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Pickled and Lacto-Fermented Live-Food Vegetables and Vegetable Products
Miso paste is a great fermented product (soybean and other ingredients). Studies show someone who consumes a cup of miso broth (or a teaspoon or tablespoon of miso paste a day) has 40% less chance of cancer. Miso is a live-food, fermented product. It does not need to be refrigerated, but is usually recommended after opening (especially in warm weather). I had a 5-lb. tub in the fridge that I was using for over 10 years and it never went bad. Any miso sold in a sealed bag is most likely dead in active cultures; live fermented foods continue to ferment and give off gas and a sealed bag would explode if it had live culture, so I imagine such are pasturized ("dead"). Unopened jars (like South River Miso's jars that are not sealed, but are only finger tightened, like making your own fermented vegetables, to allow gas to escape but the outside air not to re-enter) do not really need to be refrigerated (though most manufacturers will recommend it as a "disclaimer") if they have never been opened, but storing in a cool, dry, dark place, like a basement is ideal (I found when the basement temperature got to 65F or above, even the unopened jars started to form some sort of mold on the top; but just like cheese, that can just be scraped off; the rest of the jar is fine). The very best source I have found for Miso, is a company that produces an incredible product: Southriver Miso:
Their 3-year barley, adzuki bean, brown rice, and their chickpea, are the best (in my opinion); and the darker, the more flavor and more nutrient. However, though light, their chickpea has an incredibly rich, even corn-like flavor.
Miso can be used in soups and stews (however, added after cooking is done so live cultures are not killed; it is best added directly to eat bowl, and mixing well to dissolve, and then eating). It is also great to add to dressings and dips.
Two other fermented soy products are Tempeh and Tofu. Most people are probably familiar with Tofu (and most probably don't like it), but are probably less familar with Tempeh. More on these 2 products will be added later.
Interesting Soybean Facts
Added by Modern Publisher
Most people do not know that Henry Ford’s greatest obcession was not the automobile, but the lowly soybean. No meal was ever served in the Ford home, in which Soybeans were not present in one form or another. At the 1934 Century of Progress Fair in Chicago, his company served a 16-course meal made entirely of soybeans: green soybeans, puree, coffee, croquettes, cookies, milk, etc. Ford once showed up at a convention wearing a suit and tie made of soybean flax. Ford often dreamed of making quality cars and beautiful furniture—entirely from soybeans. Ford had his motor company build three processing plants which extracted oil from the soybeans, which were then used to make paints and plastics for his automobiles. Ford was so obcessed with the soybean, at his zenith, his company was growing more than fifty varieties of soybeans on over 8,000 acres. As if that was not sufficient, Ford bought an additional 500,000 bushels from Michigan farmers each year. Ford was not only interested in the possiblities of the soybean, but he experimented with other plants too: cornstalks, cantaloupe seeds, and milkweed.
[Information drawn from Significa (1983) Irving Wallace, David Wallechinsky and Amy Wallace; pp.204-205.]
Dangers of Soy
However, more recent research has revealed that soy contains estrogen-like, hormone-like substances that are not good for anyone in large quantity, especially women and children (and especially children who have not reached the age of puberty). It should be noted, however, that the fermentation process of Miso and Tempeh and Natto (as well as Fermented Black Beans, which are actually Black Soybeans) renders harmless the estrogen-like, hormone-like substances in soybeans; but, the fermentation process of Tofu does not render these hormone like substances harmless. Because of these substances soybeans, soymilk, soymeats, and other soy products, as well as Tofu should be eaten in limited quantities, and not consumed at all by younger children.
Note: nonGMO soybeans are healthy, but in normal amounts (a small serving per meal), and very small amounts for children and none at all for young children until after puberty. Soybeans have estrogen-like hormones. Soybeans are stuffed into the American consumer in huge quantities—and in many products even without his awareness: hydrolized vegetable protein, soymilk, soy yogurt, soy ice cream, soy hotdogs and hamburgers (sometimes mixed with some real meat but sold as "beef," "chicken," "pork," or any combination; but only listed in the fine print of the ingredients, not in the name-catching label), of course outright soydogs and soyburgers, as well as vegetarian dogs and burgers, soybean oil is in so many products and many salad dressings and other products), soy nuts,TVP (texurized vegetable protein), tofu, tofutti (ice-cream-like product), tofurky, etc.
