Fermented foods are increasing in popularity and availability — all in the name of good health. They can aid digestion and help with other health issues. 

Historically foods were fermented as a way of preserving them. Microorganisms convert starches and sugar into alcohol or acids and these enhance the natural, beneficial probiotic bacteria in food.

Kimchi — a Korean staple — is a traditional side dish made from salted and fermented vegetables including cabbage. Spicier than German sauerkraut, kimchi contains vitamins A, B1, B2 and C and the minerals iron, calcium and selenium.

In yoghurt, bactobacilli bacteria convert the lactose in milk into glucose and galactose These break down further into lactic acid which gives natural yoghurt its sour taste. Live bacteria assist the gut.

Kefir — rather like a thin yoghurt — is a probiotic cultured drink, containing strains of bacteria and yeast. Kefir is rich in minerals and vitamins, particularly the B vitamins and vitamin K.

Kombucha is a fizzy, fermented black tea. Yeast turns sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide, and bacteria convert the alcohol into acetic acid, giving it the sour taste. It’s delicious chilled in summer and makes great mocktails.

Miso paste is prepared from fermented soy beans and is high in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals. Use as a topping for fish or chicken and in soup or dressings.


Add julienned carrot if preferred or combine a mix of red and green cabbage.

1/2 large Savoy cabbage
4 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons each: finely grated root ginger, fish sauce, gochujang (Korean chilli paste)
4 each: spring onions, round radishes, thinly sliced

Remove any thick core from the cabbage. Chop the leaves into 3cm pieces and place in a large ceramic bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and mix it in with your hands. Stand for 1 hour or until softened. Press down and cover with cold water. Stand for 2 hours.

Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain thoroughly squeezing out any excess water.

Make a paste by mixing the sugar, garlic, ginger, fish sauce and gochujang. Combine with the cabbage, spring onions and radishes, mixing well. Place in a large plastic or ceramic bowl. Sit a plate on top of it and cover loosely so air can escape during fermentation. 

Allow to ferment for a week or two in a coolish place. Pack into airtight glass containers and store in the fridge. 

Serve with cheese on crackers, as a salad or side dish, add to rice dishes or pat dry and deep-fry briefly. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.


Dill Yoghurt Sauce: 1/2 cup plain yoghurt
2 tablespoons each: mayo, chopped dill, chopped spring onion
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Burgers: 250g packet fresh cuts salmon stir-fry
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated root ginger
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 burger buns, lightly toasted
small crisp lettuce leaves
thinly sliced cucumber

Combine the sauce ingredients and set aside.

Cut any large pieces of salmon in half. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan. Stir-fry the salmon on medium heat adding the ginger and black pepper for 1-2 minutes until just cooked.

Cove the burger bun bases with lettuce and cucumber then top with the salmon and yoghurt sauce. Serves 3.


2 tablespoons lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons sugar
Mocktail: 2-4 ice cubes
4 tablespoons orange juice
2 lime or lemon slices, halved|
2-4 strawberries, quartered
4 mint leaves
1-2 cups lemon-flavoured kombucha, chilled

Dip the rims of 2 glasses into the lemon juice then into the sugar. Chill.

Place the ice cubes in the glasses. Add the orange juice, lime slices, strawberries and mint leaves. Top with the kombucha. Enjoy. Makes 2.


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