Friday, August 7, 2015


I finally made a good batch of fermented pickles.

Sadly the first batch I tried to make ended up getting moldy. Many people would just tell you to scrape it off and eat it anyway. I'm not about to do that with my health problems. I can't even eat a mushroom, I'm not about to try something that might have even small bits of mycotoxins in it.

But batch number two was totally clear. I haven't tasted them yet. I'm still working on my kohlrabi pickles (which are much easier to make).

Water kefir in bottled water with molasses, water kefir in tap water with date syrup, and milk kefir

I've been drinking milk kefir for a while now, but I decided to see what water kefir tasted like. Well it turns out I'm not a big fan. To be honest I probably wouldn't be a big fan of milk kefir all by itself, but I drink it in a morning fruit smoothie, and it really tastes good like that. But the water kefir tasted too much like vinegar to me. And too sweet. You would think tart and sweet would be good together, but to me the flavors just didn't work. So I've abandoned that.

I did learn something interesting from it though. I tried fermenting the middle jar with tap water. I knew filtered water wouldn't work as there aren't enough minerals in it to keep the bacteria alive. Some people say tap water doesn't work well because of the chlorine in the water. If it were just chlorine I could leave it on the counter to evaporate for 24 hours. But our water system uses chloramine which does not evaporate. The kefir made with bottled spring water worked just fine and smelled decent. The one made with the tap water smelled vile, like it was rotting. Ewwwww! I tried to revive it for a week by using good spring water on it and it never recovered. The symbiotic culture was damaged.

All I could think was if it was so obviously bad for the culture on my counter top, what in the world was it doing to my gut bacteria. I'd been drinking filtered water since my doctor told me to last fall, but I was still cooking with regular tap water. If I had chlorine in my tap water it would be fine as it would evaporate as I cooked and I'd be fine, but not with my tap water. So now I'm using filtered water for most of my cooking too.

All this and so much more leads me to be amazed at the irony of our current state of how we keep ourselves healthy. We poison our water so we won't get sick. We kill our parasites to keep us healthy, even though they are being found to help regulate our immune system especially as infants and in utero. We throw antibiotics at diseases to keep us healthy, and they kill off our precious gut bacteria. So instead of the chance of dying quickly from an infection, instead we die slowly from heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and auto immune diseases. Yesterday I was reading an article that was saying they discovered a bacteria that prevents us from getting type 1 diabetes. And this article is hardly unique. We are finding that our bacterial health is our health. Our physical health and even our mental health. Jeff Leach of the American Gut Project thinks that eating fermented foods isn't the trick to improving our gut, but eating a more varied source of food for our microbiome. And lots of it. Thank goodness I have a garden to eat from.


  1. I've wondered about water kefir, and now I don't have to anymore! I don't use tap water to feed my sourdough starter, though I know the chlorine will dissipate if I let the water sit for a bit. I'm curious, do you use a filter at the tap?

    1. I used to in my old house, but the kitchen faucet here won't take one. I might have to get an under sink filter. It would make life so much easier than a pitcher filter.

  2. That's a lot to think, about. I have been wondering for awhile about all of the destruction we do to our bodies and environments when we kill off things that seem to be pests. There are always consequences, and I think that we are really only beginning to see the dangers that there really are from the chemicals that are used to keep us healthy.

  3. I've been doing a lot of reading about our microbiome lately also. It's such a fascinating topic. It makes such sense that something that evolved with us is so intimately tied to our health and well being and that if we take care of our resident bacteria that they will take care of us - their home. If feel so fortunate to have my own garden. I feel like eat a much healthier diet because of it.

  4. I'm glad you met with success on your fermented pickles; I hope you end up liking them. That's quite interesting with the city water. I didn't have any problem drinking city water until we moved to the country. Now, after years of drinking from our well which is supplied by an underground aquifer, I simply can't drink unfiltered city water as the chlorine is overpowering - it feels as if I'm drinking pool water.

  5. Excellent post, Daphne. Your observations about how modern society tries to maintain health is absolutely spot on. I hadn't heard of chloramine, but why should I be surprised? Great experiment. Now we can add water to the list of things that kills us. The problem is, people are afraid of food and only feel safe eating it if it's sterile. How did we ever get to this?

    Interesting that you didn't care for the water kefir; neither did I! Or at least I coudn't out how to get a good consistent naturally carbonated beverage (plus didn't want to keep buying all that fruit juice). I do love my milk kefir, however. Since I started lacto-fermenting foods, I've developed a taste for sour, so I love my milk kefir plain. I've found that by drinking it regularly, my memory and energy level have both improved.

  6. Still waiting for some cucumbers so I can try fermented pickles. We are lucky to be growing our own veggies, but you also have to avoid the use of any GMO foods, which are likely to be contaminated with glyphosate. Monsanto claims it is safe because it affects a channel only plants have, but our gut organisms have that channel and are affected.

  7. Our gut microbiome is way more important than we ever knew and now work is beginning on the viruses that inhabit our bodies. They are present in even greater numbers than the bacteria. At a major scientific conference I attended in January, the take-home message seemed to be pre-biotics--varied fiber sources in our diet but primarily from fruit and vegetables.