The 3 K’s
Kombucha, Kimchi and Kefir
In any order you like and not the only fermented foods that you can consider for the health of your gut and to begin learning about the wonder of your microbiome. These are the fermented foods that contain a lot of probiotic bacteria backed by a ton of scientific research. When you combine 3 really intensely loaded bacteria laden food products to your daily routine, the effects can be profound. This natural method of using fermented foods to help heal the body needs time to mature, so expect it to take around 8 weeks before you see a difference.
Kefir is a dairy drink with special properties for the internal ecology and health. Kefir contains beneficial yeasts (eg; Saccharomyces unisporus, Kluyveromyces marxianus) and beneficial bacteria (including lactobacillus caucasus, kefyr) that live together in harmony. As a result of this symbiosis, Kefir works as a probiotic and natural antibiotic.
The word kefir, known in Russian since at least 1884, is probably of North Caucasian origin, although some sources see a connection to Turkic köpür (foam) or kef (foam that builds up on the surface of a boiling liquid). The fermentation process provides a refreshing acidic drink slightly thicker than milk and is easy to make, with the starter cultures.
The drink of the centenarians
The Ossetians were the early users of Kefir. This Russian ethnic group was known for its vitality, health and longevity. The Ossetians lived thousands of years ago in the Caucasus, a mountainous region enclosed by Russia, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan. They were nomads and stored their milk in bags during their travels, discovering that the milk fermented in the bags, resulting in ‘Kefir’. From the 19th century onward, Kefir was known as ‘the drink of the centenarians’ and is now synonymous with a daily source of health and vitality.
Traditional kefir is fermented at ambient temperatures, generally overnight. The kefir grains initiating the fermentation are a combination of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts in a matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars. This symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast or SCOBY forms ‘grains’ that resemble cauliflower. A complex and highly variable community of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts can be found in these grains, with some predominate; Lactobacillus species are always present.
Kefir grains contain kefiran, a water-soluble polysaccharide, which imparts a creamy texture. The grains range in colour from white (the colour of healthy grains) to yellow; the latter is the outcome of leaving the grains in the same milk during fermentation for longer than the optimal 24-hour period. The composition of kefir depends greatly on the type and quality of milk that was fermented, including the concentration of vitamin B12.
During fermentation, changes in composition of nutrients and other ingredients occur. Lactose, the sugar present in milk, is broken down mostly to lactic acid (25%) by the lactic acid bacteria, which results in acidification. Propionibacteria further break down some of the lactic acid into propionic acid (same fermentation as Swiss cheese). A portion of lactose is converted to kefiran, which is indigestible by gastric digestion. Other substances that contribute to the flavour of kefir are pyruvic acid, acetic acid, diacetyl, acetoin, citric acid, acetaldehyde and amino acids resulting from protein breakdown.
As a result of the fermentation, very little lactose remains in kefir. People with lactose intolerance are able to tolerate kefir, provided the number of live bacteria present in this beverage consumed is high enough. It has also been shown that fermented milk products have a slower transit time than milk, which may further improve lactose digestion.
Probiotic bacteria commonly found in kefir products include; Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus, Lactobacillus helveticus, Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens, Lactococcus lactis, and Leuconostoc species.
staple in Korean cuisine, is a traditional side dish made from salted and fermented vegetables, most commonly napa cabbage and Korean radishes, with a variety of seasonings including chilli powder, scallions, garlic, ginger, and jeotgal (salted seafood). There are hundreds of varieties of kimchi made with different vegetables as the main ingredients. In traditional preparations, kimchi was stored underground in jars to keep cool, and unfrozen during the winter months.
The origin of kimchi dates back at least to the early period of the Three Kingdoms (37 BCE‒7 CE). Fermented foods were widely available, as the Records of the Three Kingdoms, a Chinese historical text published in 289 AD, mentions that “The Goguryeo people (referring to the Koreans) are skilled in making fermented foods such as wine, soybean paste and salted and fermented fish” in the section named Dongyi in the Book of Wei. Samguk Sagi, a historical record of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, also mentions the pickle jar used to ferment vegetables, which indicates that fermented vegetables were commonly eaten during this time.
