When life gives you le­mons

Recipes for fer­mented food to en­sure healthy stom­ach bac­te­ria

The Irish Times Magazine - - FOOD -

Over the years I’ve had nu­mer­ous peo­ple come to train with me in the kitchen, and each came with their own ideas, tech­niques, skills and gifts. I have so many fond mem­o­ries and we, as a fam­ily, share many happy sto­ries of vis­i­tors. Last week Lau­ren, who is Korean and was brought up in Cal­i­for­nia, came back to dine with us from Ber­lin. It was eight years since she spent a sum­mer with us in the kitchen. Her big­gest gift to us was in­tro­duc­ing us to the health ben­e­fits of fer­mented foods in our diet. Lau­ren is not only a chef, an opera singer and gifted healer, she now runs a kim­chi- fo­cused food busi­ness in Ger­many.

I can re­call vividly when she told me I had no “good gut bac­te­ria” and I needed to be con­sum­ing fer­mented foods and drinks. I had no idea what she was talk­ing about and it took me some time to un­der­stand the whole process.

Within a few weeks we were serv­ing kim­chi – a fer­mented Korean cab­bage condi­ment – with our roast chicken and ed­u­cat­ing our cus­tomers. I was pre­serv­ing le­mons, eat­ing aged cheeses, drink­ing cider vine­gar and had made sauer­kraut and sour­dough bread over the years, but didn’t un­der­stand the process and the full ex­tent of their health ben­e­fits.

On trend Fast for­ward and, to­day, fer­mented food and drink is on trend and read­ily avail­able in many shops and food mar­kets. If you have not in­tro­duced them into your diet, there are many rea­sons why you should.

Fer­mented foods are foods that have been through a process of lactofer­me­na­tion, in which nat­u­ral bac­te­ria feed on the su­gar and starch in the food cre­at­ing lac­tic acid. This process pre­serves the food and cre­ates lots of good­ness along the way: B- vi­ta­mins, omega 3 fatty acids and pro­bi­otics, as well as the good­ness of the veg­eta­bles and spices.

You may be a lit­tle over­whelmed at first by their odour and some­times the taste. Avoid a deep breath as you open the jar. But do per­sist and in­tro­duce them slowly into your diet, in very small quan­ti­ties, but eaten of­ten, and I prom­ise your body will start to crave that feel­good fac­tor that they give.

COOK CARMEL SOMERS

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