There are a bucket load of reasons to love, and eat, fermented foods. I’ll get to that in a minute though – first up you may be wondering what fermented food actually is. So let’s delve into that for a sec.
When food is fermented, it means it’s been through a process of lactofermentation. This means basically that the bacteria feed off the sugars and starches in the food and create lactic acid, which in turn preserves the food. However it’s the other great stuff that gets created by this process that you want to know about. I’m talking good beneficial enzymes, B vitamins, omega 3s, and number one on the list? Probiotics.
Ahh yes, probiotics. These little guys help to improve the health of your gut – that is, your stomach and bowels. They’ll introduce loads of good bacteria, and balance out the good and bad bacteria in your digestive system (even crowding out the bad ones!). So it’s obvious they’re good for your digestion, including problems like diarrhoea, bloating, IBS, constipation, and abdominal pain. If you’ve taken a course of antibiotics (or ‘anti-life’) then taking in some probiotics (or ‘pro-life’) will help to repopulate the good bacteria in your system. And they help you to absorb your food better, getting more nutrients from the food you’re eating! Bonus!
And that’s not all. Probiotics are also great in other ways, including boosting your immune system and cleansing the liver. They’ve even been shown to help slow or even reverse some allergies and disease, especially those that start in the gut! Incredible right? So why wouldn’t you want to add something fermented into your diet?
All over the world there are fermented foods eaten culturally. In Germany it’s sauerkraut, in Japan it’s miso, in Indonesia it’s tempeh and Korea has kimchi. Even your yoghurt (the plain unsweetened kind) makes the list! But the one I’m super excited about at the moment is kombucha, which has been around in China since B.C. times. And so, let me introduce to you my new SCOBY!
SCOBY stands for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast – and that’s exactly what he is. See him floating there, like a mushroom, at the top of the liquid? (I say ‘he’ because he’s alive and plus I just feel like he’s a ‘he’!) He was gifted to me recently by a friend and I was so excited I started brewing him straight away with pretty awesome results.
Here’s how he works. I make up a batch of tea, usually twelve cups’ worth. I boil six cups first and then add a cup of raw, organic sugar. This is important because SCOBY will feed off the sugar which is how the fermentation actually happens (and don’t worry, the sugar will pretty much be gone by the time you get around to drinking it!).
Once that’s dissolved completely, I add six tea bags (of the same flavour) to the pot and steep for 10 minutes. Then I take the tea bags out, add six cups of cold water, and let it sit until it cools down to room temperature. You don’t want to put your SCOBY in hot water as it can damage and even kill him! And remember to use clean, filtered water too, we don’t want nasties in our tea. Once it’s cool I pour the tea into the glass jar (not plastic), put SCOBY on top, and let him sit ready for the fermentation magic to happen.
How long he sits will depend on how warm your house is, the warmer it is the quicker he’ll ferment. My last brew took about 10 days or so but it can take longer if you’re in a cooler climate or running air conditioning. So during this time he’ll start to carbonate, and you’ll generally know he’s ready once he’s fully carbonated – take a taste test to find out!
When I know he’s ready I drain the tea (leaving about ½ a cup so SCOBY doesn’t dry out) and bottle it up ready to drink! Or in my case, I store it in jars which I seem to have an abundance of right now. And there you have it – freshly brewed kombucha (and it tastes pretty good too!).
So over to you! What do you think of my SCOBY? Are you intrigued by the idea of brewing some kombucha, or would you rather try some of the more traditional foods like sauerkraut and kimchi? Or maybe you’re already brewing your own, I’d love to hear your stories!
With love and good bacteria,