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52: Jill Ciciarelli | All Things Fermented (Fermentation 101)

AIR DATE: October 31, 2013 at 7PM ET
FEATURED EXPERT: Jill Ciciarelli
FEATURED TOPIC: “All Things Fermented (Fermentation 101)”

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With the increased interest and popularity of the Paleo lifestyle in recent years, so many people with chronic health and weight issues are discovering the power of an ancestral nutrition and fitness program. But many of these Paleo newbies are neglecting a key aspect of Paleo that is critical in light of all the emerging science we are seeing on having a robust and healthy gut microbiota. This is something holistic health coach Jill Ciciarelli from “First Comes Health” has noticed as well and is seeking to educate others about the vital importance of fermenting food for health. Our modern-day culture makes the idea of fermented foods seem strange (ever tried to ferment a Dorito or Twinkie?), but this is something that has been done by traditional cultures around the world for centuries to add more flavor and abundant nutrition to the foods being consumed. Jill’s August 2013 book release Fermented: A Four Season Approach to Paleo Probiotic Foods shares all the basics of fermenting, finding foods locally in your area to ferment, and to begin perhaps for the first time in your life to add in this aspect of the Paleo lifestyle that has been missing. That’s what we took on in Episode 52 of “Ask The Low-Carb Experts” with the timely and very relevant topic of “All Things Fermented (Fermentation 101).”

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Here are some of the questions we address in this episode:

BOB ASKS: Is there any way to improve the Vitamin K2 content of fermented vegetables? I know natto has the highest amount of Vitamin K2, but I would like to maximize it in the veggies that I personally ferment, such as cabbage, peppers and more. Do I need to use a specific starter culture to make this happen or is there some other way to do it naturally?

JANE ASKS: Is there a sure-fire way of getting my cucumber pickles, when fermented, to remain crisp? I’m a moderately experienced fermenter and have tried making pickles three times. Unfortunately, they come out so soft I just had to throw them away. Adding grape leaves to the batch hasn’t helped a bit. What am I doing wrong?

FREDA ASKS: Can you address the controversy over bacteria from open fermentation using ball jars vs. PickleIt Jars that are completely anaerobic. The PickleIt Jar supporters suggest that the bacteria created in open fermentation creates bacteria that is not good for the gut and can actually be detrimental. What say you?

LENI ASKS: How is the probiotic content of sauerkraut (and other fermented foods) affected by heating? What is the temperature range that supports the survival of probiotics?

DEB ASKS: It it possible to make a “milk kombucha” as opposed to milk kefir? Is there enough sugar in milk to feed a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Beast)? If so, then does the milk need to be pasteurized to avoid bugs battling bugs? I’ve heard you’re not supposed to use raw honey for the same reason.

ANNE FROM AUSTRALIA ASKS: I was wondering if you can tell me about the Vitamin K2 content of fermented foods, especially kefir?

JOANNA ASKS: I’m wondering about the amount of Vitamin K2 in non-dairy fermented foods. Grass-fed cheese has been my go-to source for K2, but I’ve realized that I really have to limit dairy in order to lose weight and I suspect that dairy is an inflammatory food for me. Do non-dairy fermented foods provide a rich enough source of K2 so that I won’t have to supplement? And what quantity of fermented foods per day do you think would be necessary?

TAMMY ASKS: Is it possible to safely ferment using only a mason jar? And what about using a layer of olive oil to seal it? I tried to do a quick ferment of pickles over a week recently and apart from being too salty, the olive oil layer turned green and really weird-looking after refrigeration. It makes me nervous to try using that method again.

LOUISE FROM NEW ZEALAND: The Inuit eat fermented fish. How do you ferment fish and is there a way to do it safely? What does fermented fish taste like?

HARRY ASKS: I know salami is fermented and I enjoy this aspect of it. But is commercially-made salami beneficial or are you best to make your own?

MECHELLE ASKS: A group of us get together regularly to make some fermented foods. Most recently, we juiced pears and made hard pear cider using the apple cider recipe from Jill’s beautiful book. We invited our entire neighborhood over to drink it, and it was such a yummy hit! Thanks Jill! I’m curious, do you know of any research looking at the blood sugar impact of fermented foods? And are fermented beverages more likely to raise blood sugar than fermented foods?

JULIA ASKS: Do you have any favorite brands of fermented foods, especially kombucha, that you recommend? Or is pretty much anything in the refrigerated section of a health food store probably a good bet? Are any of the non-refrigerated fermented foods on store shelves any good?

SAM ASKS: I love the taste of kombucha, and my neighbor has SCOBY for me to start making my own. To be honest, I still feel confused about kombucha because of noted integrated health and wellness expert Dr. Andrew Weil’s stance. Here’s what he has to say about it:

“I am…concerned about the possibility of contamination in home-brewed kombucha. Some batches contain aspergillus, a toxin-producing fungus. This would be a significant risk for individuals with compromised immune systems, such as those with AIDS or in chemotherapy for cancer.”

He also notes that he knows of “no health benefits to be gained by drinking kombucha tea.” This is the same man who makes his own sauerkraut and regularly talks about the health benefits and delicious taste of fermented foods! What are your comments about Dr. Weil’s concerns?

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