A ‘Cultured’ Lifestyle

During Roman times, sauerkraut was eaten because of its health giving properties.

In ancient India it was not uncommon to enjoy a pre-dinner drink of lassi.

Koreans have being consuming kimchi for years while other Asian cultures eat pickled fermentations of cabbage, turnips, cucumbers and carrots.

From kefir (fermented milk) to sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), miso paste (fermented soybean) and Korean kimchi (fermented vegetables), a love affair of live cultured food and drink has begun as health-conscious consumers seek products to deliver the long list of benefits fermented foods extol.

The Cultured Club™ has been carefully crafting a range of Fabulously Funky Ferments™ products which loyal customers testify as being “full of flavour” , “the best in town” and “the liveliest on the palate”.

These hand crafted artisan foods are superior in taste and flavour due to the small scale production and our customers have grown to trust the direct connection and assured quality of the product. We pride ourselves on quality, authenticity, local, home-made, small scale and naturally fermented.

However The Cultured Club™ is expanding and the demand for product is growing and we simply cannot meet the need.  As a company of integrity, we do not wish to capitalise by an upscale, instead we wish to offer the opportunity for those with a passion for fermented foods to be part of this growing brand, so we have a special offer available to the right producers.



If you have ever thought of earning some money from producing food, we are franchising our products, and as the global trend for fermented foods is one of the hottest markets for the coming years, NOW is the ideal time for you to start your own fermented business from home trading under the growing brand of The Cultured Club

Consumption of fermented foods can be traced back thousands of years, if not longer,  these are amongst the safest foods on the planet but it seems in 2016, buoyed by consumers’ heightened awareness of the negative perceptions of processed foods, fermented foods are to establish themselves as a major food trend.

The franchise will offer you all you need to get started in your own production.

It will include:

  • Standardised recipes
  • Individual HACCP plans
  • Print ready label PDFs
  • Instructional videos on how to make and support as you get established.

This affordable Franchise will guarantee you an impressive range of unique foods with a strong customer following.

Registration of interest from those wishing to join The Cultured Club will be opening soon  for approval in the next fortnight, with a Franchise ready for purchase early November.

Once your application is approved, your franchise will be Recipe, Location and Brand specific producing homemade foods for your community.

This is processing the natural way.

Further details will be posted on the Fabulously Funky Ferments page.

Share this post and we will fill the world with kimchi, or at least your neighbourhood.



Are you serious? Five course Fermenting

Whilst fermented foods are gaining attention, some of your have embraced them with relative ease.  And rightly so, they are delicious.

For others, there may be a period of adjustment, as the new ecosystem in your gut settles down.

But five courses of the stuff?  You have got to be kidding.


Firstly let explain, Fermented foods are a food group, a lost food group therefore it features on the plate alongside other foods.    It is NOT five courses of ONLY ferments, that would be wrong.

Five course fermenting is a new series of workshops to be presented quarterly by The Cultured Club.  The intention is to illustrate how these foods can appear on the plate in an interesting way, beyond a serving of kraut or kimchi.  You get idea now?

Each course will demonstrate a simple fermentation technique and how it can be worked into a dish.  In some cases in a way that you might not even know you were eating fermented foods.

We are deep in preparation for our workshop happening this weekend, as you will see the menu showcases some fermented foods paired with other great flavours.  All courses are vegetarian.

Fumbally Stables in Dublin, 15th Oct, 12pm-5pm.  There may be a seat left at the table if you are quick.


Kimchi Pancakes with dipping sauce

Eggs 2 ways

Beet kvass egg, miso mayo, dukkah  & miso egg, dashi, furikake

beetroot kimchi, skordalia, cauliflower rice, pumpkin seeds, seaweed

Fermented cabbage leaf, mushroom filling, celeriac, apple, kale crisps

Apple & goji berry compote, coconut yoghurt, buckwheat crunchies

Invisible helpers

Today is World Mental Health Day, October 10th 2016

Today is the perfect day to share thoughts I have been wishing to express for a long, long time.

