As a growing number of people struggle with gut health issues, more individuals are looking for ways to add healthy, live and fermented foods into their diets. Although it makes sense to add foods that a variety of cultures have relied on for good health over the centuries, finding these gems in the world of processed, packaged and dead foods can be difficult. Here are three foods that can be grown easily in your own kitchen.

 

Yogurt

Although yogurt is readily available in your local grocery store, the quality can vary greatly as demand goes up. Ideally, yogurt is thickened by live cultures, which then fill your body with probiotics. However, it can be difficult to keep these cultures alive in a food processing system. Look carefully at your favorite yogurt labels to see how much gelatin and other thickening agents are added; the longer the list of ingredients, the greater the chance that the yogurt is dead.

Instead, culture your own yogurt at home. Start with fresh, full-fat milk, and heat to 180 degrees F. Bring the temperature back down to about 100 degrees F by immersing your jar or container in cold water. Add a spoonful of your favorite live yogurt or buy a culture to add to your warm milk. Then set your container inside a cooler filled with hot tap water. Don't move it for 12 hours. Then transfer the jar or container to your refrigerator, add your favorite sweeter or fruits, and enjoy.

 

Kombucha

This sweet, tangy live tea is a favorite among many. Although its is available in many natural grocery stores, it is unlikely to contain live cultures because they cannot survive without oxygen. Store bought tea must be sealed, and usually pasteurized, in order to be preserved and transported.

You can instead purchase a scoby, or symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, from a reputable source or obtain one from a friend. Simply brew sweetened black tea, add a scoby and kombucha tea starter, cover with a towel and rubber band, and leave it on your counter for a week or until your favorite flavors emerge. One short cut is to brew enough tea for several days so you quickly begin the fermentation process daily as you harvest the first servings.

 

Sauerkraut

In the olden days, sauerkraut sat in crocks for weeks before begin consumed. Although you can purchase sauerkraut in the stores today, these varieties are flavored appropriately but cannot be alive because they are sealed to preserve them at room temperature.

 

There's no need to purchase a fancy fermenting crock. Instead, you can simply use a glass jar and lid. Remember the yogurt you just made? Turn it into Greek yogurt by place a serving in a thin cloth to drain out some of the liquid whey. Then, add the whey along with sea salt to shredded cabbage in your jar. Ideally, you should pound out your shredded cabbage to release its juices, but you can also fill your jar with water, salt and whey. Leave it on your counter for a week or so and then store in your refrigerator. The longer it sits, the more flavorful it becomes.

 

Entering the world of fermented, live foods does not have to be expensive or daunting. These three easy, popular and delicious items are simple to make in your own kitchen with a minimal investment of money and time.