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Did you know that I’m totally obsessed with kombucha, a lightly fermented tea that’s a little fruity, a little fizzy, and good for gut health? Fermented foods like kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, chocolate, and even cheese are the unsung heroes of the culinary world. Their flavors are interesting and often complex, and they contain beneficial bacteria (AKA probiotics) that help to keep us healthy. I wanted to learn more about the history of fermentation, the benefits, and dos and don’ts for fermenting foods at home, so I invited Sandor Katz to join me on the show this week. Sandor is the author of, Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods, and Michael Pollan calls him, The Johnny Appleseed of Fermentation. If you’re like me, you’ll be running to the store to buy cabbage (to make sauerkraut) after the show.
Fermentation occurs when bacteria, yeast, and other microorganisms break down food. It’s a natural process and it preserves our food. Right now, I’m four days into making sauerkraut for the very first time. I’ve been tasting it every day and noting how the flavors have changed from mild to tangy. Scroll down for tips on how I made it. In the meantime, I want you to sit back and enjoy this show, because you’re in store for the primer of all primers from THE expert on wild fermentation.
“When we just eat processed foods, we are failing to feed our digestive bacteria.” – Sandor Ellix Katz
What are fermented foods? What are the health and culinary benefits? Why is kefir all the rage? How can you make your own fermented foods at home? Sandor Katz, author of Wild Fermentation, has all the answers (and then some).
- Sandor shares his unlikely journey to becoming the King of Fermentation.
- What exactly happens during the fermentation process and how does it differ from pickling?
- Your shopping list of fermented foods.
- The health benefits of consuming good bacteria.
- How much fermented food should you eat each day? Sandor has the surprising answer!
- The 101 on kombucha.
- My favorite kombucha brand and flavor: Synergy Trilogy.
- Sandor shares his tried and true sauerkraut method.
- The fascinating history of fermented milk.
- Why your kids would have a blast making sauerkraut
This book explores the history of fermentation, a DIY guide to cultural manipulation, and recipes for vegetable ferments, lightly fermented beverages, grain ferments (porridges, flatbreads, soups), bean ferments, wines, beers, and vinegars.
“Bacteria have a bad reputation, but so many of the cultures found in fermented food are good for your digestion.” – Sandor Ellix Katz
As you listen to the show, Sandor will talk you through the process of making sauerkraut. For my “recipe,” I used a small, 2-pound cabbage, sliced into thin pieces, one large peeled and shredded carrot, and a handful of radishes, cut into thin, half-moon slices. I placed the veggies into a large bowl with 2 teaspoons of sea salt and massaged the salt into the mixture until it started to release its juices. I also added 2 teaspoons of caraway seeds. I packed the vegetables into a quart-size Mason jar, covered the top with a cabbage leaf, placed a wide mouth fermenting weight on top, and pressed down again to pack everything in. I left a small space at the top (one byproduct of fermentation is gas, so you need to keep some space for expansion) and covered the jar with the lid.
The experience over the past few days has been nothing short of a cool science project. To find out how to nurture your kraut as the bacteria ferment those nutrient-rich vegetables, tune into the show! Making sauerkraut is surprisingly easy, and I guarantee your kids would love helping out and experiencing the magic.
My email: [email protected]
Connect with Sandor:
Sandor’s Wild Fermentation Website
Sandor on Twitter
Sandor on Facebook
The Good Gut by Justin and Erica Sonnenburg
Have a question about the show or a suggestion for a future show? Ask away by posting a comment below or joining my Podcast Posse.