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So, I’ve said before that as much as I love the paleo/primal way of life, it’s not been an easy ride for me, especially in the weight loss arena.  I’ve been slowly making changes to attempt to fill in the blanks.  One huge piece that may have been missing from my life is probiotic food.  Adding probiotic foods to your life has to be done slowly – to much too fast can cause bloating and other discomfort as the bad bacteria dies off and is replaced by good bacteria.

I was inspired to try making my own fermented foods/beverages from two different sources.  The first one is from Crunchy Betty on Water Kefir. After reading her post, I was convinced I needed this in my life.  Of course, I went right to the internet and bought some kefir grains.  I decided to go through Amazon and ordered from Keysands.  The grains arrived pretty quickly, and were well packaged.  I didn’t take a picture of them before I opened the pack, but this is what they look like now:

They're resting right now!

First off, I’m going to be honest.  They SMELL.  Sort of like bad (or is that good?) cheese. I was very, very wary of how this experiment was going to go as a result.  In fact, I was quite scared to try the finished product!  However, my worry was in vain because I think it’s delicious!  Here are the two batches I have right now:

Two batches

The one in the tall bottle is my first batch.  I used white sugar because my coconut crystals (a tasty natural sugar) hadn’t arrived yet.  Once the first fermentation was complete, I decanted it from the quart sized jar into the bottle, adding the juice of one lemon and some diced ginger (which you can see sitting in the bottle).  I left it on the counter for 2 more days for a second ferment before putting it in the fridge.  I think it could have stayed on the counter longer, but Keysands’ advice said that the first batch might not be perfect due to the stress on the grains from traveling…they are living organisms after all!  The result is a VERY refreshing beverage!  It tastes a bit like ginger ale, without all that HFCS, and it’s very slightly effervescent, which is something that should improve as the grains get stronger.  I’m limiting myself to a child-sized glass of it, about 8 oz, to ease my system into the good bacteria.

Start off slowly

The second batch is using the coconut sugar, hence the dark color of the beverage.  I think the kefir grains LOVED this stuff because they’re noticeably more plump than they were when I first started.  High mineral sugars like rapadura and sunacat work really well with water kefir, according to the internet.  The first ferment of this one looked very active and bubbly!  The second ferment, as you see it in the photo, includes chunks of asian pear.  I’m quite excited to see how this one turns out.  I may even add some vanilla to it once I decant it into the large bottle. There’s lots of fizzing going on in there, which is very exciting!

The second article to inspire me is from Delicious Obsessions on lacto-fermented garlic.  I am super excited about this one!  I love pickled garlic, and this should be quite similar as the fermentation will make it vinegary.  I deviated from the recipe a little since I didn’t have any whey on hand, and the comments said you can double the salt for the same effect.  Additionally, I read (somewhere) that doubling the salt keeps the vegetables more crunchy.  Here is my current batch:

Yummy, yummy garlic!

My garlic likes to float. I have no idea what causes this.  This is 5 full heads of garlic!  There is a link in the comments of the blog post to peel garlic quickly. It didn’t take me very long at all.  This is four days into the fermentation process, and it’s supposed to go at least ten days before moving to cold storage.  Since my garlic is floating, I wiggle the jar a couple times a day to make sure they all get under the water.  I might invest in some glass weights since other veggies can produce mold if they stay above water.  So far so good with the garlic but it’s got some pretty kickass bacteria fighting skills when it’s raw, so that may be why.  I will post an update when these are done!  I would also quite like to try fermenting some carrots and ginger – that sounds like a tasty side salad!

I’m very excited about this. The articles talking about the improved digestion and overall gut health just sounded *right* to me.  I have been damaging my gut for years with grains and processed foods, so it’s time to take control and fix some of that damage!