The Benefits of Super Raw Food (plus Super Raw Salsa recipe)Fermented Foods, Healthy Living, Recipes
At the Wise Traditions Conference this past weekend in Atlanta, many attendees enjoying the delicious traditionally based meals were introduced to the wonders of super raw food, aka lacto-fermented fruits and vegetables for the very first time.
Prior to the Industrial Revolution, home food preservation was accomplished without the aid of canning, refrigeration or freezing with lacto-fermentation the common technique employed to store raw foods for consumption during times of scarcity or the winter months.
Even milk was not typically consumed in a fresh state and was usually eaten as yogurt and cheese or clabbered and then separated into curds and whey.
The process of lacto-fermentation involves harnessing beneficial lactic acid-producing bacteria naturally present everywhere in our environment (yes, it’s crawling all over your skin right now!) to initiate the digestion or breaking down of milk sugar, known as lactose, and milk proteins like casein.
When enough lactic acid is produced by these friendly bacteria and fermentation is complete, milk is protected from spoilage for several days, weeks or even years as is the case with aged cheeses.
Meat can be preserved by lacto-fermentation as well. Hard, aged sausages, such as traditionally prepared salami, are lacto-fermented foods.
The process of lacto-fermentation works in a similar manner with plant foods, transforming cabbage into sauerkraut and cucumbers into pickles. While not traditionally lacto-fermented, fruit can also be transformed into chutneys and marmalades using the same process.
Lactic acid produced by beneficial bacterium ubiquitous in our environment and present on the surface of all plants and animals works to preserve food by inhibiting putrefying bacteria. Traditional cuisines from around the world prized lacto-fermented foods and beverages for their medicinal properties as well as delicious taste. Most traditional cuisines included at least one fermented food or beverage with every meal, which worked to improve digestion and nutrient absorption.
This incredibly health promoting traditional food preparation technique has been all but lost today with an epidemic of digestive disorders the inevitable result.
Regular consumption of traditionally fermented foods and drinks promotes the growth of healthy flora and overall balance in the intestines. A 1999 study published in the Lancet found that consumption of lacto-fermented vegetables in children was associated with low rates of asthma, skin problems and auto-immune disorders in general.
Lacto-fermented foods are rich in enzymes as well as beneficial bacteria and are ideally served as condiments with a meal that also includes cooked foods. The enzymes in lacto-fermented or “super raw” foods more than compensate for the enzymes lost in foods that are cooked.
The easiest lacto-fermented raw food to get started with is salsa as it is very easy and well accepted by family members even when fermented. You can make it as mild or spicy as you like simply with the omission or addition of various types of peppers to suit your taste.
Try this variation if you are ready to turn back the clock in your kitchen! For many more recipes and videos on how to prepare lacto-fermented foods and drinks, click here.
Super Raw Foods: Salsa
4 medium organic, preferably heirloom, tomatoes, peeled seeded and diced (dip tomatoes in pan of boiling filtered water for 5 seconds each – skin peels right off)
2 small organic onions, finely chopped
¾ cup chopped chile peppers, hot or mild
6-8 cloves organic garlic, peeled and finely chopped (optional)
1 bunch organic cilantro, chopped
1 tsp dried organic oregano (sources)
Juice from 1-2 lemons or 3 Tbl additive free organic lemon juice (sources)
1 Tbl sea salt (sources)
4 Tbl (liquid) whey
¼ cup filtered water
To make, simply mix all raw food ingredients together in a bowl and then place in a quart or half gallon sized wide mouth mason jar. Press down gently with an appropriate instrument so liquid covers the vegetables.
Leave at least 1 inch at the top. Cover tightly and leave at room temperature for 2 days and then refrigerate. Salsa will last a month or two when made in this traditional manner.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
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