Natural Naughties has been learning about Cultured Vegetables from Heal Yourself Australia. They have provided us great information regarding this healthy option that you and your family can try.

What are cultured vegetables?
Cultured foods are vegetables which are preserved in a liquid of brine and probiotic cultures through fermentation.
Cultured food was a healthy mainstay in the diets of our ancestors. Only a minimal portion of their foods were even cooked -- raw foods, full of live enzymes made up the majority of their diet. 

Heal Yourself Australia’s "modern" methods of pasteurization and adding chemicals to speed fermentation of products like yogurt and cheese have killed these once enzyme rich foods and converted them to poisons that disable our digestion and ultimately endanger our health.
Cultured foods help re-establish the natural balance of our digestive system.
Through the ancient art of fermentation, these foods are partially digested by friendly enzymes, fungi, and good bacteria -- making their nutrients readily available with little work for your body. 
In addition to enhanced flavor and nutrition, cultured foods also offer a multitude of medicinal rewards by:
  1. alleviating digestive disorders - the flora in living cultured foods form a "living shield" that covers the small intestine's inner lining and resists pathogenic organisms like E.coli, salmonella and an unhealthy overgrowth of yeast
  2. strengthening immunity with increased antibodies that fight off infectious disease
  3. helping pregnant and nursing mothers transfer beneficial bacteria to their infants effectively impacting the behaviour of children with autism and ADD
  4. regulating weight and appetite by reducing cravings for sugar, soft drinks, bread and pasta



Body Ecology offers a culture starter you can use for raw vegetables -- to turn them into a healthy and delicious probiotic. Cultured vegetables are fortified with essential enzymes and good bacteria needed for optimal digestion and they are easier to digest than raw or cooked vegetables.
When you eat raw cultured vegetables loaded with enzymes -- you give your body an opportunity to make enzymes to rejuvenate itself instead of wasting a large portion of your enzymes digesting food. You can even use the nourishing culture to make your own tasty enzyme-rich whipped butter and sour cream.

The Body Ecology Cultured Vegetable Starter contains the following beneficial bacteria:
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Lactococcus lactis ssp. lactis
  • Lactococcus lactis ssp. cremoris
  • Lactococcus lactis ssp. diacetylactis
  • Leuconostoc mesenteroides ssp. cremoris
  • Lactobacillus kefir
  • Non-GMO dextrose as a carrier (consumed during fermentation)

How to prepare cultured vegetables?
While it is not necessary to add a "starter culture" to your vegetables, we highly recommend that you do it to ensure that your vegetables begin fermenting with a hardy strain of beneficial bacteria. The culture starter contains a very robust bacterium called L. Plantarum - a probiotic attributed to preserving key nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants -- eliminating toxic components from food, and destroying a number of potential pathogens in the gut. Because Plantarum is antiviral, once it colonizes in your intestines, not even antibiotics can destroy it.

How to use the Culture Starter Kit?
1)  Dissolve one package of starter culture in 1 cup of warm (32 °C) filtered water.
2) Add some form of sugar to feed the starter (try honey, Agave, or EcoBLOOM). 
  • Although sugar can affect your health, you will need to add the sugar so the bacteria have a fuel source to grow and multiply. They are very fragile prior to the time they build up into large quantities. The sugar you are adding will be used as fuel by the bacteria. No sugar will be left by the time you consume it. That is one of the reasons why these good bacteria are so important in that they radically improve your ability to digest not only sugars, but proteins.
  • Let starter and the sugar mixture sit for about 20 minutes or longer while the L. Plantarum and other bacteria wake up and begin enjoying the sugar -- then add the starter culture to the brine.
3) Shred cabbage or a combination of cabbage and other vegetables.
4)  Pack them tightly into an airtight container.
5) Add brine which consists of 1 cup of filtered water and 1/4 teaspoon celtic salt and the culture starter mixed together.
6) Pour into jars with packed shredded vegetables seal the lids.
7) Place jars in the pantry to ferment at room temperature for approx. 3 days. During fermentation, the friendly bacteria are rapidly reproducing and converting sugars and starches to lactic acid. You will see bubbles appearing.
8)  Once the initial process is over, slow down the bacterial activity by putting the cultured veggies in the refrigerator. The cold greatly reduces the fermentation, but will not stop completely. Even if the veggies sit in your refrigerator for months, they will not spoil; instead they become more appetizing, much like a fine wine.
9) You are now ready to eat your cultured vegetables. Just add a teaspoon to your salads, sandwiches and dinners. The beneficial bacteria naturally present in the vegetables promptly lower the pH, making a more acidic environment so the bacteria can reproduce. The vegetables become soft, tasty, and slightly "pickled". The enzymes in cultured vegetables will also help digest other foods eaten with them, aiding in the breakdown of both carbohydrates and proteins.

Easy Beginner’s Recipe for cultured vegetables

Cabbage, Carrots, Ginger & Garlic
Ingredients:
Keep several whole cabbage leaves aside
3 heads green cabbage shredded
6 carrots shredded 
3-inch piece ginger peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic peeled and chopped
1 packet of Body Ecology® Veggie Culture Starter
1 cup warm (32 °C) water

Instructions:
  1. Make up your Culture Starter Kit. Put aside 20 minutes
  2. Combine shredded cabbage, carrots, ginger, and garlic in a large bowl.
  3. Add several cups of your shredded vegetables to your blender adding in a cup of the brine and blend until the consistency of a thick juice.
  4. Add culture starter mixture from step to the now thickened brine.
  5. Pack mixture down into a sterilized glass jar. Use a wooden dowel or a potato masher to pack your vegetables in tightly.
  6. Fill glass jars almost full leaving 2 cm of room at the top for veggies to expand.
  7. Roll up several of the cabbage leaves into a tight “logs” and place them on top of the shredded vegetables to fill the remaining 2 cm space. Place lid on jar.
  8. Let veggies sit at about a (21 °C) room temperature for at least 3 days.
  9. Refrigerate to slow down fermentation. Enjoy!

Cabbage, Kale, Wakamme and Dill 
Ingredients:
Keep several whole cabbage leaves aside
3 heads green cabbage shredded
1 bunch kale chopped by hand
1 table spoon dill
Optional:  
2 cups wakamme ocean vegetables (measured after soaking) drained and chopped 

Instructions:
    1. Follow basic instructions above to make cultured vegetables.




    To purchase your own Culture Starter Kit and find more healthy products, visit http://www.healyourself.com.au/.