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
HOW TO FERMENT A WHOLE CABBAGE
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!
MAKES 1 X 2-LITRE JAR
You will need:
1 sweetheart cabbage approx.
2-3 tbsp sea salt
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!
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