I have a quirky obsession with fermented foods. Now before you jump to conclusions, no – I have not started up my own brewery (how very un MNB of me). To be clear, I have had my eyes widened to this whole new lifestyle of cultured and fermented goodness! WHERE HAVE I BEEN?
This is a world I had never been introduced to until I stumbled upon the “Buchi” (Kombucha) stand at my local markets. Intrigued by this delicious drink I was adamant to not get sucked into yet another “modern day health fad”, so I did a little digging. I was at the pinnacle of my gut flora issues. (At the time, I had no idea that all my health debacles were related to poor intestinal health.) So I took another visit to the “buchi” stand.
Admittedly, my intentions weren’t 100 % pure; I really just was after a sneaky sample or two of Kombucha. Whilst trialing the different flavours, I saw a flyer advertising a Buchi Workshop called “Befriending Bacteria”. My stomach did a little flip. I was totally fixated as I read all the benefits from consuming cultured and fermented foods/drinks. WOW! My first assumption could not be further from the truth… this was not a health fad, this was a lifestyle and it sounded absolutely phenomenal. I wanted to know MORE! So, I intuitively knew I had to discover more about! So what did I do? I called on my MNB sporty sisters to come along to the befriending bacteria workshop with me.
I am fascinated with food, body, health and wellbeing and knew that this workshop would be an amazing experience to share some new nourishing know-how for “My Active Live” segment. What began as a ‘curb your curiosity’ type excursion soon manifested into an education experience that held the answers to my prayers! With the most exciting part being that I was finally getting to the bottom of why I have been continuously ill for the past 2 years.
More importantly, the information shared by Sarah Lantz PHD and Jason Callender provided the solution to fix it all! What a RELIEF!!! Having my wonderful friend Rhi (Lorna Jane Active Living Chef and Nutritionist) by my side, flanking me and helping to broaden my knowledge, I knew I was in great hands and right were I needed to be at this point in time. Hallelujah.
Isn’t it funny how once you stop searching for the answers, they mysteriously find you instead. Hmm. The world works in mysterious ways.
Take a look at what greeted us upon arrival… a complimentary gift of “Buchi’s” Kombucha. BOOM! You can never have too much of this stuff, it is pure DELICIOUS!
And may I introduce the syllabus for today’s workshop. The Bible of Fermentation – “The Art of Fermenting” by Sandor Ellix Katz. Naturally, I made sure I purchased a copy right away. Of course Rhi already had a copy. You can get it your mitts on it here.
Getting straight into the workshop, it is plain to see that we were quite an attentive crowd. Everyone was just so immersed in the session, and just could not get enough of Sarah’s wisdom on all things health and wellbeing. The facts Sarah opened her presentation with were staggering!
Sarah studies placentas and umbilical cords and shared with us the results from a study done in the American Red Cross. The study involved testing the umbilical cords of newborn babies, with the purpose of finding how many chemicals were already exposed to 10 infants before even entering the world.
A whopping 287 toxic chemicals were found in the blood of the newborns tested. Some including mercury, fire retardants, pesticides and the teflon chemical PFOA. Of the 287 chemicals detected in the blood, it is known that 180 of them cause cancer in humans or animals. A further 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests. It’s as if these poor infants are soaking in a stew of chemicals. Such radical results yet the majority of us are so unaware of it all? Deeply concerning that’s for sure.
You can’t really read what the slideshow says below, but it is about “consulting your gut”. Due to growing research proving that intolerances, allergies and mental disorders are related to incomplete gut flora (and candida, a popular imbalance among adults), consulting the gut should be a top priority for all of those who want to live their healthiest life.
This is something I have learnt to do myself. However the most important lesson I have learnt is to listen to my body. I ask my body what it wants before I feed it. For example, when I am walking through the chocolate aisle, aching to have a splurge, I will hold my beloved 85% Green and Blacks Dark Chocolate to my stomach and ask the question”belly, do you want this”, sounds weird huh? Well, it works! Feeling turned off the idea instantly (which I admit, is unusual for me)) because I value and respect my body and want to feed it good fuel. It is a battle of the mind, not to mention self-control, but it all comes down to the fact that there really is no point in feeding your body something that it doesn’t want or need to digest.
