Jul 4, 2011

Posted by in Blog, Nutrition, Supplements | 5 Comments

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Fermented food and your health

Fermented food and your health

Fermented food and your health


Three years ago a close friend and colleague of mine called me to tell me that her then 6-year-old daughter had been diagnosed with lymphatic cancer.  She had been using herbs and alternative therapies for years and the doctors told her that if she had not been doing the things she had, that she would have been diagnosed as 6 month old baby.  The doctors felt like this had been there since birth.  So she began to research to see what she could do to help her daughter.  One thing that she found in her research was the benefits of fermented foods.  I remember attending a seminar that was given by Anne Louise Gittleman, a famous nutritionist and author.  She talked about every other country eats fermented foods like balao-balao, magou, nham or kimchi as well as yogurt, sauerkraut, and sourdough bread.  But in the US we rarely eat anything that is fermented.

Fermented foods have been around for centuries and many civilizations still consume these foods.  When fermenting first began its primary function was to preserve the food, but what they found was it also had health benefits.  During the fermenting process carbohydrates and proteins are broken down by micro organisms and they increase the nutritional benefits of foods, helping with friendly bacteria and enzymes so you have better digestion, and is great for the immune system.  Some of the nutrients in fermented food are increase B vitamins, digestive enzymes, and omega 3 fatty acids.  I even read on more than one site doctors saying it was beneficial in protecting form cancer.  Any time you have an enzyme rich diet you decrease the stress on your pancreas and help preserve your own enzyme potential, helping to reduce the risk of chronic disease.

This colleague and I were attending a seminar together a few months ago and we wanted something healthy, so we headed to whole foods.  She started to talk about Kombucha. I had no clue what she was talking about.  Well, she began to explain that it was a tea that is fermented and all the benefits.  I got one that was called ginger aid and I loved it, it is still my favorite to date.  My son even loved it because it is a little fizzy, so it is like soda but healthy.  The problem was it is $3 a bottle and we can go through quite a bit a week with just our family so I went to my friend and she gave me a recipe and I made my first batch.  It came out great and literally cost me pennies a gallon.  Supper easy to do and is very healthy.  It has enzymes, probiotics and it helps detox the body.  So here is the recipe and how you can make your own, but start out slow because it will detox you some.  For more information on fermented foods this is a great book. Nourishing Traditions



8 oz gives you: 35 calories, 7 carbs, 0 fat, 1 sugar, 1 protein

Here is what it looks like when it is growing.




What you need:

I bottle of GT’s Synergy Kombucha (I used the ginger aid) or a kombucha baby from a friend
1 gallon size glass jar (with a wide opening, but not wider than you are able to rubber band a coffee filter to cover the opening.)
1 rubber band
1 coffee filter or a piece of cheese cloth
1C of sugar (I use xylitol and if it isn’t growing fast enough I will add 1 T.  raw sugar)
8 tea bags (I use ginger tea for my ginger and chamomile for the citrus one I do. You can use regular or green)

I use fresh grated ginger (it is my favorite and I will add the fresh juice and pulp of half an orange and lemon when I do my citrus batch) and just grate right into jar.
1 wooden stirring spoon.

1. First wash you jar thoroughly with soap and hot water.
2. Bring enough filtered water to fill your jar 80% or so to a full boil.
3. Turn off the heat and add the tea bags and sugar to the water.
4. Let the water cool down to a slightly warn room temperature and make sure the sugar is stirred in fully as it sometimes settle to the bottom and hardens. Remove the tea bags.
5. Pour the tea water in to the glass jar and combine it with the full bottle of the store bought kombucha. Stir with a wooden spoon.
6. Cover the mouth of the jar with the coffee filter and rubber band into place.
7. Store in a warm (if its too cold or really hot the culture will not ferment properly, some people use a heating pad on a low setting), dark place. Your first batch from the store bought culture should take 10-12 to ferment to taste and form a floating culture with stringy floaty protean strands. It should not be too sweet or too vinegary.
8. After you first batch is done you repeat steps 1-7 for your second batch, except instead of adding the store bought drink you will add a cup or so of your first batch to this second batch. Also the fermentation time should be about 7 day for this second batch (and any further batches).
9. For your third and ongoing batches repeat steps 1-8, except now you should be able to easily separate you culture in to two separate “pancakes” each of which can be used to start its own jar. If not too easy to separate keep them together until the next week and then try to separate again. So each week you can double you jars of culture or give some of them away to friends. Supposedly after awhile (months) some cultures lose their potency and should be retired, but this has only happened to me once. Then just retire that jars culture and carry on with the other babies. You can tell by it tasting sort of flat and not anywhere as yummy and usual.

A few more rules and tips:

1. Never let you kombucha come in contact with and metal. You can make the tea in a metal pot, but after that use glass or wood for everything else.
2. For extra tasty kombucha bottle it tightly in canning jar along with some dried fruit or fresh ginger and then place in the refrigerator for three of more days. It can be stored for long periods in this fashion and becomes much more effervescent.  Fresh grated ginger is my favorite and I will add the fresh juice and pulp of half an orange and lemon.
3. If any of you cultures look really strange or moldy/fuzzy and you think it is contaminated throw it out and start over.


  1. Kristin Calabrese says:

    Hi Michelle,
    Thank you for posting this recipe, I have the Nourishing Traditions book, one of my favorites. Can you clarify the time frame? Is it 10-12 days in step 7? Thank you for your time in sharing this information.

  2. Michelle LeSueur says:

    The first time and second time is a little longer. also if it is cooler it may have to grow longer. You can taste it with a wooden spoon, remember avoid metal, and see where it is after 7 days. If it goes to long it will be vinegar, which you could use in salad dressings.

  3. Hello! I am very excited to have just stumbled upon your blog. I am also a huge supporter of raw, fermented food. I love your blog entry highlighting the benefits of fermentation and specifically kombucha. While I personally love and eat fermented foods, I also just started working for an awesome company, BAO Food and Drink,that has a line of fermented foods as well as fresh kombucha out. So, I just wanted to pass along some links to fellow fermentation lovers. I’d love you to check BAO Food and Drink out and comment what you think! Our main website is http://www.baofoodanddrink.com. Also, “Like” us on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/baofoodanddrink or tweet us comments at http://www.twitter.com/baofoodanddrink. You can also read our blog for more information on the benefits of fermentation and organic food: http://blog.baofoodanddrink.com. Thanks! :)

  4. Chrisitne says:

    I just wanted to know if I mix the culture in with the juice or do I separate it and use for future batches?

  5. Michelle LeSueur says:

    You separate and use for future batches.

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