Some people burp their babies during lockdown and here I am burping the sauerkraut. It smells so good!
The slow cooker is sending the aromatic bliss of fermented beetkraut borscht throughout the house. The dehydrator is humming along to the tune of fresh salmon jerky. The stove top is bubbling the hardiness out of the soy beans as they continue their journey to become red miso paste. My gut is filled with probiotic goodness from this morning’s coconut kefir porridge and now I sit down to a cold bubbly glass of blueberry-flavoured kefir water as I write this blog. This is what is getting me through lockdown, it’s something fun to do, keeps me occupied and makes me love everything about being in the kitchen. It’s homesteading, a lifestyle of self-sufficiency, food production, preservation as well as homestyle crafting.
I don’t think it is reasonable, practical or even desirable for one human to be fully self-sufficient but there are definitely some ways we can connect more to our food and guts. I know most people aren’t willing to take four months to grow a cabbage, protect it from white moths, chop it up, mix it with salt, squeeze the juice out of it and ferment it for two weeks when you can just order it for $6 from Coles online from the comfort of your bed to your door in 1-2 business days. But my way is so much more fun. (Homemade will also have the probiotics that are good for your gut, whereas store-bought and canned generally won’t if it comes unrefrigerated when you get it, FYI!). Why use store-bought miso when in a short 6-12 months you can have your own homemade one? It’s these questions that keep me up at night.
For me, it started with the humble kosher dill pickle and before I knew it my kitchen was filled with drying cured egg yolks, jars of random krauted veggies, Ethiopian honey wine and a kitchen bench top that looks like a mad science experiment gone oh so right. These things take me back to a time when I wasn’t even alive but a time I am still somehow nostalgic towards. The “good old days” when all the interesting stuff in the kitchen didn’t come from Harris Farm Markets or Parisi’s, rather from the collective memory of generations of culture and traditions.
Imagine a basic stir fry. Now imagine it with your own Kimchi on the side, soured and flavoured to your exact taste. Or think about a potato salad. How much better would it be with a chopped up homemade dill pickle in it? Do you have yoghurt or milk for breakfast? Think about how much your gut will thank you if you replace it with kefir (I know a good place for a SCOBY). Preserved lemons in salad dressings, honey fermented garlic in everything, the list goes on. Making your own foods that you would normally buy at the shop may seem more laborious and don’t get me wrong, it slightly is, but it can add so many more layers to the meal you prepare.
We may be in this lockdown for a little while longer, so this seems like the perfect time to start your food preservation journey. Time in the kitchen at the fermentation station is keeping me sane this lockdown and making it more interesting and useful. If this seems like something for you, then give it a go – it’s all about the attitude.
Start with the basics and build from there. Google is your friend here. It is never as difficult as you may think, sauerkraut is only two ingredients and takes 10 minutes to prepare.
At Adamama we are learning how to preserve food and culture, fermenting the living organisms buried deep in our traditions and using them to create a longer-lasting, good for your gut and slightly tangy community for us all. Pssh, what a metaphor!
I would love to see our community trading SCOBYs for fresh produce or swapping homemade ricotta for a jar of pickled peppers. If you would like any advice or tips or even a chat about this please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Fun Talmudic question of the day: Do you think Maimonides was referring to the probiotic goodness of fermented foods when he said this? “No Disease that can be treated by diet should be treated by any other means.”
Here are a few links to start kick start your new-found passion for healthy food living!
It’s Alive with Brad Leone: YouTube show about fermentation from the Bon Apetit network.
The Fermentary is a shop in Victoria but also a great resource of recipes, SCOBYs and tools.
Books: ANYTHING by Sandor Katz (The Art of Fermentation)