“As a population, we eat more processed, preservative and addictive packed, low-nutrient foods and drinks than any other time in history – and more food in general”– Schlosser 2001
This is something to simmer on. Twelve years on from this statement, I wonder where the percentage of the population is now? It would be a shocking statistic I’m sure. Sarah finds that she is “telling people to eat FOOD again”, not manmade nutrition-less foods that our generation is mindlessly consuming. I guess the biggest blessing about our bodies is it is ALWAYS trying to get back to good health.
After this point, Sarah spoke about how we find ourselves in a mindset where we are seeking short-term gains in our health without realising the future implications. I guess that just goes to show, there is never a quick fix. Health & wellness is an ongoing relationship, one that needs nurturing and tender loving care.
I have literally never seen myself so intensely caught in concentration haha, the sky could have fallen and I wouldn’t have noticed. I love learning the intricacies of health and wellbeing so much, and I guess that shows huh? This is definitely one of my sweet spots. Can’t get enough! Luckily I’ll be getting my daily dosage as I spend the next year studying Integrative Nutrition to become a Health Coach. I am sure there will be many more moments like this one. Some of Rhi’s notes… This was a great prompting…to take responsibility of our health and to eat and buy locally. This also means to try and adapt to the produce of our seasons and break that societal habit of expecting an “always cuisine”. What we CAN do is realign ourselves with the food chain again. Eating farm fresh, unprocessed foods, eating locally and organic where possible and knowing where your food comes from in every aspect of the food chain.
Gojis, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, lemon, ginger, dried apricots, figs, dates and rapadura sugar – OH MY! These are just some of the many ingredients needed for the different fermenting recipes that we were schooled on.
Here Sarah is explaining how raw products just change form. This milk is being left out on the bench to turn into curds and whey. You may all be familiar with the nursery rhyme…
Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.
A rhyme printed in the mid-twentieth century; now wasn’t Miss muffet onto something. It’s funny how trends in nutrition are all forming back to how our ancestors used to eat. Sarah will use the whey to soak brown rice overnight to begin the breaking down process making it easier to digest. You can use it for many things such as soup stock, baking and gardening but Sarah told us, herself and her family fight over the whey in their household because they ALL know just how highly nutritious and rich in live bacteria it is. She also suggested using whey topically on the face. I am trying this out at the moment and it seems to definitely make a difference with defiant skin.
Whoomp there it is… the serious faces are baaaaack in full force!! Sarah shows us how to extract the whey (whey is from cultured milk/yoghurt/cheese and is full of lactobacilli). Wrapping the yoghurt in an organic cotton muslin, attached to a wooden spoon, turning it to tighten and wring the yoghurt so the whey can be squeezed out.
The sacred whey that was produced – only a small amount but oh-so potent! Sarah mentions that you can store it in the freezer to use for other fermentations, add it to your smoothies to gain the full minerals that assist in digestion, or use as the liquid in pizza dough – adding a wonderful flavour to the crust. It is also excellent for hair care: nourishing, strengthening and softening the hair.
There is no waste here. Sarah is making a house cheese by suspending the natural yoghurt in the organic muslin. After the whey drips out you are left with a consistency which is similar to cream cheese. The longer you leave it separating, the thicker the finished product.
As Rhi explained in her article, Fun With Fermenting, This is a Kombucha SCOBY in its temporary home of a bottle of tea and rapadura sugar. This is the culture that consumes the sugar and ferments the drink. Looks gross but it’s an incredible organism!
This is what SCOBY looks like. Slimy and jelly-fish like. I am so fascinated about these living organisms. I currently have them multiplying and layering. Maybe I should start up a side business as a SCOBY breeder haha.
First, adding 1 cup of water kefir grains.
Then adding 1/2 tsp. aluminium-free bi carbonated soda and 1 cup of rapadura sugar (plain organic sugar or coconut sugar is an alternative). You can also put a thin slice of peeled ginger in the mix too! mm mm!
