Probiotic Prep Rally!
The thought of preparing fermented foods may seem a bit daunting---a feat reserved for die-hard foodies (or, as fermentation enthusiasts are now known, "fermentos"). I’ve dabbled a bit in this nourishing tradition that is making a robust culinary comeback and I‘ve scoured websites and books for the swiftest way to tune up my cultured skills and competencies.
Surprisingly, a hands-on adventure in the art of fermentation came my way when I was asked to present at a winter retreat on digestive health at a mountain top lodge in Vermont. The gathering was organized by Diane Imrie, a nutritional wizard whose ‘Health Care Without Harm’ team is working hard to change the landscape of food at Fletcher Allen Hospital in Burlington, Vt. Their nutrition mission: build sustainable food systems that are rooted in relationships with the local community, for the health of the planet and the health of the eater.
Taking center stage in the lodge’s kitchen was Jason Frishman, PhD, psychologist and long-time fermenter. Jason positioned us around the kitchen island and demonstrated in his earth-friendly way the art, ease and joy of fermentation.
Before long, the kitchen exploded with laughter and busyness as we began creating multi-colored “salads in a jar”, spicy sauces and other cultured concoctions. And it was breathtakingly simple and required only a few handy tools and ingredients that you probably have hanging around your kitchen already: jars, salt, water, veggies, herbs & spices.
Why the nutritional renaissance in fermenting foods?
- Good for your gut: delivers “probiotic”, friendly micro-organisms
- Good for the environment: saves on food waste by using up those veggies
- Good for your pocketbook: you can buy produce on the sale rack!
- Good for your schedule: convenient, ready to grab and go!
And SO VERY GOOD for your tastebuds!
After our “probiotic prep rally” in the kitchen was complete, we collected our fermented productions and displayed them on a long table in the dining room. I glanced around at my cultured colleagues, each beaming with home-made pride!
My culinary confidence boosted, I headed out on the snow-covered path back to my room cuddling my fermented jars under my parka, a richly satisfied cultured convert.