This lovely season of summer in the Appalachian mountains feels like it is coming to a close. Those tale-tell signs – days are getting shorter, night air is cooler, the angle of the sun over the mountains is more noticeable. This summer has been a time of reconnecting with my home and family – and food that undoubtedly helped shaped my life’s direction. This year, with my husband, has been focused on restoring and nourishing my father after his diagnosis with pancreatic cancer. When we heard of dad’s illness, we decided to move back to my home in North Carolina to be near him. It has been a journey in love. We have shared lots of days this year – driving in the mountains, woodworking projects in his shop, gardening and canning. Both he and I have been nourished. In a miraculous way, his cancer has gone in to remission and we are watching him grow strong again. Wow.
Traditional foodways were such an important part of my life growing up. This reality is tapping me on the shoulder in a big way right now as I spend this close time with my family. Knowing what I have learned through the years about healthy, whole foods eating, I think many of the traditional recipes and techniques stand the test and fall into the category of healthy eating. I continue to adjust and alter those that do not to weave them into an eating pattern that doesn’t abandon my beloved roots. I find this very satisfying.
I recently decided to wash out these crocks and ferment some cucumbers. We love pickles in our home and naturally fermented “kosher dills” are among the favorite. We also love simple refrigerator pickles of all kinds…zucchini, banana peppers, gardiniere – a mixture of carrots, cauliflower, onions, peppers, (whatever is in the garden, basically). They are so easy to small batch, and don’t test your patience, as they are ready in a few days! But ferments – a term that just means naturally fermented from the wild yeast and bacteria present in your environs – they call upon your will to wait and prove their worthiness at the appropriate time.
I love them. For so many reasons. Tangy, subtle, salty, crunchy, traditional and HEALTHY!
There is so much information that is coming to light in the medical and nutritional journals about the benefits of maintaining a healthy flora in the gut. It seems the body’s immune system is supported in a big way if the intestinal tract is functioning properly. Enjoying fermented foods is very supportive of gastro-intestinal health and health of the body overall.
I recently jarred up the “pickles” and plan to make sauerkraut next. It should be ready in time for Octoberfest.
Did I just say Octoberfest? Wow! Enjoy the harvest, ya’ll!
For more information about the health benefits of lacto-fermentation and probiotics in your diet, you may like to check these resources:
- To read an article by Food and Nutrition, with history and cultural notes, click here.
- For a global and fairly technical article by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, click here.
- For recipes, visit Nourished Kitchen by clicking here.