What a weekend it was here in Limerick at the very first Irish conference of the Weston A.Price Foundation. Organised by friends of mine and attended by over 300 people who are passionate about their own nutrition and learning how to live according to a more traditional diet, this was an inspiring event that fuels us all to take our health into our own hands. For more stories about how much the way we eat can affect our lives read my friend Dee's blog here.
Darina Allen opened the conference, reminding us all of how close we used to be to proper diets in Ireland, lots of real butter, unpastuerised milk, meat stocks, organ meats (liver, kidneys, offal), bread made from soaked grains, porridge with cream and honey and on and on it goes for simple, delicious and nourishing foods. These foods promote good gut health which leads to stronger immune systems and better quality of life. The emphasis on preparing parents for conception and good diet during pregnancy and babies life was particularly interesting and knowledge I'd love to have had as a young Mum. However we can only go forward.
I can say from first hand experience that I've gone back to many old ways in the past couple of years and I now get fresh, unpasteurised milk every week which has cleared up my kids 'teen' skin. I make chicken stock at least once a week and we regularly eat liver and kidneys as well as baking sourdough bread and getting what I don't bake from Joe Fitzmaurice, baker extraordinaire at Riotrye. I've been making fermented foods for some months, kombucha, kefir, yogurt, cream cheese and sauerkraut and I love eating these foods, plus it's great t build up a store cupboard of fermented veggies so you don't have to prepare fresh ones every time you want to eat them.
I have always been prone to coughs and colds and while I still get them, the does isn't as bad and the duration not as long. The most significant effect I have found with eating fermented foods is that they have eliminated my PMS/PMT which, for me is news from the heavens with angels singing. As PMS is caused by inflammation and eating probiotic foods reduces inflammation, this makes perfect sense and I wanted to spread the word to you as I know many women suffer terrible symptoms every month, but the solution is in your hands.
I plan to run a series of workshops in the near future in food fermenting to share this knowledge so that you can learn how to make these delicious foods and help yourself and have something yummy t eat that is cheap to make. For now, here is a simple recipe for sauerkraut, fermented cabbage, it's yummier than it sounds.
It is essential that all your equipment is really clean so sterilise your jar by boiling it in a full pan of water for 10 minutes and leaving to cool. Also add your spoons and tongs to the pan. Sauerkraut is a process of encouraging lactobili bacteria to grow, so you don’t want to introduce others to the mix. Don’t be put off by the technical appearance of this, it’s spectacularly easy to make.
Equipment needed: 1 x 1litre mason jar, 1 instrument for ‘pounding’ the cabbage like a flat ended rolling pin, a very clean, large plastic basin or bowl, a small jar or stone for weighing the cabbage down in the jar, this will also have to be sterilised.
Makes one 1litre jar
1 head organic cabbage, red or white
1 tsp sea salt
4 tblsp whey (this is a bi-product of cheese making and can be bought from health food stores) if you are not using whey just use an extra tsp salt
1 tsp caraway seeds or other flavourings like star anise or black peppercorns
- Shred the cabbage with a large knife, you can use a food processor but it tends to chops the cabbage too finely.
- Put the cabbage into the bowl with the salt and whey, if using, Mix everything together with your hands and then get your rolling pin and begin pounding the cabbage with the flat end, keep going for 10 minutes until some of the juices are being released, just think of the toned arms your getting! Sprinkle on the caraway seeds or other flavourings, or leave it plain.
- Get your sterile jar and pack the cabbage in with the juices, press in down and pop in a jar/weight or stone that’s big enough to put pressure on the cabbage when you close the lid down. You want it to be submerged in the juices. Place the jar on a plate to catch any juices that overflow.
- Leave the jar at room temperature for 4 days, you should see bubbles happening in the jar, this means it’s working! Open the jar every now and again to release the gasses. You can refrigerate the sauerkraut after this time, that will stop the fermentation process, you can also let go of the weight in the jar.
It is important that the sauerkraut goes into the fridge after the 4 days as if the temperature stays too warm your cabbage can get mouldy and you will have to bin it. Otherwise it will keep well for months, enjoy this strangely addictive food in small quantities