Thankfully today I am as happy as could be.  Life throws its usual surprises, joys, curses, and challenges, but deep in my head, heart and gut, I AM HAPPY.

However, I didn’t always feel this way.  In fact there were times I was so anxious I would miss the party.  There were times that it felt impossible to see the good in any situation or anyone.  A little cranky, a little shy, feeling unfulfilled in a big way and in the most part a low-grade anxiety that would send the day in the wrong direction.   I was good at hiding it with a big smile and surface conversation.  To be honest, I never really thought it was a problem.  It was just how it was, a general dull, predominantly negative state of mental health.

Then something remarkable happened.  I gained perspective through one small simple tweek in my life.

I had always been shy of the gym or anything involving too much physical exertion and although this is often prescribed as a remedy, it did not inspire me.  Lazy, guilt for feeling lazy, more laziness, it is a vicious circle.

I was also under the impression that I ate a healthy diet but through divine inspiration, I was about to up my game to foods that would propel me into a positivity I had never known before.  Like my head, my body was experiencing a state of health similiar to my head.  Nothing specific, nothing broken, just a low-grade average feeling.

I introduced Fermented foods into my diet.  

These foods are high frequency, healing foods and a lot changed.  My energy increased, I lost weight,  I had a vitality, my skin glowed, food fuelled me, it didn’t cause me digestive malaise and best of all my mind became an oasis of joy and positivity.  So much so that the thought of physical exertion thrills me now!

I am convinced the friendly little bacteria which proliferate in fermented foods did a great job of cleaning out my my head, pushing away any dark clouds and allowing in the sunshine.  You can imagine my delight when the studies started to come out to prove that this shit works!

The gut and the brain, they are intricately linked. Here is the info graph.

Things couldn’t be better, I have gained a fresh perspective over the years which allows me to view things in the positive.  I now clearly understand and see the effects of energy flowing where attention goes.  Even when challenging times arise, there is always something good to unfold.

My message is simple: EAT FERMENTED FOODS.  It was a tasty addition to my life with many benefits, plus it saved a fortune on therapy!  It is World Mental Health Day and if we can help, it is our human duty to do so.

Here are a few articles below for further reading:





Drown it in something yummy.

It is MONDAY, the list is long and a busy week lies ahead.  The ‘BABY’ goes onto the shelves of all major book stores this Friday, October 14th.  Surreal in its beauty and very real in the dreaming.

I am prepping for a tasting extravaganza at The Fumbally Stables on Saturday and there may be a seat left at the table if you check HERE.

Whilst I am at the Fumbally, my book will also be on the Northern Irish stand at the Gluten free Festival in Croke Park on October 15th & 16th.  We will be giving away some tickets to the festival on the Facebook page  over the week.

I would love to think that I keep all the balls in the air effortlessly, I generally fail miserably, mostly in the housework, general domestic bliss area.  When life is busy, meal times are not the treasured calm, nurturing experience you might want them to be.  They can be poorly planned and creatively uninspired.  Thankfully there is always a jar or two of something Fabulously funky in the fridge!

I do appreciate that this is not my average week and that most of time things move at my own pace but to help at time like these my little trick is to drown something bland in something amazing.

From very early, my kids had a liking for the savoury taste of soy sauce (we now use either tamari or liquid amino, the gluten free version of soy sauce), seaweeds, miso, sesame, you can taste it?  Sushi is their favourite snack.

I have a particular persuasion for Asian foods be it indian sweeping all the way across to Japan. Currently this is in the form of any kind of dipping/drowing sauce, as I can get away with a lot by simply cooking up something simple, ( rice and some veg)  and pouring as much of this goodness on top.  If I have the time I will even make something to dip into it.  Ok it is not fermented but this week is different and I can only try my best.

