Cultured Foods - My Winter Project

Lately I’ve been getting into my cultured or fermented foods. At some stage I’m sure I heard a radio interview but then I came across this amazing book Cultured Club by Dearbhla Reynolds.

It’s kinda having a big effect in our house. We have been drinking Kombucha for a few years now but this new world of ferments is pretty groovy.

The premise is simple enough, the gut is now recognised as being one of the most important organs in the body in terms of overall health and what keeps the gut (and to a large degree our body) healthy are healthy bacteria in our gut. The western diet as we know it isn’t good for these bacteria but fermented food goes a long way to helping maintain gut health.

So about 6 months ago I bought a load of Kilner Jars and got ready to start a new adventure. It was a disaster, I was the example in the FAQ section of everything that could go wrong. I didn’t submerge every vegetable completely in brine so they reacted with the air (bad for this process) went mouldy and stank the house out.

It took me a few months to build up the courage to have another crack at it. I eventuall did though. And it worked. And now we are enjoying the benefits of the zingy, tasty and terrifically good for us fermented foods. Highly recommended.

And just to really apply for my porridge knitting credentials I then came across this simple little tome about making sourdough bread….

The author Andrew Whitley gives an amazing talk here. It’s a long watch (about 45 mins) but it’s worth it.

So as is my wont, I decided that we shall only eat homemade sourdough at home from here on. In fairness, Gemma my wife, has been baking brown bread to her mother’s recipe since I’ve known her but I am partial to a bit of tasty white bread myself.

At bit like my first attempts at fermenting food, my first attempt at developing a starter yeast from scratch didn’t end well but I was determined. So over four days, I fed and nutured my starter (it wasn’t really that hard) and successfully created my first rye sourdough starter.

Delighted with myself, I went on to make my first sourdough loaf. If I'm honest, it actually ended up more like a sourdough pancake but still tasted amazing. YouTube can be a marvellous resource, so undettered I knew that things could only get better. And they did. My second loaf looked like a loaf but it tasted far beyond what it’s gruff exterior hinted at. Truly delicious, if I do say so myself!

So now that I have written about these things in cold, hard ink there is no turning back.