A poem on Korean radish written by Yi Gyubo, a 13th century literatus, shows that radish kimchi was a commonplace in Goryeo (918–1392).
Pickled radish slices make a good summer side-dish,
Radish preserved in salt is a winter side-dish from start to end.
The roots in the earth grow plumper everyday,
Harvesting after the frost, a slice cut by a knife tastes like a pear.
— Yi Gyubo, Dongguk isanggukjip (translated by Michael J. Pettid, in Korean cuisine: An Illustrated History)
However, early records of kimchi do not mention garlic or chilli. Kimchi was not red until the late 16th century, when chilli peppers were introduced to Korea by Portuguese traders based in Nagasaki, Japan and not until the 19th century that the use of chilli in kimchi was widespread. The recipes from early 19th century closely resemble today’s kimchi.
Kimchi is a national dish of both North and South Korea. During South Korea’s involvement in the Vietnam War its government requested American help to ensure that South Korean troops, reportedly desperate for the food, could obtain it in the field; South Korean president Park Chung-hee telling U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson how kimchi was vitally important to the morale of his troops.
Cabbages (napa cabbages, bomdong, headed cabbages) and radishes (Korean radishes, ponytail radishes, gegeol radishes, young summer radishes) are the most commonly used kimchi vegetables.
Other kimchi vegetables can include: aster, balloon flower roots, burdock roots, celery, chamnamul, cilantro, cress, crown daisy greens, cucumber, eggplant, garlic chives, garlic scapes, ginger, Korean angelica-tree shoots, Korean parsley, Korean wild chive, lotus roots, mustard greens, onions, perilla leaves, potatoes, pumpkins, radish greens, rapeseed leaves, scallions, soybean sprouts, spinach, sugar beets, sweet potato vines, and tomatoes.
Korean sea salt (with larger grain size and lower sodium content than kosher salt) used mainly for initial salting of kimchi vegetables. Minimally processed, it helps in developing flavours in fermented foods. Commonly used seasonings include gochutgaru (chili powder), scallions, garlic, ginger, and jeotgal (salted seafood) Jeotgal can be replaced with raw seafood in colder /Northern parts of the Korean peninsula. If used, the milder saeu-jeot (salted shrimp) or jogi-jeot (salted croaker) is preferred and the amount of jeotgal is also reduced in Northern and Central areas. In Southern Korea, generous amount of stronger myeolchi-jeot (salted anchovies) and galchi-jeot (salted hairtail) are commonly used. Raw seafood or daegu-agami-jeot (salted cod gills) are used in East coast areas.
Microorganisms present in kimchi are: Bacillus mycoides, B. pseudomycoides, B. subtilis, Lactobacillus brevis, Lb. curvatus, Lb. parabrevis, Lb. pentosus, Lb. plantarum, Lb. sakei, Lb. spicheri, Lactococcus carnosum, Lc. gelidum, Lc. lactis, Leuconostoc carnosum, Ln. citreum, Ln. gasicomitatum, Ln. gelidum, Ln. holzapfelii, Ln. inhae, Ln. kimchii, Ln. lactis, Ln. mesenteroides, Serratia marcescens., Weissella cibaria, W. confusa, W. kandleri, W. koreensis, and W. soli.
Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish consisting of pickled vegetables, which is mainly served as a side dish with every meal, but also can be served as a main dish. Kimchi is recognized as a spicy fermented cabbage dish globally, but there are really more than 200 variations. Varieties are determined by the main vegetable ingredients and the mix of seasoning.