I will tripling this recipe at least and making a big batch today:

1 spring onion, chopped
1 fermented garlic clove, grated
3 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp gochugaru chilli flakes
2 tsp black or white sesame seeds,

toasted 1/2 tsp raw honey
1/2 tsp kombucha vinegar

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. It will keep well for three days in the fridge.


Do you want to know a secret?

I have always been attracted to the obscure.

I could have gone easier on myself and followed a more attractive cleaning eating menu of  health bursting smoothies and the like.  Or I could have just done as was expected and walked into a career in Pharmacy.  But Oh no, not me, I have to take it to the extreme, along an unchartered path and completely, wholeheartedly find myself deep in a crock of fermenting food embracing a more “cultured” lifestyle.


I have seen you whince, I have heard every joke, noted every raised eyebrow, rolled my eyes at every excuse and laughed at every reason to dismiss these foods….most of the time offered out of blind ignorance to their unbelievable qualities of these foods and their ‘awakening’ of taste.


I get it, there is nothing that sounds sexy about sauerkraut, SCOBYs and bacteria.  Nor does the smell of kimchi, kefir or kombucha invite you into all their charms.


Well here is a little secret.

Today I went on a day trip to the science lab at Queen’s University, Belfast, with my bacteria.  Under the guidance of Dr. Tancredi Caruso, I discovered there is a whole lot of goodness in these foods which will turn you right on!  (I knew this of course, but seeing it there right in front of me was a proud moment.)

We took the tiniest drop of the juice of a favourite ferment at present:  Whole sweet heart cabbages which were brined 5 months ago (pictured to the left and above).  The leaves are used to make wraps for various dishes, a favourite detailed in The Cultured Club book.



This tiny little drop of what would be considered ‘pickled brine’ was placed on a slide.  There was no staining needed to highlight the bacteria (technical info that I didn’t quite know the theory on) and as it came into focus, through the eye of the lens, there dancing in front of me, I could see these ‘living foods’ buzzing, teeming and vibrating with life.

The magnification, if you can imagine was 1mm, then amplify it x 400.



The slide was linked to a computer screen so we could marvel at the activity.  Something warm and giddy happened as I watched the abundance of bacteria and the busy vibration, reproduction (yes, some were asexually reproducing on screen) and movement unfold.

There IS something incredibly attractive about these foods and I could not only see the life force in what I eat but I could see how these foods make me feel when i eat them.  

When you eat these living, fermented foods, you feel the ‘life’ they impart.  These are high vibrational foods which have gone through a process of “lactofermentation”. This is where natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food creating lactic acid and you can clearly see them continually buzz around.  There is a giddy knowing that you are taking something real into your body.  Now that is more tempting than their names might suggest and a new way of thinking about food.

So this is my secret and one I am delighted to share and you can join me to discover more whilst seeking out your own personal, experiential and enlightened path to wellness.

If you would like to see the video then have a look through the lens here

Grab a jar, mix up some brine and chop(or not) your vegetables and add a little party to your food



Throughout Eastern Europe, fermented cabbage leaves are used to make a traditional dish called sarma – or golabki in Polish, golubtsy in Russian, malfoof in Arabic, krautwickel in German or töltött káposzta in Hungarian. It’s a word of Turkish origin meaning food wrapped in leaves, just in case you’re wondering!


You will need:

1 sweetheart cabbage approx.

2-3 tbsp sea salt

filtered water

1 Remove the core of the cabbage and fill the space where the core was with salt (this is generally about 2-3 tablespoons of salt, but you might need a little more or less).

2 Place the cabbage in a clean 2-litre jar. Sweetheart cabbages are rather small so they fit nicely in a jar, but it may be necessary to gently peel off some of the loose outer leaves. If that’s the case, place them in the bottom of the jar as you do so. Once you have jarred your cabbage, fill the jar with filtered water to within 2.5cm of the rim.

3 Allow to ferment for at least two months at room temperature, until it’s soft and tart, then transfer to the fridge and store for up to six months. These leaves can then be chopped into a dinner salad or used to make the stuffed cabbage rolls.

