I finally made it out to the garden a few days ago and found a million carrots ready to pull up...time to culture some veggies! Why?...
Our bodies need raw foods to help with cleansing and detoxification, but we also need to add a variety of cultured and fermented foods to help replenish our gut flora. Our health or lack of health originates in the gut and if we heal the gut we have the ability to heal our ailments...from chronic disease to the most seemingly inconsequential complaints we may have-even nagging problems that we may take as a normal part of life or of aging such as headaches and migraines, pms, weight gain, skin problems (eczema, psoriasis, acne), allergies and asthma, lowered immunity, candidiasis, digestive problems and constipation, insomnia, learning disabilities, and on and on. Our intestinal bacteria influence every other aspect of our bodies: brain development, mental health, memory, immunity, weight, genetic expression and our risk of chronic and acute diseases.
What causes an imbalance in the gut flora? Drugs such as antibiotics (those we take in pill form and those we acquire from our foods), pain killers, steroid drugs, contraceptive pills, sleeping pills, heartburn pills (drug-induced gut dysbiosis is usually the most severe and the most resistant to treatment), a diet high in sugar, processed foods or high in grain fiber, infectious diseases or chronic illnesses such as diabetes, autoimmune diseases, endocrine disease and obesity, surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation, stress, physical exertion, age, alcoholism, pollution, exposure to toxins...A newborn child is born with a sterile gut and gets it's gut flora from the mother (through the birth canal and from breastmilk), so damage gets passed on from generation to generation. (Gut And Psychology Syndrome provides an in depth explanation and the GAPS diet is a great place to start for those wanting to heal.) An imbalance in gut flora is inevitable in our lifetimes which is why it is so important for us to constantly replenish the good microbes in our digestive systems.
Dr. Mercola lists some of the benefits of eating fermented and cultured foods: greater immunity (80% of our immune system is located in the digestive system), detoxification (able to draw out a wide range of impurities), and the simple fact that fermented foods contain 100 times more probiotics than a supplement.
The optimum fermented foods to eat are fermented vegetables, but also important are yogurt, kefir, kombucha and other cultured foods in order to get a wide variety of beneficial bacteria. It's important to note that commercial versions of yogurt or kefir do not typically contain live cultures and are full of sugars that feed bad bacteria. Start slowly with fermented foods...they are powerful detoxifiers and you will feel the affect!
Chop and shred mixed veggies. This mix includes 2 heads green cabbage, 4 carrots, 2 beets, 1 yellow onion, 4-5 small jalapenos, 4 cloves garlic.
Sprinkle 2 Tbsp himalayan salt over veggies.
Mix and tamp until juices start to release. I use my vitamix tamper or you can use a meat pounder or a kraut pounder.
Add brine if more liquid is needed...you should be able to pick up a handful of veggies and squeeze the juice out. For the liquid you may use a saltwater brine made with filtered water or fresh juiced celery. I used about 1 cup of celery juice in this mix with a little cucumber juice added. I also added 8 Tbsp whey and a few Biokult probiotic capsules (optional) to get things started. Another option is to purchase a veggie culture.
Fill quart size mason jars, packing veggies down with your fist until the juice rises above. Place a cabbage leaf on top and tuck the sides down around the veggies on the edge of the jar, making sure to leave a good 1 1/2-2 inches for expansion. Hand tighten the canning lid and let sit in a warm place in your kitchen or cupboard, with something to catch juices if they leak.
Let sit for 3 days and then refrigerate. Veggies can be eaten right away or if set in refrigerator for up to 6 months will continue to mellow.
Putting the boys to work!
There are many good books available on fermented vegetables. Also good video tutorials can be found at the Healthy Home Economist website, which I recommend subscribing to! Here's to your health and immunity!