Theories of the origin of Kimchi varies including a belief that it appeared during the Shilla Dynasty, and became prevalent once Buddhism caught on throughout the nation and fostered a vegetarian lifestyle. The pickling of vegetables was an ideal method, prior to refrigerators, that helped to preserve the lifespan of foods.
common kimchi variations
- baechu-kimchi (배추김치) napa cabbage kimchi
- baechu-geotjeori (배추겉절이) unfermented napa cabbage kimchi
- bossam-kimchi (보쌈김치)
- baek-kimchi (백김치) white kimchi
- dongchimi (동치미) and nabak kimchi (나박김치) water-based kimchis
- chonggak-kimchi (총각김치) chonggak radish and kkakdugi (깍두기) Korean radish kimchis
- oi-sobagi (오이소박이) cucumber kimchi
- pa-kimchi (파김치) green onion kimchi
- Baechukimchi or Yang baechu-kimchi, made with Napa cabbage or cabbage, is a spicy pickled cabbage dish and is the most popular of the kimchi varieties, which is made from whole, salted cabbage leaves,
- Kkakdugi, or radish kimchi, is a spicy cubed radish dish, similar in spices to baechu-kimchi and the use of fermented shrimp emits a darker color and strong scent.
- Sukkkakdugi, cubed radish kimchi after parboiled radish
- Nabakkimchi, also known as water kimchi, is less spicy and is a soupy side dish that consists of cabbage and radish.
- Oisobagi, is a cucumber kimchi, that can be stuffed with seafood and chili paste, and is a popular choice during the spring and summer seasons.
- Yeolmukimchi is also a popular choice during the spring and summer, and is made with young summer radishes, and does not necessarily have to be fermented.
- Bokimchi is best made fresh before a meal and are made with cabbage leaves wrapped around a blend of other inner ingredients such as seafood or fruit.
- Pakimchi is a hot and spicy dish made with medium sized green onions.
- Dongchimi is a light and non-spicy watery radish dish.
- Chonggakkimchi is a spicy ponytail radish kimchi dish that is one of the most popular kimchi versions.
- Yongpyon gimjang kimchi (Yongbyon style kimchi)
- Gajikimchi, pickled eggplant
- Gatkimchi, made with Indian mustard
- Baekkimchi (white kimchi), kimchi without chili pepper
- Bossam kimchi, wrapped kimchi
- Jang kimchi, water kimchi seasoned with soy sauce
Kimchi from the northern parts of Korea tends to have less salt and red chili and usually does not include brined seafood for seasoning. Northern kimchi often with a watery consistency. Kimchi made in the southern parts of Korea, such as Jeolla-do and Gyeongsang-do, uses salt, chili peppers and myeolchijeot, brined anchovy allowed to ferment) or saeujeot, brined shrimp allowed to ferment), myeolchiaekjeot, kkanariaekjeot, liquid anchovy jeot, similar to fish sauce used in Southeast Asia, but thicker.
White kimchi (baek kimchi) is baechu (napa cabbage) seasoned without chili pepper and is neither red in color nor spicy. White radish kimchi (dongchimi) is another example of a kimchi that is not spicy. The watery white kimchi varieties are sometimes used as an ingredient in a number of dishes such as cold noodles in dongchimi brine (dongchimi guksu).
Different types of kimchi were traditionally made at different times of the year, based on when various vegetables were in season and also to take advantage of hot and cold seasons before the era of refrigeration. Although the advent of modern refrigeration — including kimchi refrigerators specifically designed with precise controls to keep different varieties of kimchi at optimal temperatures at various stages of fermentation — has made this seasonality unnecessary, Koreans continue to consume kimchi according to traditional seasonal preferences
After a long period of consuming gimjang kimchi (김장김치) during the winter, fresh pot herbs and vegetables were used to make kimchi. These kinds of kimchi were not fermented or even stored for long periods of time but were consumed fresh.
Young summer radishs and cucumbers are summer vegetables made into kimchi, yeolmu kimchi (열무김치) which is eaten in several bites. Brined fish or shellfish can be added, and freshly ground dried chili peppers are often used.
Baechu kimchi is prepared by inserting blended stuffing materials, called sok (literally inside), between layers of salted leaves of uncut, whole Napa cabbage. The ingredients of sok (속) can vary, depending on the different regions and weather conditions. Generally, baechu kimchi used to have a strong salty flavor until the late 1960s, before which a large amount of myeolchijeot or saeujeot had been used. Gogumasoon Kimchi is made from sweet potato stems.
