Cultured Foods for Beginners & Why I'm Hooked!

Unless you live on Gilligan's Island, you cannot miss the "new" arrival on the health and foodie scene of cultured food products!
I know this, because I live in a Midwestern, rural area that usually takes awhile to start marketing and selling the latest trends in food and health products. So when I started seeing Kefir, and Kombucha, and cultured Kraut for sale in the bigger cities, I knew something exciting was coming to our plates!

I kept seeing cultured products show up up in mom and pop health food stores. Then, I began hearing about them on radio podcasts related to health, cooking, and nutrition. Finally, I heard an interview with Donna Schwenk, the guru behind Cultured Food Lifeand the rest, as they say, is history. After going to her website, and seeing she would be doing a Trilogy food class just a few hours from where I live, I signed up and invited my in-state female relatives. As it was Easter weekend, I only had one taker, my niece Leslie who is also a blogger here on Camp Makery. We had a fun, delicious, and indulgent day, and boy, did we learn a lot. The class was located at an Italian B&B amidst the rolling hills of Eastern Kansas, surrounded by local wineries.  The class was carried out in the commercial-type kitchen downstairs, and the family-style kitchen and living room upstairs.  We had a delicious lunch that included cultured foods and whole, clean, beautifully prepared dishes dining alfresco on the back veranda, overlooking the pond, fig orchard, herb gardens, and grapevines. (Thank You Casa Somerset!)

Want more recipes like this? Check out our other "Cultured Foods 101" posts:

Check out our beautiful cultures cabbage, apples and oranges we made at the workshop! 4 weeks and I'll be digging in!!!

Here is a sampling of what we learned:
What is a cultured food/drink?  
Cultured essentially means fermented. Food science geeks, read here.
Why is it so good for us?
Culturing or fermenting foods breaks down a complicated food substance into easy-to-digest parts, loaded with enzymes, vitamins, minerals and probiotics that our bodies crave for health and healing. Living in a culture where we are all constantly taking antibiotics that wipe out both good and bad bacteria, it's especially important to be reloading up on these good probiotics. For real life stories on how cultured foods heal our bodies, click over here!
How do I get started?
There is a few delicous choices to choose to start exploring:
I would recommend picking one thing that is most interesting and, hopefully, exciting to you. I started with cultured veggies! Basically you chop up a bunch of veggies, put them in a jar with a probiotic culture starter, let them chill for about 4 weeks, and then enjoy! Get the details on how to make 3 different kinds of cultured veggies here.
Here is a summertime fave for Pico Salsa that I am sneaking into my family's munching times at the lake, cabin, and holiday gatherings. (You can make it sans peaches if you prefer.) Below is my very own Komboucha in the photo on the left, and on the right are some Layered Broccoli Salad and Peach Salsa I have fermenting:
We will do more posts on some of our favorite seasonal cultured recipes, and the tips and hints we have learned, along with our flops and experiments!  It's all good healthy fun, so just dive in and be patient with yourself!  Start collecting your beautiful jars and bottles to hold your amazing and delicious creations. Your health, and your family's health, is well worth it!
Learn to make delicious homemade Komboucha here!
Top image source here, next image source here.
Want more posts like this? Check out our "101" post series we've started for newbies: "Cultured Veggies 101: Pickles" and "Classic Kefir 101: Milk & Coconut Water Kefir for Beginners"! Share how your's came out on our Facebook Page!