Updated: Jul 14
"We live in the Age of Bacteria (as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, until the world ends)..."
- Stephen Jay Gould, Cambridge, MA, 1993
Many years have passed since I began to understand about the power of probiotics, but not in the form of pills. Please, check my story here. Probiotics are powerful fermented veggies stored in little jars within your refrigerator. Store-bought is ok to use, if this is your only choice. Homemade probiotics have much more power than any premade store bought varieties. It's also WAY cheaper to make them yourself.
A few months ago I posted a cucumber kimchi recipe and it became very popular. Due to the new virus, people are paying more attention to their health and their immune systems.
Can fermented vegetables help with COVID-19?
The following is regarding several studies I have read and they proved to be interesting reading. Everything is so “heated” and emotional about Covid-19. I am not trying to get political. This is not required reading. LOL.
I have been watching for months what new developments are arising from this terrible virus. Since it is a new virus, without time for research, how can claims be substantiated. The Minister of South Korea, where a lot of kimchi, cultured, probiotic and fermented foods are eaten, quickly came out at the beginning of the COVID-19 to say that kimchi does not help with the virus. However, months later this was found to no longer be true.
A professor of pulmonary medicine at Montpellier University in France, Dr. Jean Bousquet performed this study. He chairs the Global Alliance Chronic Respiratory Diseases. He studied a connection between countries that consumed a lot of fermented krauts. He saw that those countries had lower death rates from COVID-19. Please, read more about here.
Dr. Jean Bousquet advised people to eat more fermented vegetables in their breakfast. “If the hypothesis is proved, COVID-19 will be the first infectious disease epidemic whose biological mechanisms are proved to be associated with a loss of nature. When modern life led to eating reduced amounts of fermented foods, the microbiome drastically changed, and this may have facilitated SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 – the official name of the virus) to spread or to be more severe,” writes the team. Please, read for yourself more here on this subject.
How COVID -19 Enters the Body
Here is a study that has been published in the journal of Clinical and Translational Allergy. It found that fermented cabbage helps decrease levels of ACE2 (angiotensin-converting enzyme 2), which is key to the virus duplicating, growing and entering into the body.
According to this study, "ACE2 is a protein that sits on the surface of many types of cells in the human body, including the heart, lungs, gut, and inside the nose. This protein adheres to cells located on the surface of the lungs and begins to form pockets or little openings, in the organ. This is used by COVID-19 as an entry point into the body. SARS-CoV-2 with its spiky exterior, does have the ability to unlock the ACE2 receptor and enter the lungs." This is the beginning of the virus multiplying and then continuing to spread throughout the entire body.
Connections between fermented food and ACE2 (angiotensin-converting enzyme 2)
"Consuming probiotic cabbage, such as kimchi or sauerkraut regularly, brings down the number of ACE2 (angiotensin-converting enzyme 2). Lowering of ACE2 makes it much more difficult for the virus to enter the body." Read here.
It’s amazing how protective it can be, but only raw fermented cabbage (never pasteurized) has this effect. The fermented products that are canned and heated lack the probiotics.
"People with heart conditions, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity seem to be affected the most. The medications that are known to boost ACE2 (angiotensin-converting enzyme 2) are medications the above population takes." Check this study here.
Scientists are wondering, could that protein ACE2 be responsible? The research is still ongoing and there are no easy answers. What they did find was that fermented foods were helping many people around the world.
Probiotic, cultured, fermented veggies are the most important foods!
The researchers gathered data and found that, everything considered, only fermented veggies had a big impact on the mortality rate. I found this remarkably interesting. Also," for each gram per day of consumption of ferments, the risk for COVID-19 mortality fell by 35.4%."
Your body is composed of an estimated 30 trillion human cells, but it is host to more than 100 trillion bacterial and fungal cells, isn't it amazing? We need to pay more attention to our vital invisible "organ", that plays a critical role to keep us healthy. With good care our body will be thankful.
What is kimchi and why it is one of the strongest probiotic rich foods in the world?
Kimchi is the iconic food of Korean cuisine. The writer Mei Chin in Saveur said “I can’t think of a single food from any other country that is half as important to a nation’s culinary traditions as kimchi is to Korea’s.”
When Korea sent its first astronaut to the International Space Station in 2008, “Three top government research institutes spent millions of dollars and several years perfecting a version of kimchi that would not turn dangerous when exposed to cosmic rays or other forms of radiation and would not put off non-Korean astronauts with its pungency,” reported The New York Times.
