There’s been a lot of talk recently about how the health of your gut is intricately linked to your wellbeing, both physically and, more surprisingly, mentally. It’s extraordinary to think that the diversity and balance of bacteria in our digestive system can influence how we feel emotionally, but according to recent scientific research, this is absolutely the case.
Yet we’ve known about ‘live’ yogurt with all its beneficial bacteria for decades – so what’s all this new noise about? Forget probiotics – we’re talking psychobiotics! Actually don’t forget anything - it’s pretty much all the same stuff with a new spin. So while science is still catching up on exactly how fermented foods help us out, there’s no reason to not get stuck in. With that in (body and) mind, here are our six tips to getting the good stuff into you:
1. Kimchi for Breakfast
Say what? Say yes. This Korea-originated fermented veg is spicy sour in flavour and is cracking with scrambled eggs. The rich, unctuous, buttery glory of proper free-range eggs meets the perfect foil in the cut-through of kimchi. Just pile a bit alongside – it’s as simple as that. Our kimchi is made from chunky cuts of Chinese cabbage, carrot, daikon, alongside fish sauce and shrimp which gives it a deep umami taste. Or just scoff it straight out of the jar for a fridge door pick-me-up.
2. Sauerkraut in Winter Salads & Soup
It’s time for the sauerkraut resurgence! This wildly underrated dish used to be a staple for surviving winter by preserving finely sliced cabbage, but is now increasingly prized for both its flavour and gut-loving goodness. Rather than using sugary cheap vinegars, ours is crafted using traditional lactic acid fermentation, which cultivates the naturally occurring good bacteria. The only things that’s added is salt and a big dollop of time to allow the flavours to mature and the good stuff grow. It’s best not to heat it if you can, as you’ll reduce the health benefits, so scatter over a salad instead, perhaps with some dried fruit to balance out the flavours, or add to our beautiful Smoked Ham Hock Broth with Sauerkraut recipe at the last minute.
3. Kombucha for ya Gutcha
Switch up your afternoon pick-me-up with a glass of this uplifting, slightly fizzy drink. It is made by fermenting tea with sugar (which is usually all gone by the time it’s ready) using a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts known as a “scoby”. During fermentation the bacteria and yeasts work on the sugars, turning them into acetic acid and ethanol, which contribute to the characteristic tangy notes that kombucha is known for.
4. Upgrade to a Balanced Butter
As with all foods, the way that butter is made can vary enormously, affecting everything from flavour and texture to colour and nose. Most butter is made from standard homogenised cream from multiple farms, that has been heat-treated to prolong its shelf life. Yet this comes at the cost of all character, and indeed probiotic presence.
In contrast our raw butter is hand made in small batches from unheated milk, that has first been matured using lactic bacteria. This creates a remarkable flavour but be warned – this is how butter should taste and it is dangerously moreish! There is a savoury, buttery depth to the taste that is unparalleled, and its natural production methods means more of the good gut bacteria gets to you with every mouthful. Get the bread knife out!
5. Choose Natural Bread
A typical industrial loaf of bread is a gut horror story. The traditional ingredients of natural yeasts and time were shoved aside back in the ‘60s for the super-fast, labour efficient ‘Chorleywood Bread Process’. This creates a remarkably light loaf, but that’s where the good news ends. Enzymes, preservatives, bleaches(!), emulsifiers and soya flour are the stars of the show, much to the detriment of our wellbeing.
In complete contrast to this is the true sourdough loaf. Made using a 14-hour fermentation, Pipers Farm organic sourdough is made from organic wheat and rye flours, water, sea salt and glorious wild yeasts. And that’s it. It is astonishing that two loaves at polar opposites of a natural-artificial spectrum can be called bread yet this is the awareness we all need to be good to our guts.
6. Rethink Vinegar
In basic terms, all vinegars are made by fermenting alcohol to create acetic acid, but in reality there’s vinegar and there’s vinegar. Yet again, industrialisation of our food has created versions of this otherwise wonderful condiment that are far from the real deal. Authentic, artisan vinegars are made using natural ingredients that are allowed to mature over years. Meanwhile a mass-produced commercial equivalent will be pumped through with oxygen over just a few days to rapidly create an acidic liquid that has a tangy hit, but little culinary merit.
So welcome to our proper apple cider vinegar, which starts with vintage Cornish cider that has been aged for three years before bottling. Unfiltered, unpasteurised and preservative-free, this is a living liquid complete with the bacterial “mother” that is natural from apple tree to bottle. Have a shot before breakfast a la Victoria Beckham, or use for your own natural ferments, marinades or dressings. Your gut will thank you.