombucha regularly. Even Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the recently deceased Russian author and nobel-prize winner, in his autobiography, claimed that kombucha tea cured his stomach cancer during his internment in soviet labor camps. (And because of this testimony, President Reagan used Kombucha to halt the spread of his cancer in 1987. You’ll note he didn’t die until 2004, and that was from old age, NOT cancer.)

Kombucha Health Benefit #2 — Joint Care

Kombucha contains glucosamines, a strong preventive and treatment all forms of arthritis. Glucosamines increase synovial hyaluronic acid production. Hyaluronic acid functions physiologically to aid preservation of cartilage structure and prevent arthritic pain, with relief comparable to NSAIDs and advantage over glucocorticoids. Hyaluronic acid enables connective tissue to bind moisture thousands of times its weight and maintains tissue structure, moisture, lubrication and flexibility and lessens free radical damage, while associated collagen retards and reduces wrinkles.

Kombucha Health Benefit #3 — Aids Digestion and Gut Health

Because it’s naturally fermented with a living colony of bacteria and yeast, Kombucha is a probiotic beverage. This has a myriad of benefits such as improved digestion, fighting candida (harmful yeast) overgrowth, mental clarity, and mood stability. As such, it’s noted for reducing or eliminating the symptoms of fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, etc.

Kombucha Health Benefit #4 — Immune Boosting

Kombucha is extraordinarily anti-oxidant rich, and you all know the benefits of anti-oxidants for boosting your immune system and energy levels.

Where can you learn more about kombucha health benefits?

Here are a few articles on the health benefits of kombucha:

http://www.kombu.de/val-gwf.htm
http://www.gaiaresearch.co.za/kombucha.html
http://www.acupuncture.com/herbs/kombucha1.htm
http://www.gokombucha.com/health_benefits.html

Are the health benefits of kombucha for real?

When I first read about the panacea of benefits, I was skeptical. How could one beverage do so many things? But then I realized that it’s not so much that the beverage does something to our bodies, like a medicine targeted at curing specific symptoms. It’s more that this beverage promotes health. It gives your body what it needs to heal itself by 1)aiding your liver in removing harmful substances, 2)promoting balance in your digestive system, and 3)being rich in health-promoting vitamins, enzymes, and acids.

The general consensus seems to be that with regular, daily consumption, you’ll notice improvement in immune system functioning and energy levels within about a week, the healing of more minor ailments within a month or so, and the healing of more radical illnesses within a year or so.

Want to know more about kombucha tea?

Check out these other articles on kombucha tea I’ve written:

 

 

Rewena, Kombucha and Sauerkraut

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So yesterday was the grand tasting day of my first ever kombucha and……. it was delicious!! The kids loved it too and so that it can last till next weekend, when the next batch is ready, we are limiting it to a drink a day. The alternative would be the whole 2 litres drunk in one sitting!  I think this is probably a bit too much good in one go 🙂

On the subject of making kombucha, I have to say that the tutor said that she had the best results with just ordinary store bought tea and sugar.  However ever the ‘trier’ I decided to alter things a little on my first attempt.  Now it has to be said that this is common practice with me; I get a recipe and then go about changing it before I have even tried the original out! This time though it worked, thankfully, and my SCOBY was not lost. The changes? Well I used dextrose instead of sugar and organic red bush tea instead of ‘gumboot’ black (as we often call it here in NZ). It didn’t seem as effervescent as the tutors, though the taste however was similar and yummy, so all good.  For this batch I have conformed and made it with sugar and ‘gumboot’ black tea so we’ll see how the taste test goes next weekend.

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All inspired by my kombucha, I also embarked on making some Rewena.  This is a traditional Máori bread using a fermented potato and flour starter.  As it is Matariki (the beginning of Máori New Year when the Matariki cluster of stars can be seen in the sky) I decided to give it a go again.  You see I did try to make some last year however without the understanding that I was trying to ferment something things went a little awry.  Fingers crossed this time as I have a better consistency already and a nice warm place.

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I also made my first jar (well half a jar) of sauerkraut today.  I know!!  Am I busy or what 🙂  It was so simple and quick I can’t understand why I haven’t made any earlier, aside from my fear of creating a toxic dish for the family that is.  With just half a cabbage, some salt and a bit of bashing I had my sauerkraut ready to pop in the jar in no time at all.  I can’t wait to taste it; only time will tell how patient I can be.

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Hope this finds you discovering new things in your life too.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

 

 

 

Ferment on this….

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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.

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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.

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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’.

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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.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz