Being the gut health freak that I am, I thought it was high time I got around to making my own homemade fermented food and drinks. The homemade versions are so much better for you, full of all the goodness that the shop bought ones miss out on through the pasteurisation process. I always thought that making your own was far too complicated and best left to the hardened few, but I’m happy to say this couldn’t be further from the truth. I went online to Happy Kombucha, ordered my brewing kit and before I knew it I was hastily making room for my new venture in my tiny kitchen, and ka-boomba – kombucha is on the menu!
Being a nutritionist I know the importance of good gut health, and with my love of messing about in the kitchen, I’m in my element making my own probiotic food and drinks. And having something dressed up looking like Lawrence of Arabia on your kitchen top is simply a must. Anyway, once I was over the initial fear … it was surprisingly easy and a lot of fun.
Kombucha is an ancient drink made by fermenting green tea and sugar with a live culture called a scoby (which stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Now I know that doesn’t sound terribly appetising, and why would anything that’s so good for you taste great, right? Well, I have to say I was quite apprehensive, a scoby is a very odd looking slippery thing, and definitely not pretty. The hungry scoby lives off the tea and sugar, so by the time you get to drink it, there is only a small fraction of the sugar you started with, and all of the goodness.
Eeeeewwwwww! And hurray if you’re you still with me …. But getting back to fermenting and gut health, fermentation is a metabolic process that converts sugars into cellular energy and a metabolic by-product called lactic acid, which in turn produces fantastic digestive enzymes, amino acids, B vitamins and beneficial bacteria that are all essential for digestion and good gut health. Our large intestines are home to trillions and trillions of micro-organisms, and fermented foods and drinks such as kefir, kombucha, kimchi and sauerkraut all help to give the good bacteria a chance to recolonise the gut and crowd out the bad guys which lead to ill health. We need the good bacteria to help us digest food, release energy and assimilate nutrients. When our guts are out of balance, we can feel run down, our immune system and our brains are affected (the gut-brain connection), leading to digestive problems, weight gain, depression, anxiety and further disease.
Amazing stuff hey? And the fun continues, you can even go on to do a second ferment and experiment with more fizz and different flavourings like blueberries, ginger, watermelon, or work your way through your fruit bowl – completely yum!
In this batch I made ginger on the left and blueberries on the right. At this point you need to burp them daily to avoid any explosions (yes, really!), and when they’re ready, pop into the fridge to stop any more fermenting and serve chilled. Delicious!
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