Re-exploration into fermentation

Re-exploration into fermentation

The fermenting food movement has been increasing in momentum – evidenced by the spread of probiotics kombucha, sauerkraut and kefir in variety at commercial outlets. Having studied fermentation for three years (specifically winemaking, but also spoilage microbes associated with wine), I’ve rediscovered the fascinating microworld of fermentation. The background to discovering and venturing into this lifestyle has come about through necessity. It’s not my personal journey, but that of Mrs B.

The background

When I was younger and in the heyday of unrestrained antibiotic use I was prescribed courses to deal with ongoing ear infections. Recent research concerning the impact of antibiotics on gut health suggests there is a permanent and catastrophic effect on the diversity of gut microbes after repeat courses. Over the years, I’ve had waxing and waning IBS symptoms, eczema/psoriasis, and gene markers for gluten sensitivity – but was informed to not eliminate gluten. With the help of some very cluey physicians after ongoing digestive issues and knowing something just wasn’t right, we were able to narrow the culprit down to an overgrowth of a certain type of bacteria, which normally infects the lungs (unsurprisingly I had caught pneumonia after a tonsillectomy). While nothing can be proved as to HOW the microbe (Klebsiella pneumoniae) became established in my gut, what we do know is that it has outcompeted the intestinal wall lining in place of Lactobacillus sp. (and many other microbes). The short story is reinoculation with beneficial microbes – half of which is dietary derived, the other is for a whole series of blog posts! As I start on the treatment plan which I’ll go into further detail in the future, our journey starts here.

I saw on a YouTube video of sauerkraut making by AverageIowaGuy. He recommended this compendium of all foods fermented – The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. I have quickly plucked what I needed for a batch of sauerkraut and now embarking on the first chapter. I too highly recommend it for anyone wanting revive the long lost art of preserving food with microbes, and the health benefits it provides.