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Fermented food is hugely beneficial

Wednesday, 29th November, 2017 5:25pm

Meeting old friends after a long time is always great. But seeing old friends who have changed their lives completely and are happier is a special occasion.

I met Jim while we were working for the same IT company in the same department. I must have tormented the poor guy with all my questions and requests.

I left the company to pursue other projects and although Jim and I were friends on Facebook, we kinda lost contact.

Out of the blue, I got a phonecall from him several years ago. He was killing time as he had missed the boat to Wales, where he was going to work on a farm. Now, you can imagine my surprise by the idea that this guy who was earning great money in IT was suddenly working as a WWOOFer (Willing Workers on Organic Farms).

The next I heard from him was when he cycled through Europe, posting amazing images of sunrises and sunsets, making us all here in Ireland jealous.

To make a long story short, Jim is back in Ireland for a while now and has started giving workshops on fermentation, fresh juices and more.

So when I saw him popping into my Christmas Market last Sunday, I just had to give him a big hug. He looked great - healthy and happy.

Why do I tell you all that? No particular reason other than that I love his story.

Fermentation seems to be the latest must have – when Jim asked me if I ever had kefir I had to smile…of course I had.

My grandmother swore by it. She claimed that it kept the gut healthy and therefore the rest of me.

But seriously, fermented food is proven to be a healthy addition to our diet and unfortunately, we don’t have enough of it apart from our famous pickles.

Yogurt used to be a fermented food before producers started to process the life out of them. Eating yogurt with life active cultures, plain with no added sugar still benefits our system – if you like fruit yogurts, try adding fresh fruit to plain yogurt.

Saurerkraut is an old German favourite – white cabbage is shredded and layered with salt in a jar and left to ferment slowly over a few days and even weeks.

I remember shops selling sauerkraut out of barrels but now the cabbage is fermented in metal vats and, in case you want to ferment cabbage at home, in glass jars and crockpots.

I haven’t had sauerkraut in years and until now haven’t even missed it. My mum used to cook sauerkraut (in Germany you eat sauerkraut warm with pork) with a ham hock, adding caraway seeds to make the cabbage more digestible.

I hated that dish as a child and even now, I shudder thinking about eisbein and sauerkraut but my dad was mad about it, so we got it quite often. Sauerkraut also tastes nice cold and is a key ingredient in the famous Reuben Sandwich.

If German style sauerkraut sounds a bit too weird, try the Korean version called kimchi. Germans are traditionally seen as the inventor of fermented cabbage but the Chinese deserve the title. So happy fermenting my friends!


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