The popularity of fermented foods is on the rise. These super foods are finally getting the attention they deserve, and for good reason!
Fermented foods help to boost our immunity and can prevent and treat a variety of ailments from irritable bowel syndrome to heart disease and cancer.
You see, fermented foods are an incredible source of probiotics (healthy bacteria)! That's why we consume probiotic drinks—they help to restore healthy gut flora, fight pathogens, and boost our energy levels for overall vitality.
This summer while I was at the cottage, my kitchen was alive with fermentation projects. I had probiotic drinks fermenting while I was making lacto-fermented vegetables—cucumber pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha—all at the same time. Things were brewing everywhere in the kitchen!
When we talk about fermentation, we're talking about a process that uses bacteria (probiotics) and enzymes to convert carbohydrates into alcohol and into organic acids.
This conversion process makes the vegetables easier to digest, which is why fermented foods are sometimes considered "predigested."The fermentation process also increases vitamin levels and produces numerous enzymes that support and nourish the body.The Health Benefits of Cultured Vegetable Juices
There are some compelling reasons to include fermented foods in your diet. Among their many health benefits, fermented foods:
Hydrate the body. Cultured vegetable juices contain electrolytes (potassium, magnesium, sodium, etc.), which quench your thirst and hydrate the body better than water.
Electrolyte sport drinks are popular to drink during exercise, but imagine how much more nourishing a glass of cultured vegetable juice would be over a sugar-filled, store-bought drink!
Promote gut health. Cultured veggie juices can help to restore the proper balance of bacteria in the gut. They're full of live probiotics, yeast, and enzymes, which assist in the breakdown of food and promote the digestion, absorption, and use of the vital nutrients in the juices.
Are rich in vitamins and minerals. Cultured vegetable drinks are great because the fermentation process actually increases certain nutrients in the food. It's true. The active cultures that pre-digest the food through the fermentation process actually generate nutrients.
Sauerkraut, for example, has an increased amount of vitamin C. Plus, there are higher levels of B vitamins and amino acids in these cultured drinks to help boost your energy levels and mood, improve joint function, and promote ligament health and skin health.
Improve overall health. While probiotic drinks have different effects on different people, studies have shown that they can actually slow or reverse some disease processes and improve a variety of conditions such as constipation, Candida, leaky gut syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, yeast infections, celiac disease, Crohn’s Disease, diarrhea, and diabetes.
Cabbage and Carrot Probiotic Juice: A Recipe for Good Health
Here’s a recipe I can't get enough of, and which I made frequently during the summer. It’s from the book Delicious Probiotic Drinks by author Julia Mueller.
This book provides detailed instructions on how to make fermented probiotic beverages, including kombucha, jun, ginger beer, lacto-fermented lemonade, cultured vegetable juice, rejuvelac, and kefir. It also contains more than 75 recipes for flavoring your probiotic drinks so they taste delicious! Check out Julia's website
(from Delicious Probiotic Drinks by Julia Mueller)
Chopping up fresh vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, beets, ginger, squash, celery, cucumbers, garlic, or cauliflower and fermenting them in a brine creates a beverage full of vitamins and minerals and digestive health benefits.
While this recipe provides specific ingredients for a cultured vegetable juice, use a combination of any vegetables you like to meet your nutritional needs and desires. The cabbage, carrots, and ginger in this recipe make a drink that is very soothing to the digestive system, is easy to ferment, and is a great introduction to fermented vegetable juices for those not accustomed to them.Ingredients:
One-half head cabbage, sliced
3 carrots, grated
1 tablespoon ginger, grated
2 teaspoons sea salt
Water for soaking vegetables
You’ll also need:2-quart sized jar
Cheesecloth or kitchen towel
Long-handled spoon for stirring
Place the cabbage, carrots, ginger, and sea salt in the jar. Fill the jar with water.
Place cheesecloth or a kitchen towel over the jar and secure it with a rubber band to keep the bugs out.
Leave jar in a warm, dark place for four to six days, stirring well twice a day. Bubbles and grayish foam will form on the surface of the liquid, which is completely normal and should not be interpreted as spoilage.
When the juice is finished, it will smell somewhat sour, yeasty, and vinegary (not rotten).
Strain the juice off of the vegetables and either drink immediately or pour into a sealable jar or bottle and keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.
I don’t discard the “pickled vegetables”—I eat them. You can add them to your salad or eat them as is, which is very delicious and also great for you.
How to make Kombucha
How to make Sauerkraut