Getting Funky with Fermented Foods
A couple of weekends ago I had the pleasure of attending a fermented food workshop run by the Yummy Mummy herself Julia Volpe. Now I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t too sure how much I would enjoy the workshop because I’m literally the no.1 sceptic when it comes to, well anything really. Did Kim Kardashian really get robbed or was it all staged? Did man really walk on the moon back in 1969? Did my ex really cheat on me just that one time? Are fermented foods really as good for your health as everyone says they are? Admittedly I was curious so I went along to the workshop with an open mind to see what all the fuss was about. In a Facebook message the day before Julia advised me to bring an apron, knife, chopping board, sense of humour and a healthy appetite (I always have that with me). Pulling up out the front of Julia’s home in Palm Cove I met two other attendees Simone and Natalie who were unloading aprons and chopping boards from their own car.
Julia (or Jules as I have now come to know her) welcomed us onto her gorgeous veranda overlooking bushland. We did introductions between the four of us and did the obligatory toilet stop before getting started on the wonderful world of fermented foods. Jules asked us if there were any health reasons that we were attending for and if we wanted to discuss them further. One of the ladies told us that she’d had some gastro issues over the last couple of months and was keen to look at a more natural method to treat the problems she was having. The other lady, like me, was more curious than anything else.
We took our up a seat each at the bench set up on the veranda and Jules gave out some handouts all about fermented foods including some recipes we would later enjoy at lunch. We then delved deep into the in’s and out’s of Milk Kefir – something I’d heard of but didn’t really know anything about. In a nut shell Milk Kefir is a fermented milk drink that is made using a starter called ‘grains’. The grains aren’t an actual grain but more bacteria that kind of looks like cottage cheese.
Milk Kefir contains high levels of vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K2, biotin, folate, enzymes and probiotics and the potential benefits of this potent probiotic are widely praised. Jules showed us how to prepare our Milk Kefir using the ‘grains’ and gave us a shot of the tart tasting probiotic so we could see what all the fuss was about. I thought it was going to taste far worse than it did and found it quite similar in taste to natural yogurt. At the end of the workshop we got to take some grains home so we could make our own milk kefir – something I have been doing every day since the workshop.
Before we got our hands dirty making sauerkraut Jules gave us all a taste of a few different types that she had made herself including a paw paw one and a beetroot one (definitely the favourite of the table). Unbeknownst to me the sauerkraut you buy at Coles in the European section had nearly none of the health benefits that sauerkraut is touted for having due to the way it’s made. It sure does taste good on homemade hotdogs though.
After our taste testing we were able to select vegetables for our own sauerkraut from an array of veggies that Jules had put together for us. I jumped on the bandwagon and chose beetroot, carrot, ginger, garlic and cabbage – same as everyone else.
After a whole lot of chopping, grating, mixing and lots of laughing I was delighted to produce by own jar of sauerkraut to take home with me. A process that turned out to be far easier than I expected!
Once we were all tidied up (boards and knives away) and jars of sauerkraut were compared and admired we sat down to lunch. After so much talking and mixing I have to admit I was famished and lucky for us Jules had prepared a gorgeous probiotic feast that demonstrated the use of milk kefir and sauerkraut.
For me it was a toss-up between the Beetroot Hummus and Fermented Flat Bread as to which was my favourite but the whole meal was excellent and it was nice to sit around the table and have a debrief of our morning activities. Funnily enough Simone had had similar thoughts to me before taking part in the workshop. She admitted that she had originally planned to give her milk kefir and sauerkraut to Simone after the class was over because she didn’t think she would use it. Having since changed her mind she already had plans to stop at the shops on the way home to pick up the utensils she needed to make her milk kefir. Sounds to me like Simone was well and truly on the fermented food bandwagon!
Since that fateful workshop a couple of weeks ago I too have have jumped on the fermented food bandwagon and have been making and drinking my own milk kefir on the daily. I also made a jar up for my mum and dad with strict instructions on how to look after it and they’ve been drinking it too. My sauerkraut is stored away in a cool, dark place where it will ferment for a couple of weeks until it too is ready for me to eat. I can’t recommend this workshop enough. I’m even sending my mum on the next one because I know she will love it just as much as I did. I learnt so much about fermented foods and not only that but I had a really great time. So yes I too am a Belieber – oops I mean believer.
If you want to check out the Fermented Foods Workshop for yourself log onto the Yummy Mummy Recipes page on Facebook to find when the next workshop is being held or give Jules a call on 0400 455 540.