Gather ’round FBGs! Today we want to talk about cultured food. Yes, “cultured food” may sound like the result of a science experiment or, worse yet, something grown inside that unmarked food container in the back of your fridge that at one time was edible leftovers. But cultured foods really aren’t gross at all. Okay, maybe they’re a little funky, but they can also be delicious. And they sure as heck are good for you.
My first experience with cultured food was brewing my very own homemade kombucha. Now, that was a fun and delicious project—and one that I’m happy to say I still do today (had a bottle of blueberry bucha last night, in fact!). But after being sent the book Cultured Food Life, my whole culinary world has been opened up to the possibilities of eating—and crafting at home—more naturally probiotic foods. From making your own batch of kefir to kombucha to sauerkraut, sprouted bread and every other cultured veggie you can think of, this cookbook-meets-personal-memoir is a how-to for preparing your very own cultured foods at home. With step-by-step instructions and more than 60 recipes, author Donna Schwenk takes you through how to make kimchi, your own apple cider vinegar, kefir cottage cheese and so much more.
I have to admit that making this stuff is a bit scary at first. I mean, you have to go out and find “kefir grains” and “veggie culture packets.” (Of course, Amazon has them—and they’re surprisingly reasonable. Less than $10 for kefir grains and about $20 for six big packets of vegetable starter culture that would make you a ton of cultured veggies.) And you’re pretty much overseeing foods as they go bad on your counter. Those two things are a bit odd. Or, in our germ-fearing society, a lot odd.
But not only are the results tasty (dishes from the book like PB Chocolate Keifer Pie and Probiotic Guacamole come to mind) but also the purported health benefits are dang amazing. In Cultured Food Life, Schwenk tells how these good-bacteria foods drastically changed her and her family’s lives, including helping her to overcome diabetes and high blood pressure and allowing her daughter to beat irritable bowel syndrome. Ya’ll already know how I feel about probiotics, so this just added more heat to my funky food-lovin’ flame.
While I haven’t been brave enough to whip any of these recipes up yet, I do plan to make kefir in the very near future. Honestly, I never would have thought I could make this stuff at home if it wasn’t for this book, breaking down every step and explaining just how simple and easy it is. So if you’re interested in cultured foods or probiotics in the least—or if you suffer from digestive issues and want to try a more natural way to get good bacteria in your belly—I’d recommend this book for shizzle.
Do you eat so-called cultured foods? Love the slightly sour taste? Think they’re gross? Eat them for your health? Make them at home? Let’s talk funky food! —Jenn