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A Herbalist’s Diary

Spring is on the wind, the occasional hawthorn is breaking buds and blackthorn is starting to adorn the hedgerows, prompting us to remember where to find the woods later in the year.

Still, waiting for the picking frenzy that will soon be here, it’s an indoor job that’s got me busy today.


Did you know that as well as being an unbelievably simple way of preserving fruit and vegetables, eating fermented foods helps boost your mood.

This is because one of the so-called “feel good” hormones, serotonin, is largely made in your gut (according to some studies up to 95%). In order to do this our digestive system needs a healthy colony of friendly bacteria, or probiotics, and that’s what fermented foods are full of.

And that’s not all… Having a healthy gut biome, as it’s called, is essential for a fully functioning immune system and digestive system.

For a really good in depth read of how the bacteria in our gut influence our mood and, much more bedsides, Click Here for an article by the American Psychology Association.

So how do fermented foods do this? It’s all down to the lactobacillus bacteria that is naturally present in the air and on fruit and vegetables. We can encourage lactobacillus to grow in a controlled way creating a lactic acid ferment. This can be done by keeping them air free, anaerobic, and using salt to reduce the risk of bacteria that you don’t want spoiling the food.

Sounds complicated, but it’s really not. It’s just vegetables, water and salt. Almost any fruits or vegetables can be fermented, from humble cabbage sauerkraut to exotic and tasty kimchi.

If you grow your own it’s a fantastic simple way of preserving yours for future use, or just enhancing the health benefits.

There is a wealth of online workshops, recipes and tutorials to inspire you and get you going. Check out this one for a few exciting recipes along with heaps of enthusiasm and a good explanation of the process:

If you don’t have the time or inclination to have a go yourself there’s a good array of ready made ferments about. Or head on down to the herbarium for a range of probiotic supplements that will do the same job.

And check out Anastasia’s tips on how to enjoy all those lovely ferments once you’ve made them https://happybellyfish.com/2021/12/22/3-ways-to-ferment-any-vegetables-at-home/

By Carol Burnett
A Travelling Herbalists Diary

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