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Fermentation fiesta

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Sponsored by the Santa Cruz westside New Leaf Market, this series of three lecture-demos will enlighten (and lighten!) you to the benefits of fermented foods and beverages. These are a staple of many diets around the globe, where it's long been known that fermentation releases the enzymatic, probiotic nutrients in certain fruits and vegetables, making them more bio-available to your digestive tract.

For many people, decades of consuming processed, refined, foods cause inflammation and other forms of digestive distress: fermented foods and beverages just may be the answer to your ailing gut.

We begin the first of the three sessions by learning how to make beet kvass and kefir, both also available in bottled form as part of Kelly's Creative Cultures products (available throughout the Bay area...for more information go to creativeculturesfood.com). Yes, there's a lot of storing liquids in Mason jars to “ripen,” then straining, remixing, etc. and so on but the end product is amazingly delicious and—surprise!—not sour.

Beet kvass is especially recommended for its high concentrations of minerals and B vitamins as well as their betalain antioxidants which are thought to protect plants from fungi and humans from free radicals and oxidative stress. Betalains also increase production of glutathione, essential for cell detoxification. In short, this is a power punch!

Kvass and other serum-type probiotics such as kefir, sauerkraut, and yogurt are considered more beneficial than powdered supplements because of the compounds secreted by the actively growing microbes, such as bacteriocins, are found in higher levels in a liquid probotic than in a pill.

In addition, the actively growing probiotics are more likely to survive stomach acid than the freeze-dried organisms in even the high bacillus count pills. The enzymatic activation is stronger in whole foods.

If you like the idea of fermented foods but are unwilling to spend the time and counter space to produce them, Creative Culture's three bottled probiotic drinks are worth a try. Unlike other bottled products, beet kvass does not need to be pasteurized (and thus lose its enzymatic moxie) because of it high concentration of lactic acid.

The next sessions will show how to transform traditional foods like chutney and pesto into their more potent probiotic avatars. Finally, on March 1, Dearie will demonstrate the many virtues of sauerkraut.

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