“I think I’m an addict,” Angie said out of the blue one afternoon. She was sitting on the couch thumbing through the copy of Nourishing Traditions that I checked out of the library, and just as I looked up from my computer screen, she shoveled a big bite of leftover cranberry-pineapple relish into her mouth.
I just shook my head.
If she were anyone else, I might worry. But, I knew exactly what she was talking about. And frankly, I believe she’s right. Over the past few months, she has become a fermented food addict. Right now, as I’m working on this post, she’s in the kitchen fermenting onions. See…
And for lunch today – she had a grilled hummus on sourdough, topped with sauerkraut! I wasn’t here but I will almost bet you she washed it down with a ginger-lemon water kefir.
If you had asked us last year to try lacto-fermented foods, you would have gotten two wrinkled noses and at least one “yuck”. The word lacto-fermented just sounds nasty. I can’t help it but I picture moldy milk every time I hear it. And I also think back to my childhood when my pediatrician convinced my mom that I was allergic to cultured dairy, or more specifically the lactobacillus bacteria in it. Why? Because I would get sick to my stomach every time I ate yogurt, cottage cheese (which is not actually cultured, by the way), buttermilk dressing, and as I got older, milk.
A few years ago, we started eating non-dairy yogurt and amazingly, nothing happened. Non-dairy yogurt contains lactobacillus. It was then that I realized I’d been duped. My best guess is that I was probably just lactose intolerant that whole time, not afflicted with an allergy that not even Google has heard of.
But onward and upward, as my mom likes to say…
Which brings me to the present, where we have a refrigerator and a cabinet full of Angie’s science experiments. Since she bought this fermenting kit (this is an affiliate link) on Amazon, she has made sauerkraut, fermented cranberry-pineapple relish, and a quart of apple cider vinegar. And now onions! But, as they say on late night infomercials, that’s not all, folks! We’re on our 5th or 6th batch of water kefir.
I had never in my life heard of water kefir until we were watching YouTube one day. (And if we are being really honest here, I think Angie is also addicted to YouTube.) But nevertheless, she wanted to try it so we ordered the grains (also an affiliate link). I was certain after mixing up 1/4 cup of brown sugar in a quart of water for these clear cottage cheese looking grains to live in that we had wasted $12. I’d love to tell you that my first sip of the finished product 3 days later changed my mind, but it didn’t. It wasn’t until we stumbled upon a recipe for water kefir lemonade that I started to like the flavor. (That recipe is simple – add 5 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice to 1 quart of finished kefir water).
If you’re like me and know nothing about water kefir, here’s a short explanation. Water kefir is a naturally fizzy fermented drink that contains lots of good probiotics. It’s not sweet, even though there’s sugar in it, because basically in the fermentation process, the kefir grains eat the sugar. Kefir, unfortunately, has to be made with these special grains but you only need to buy them once. They multiply like Gremlins when you get them wet!
I won’t say that I’m addicted to fermented foods like Angie, but I do enjoy our sourdough creations and homemade yogurts and I’ve have moved past “yuck” to “hmm…that wasn’t so bad” on some of the other items (like sauerkraut). If nothing else, I’m sure my gut thanks me. Fermented foods are full of beneficial probiotics that our microbiome needs to keep us healthy.
Do you ferment foods? If so, what’s your favorite?
Want the recipe for Angie’s “No-Cheese” Cheese Nips? Click here.