Traditionally, the greatest varieties of kimchi were available during the winter. In preparation for the long winter months, many types of kimjang kimchi were prepared in early winter and stored in the ground in large kimchi pots. Today, many city residents use modern kimchi refrigerators offering precise temperature controls to store kimjang kimchi. November and December are traditionally when people begin to make kimchi; women often gather together in each other’s homes to help with winter kimchi preparations. “Baechu kimchi” is made with salted baechu filled with thin strips of radish, parsley, pine nuts, pears, chestnuts, shredded red pepper, manna lichen, garlic, and ginger.
Nutrition and health
A 2003 article in the Los Angeles Times said that South Koreans consume 40 pounds (18 kg) of kimchi per person annually. A 2015 book cited a 2011 source that said that adult Koreans eat from 50 grams (0.11 lb) to 200 grams (0.44 lb) of kimchi a day.
Some credit Korea’s industrious energy as a people, and their nation’s rapid economic growth, in part to eating the dish. Kimchi is made of various vegetables and contains a high concentration of dietary fiber, while being low in calories. One serving also provides over 50% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C and carotene. Most types of kimchi contain onions, garlic, ginger, and chili peppers, all of which are salutary. The vegetables used in kimchi also contribute to its overall nutritional value.
During the 2003 SARS outbreak in Asia, many people believed that kimchi could protect against infection. While there was no scientific evidence to support this belief, kimchi sales rose by 40%.
|Vitamin Contents of Common Kimchi and Average Vitamin Contents of 4 Different Kimchi During Fermentation at 3–7°C|
|1||44.0 (35.4)b||41.6 (40.1)||47 (54)||0.09 (0.09)||781 (747)||25.0 (25.3)|
|2||32.0 (30.4)||70.9 (61.9)||110 (99)||0.19 (0.20)||928 (861)||27.8 (28.5)|
|3||26.6 (26.9)||79.1 (87.5)||230 (157)||0.25 (0.33)||901 (792)||23.6 (22.3)|
|4||21.0 (25.3)||62.7 (70.8)||35 (95)||0.20 (0.26)||591 (525)||16.7 (16.0)|
|5||24.2 (20.1)||53.3 (49.1)||40 (37)||0.10 (0.16)||11.16 (11.0)|
|aNaturally fermented baechu kimchi
bAverage levels of four different kimchis; common kimchi +3 different starter inoculated kimchis
|Source: Hui et al. (2005) who cited Lee et al. (1960)|
|Vitamin Content of Kimchi (per 100g of Edible Portion)|
|Vitamin A (RE)||48||38||390||352||9||595||15||77|
|Vitamin B1 (mg)||0.06||0.14||0.15||0.14||0.03||0.15||0.02||0.03|
|Vitamin B2 (mg)||0.06||0.05||0.14||0.14||0.02||0.29||0.02||0.06|
|Vitamin C (mg)||14||19||48||19||10||28||9||10|
|Vitamin B6 (mg)||0.19||0.13|
|Folic acid (μg)||43.3||58.9||74.8|
|Vitamin E (mg)||0.7||0.2||1.3|
|Not detected: vitamin A (retinol), pantothenic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin K|
|Source: Tamang (2015) who cited Lee (2006)|
Kombucha (tea mushroom, Manchurian mushroom, formal name: Medusomyces gisevii is a variety of fermented, lightly effervescent, often sweetened black or green tea drinks that are commonly intended as functional beverages for their health benefits.
Produced by fermenting tea. Actual contributing microbial populations in cultures vary, but the yeast component generally includes Saccharomyces and other species, and the bacterial component almost always includes Gluconacetobacter xylinus to oxidize yeast-produced alcohols to acetic and other acids.
Kombucha originated in what is now Manchuria around 220 BCE, and was traditionally used primarily in that region, Russia, and eastern Europe. It is said to have been imported to Japan in 414 CE by the physician Kombu.