Soybeans, according to some studies can make boys predisposed to being effeminate / homosexual with their hormones being screwed up in their formative years. Too many soybeans are not good for adults either, which can screw up the delicate hormone balance (and even lead to cancer or other problems, in men or women).
See the article By Jim Rutz © 2010; the original title was: "Soy is Making Kids ‘Gay’ " — then after a huge backlash in response he re-titled it: "The Trouble with Soy."
Here is the link to this very important article:
Soy has also become an important crop for the production of biodiesel oil / fuel. Soybeans are also the major source now for Lecithen (a very important health supplement for the brain and all cells, which is also a common food additive since it is a good emulsifier, originally extracted from eggs). However, the soybean crop has been greatly contaminated by Genetically Engineered soybeans (as has the potato, corn, beet, and alfalfa crops). The soybeans Worth talks about in his book are the natural, non-GMO, non-hybrid, open-pollinated soybeans. Caution should be used purchasing soybeans or soybean food products to be certain they are GMO-free.
Fermented Black Beans
Fermented Black Beans are actually fermented, salted black soy beans (unattractively called "Douchi" in Chinese). They are used as and have similar health benefits (to a lesser extent) as Miso. They are fermented and then dried and have a shelf-life of probably forever (if kept in a clean air-tight container).
[—but as with anything, it is best to store in several smaller containers to preserve freshness and keep out excessive moisture / air / airborn contaminants. If you store any product in a 40-ounce jar, by the time the jar is half empty of product, it is now half full of air, moisture, bateria or mold spores, etc., that are in the air. Unless it is a product that you use up quickly, say, in a few weeks, then the smaller the jar the better. If you have a vacuum sealer, and can seal a large jar (like 1/2 gallon mason jar); you can then refill the smaller jar as needed, and re-vacuum seal the large jar for long term storage. However, fermented black beans, like miso, contain a high salt content; however, unlike miso, they are dried. Therefore, their shelf-life is much longer.]
Since they have a high-salt content, the soup or stew or sauce you are making with them does not need any salt or soy or tamari. Soy sauce is actually fermented soy beans (however, the majority on the market today is not fermented and contains no life probiotics—unless so stated on the label—but is processed by a different method and is probably also pasturized). Tamari sauce is actually the excess liquid pressed from Miso (however, again, most Tamari is pasturized and dead; no live cultures; real Tamari is expensive because there is relatively little excess moisture from Miso production, so the amount harvested is very small).
[South River Miso (see link under "Miso" above) has a real, live culture Tamari sauce.
Concerning store-bought tamari and soy sauces, if it is in a thoroughly sealed, unrefrigerated container (bottle, can, bag), most probably it is 100% dead; i.e. no live culture: for the live culture (like vinting wine or brewing beer or fermenting sauerkraut) gives off CO2 and therefore, the bags or cans or bottles would most likely explode if they had live culture.]
Fermented Black Beans are, like Miso (or live tamari or live soy sauce) added at the very end of the cooking process, so as to not destroy the probiotics, live cultures. Black beans (only a small amount is needed per serving; maybe only a dozen or two or enough to fit in your fist completely closed without exposing or crushing them) are soaked for maybe 5 or 10 minutes (in water, wine, or even vinegar, depending on what you are making and how you like it). Once the soup or sauce or gravy is done cooking, the fermented black beans are then added (with the heat reduced or turned off entirely) for about 2 minutes. If you do not mince or mash or puree, the beans will give quite a powerful flavor to an individual bite. Some people discard the water they were soaking in (if they don't want the food to be too salty; but if you don't add salt or soy, then the saltiness is usually just enough for the food). It would probably be best for most people to blend up the beans and the liquid and then add. Also, like Miso, if you are cooking a large pot of something, it is best to add the blended black beans, to each individual taste, to each bowl, rather than the entire pot. Since a large pot of food will probably not be eaten all at once, and will need to be refrigerated and reheated (destroying many probiotics) adding to each bowl is best. Also, if you use fermented black beans on a regular basis, you could also soak and blend up a larger quantity, and store in the refrigerator in a jar, for ready use.
