Kitchen Intuition: More on allergies and fermentation
Last weekend, Shawn Schuster’s column focused on reducing allergies with fermented foods. There are many good reasons to make fermented foods part of your daily diet. The study of our gut bacteria is an emerging science, but the evidence appears to indicate that a happy microbiome is good for your immune system, helps in maintaining a healthy weight and can aid in mood regulation. Fermented foods are one of the best ways to feed that system.
In his article, Schuster sagely advises us to use caution when selecting sauerkrauts and pickles at the grocery store, because many commercially produced products are not actually fermented. If you want to be sure of what you’re getting, making your own is a very quick, simple and money-saving process, which is very carefully explained in "The Art of Fermentation" by Sandor Katz (if you want to meet the author and compare notes with other fermenters, keep an eye out for the workshops he sometimes holds in the area; Katz travels a lot, but his home base is not all that far from Chattanooga).
If you don’t have the book, you can read an intro to fermentation and get a recipe for kraut-chi on Katz’s website. To make sauerkraut, the only ingredient you really need is cabbage, though most preparations also use salt (preferably noniodized). You can add more to it, of course, but you don’t have to. I would also argue, though, that one other thing you’ll need is some assurance that you’re not going to make yourself or anyone else sick with food that has been sitting out for days or even weeks on end.