Get giddy with your creations!

Dearbhla x


The Cultured Club book, published by Gill Books, will be available on all book stores from October 14th.You can pre-order your copy here




Recipe Of The Week

She is here.

Autumn is marking her arrival with gusts of window to shake the leaves from the trees.

It is time to turn our attention towards harvesting the bounty the growing season has provided and fermentation is ready to do what it does best, preserving the goodness and adding that little bit more.

I have had an interesting time engaging with different folk as I appeared at events and festivals over the summer.   Whilst we read more and more about fermented foods and how good they are for you, it seems their acceptance has still a little way to go.  For some they are still too sour.  For others the appearance and smell challenge.

It has inspired a little poetic offering which you will allow me to indulge, because believe me, it would be easier to be promoting chocolate or doughnuts.


I have seen you whince,

I can read your mind,

I know none of these foods sounds sublime.

There is MAGIC in the meeting of science and art

And the flavour really sets them apart.

I can bake you a diary free, gluten free cake,

But these food leave a sweet tooth in their wake.


This week our Recipe of the Week, takes a twist on an well established apple preserving tradition.

I ventured into the world of chutney making for a brief second and the quantity of sugar left me too horrified to try the end result.  So you can leave the kilo of sugar out and ferment your apples instead for a kinder autumn condiment which is good for you.

700g apples (any kind), coarsely chopped

120ml lemon juice

4 tbsp whey, water kefir, kombucha, or ginger bug

1 tsp sea salt

140g raisins

140g pecans or other nut, chopped

4 tbsp coconut sugar, date paste or other natural sweetener

4 tbsp five-spice blend
250ml filtered water (optional)

1 Place the apples, lemon juice, starter and salt in a food processor and pulse, leaving it quite coarse. Transfer to a bowl and add the raisins, chopped nuts, sugar and five-spice. Mix it together well, then pack into a clean 1-litre jar, making sure all the ingredients are covered in liquid. Top up with the filtered water if necessary, making sure you leave 2.5cm of headspace at the top of the jar.

2 Leave to ferment for two to three days at room temperature, then transfer to the fridge and enjoy within two to three weeks.

Your gut bacteria are ready and waiting.

We live in a world where most of us expect things to happen quickly.  Necessity has been replaced by convenience.  Interaction has been replaced by virtual communications and our well-being is at stake.

Clinical trails have observed profound changes in gut bacteria occurring just three days after a dietary change! So any time is a good time to start paying a little more attention to your diet.

If you’re wanting quick results in terms of health or weight loss, it looks like your gut bacteria are standing by ready to change accordingly. Fermented foods will deliver a powerful dose of good bacteria with the smallest of servings and this adjustment towards a favourable domenance of good bacteria will have a rippling effect in many areas of your well-being from digestive ease, weight loss, better mood, less sugar cravings, enhanced energy, a strengthened immune system, to name a few.

Change can happen whenever you make that first step.

So if you are ready for this change to happen sooner, rather than later, The Cultured Club will be facilitating an in-depth masterclass on fermented foods on SUNDAY 18th September in the welcoming surroundings of Kilruddery House and Gardens.


You can expect to learn lots of new kitchen skills including:

  • The simplest fermented foods to the more exotic flavours.
  • Kitchen staples.
  • Condiments such as ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard.
  • Fermented remedies for immune health.
  • Various serving ideas and uses.


The workshop will include tasting plates of demonstrated ferments along with some interesting plates and flavours.  The recipes will be featured in The Cultured Club’s first BOOK due for general release on October 14th through Gill Books.  This book is currently available for pre-order HERE

Tickets for this event can be purchased by following this LINK


Time makes wonders.


