I can see the possible benefits of fermented food, but I know we wouldn’t eat fermented vegetables often enough to be worthwhile. We might do better with some kind of drink. All the recipes I’ve seen use sugar – are there any simple sugar free versions?
Kefir is a sugar free fermented milk drink. You can buy it from the supermarket or make your own which apparently has a wider collection of bacteria, it certainly tastes more intense. I got my grains from Amazon, it’s really easy to do. I also make kimchi and I’m absolutely addicted to it, it’s also super easy, I got the special chilli flakes from Amazon as well and the fermenting jars from Lakeland.
I’ve not tried Kefir. I’ll give it a go.
Kombucha is also another drink that you may be interested in. It’s a fermented tea drink (it’s in the book), but the basics are you need a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) that is responsible for the fermentation. SCOBYs can be bought or “acquired” (I can’t link to sites, but there are some groups that will forward a SCOBY to you for free – I haven’t fermented for a while, so don’t have a SCOBY at the moment! Don’t worry about the sugar because that’s what the SCOBY lives on and makes other metabolites in place of the sugar.
Once you have a SCOBY, you add the SCOBY to cooled, sweet tea (there are different types of SCOBY that will feed on different teas) and leave it to ferment. You can then bottle the ferment and put it in the fridge to do a secondary ferment – this will make the kombucha fizzy (you have to be really careful that the bottle it is in is “burped” to stop pressure build up and an explosion). You can flavour with fruits etc. I have had success with grape juice added to a second ferment and the kids drank it 😀
Kefir can be bought, but you can also make it yourself – it’s erm… an acquired taste when it’s homemade and I prefer it made with goat milk. It’s kind of like a fizzy drinking yoghurt. Again, you can acquire the kefir grains (they look like mini cauliflower florets and are the colony that does the fermenting, like a SCOBY) from fermenting groups.
I bought a bottle of keffir. I won’t be buying another! I’m going to try to get through this one though. Am I right in thinking that if we get the bacteria into our gut it can stay there without top ups, as long as we eat well, don’t get ill, take antiobiotics etc? (I have the blood sugar diet book and am following it, and saw the clever guts TV programme but don’t habe that book.)
I’ll try buying komboucha and see if I like it before thinking about making any. I looked up making it and found directions for making the SCOBY too. I could probably do it, but it seems a lot of effort unless I’m sure we’ll drink it regularly.
My wife and I struggled with Keffir to start with but now we enjoy it, it really is an acquired taste! If you make your own you can tailor the taste by fermenting it for a shorter time if that suits your tastes more, increasing the time and pungency as you get used to the flavour. The same applies to Kombucha. You can also add things to both during the secondary ferment change the flavour.
Try mixing Keffir with other things to make a smoothie-that really masks the taste. I use mixed berries, chia seeds, spinach and avocado in mine (making a pre biotic and probiotic cocktail!) but I also add other things from time to time.
Making Kombucha and Keffir really is quite easy, you will save a fortune making your own and arguably end up with a more diverse mix of microbes . I purchased both my grains and Scoby off Ebay and haven’t looked back.
Thanks, recoveringfatty (great name!)
It tasted slightly less bad the second day – perhaps because I knew what to expect. I think I migt like kombucha better. I’ll see how it goes.
I’ve just experimented with a commercially produced “live” kefir made by Biotiful Dairy and found it highly palatable. The plain sugar-free version is quite mild, though I’m not sure how highly Michael M might rate the quantity of bacteria. There are plenty of different kinds in there according to their website and at around 10b per litre, may not be as high as is desirable, but it makes up for it by being easy to drink….in fact I could easily swallow four 250ml bottles a day without blinking.
I did try one type of keffir and didn’t like it at all, but perhaps I shouldn’t give up quite so easily.
Hi, I would like to know if the fermented foods that contain sugar are healthy, given that we are told to avoid sugar ?
Also, if kefir is heated up will that kill the bacteria and would there be any difference in heating it on a stove or a microwave ?
Bree: Health experts recommend minimising added sugars, but a moderate intake of naturally occurring sugars – from dairy, vegetables, lower sugar fruits – is fine. Probiotic microbes need some carbohydrates (sugars or fibre) for fermentation to take place (converted to acid, alcohol or gas).
Different microbes survive different conditions, including being heated to a given temperature for a given period of time. Different cooking methods can cause ‘hot spots’ in different areas, stirring and standing time also affect how evenly the food is heated. So it is not as simple as microwave versus stove/ hob.
Ideally do not cook any live fermented food, but add it to the meal right before eating.