Like Miso, fermented black beans, have by the fermentation process, neutralized the unhealthy properties of soybeans, such as the estrogen-like hormone-like substances.
Fermented black beans are not really too appealing to look like; they look like dried rotted beans that somehow went terribly wrong. If you like the taste of Miso and fermented black beans, you can even snack on one or two, or eat a teaspoon or tablespoon by itself, as salty and powerful as it is. Another product similar to fermented black beans is fermented black garlic. It too looks like something that went wrong; but fermented black garlic has a more subtle garlic flavor, some of the more pungent properties (less garlic odor) having been neutralized, while it also contains twice the amount of antioxidants as regular raw garlic. It usually comes completely fermented by the whole bulb of cloves, and peels very easily, and likewise, is minced or mashed and added when the cooking is complete. It does not have to be refrigerated either; and is also available in a powder; though both are a bit pricey. The powder is usually around $65/lb. (contact me for better pricing) and the whole unpeeled bulb usually around $36/lb., (contact me for better pricing). Fermented Black Beans are usually around $8/lb.
Olives (Black/ripe, green/unripe, Kalamata/Greek, Sicilian, etc.) are a great snack, addition to most any meal, and an important food. Although they do not contain any great amount of nutrients (protein, vitamins, etc.) they are rich in oils and are an important part of the diet (as is olive oil itself, which should be the primary oil used in the diet, whether raw or cooked)—and have been in much of the world for millennia. Green olives are often too salty for me. When I open a new jar, I pour 1/3 - 1/2 of the brine out and replace it with water. In a few days the olives are perfect. Also, green olive brine makes an excellent addition to salad dressings and pickling brines; so it does not have to go to waste. However, black olive brine should not be consumed because black olives contain a toxic chemical, calcium oxalate (much of which leaches into the brine), about the same amount as sweet potatoes or whole wheat bread contain. Calcium oxalate is also found in rhubarb leaves (which should not be eaten nor fed to livestock). Okra and chocolate contain about 2.5 - 3x the amount of calcium oxalate that black olives have. Calcium oxalate stones account for 90% of kidney stones. Cranberry, lemon, and black cherry juice help dissolve kidney stones. Sicilian and Greek olives (of which there are numerous varieties) are even more bitter than regular green Spanish olives and contain many other nutrients. Larger grocery stores in larger cities often have a good selection.
Capers (unopened flower buds) and the much-larger caperberries (fully formed fruit) of the caperbush are also very tasty condiments and they also aid digestion. Great prices can be found for these on Amazon (Roland or other brands) often with free shipping, subsribe and save (and extra discounts when Roland is having a special sale several times a year); often at prices a fraction of what you would pay in the grocery store. Capers have a much more subtle flavor and are more tender. The caperberries have a much stronger flavor (since they are about the size of a grape, not small pea, and thus have a lot more brine, whether salt or vinegar)... also the caperberries, depending upon how ripe or over-ripe they are, vary in texture; the over-ripe ones, the seeds are gritty and crunchy, not really as nice... I like both, but I think the capers are more of a refined taste, though a lot smaller; they are more tender and are an excellent accompaniment to hard boiled egg halves and a dolop of mayo, and a sprinkle of salt, cayenne, and black pepper.
Pickled and other Fresh Lacto-Fermented Vegetables
Sauerkraut, fermented pickles, and other lacto-fermented vegetables can be easily prepared (in crocks or mason jars), stored in a cellar and will be ready within a few days to a few weeks (though around 6 weeks is best for the nutrient value and flavor).
I can upload simple instructions if there is any interest. Email me and I will upload the instructions and a few recipes of my own. You can use practically any vegetable... no cooking or canning involved... if you do it in the mason jars and keep in the basement or a fridge they will last for years.