Beetroot, I love you



It has come to the end of the season for beetroot and it has been an early summer love affair once again and it features once again in this #RecipeOfTheWeek.
We have romanced in a bowl of cold beet soup, we have turned up the heat in the oven as slow roasted sweet cubes and we have really got it on by merging another favourite fancy: KIMCHI 
I tasted Beetroot kimchi at Ireland’s First Fermentation Festival and I am forever indebted to Prannie Rhatigan, Ireland’s seaweed Queen for this variation. This recipe involves making a paste with rice flour as with many traditional kimchi recipes.   Using a paste, you don’t need to worry about weighing down the ingredients under the brine and it adds an extra starchy food to the fermentation fun.  Naturally this recipe will involve seaweed, another favourite.
Ingredients: Beet Kimchi
Makes 1 litre
1 bunch Organic beetroot
2 tbsp rice flour
1 cup water
4 cloves garlic
2 inch knob of ginger
1 tbsp chili flakes
1 tbsp sea vegetables
2% salt brine (1 tbsp in 1 litre of water)
Slice the beets thickly and fill up your glass jar.
Pour in 2% brine to cover
Leave overnight.
The next day, pour off the detoxifyingfermentedvegetablebrine solution and transfer the beetroot into a bowl.
Make a paste of rice flour: 2 tbsp with 1 cup water over low heat.
allow the rice paste to cool and add  4 garlic cloves, knob of ginger, 1 tbsp chili flakes and sea vegetables.
Process with a hand blender into a paste (or transfer to a blender)
Massage in the paste to the beets to get some on each beet.
Return to fermenting jar, packing it in nice and tight.
Continue to fill the jar, leaving 2 inch space at the top of the jar.
Leave to ferment for at least 5 days, and then taste.
You can continue to leave it out on the countertop until you reached your desired taste is achieved.
You well thank me, this is taste you will not forget.
You are very welcome!



Cold soups for summer


Last summer, to cool off in hot Polish mid afternoon sun I enjoyed a cold beet soup practically everyday.

Between that and gazpacho, I reckon if I lived in a hot climate all year round, I would simply alternate between these two options and be happy out.

Any, today, is a perfect cold beet soup day and it is my first #RecipeOfTheWeek offering of many more to come.

You will feel nourished, refreshed and loved on the inside with all the good bugs thanks to the beet kvass & sauerkraut that add so much to this delightful bowl.


Beet kvcold beet soupass & saurekraut soup summer soup

serves 4

4 medium beetroots roasted

2 cups dashi

1 onion, diced

1 sweet potato or potato, peeled and chopped

6-7 cloves fermented garlic

3 cups saurekraut (herby kraut, dill & garlic kraut, caraway etc)

3 cups beet kvass with pickled beets

1 tsp caraway

2 sprigs of tarragon

1 tbsp of honey

2 tbsp avocado oil

salt and pepper to season




  1. First you want to preheat the oven to 180C and roast the beetroots until soft.

2. In a saucepan combine the dashi, chopped onion and chopped potato and cook until the potato is soft.  This makes a wonderful base for the soup. Remove from the heat and caraway and tarragon to infuse allowing it all to cool.

3. Place the Saurekraut, kvass, beetroots (both roasted and pickled), stock base, garlic, honey and oil in your high-speed blender and blend until smooth.

This many need to done in batches, refrigerate until ready to serve.

4. Serve with a yoghurt and dill


[su_box title=”The Cultured Club: Fabulously Funky Ferments” box_color=”#b59eb4″ title_color=”#505050″ radius=”4″]This recipe is from The Cultured Club book of fermentation recipes to be published October 2016 by Gill Books.

Available for pre-order very soon[/su_box]

Ireland’s First Fermentation Festival

The excitement is bubbly, fizzy and appropriately energising for this the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere after a hugely successful Fermentation Festival out west in the Organic Centre in Rossinver, Co. Leitrim.  It was the first giddy gathering of what is sure to be an annual event co-ordinated and hosted by Hans & Gaby Wieland.