A kombucha culture is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY), similar to mother of vinegar, containing one or more species each of bacteria and yeasts, which form a zoogleal mat known as a mother. The cultures may contain one or more of the yeasts Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Brettanomyces bruxellensis, Candida stellata, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, and Zygosaccharomyces bailii.
The bacterial component of kombucha comprises several species, almost always including Gluconacetobacter xylinus (G. xylinus, formerly Acetobacter xylinum), which ferments alcohols produced by the yeasts into acetic and other acids, increasing the acidity and limiting ethanol content. The population of bacteria and yeasts found to produce acetic acid has been reported to increase for the first 4 days of fermentation, decreasing thereafter. G. xylinum has been shown to produce microbial cellulose, and is reportedly responsible for most or all of the physical structure of the ‘mother’, which may have been selectively encouraged over time for firmer (denser) and more robust cultures by brewers.
The mixed, presumably symbiotic culture has been further described as being lichenous, in accord with the reported presence of the known lichenous natural product usnic acid, though as of 2015, no report appears indicating the standard cyanobacterial species of lichens in association with kombucha fungal components.
Sucrose is converted, biochemically, into fructose and glucose, and these into gluconic acid and acetic acid, and these substances are present in the drink. In addition, kombucha contains enzymes and amino acids, polyphenols, and various other organic acids; the exact quantities of these items vary between preparations. Other specific components include ethanol, glucuronic acid, glycerol, lactic acid, usnic acid (a hepatotoxin), plus B-vitamins.
With every brew you make the kombucha forms a new layer or scoby on the surface of the liquid. These can be left to thicken the scoby or can be divided, giving you spare cultures that you can store in some sweet tea in the fridge in case something should happen to your active culture. Or you might want to pass on spare Kombucha cultures to friends or use a new scoby to start another batch.
Kombucha and Health
Many health claims are made for kombucha but there is less research on the benefits of kombucha than there is on fermented milk products. It has certainly been shown to have similar antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal properties in lab tests. In rats it’s been shown to protect against stress and improve liver function. There is a lot of experiential evidence, many of the benefits reported include improvements in energy levels, metabolic disorders, allergies, digestive problems, candidiasis, hypertension, HIV, chronic fatigue and arthritis. It ‘s also used externally for skin problems and as a hair wash among other things.
The Organic Acids
Glucuronic acid is the body’s most important detoxifier & when toxins enter the liver this acid binds them to it and flushes them out through the kidneys. A product of the oxidation process of glucose, glucuronic acid is one of the more significant constituents of Kombucha. As a detoxifying agent it’s one of the few agents that can cope with pollution from the products of the petroleum industry, including all the plastics, herbicides, pesticides and resins. It kidnaps the phenols in the liver, which are then eliminated easily by the kidneys. Another by-product of glucuronic acid are the glucosamines, the structures associated with cartilage, collagen and the fluids which lubricate the joints. It is this function that makes Kombucha so effective against arthritis. Kombucha can be very helpful for allergy sufferers.
Essential for the digestive system. Assist blood circulation, helps prevent bowel decay and constipation. Aids in balancing acids and alkaline in the body and believed to help in the prevention of cancer by helping to regulate blood pH levels.
Acetic Acid- A powerful preservative and it inhibits harmful bacteria.
Usnic Acid- A natural antibiotic that can be effective against many viruses.
Oxalic Acid- An effective preservative and encourages the intercellular production of energy.
Malic acid- Helps detoxify the liver.
Gluconic Acid- Produced by the bacteria, it can break down to caprylic acid is of great benefit to sufferers of candidiasis and other yeast infections such as thrush.
Butyric acid- Produced by the yeast, protects human cellular membranes and combined with Gluconic acid strengthens the walls of the gut to combat yeast infections like candida.
Kombucha requires tea for its fermentation (Camellia Sinensis). That’s real tea not herbal tea. It can be also be sensitive to strong aromatic oils. A tea like Earl Grey that contains Bergamot oil, can sometimes kill or badly affect the culture. There are several different kinds of tea that give different results from lighter tastes to stronger more cider like tastes.
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