Choe Sang-Hun “Starship Kimchi: A Bold Taste Goes Where It Has Never Gone Before“, New York Times (February 24, 2008). Read here.
200 strains of good bacteria make this food a medicine.
Kimchi is one of the oldest fermented foods being first mentioned in the Korean book “Samkuksaki” published in 1145.
What do I need to make classic traditional kimchi?
Veggies - such as Napa cabbage, garlic, onion, ginger, carrots, daikon (Japanese radish), and Asian pears.
Herbs - such as green onion, water dropwort (herb that is used in Asian cuisine, this ingredient is totally optional. If you're lucky to find it, use it).
Sweet rice flour - this unusual ingredient is necessary to make porridge. This porridge plays an important role in the final product. It helps to keep all juices sealed so they stick to the leaves of the cabbage. This way nothing is dancing around. Each leaf gets the same attention from applying the paste.
Hot red peppers Taekyung - this powdered pepper has a very unique flavor. No skipping on this ingredient! It gives the kimchi its biting kick and helps to preserve its freshness.
Fish sauce - this fermented component has always been a part of classic traditional kimchi. Also salted shrimp, anchovies, and squid are other fermented components to traditional kimchi. They provide that deep distinct umami flavor that cannot be substituted. At least one of them must be included, so please don't skip on fish sauce.
You can find Napa cabbage and daikon radish in almost any grocery store. It is also at the farmers markets during the winter months.
The bottom of the cabbage should be heavy and the leaves should be thin. This way, they don’t add too much water to your kimchi right away. If not planning to use immediately, wrap the cabbage in a paper towel, put in a plastic bag and keep in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
Kimchi can be eaten right away. That’s called fresh kimchi and it is popular in Korea. But for the best health benefits the longer you let it ferment anywhere between 3-6 days, the more sour it will taste and more of the good bacteria will be present.
After allowing 3-6 days of fermenting, you can move it to the fridge and the fermentation will slow down. Kimchi will last for up to 9 months.
Why is soaking the cabbage a must?
By soaking cabbage in salt, we remove the extra unwanted water from the leaves, because they naturally contain a lot of moisture. The final product will be crisp and fresh allowing the paste to be applied with the right consistency.
Ingredients for the cabbage
3 pounds Napa cabbage
3-4 Tablespoons Celtic salt
Ingredients for the porridge
1 cup of water
1 tablespoon sweet rice flour
1 tablespoon sugar
Ingredients for the vegetables
½ cup carrots, cut into matchsticks
½ cup Asian pear, cut into matchsticks (in the video I used bosc pear)
½ cup daikon radish, cut into matchsticks
6-7 green onions, chopped
½ cup water dropwort (optional and I didn't use in the video)
Ingredients for the paste
12 cloves of garlic
2 inch piece of ginger root
3-4 Tablespoons of fish sauce
½ cup hot pepper flakes powder (for mild kimchi)
1. To prepare the cabbage first wash the cabbage, cut it and trim the cores.
2. Then cut into pieces, the size you wish to eat as a final product. The original way to prepare kimchi is to keep whole leaves attached to the core.
3. Sprinkle with salt.
4. Let sit for 20-30 minutes, turn every few minutes or so.
5. Meanwhile make the porridge.
6. First rinse the cabbage in cold water and let it drain.
7. Next, in a saucepan add the water, sugar and sweet rice flour. Mix all together and bring it to a boil. Once it starts to boil, keep stirring, until consistency will be like thick porridge with a milky color. Take off the heat. Let it cool down.
8. Meanwhile, prep the rest of the ingredients for the porridge. Place onion, garlic, and ginger in a food processor and pulse a few times. Scrape occasionally. Add into the pot with the porridge along with fish sauce and hot pepper flakes powder. Mix all together.
10. Add all veggies and herbs to the porridge. I recommend that you wear gloves: Mix all together with your hands. The kimchi paste should look thick. Don't worry, it will become watery over time due to the water content of the veggies which will be released during fermentation.
11. The last thing to do is spread the kimchi paste between the cabbage leaves. Then place each leaf into the big mouth jar pressing slightly to make sure there are no air pockets.
12. Close the lid and leave it at room temperature away from sunlight for a few days, anywhere between 3-6 days depending on the temperature.
13. On the second or third day you may see bubbles, which is normal. Open the jar to release some pressure.
14. The kimchi keeps in your fridge for up to 9 months.