I am tripping over words to get through to the thoughts as they are abundant, in a way, like a overly excited bottle of fermented goodness, ready to explode out of the bottle before making it to your mouth. Captured in a bottle, this feeling would be everyones Monday Morning Tonic.

The immense sharing, the enthusiastic presentations, the depth of knowledge and the life-affirming experience has been immense.  If this was your first interaction with ‘THAT’ fermented feeling I can only imagine the overwhelm you must be experiencing today.  We were a pretty excitable bunch.


We gathered from the North, the South, the East and the West of our Island to express our passion, experience and knowledge of this ‘forgotten’ skill.  Thankfully a revival is in full swing now, good things take their time to become a new social norm.  They grow organically because they cannot be forced and I am delighted that I am no longer alone with my crazy, hissing kitchen and subtle, yet intentional food anarchy.

Already I can imagine the explosion of interest and offerings for next year, there are many giddy folk I am sure will be part of the fermentation fever.

In the meantime, I have a sourdough starter from Dimitar Dosev of My Strandhill Bakery to introduce with to our own starter.  I have a wonderfully medicinal Turmeric and Ginger apple cider vinegar cultivated by April Danann of Rebel Foods in Skibereen, Co.Cork.
herbal kefirs13450908_647354612088784_5941487508545874999_nI have a belly full of wonderful herbal kefir concoctions from Gaby Wieland and all kinds of Kombuchas from Hans Wieland Fermentation bar.


I have this inspiring read to keep me right from Oonagh Monahan- Money for Jam. It is a wealth of information to channel and preserve the passion involved in these wonderful foods into a successful small business.

bookMore small scale fermentation businesses, yes please!

Live fermented foods disappeared from our diets for many reasons.  One plausible reason is due to the commercialisation of the food industry which favoured pickling in vinegar, a much cheaper and stable process. These pickled foods are the product of high heat and pressure which destroys nutrients and do not in any way enhance health.

So perhaps every large town should have its fermentation expert, producing and providing live, probiotic foods for their communities?  Imagine the epidemic of wellness and joyful neighbours?  These are the thoughts one leaves a festival with!


Other inspirations included Paul Monaghan from FEED restaurant in Sligo, who will feature my fabulously funky purple beet kvass eggs in his restaurant. Probably someones lunch as I type.  I am honoured!

JP Mc Mahon and his culinary creativity, bringing fermentation to the plate and the palate of those lucky to dine in his fabulous fine dining restaurant Aniar in Galway.  This will have to be a stop on my annual west coast adventures this year.

13507222_647604505397128_2446871617164157683_n I am beyond delighted that I get to take home the freshly harvested seaweed collected yesterday morning by the hands of a master.  This will feature on The Cultured Clubs Tasting Table experience this weekend in Helen’s Bay Organic Gardens and is making its way into seaweed falafels today.

See more on that here.  No doubt the excitement will exude into this food prep this week.




Dr. Prannie Rhatigan is huge inspiration for food, foraging and creatively using an abundant food source in this part of the world. Her lifetime experience of harvesting, cooking and gardening organically with sea vegetables has been published as a extremely handy (and clever) pocket size, key chain guide for when you are strolling the coast.  It will definitely be coming with me next month on my holidays out west.

So with much thanks to Hans & Gaby Wieland for hosting this wonderful event.  We have consolidated the Irish contingent of SCOBYs thriving of the shared passion from reviving these foods. No doubt we will continue to thrive and next year we will welcome more ‘Fermentistas’ to the festival from near and far.

In the meantime, I have a book to launch on the topic.  It will be out in September with Gill books.  There will be a launch in Dublin and one in Belfast to honour the first Cultured Club members who started this journey with me way back in 2012.  I feel beyond inspired to make that a nation wide tour, so stay tuned,  I anticipate similar excitement and giddiness all round.


The Cultured Club is dedicated to reviving this lost tradition and bringing the control of our health into our own kitchens.
'Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be food' is a hard philosophy to live by when we are so removed from the food we eat.

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