I have found that plastic mason jar lids work best; they are expensive, but the salt terrible corrodes the metal rings (since you only finger tighten the lids, excess CO2 and brine will squeeze out (so you need a plastic bowl underneath, disposable takeout or rice bowls or frozen dinner trays work great)... thus, they seal themselves; the finger tightening allows gas to escape, but no air can get back in... they will last years like this, and only improve in flavor; though the longer they age the less crunchy the veggies will be; but the flavor is out of this world and the flora is excellent for you. So I have found that the plastic lids work best, but I put the regular metal mason jar cap inside the plastic lid because the plastic lids don't have the rubber gasket / seal, which is essential.
All you need are mason jars, a little sea salt, your veggies, and liquid whey. Liquid whey contains the active cultures. To get the whey, you buy a container of plain unflavored, unsweetened yogurt with live culture (or make your own). Put all or half the yogurt in a fine mesh strainer or metal coffee filter and place that inside another countainer (I have found the yogurt container itself works well... then rubber band a piece of celophane over the top and put in the fridge for 12 hours; the liquid that drips is whey (you will have some useable in a short time, but will take half a day for most all of it to drain). Pour the whey into a glass jar, label it and keep in fridge. It will last about 6 months unused. The solids are called farmer's cheese and can be used like cream cheese, though not as creamy. You can add any jelly/jam to it or raisins, cinnamon, brown sugar or honey powder for a sweet spread; or add spices, like garlic/onion powder, dill, thyme, rosemary, black pepper, sea salt, for a savory spread. However, because it has a high moisture content, you should eat it within 5 days or so (though you can freeze it). You add about a Tablespoon or two of the liquid whey to each mason jar of veggies, with about a half teaspoon of sea salt. You can do it without the salt, and just whey, but the salt helps keep bad bacteria from growing until the whey begins to colonize. You can also do it without the whey, and just use sea salt; but you need a little more salt. The salt again keeps bad bacteria from growing until the good bacteria/culture present in all veggies begins to colonize. Veggies lacto-fermented with whey will not stay crisp as long, but will be much more flavorful. You can make several mason jars in a matter of minutes. The tighter you can pack the veggies the better... a clean 1 inch wooden oak dowel about a foot long is ideal to help pack, and wide mouth jars work best unless you really shred the veggies fine. Again, I can post more detailed instructions and some suggestions / recipes if there is any interest and anyone emails requesting me to post this info.
(You can use a fermenting crock, but they are expensive, plus if one crock goes bad you lose the entire batch; and opening the crock each time you use some is opportunity for bacteria to get in; mason jars are perfect as you can open each jar as desired. Plus, if you use a crock, you need to cut up a whole batch of veggies; whereas, you can practically fill a mason jar with a handful of fresh veggies that are left overs.)
See the book, Nourishing Traditions, in book list linked below.
[One story therefrom: during the days of exploration on sail ships, Captain Cook took sauerkraut—60 barrels—on board, which helped keep the crews healthy, since the fermented sauerkraut preserved its vitamin C content. In meeting with some Portuguese nobles who came on board, they English broke open a barrel of sauerkraut after 27 months for the Portuguese to try. Despite its age and the constant changes in humidity, temperature, and the rocking of the ship—it was fresh as the day it came of age. The Portuguese loved it and traded for several barrels of it. See also the books (below): Preserving Food... and Wild Fermentation....]
Such fermented vegetables contain a wealth of healthy flora similar to that found in yogurt, as well as many vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Of course, heating sauerkraut or any lacto-fermented vegetable before you eat it destroys most of the nutrients, so eating it cold and raw is best. Before refridgeration, people used to consume large amounts of these foods, and many people in parts of Europe still do and are healthier for it. I was born in the northeastern U.S., in a suburb in northwest Philadelphia. I remember large fermented pickle barrels in grocery stores, deli shops, and convenient stores with the best pickles.
See the many good books in the book section on lacto-fermentation and fermenting your own produce which does not need to be canned or refrigerated or frozen and last for years... full of healthy flora:
Check out my foundational work, a very important book (though it is not health related, I mention it here for those who might not view the other pages at this site):
Uncovering the Mysteries of Your Hidden Inheritance