With a stir to finish off, placing a square of organic cotton over the top top with a rubber band securing its position. Being a living organism, it needs to be able to breathe in the stages of fermentation. Then it needs to sit for 24-72 hours, depending on the strength that you prefer and temperature of your home. The warmer the home, the faster it will brew.
Yummy! This is what the exquisite water kefir will look like when it is ready to be bottled into smaller bottles for the second ferment. This is when you can start to add in ginger, fresh fruit juices e.g. lemon and raspberry, for taste, and then allowing it to sit for another 24-48 hours to continue fermentation. Then all you have to do is refrigerate and drink to your disposal. Although Sarah does inform us that it loses it’s sweetness after a week or so, but is still fine to drink. Look below at all those bubbles! That is from the carbonation naturally being produced.
Sarah lifts out a piece of the dry fruit that has had all of its fructose digested by the grains. Sarah believes that sugar was created on this earth for fermentation purposes as it serves as a vital ingredient to ignite the fermenting process. “It’s like putting the key in the ignition”. Sarah also mentions that consuming sugar outside of fermentation serves us no great benefits.
Onto making sauerkraut!!! Check out Rhi’s article, Fun with Fermenting, for more info on sauerkraut + her own recipe.
We were all happy chaps being able to taste Buchi’s delicious flavoured water kefirs and kombuchas!SHOTS! Of the Kombucha variety of course. We were all happy chaps being able to taste Buchi’s delicious flavoured water kefirs and kombuchas after the workshop.
Oh and I can’t forget to introduce you to the incredible entity that is RAW butter! I haven’t had butter in years, I did on this occasion as it was cultured and straight from the markets and Oh My Gosh!!!!! It is the best butter I have ever tasted. Untampered with and a frenzy for the tastebuds!
Miso paste – I love the intensity of this paste made from fermented soy beans. And no wonder I have an acquired taste for it… my mum has told me that when she was pregnant with me, she would have non-stop miso soup cravings! Not quite sure if that has anything to do with me loving it, but a cute coincidence nevertheless.
Meet my new friend Renee. We met on the workshop. This woman knows her stuff, being a passionate speaker and a raw food coach. Renee specialises in RAW and FERMENTED foods, sharing her knowledge and helping others to integrate a well-balanced raw lifestyle into their lives. I was in awe of Renee and her Earth Mumma ways. She is one woman who knows how to successfully spin many plates and she had my full attention from the get go. The fact that she had all home births, home school’s her beautiful children while exuding a happy, grounded and professional demeanour as she runs her business is truly inspiring.
It was so exciting to have met such an amazing woman who I can learn even more from. We kept in touch since this workshop and I even booked my boyfriend and I into a raw cooking class, which we went to last weekend. It was phenomenal and we are loving outworking the information that we have learnt so far. Although, I must admit he is struggling with the ‘swapping his morning coffee for a green juice’ part.
Renee has another class coming up on the 29th of June, 2pm – 6pm at Vive Organic Food and Health Store in Hawthorne, Brisbane. I know we are definitely going back to learn more on how to ferment, how to make nut creams, raw pizza, raw cultured cheeses, nut milks, dehydrating, raw desserts and HOW to be raw for a week!
If you are interested, which I am sure you would be, Renee’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Come join the fun, you won’t be disappointed and will walk away with a wealth of knowledge.
A huge and mighty thank-you to Sarah for being the woman you are and your husband Jason, for creating and distributing such a beneficial and delicious beverage! You are both doing fantastic things in the community by awakening us all to the advantages and satisfaction of befriending bacteria. I know I will carry this timeless information for life and it will transcend this through the generations to come.
Well, off I go as I am catapulted into a whole new realm of health, wellbeing and healing.
I hope you take the time to research the benefits of fermenting and ignite a deep passion and appreciation for inner health.
I cannot stress enough that there is just so much to experience and bless yourself with through fermentation – Don’t miss out on all the goodness friends!!!