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It’s now fairly common place knowledge that probiotics are good for you. If you are unsure, check out this article I wrote for the Natural Health Gazette, Fermented Foods: Their Place in the Human Diet.
When thinking of probiotics, most think of a pill or a cup of yogurt, but there are many other different ways to get probiotics. Getting your buggies from different sources ensures that you are getting multiple different strains. Yogurt normally contains only one or two different strains where milk kefir can contain 32 or more. Fermented veggies provide different strains of bacteria than milk cultures give you. For most people, taking probiotics in pill form is unnecessary but those with more serious gut issues might find taking a pill useful.
When you are first starting out, I always suggest people start off slow. Eating too much can lead to stomach discomfort until your body adjusts. Also, ferments are meant to be condiments. You don’t have to fill a bowl full of sauerkraut to experience all the benefits. Just a spoonful with your meal will do.
#1 Serve with Meals:
I try to have some sort of ferment at each meal. That might mean a pickle or a few fermented green beans or it might be a spoonful of kraut. I like to top different dishes with kraut (sauerkraut, sauerruben, curtido or zucchini relish work great). Hamburgers, sausages, salmon patties and even on top of pizza. Ferments are especially important to serve with meat because they help you digest heavy protein meals better.
#2 Sneak it in:
For the resistant (not all my kids gobble down their fermented veggies and ask for more), I have to sneak it in. Being sneaky is more simple than you might think. I keep a swing top bottle full of left over brine in the fridge. I use that brine to sprinkle just a little over their food and they never know!
I like to serve a cup of stock with one or two meals a day and little do they know it, that stock has probiotics in it. I fill each of their cups, let it cool enough to drink and then add a splash of brine. It actually tastes very good and they have no idea.
Salad dressings, lactofermented mayonnaise (Lisa has a great one in her cookbook, Lisa’s Counter Culture), kombucha ketchup and BBQ sauce, and mustard (recipe coming soon) are all great ways to get a little probiotic goodness in.
For salad dressings, in any of your favorite dressing recipes just substitute some or all of the lemon juice or vinegar portion for brine. It adds great flavor, especially if you use brine from garlic or herbs.
#4 Milk, Drinking Kefir and Liking it.
My kids drink milk with every meal. We do drink farm fresh milk which already has beneficial bacteria in it but what they don’t know is, I spike it with more. Only one is resistant to drinking kefir or eating yogurt so I just add a spoonful of mild kefir to his milk. It’s not a lot but it is something. If you don’t care for the taste of kefir (don’t worry, I won’t be offended, it’s not my favorite ferment either), you can ease yourself into it. Instead of letting it ferment a full 24 hours, you can ferment it for a shorter 12 hour period. 12 hours is enough to have significant probiotic activity but not enough to really thicken it or make it tart. Much of the lactose will still be there to sweeten it. As you get used to the flavor, you can let it ferment for longer and longer. Many find doing a second ferment helps the flavor as well.
Many who don’t care for sauerkraut and pickles or yogurt do like water kefir and kombucha. They are not as concentrated as dairy ferments but again, something is better than nothing. You might just have to drink more of it. Instead of 1 cup of milk kefir a day, have 2 cups of water kefir or kombucha. Check my recipe section for lots of different ideas for flavoring water kefir or kombucha.
#6 Take a Shot
For the extra daring, take a shot of brine with every meal. Yum, pickle juice!
This Week in Fermenting:
Two great recipes for fermented orange juice and one for fermented orange rind can be found over at Hybrid Rasta Mama today!
Also today is the last day the coupon code for Lisa’s book Lisa’s Counter Culture and Other Well Bred Foods will work. Enter code PickleMeToo at check out and get $15.99 off the e-book. Offer good for e-book only! Ends 10/12/12.