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 Cultured Foods 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Chef Teton's Essential Cuisine - 'Making Every Bite Count' by . View all columns in series

Cultured Foods Are Easy to Prepare
Some of the same species of bacteria used to ferment foods now are the same ones used hundreds of years ago. That's because the eco-system hasn't changed all that much, bacteriologically speaking. Food still ferments naturally at room temperature, and depending on the cultured food you're making, you can choose to add starter organisms or use the environment's natural flora.

The cultivation of cabbage goes back millennia as does the creation of sauerkraut recipes. The Chinese and Mongolians used the food as a nourishing food. The Celts are said to have introduced cabbage to the British Isles as early as the 4th century B.C.

Sauerkraut recipes start with raw green and/or red cabbage and salt is added to create a brine necessary for the natural fermentation process. You'll need no starter bacteria, although there are starter grains available for making sauerkraut, Kim Chee and other fermented vegetables.

The sauerkraut that you make in your kitchen will be a far better product than that found in most grocery stores. Commercial brands have often been heated or pasteurized, killing the food's innate natural flora.

Kim chee (also spelled kimchi, gimchi, or kimche)
This is a traditional Korean dish made of seasoned vegetables that are fermented and eaten with rice or in stew. References to Kim Chee recipes date back 3000 years ago. In the 1800s, Napa cabbage was used instead of a traditional head of cabbage, and chili peppers were added to spice up the recipe. This recipe became quite popular.

Kim Chee can also be made from radishes, cucumber, turnips, and are seasoned with ginger, onions, garlic, fish, oysters, and shellfish. Kim Chee is rich in vitamin C when cabbage is the primary ingredient, and naturally high in vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium and iron.

Miso is a traditional Japanese dish produced by fermenting soybeans with a starter culture known as Koji, Other grains such as barley, wheat, buckwheat, corn, millet, amaranth, and quinoa, and even hemp and chickpeas, are used. Koji starter culture is from the mold, Aspergillus. Thus, those with mold sensitivities should not eat this food.

To prepare Miso, the grain and Koji is mixed with water and salt, usually in a barrel, and allowed to age for up to a few years. The longer the aging process, the better the flavor.

Although this cultured food doesn't necessarily taste slightly acidic, it captivates the taste buds associated with savory tastes.

A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (June 18, 2003) showed that women who consumed three or more bowls of miso soup daily reduced their risk of getting breast cancer by about 40 percent compared with those who had only one bowl.

Yogurt has become a staple in the diet for many Americans as well as those in other cultures. Loaded with Lactobacillus species of bacteria, many have used yogurt to help restore friendly bacteria in the gut after antibiotic use.

Kefir (please see article on Kefir)

Kefir milk is another great fermented beverage made from cows milk. The protein in Kefir is easier to digest than non-fermented milk. The tasty beverage is an excellent choice for those with digestive disorders, the elderly, invalids and babies. Kefir milk, when made from mammal's milk, is rich in the amino acid, tryptophan, which is helpful for its relaxing benefits on the nervous system. It also contains calcium and magnesium, is a good source of phosphorus, vitamin B12, B1, vitamin K, and biotin. By providing many nutrients in substantial amounts, kefir milk can also help eliminate cravings for unhealthy foods.

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 About The Author
Susan Teton Campbell, a food professional with over twenty years experience co-authored the Healthy School Lunch Action Guide winning endorsements from USDA, California State Child and Nutrition Department and......moreSusan Campbell
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