Anyone that knows me knows I love fermented foods. I love the taste, I love that I can make them myself, and I LOVE the health benefits!
I have a pretty decent case of plaque psoriasis that attacks my fingers, toes, ankles and elbows, for the most part. (that's a picture of my ankle - I kept it small so I don't gross you out too much...) It makes everyday activities like cooking, cleaning, washing my hair, typing, etc. kind of tricky. And my cracked and bleeding toes prevent most strenuous activity. It can be challenging at times, but I'm thankful that it's only psoriasis and not psoriatic arthritis. I had been reading about the benefits of turmeric and the amazing anti-inflammatory benefits it has, and started looking around for a turmeric product I could take therapeutically. I found an amazing fermented turmeric master tonic at a local fermenting shop this past year and started drinking it daily to see if it would help with my psoriasis.
I do think the turmeric tonic has made a positive difference for me. I wouldn't say I'm cured, but I've been out of the stuff for the past three weeks and I can feel the inflammation creeping back into my body. My ankles are super scaly, painful and itchy. My fingers and toes cracked and started and bleeding again. And I feel my anxiety coming back. Is it because I stopped taking my fermented turmeric master tonic? Hard to say, but it seems a little too coincidental to me.
I drink a ton of the stuff, and my habit started to add up. My solution? Ferment it myself! The ingredients are widely available and only cost me about $10 total. And when it's all said and done, I've got roughly 40 ounces of tonic to show for my efforts. #love
I looked around and found a few recipes - none were exactly what I was looking for, so I adapted them to be more to my liking. My primary inspiration came from two places - first, the Fermentation Farm right up the hill from me where I have been buying the already made and fermented Master Tonic, and also The Phickle's "Winter is Coming Fire Tonic." I changed the ingredients a bit to be more of what I really like as far as taste and health benefits, but I relied on their fermenting expertise to guide the way!
(If you're in the Orange County area I HIGHLY RECOMMEND stopping into the Fermentation Farm. Even if you're not into fermenting - they have a fabulous bone broth bar, grass fed/grass finished meats from Diamond Mountain Ranch, raw milk, pastured eggs, and some amazing skincare products!)
So the day finally arrived, yesterday, when my most recent batch was ready to bottle! I call it my Wild Hot Fire Tonic. It was supposed to be mildly hot, but the last batch of organic jalapeños I picked up were FLAMING hot. Which I didn't realize until I'd already chopped them up into my ferment....
Fire tonic is a cool thing - it's full of anti-inflammatory ingredients like turmeric, hot peppers, ginger and garlic. If you have a savory taste bud you will love it! If you have more of a sweet tooth, you may need a little time to adjust. I like to think of it as a cold soup, that way my taste buds are ready for the savory jolt rather than anticipating a sweet sip of juice! :)
Here are the ingredients you will need: (At the bottom, after the recipe and pictures, I've included a short description of each ingredient and why it is important to have in your tonic.)
Ingredients for Wild Hot Fermented Fire Tonic (fills a 1/2 gallon mason jar) (I use organic everything if possible - the hardest to find organic has been the Horseradish Root):
2 or 3 Jalapeno or other hot pepper, sliced
2 Fresh Horseradish roots
2 packages of Fresh Turmeric Root (I think they were each 4 - 6 ounces) or as many as you want
2 tubers of fresh Ginger
One sliced Onion - your choice of color. I like Red.
3 heads of garlic, smashed
One or two lemons
One bunch of basil
5 - 10 grinds of black peppercorns
Himalayan Pink Salt
Spring or Reverse Osmosis Water (do not use tap water if you can avoid it)
Step by step:
Wash all ingredients. Do not peel - this is a "wild" ferment, meaning we are not using a starter culture, rather we are using the wild "good bacteria" found on the peels of the ingredients. These are necessary to get your ferment going.
Slice and chop everything. I like to slice my peppers, lemons, onions, horseradish and ginger, and chop the turmeric up a little smaller.
Smash the garlic cloves just to open them up a bit. You can leave the papery skin on, or take it off. I've done both. Either way is good.
Wash and dry basil. Leave it in whole leaf form.
Layer your ingredients in a 1/2 gallon jar. I started with the basil, then placed the rest of the ingredients in the jar layer by layer, ending with the lemons and onions. I sprinkle Himalayan Salt on top of each layer, and I lay the top layer of sliced lemons and onions flat to help keep the rest of the ingredients under the brine. The salt prevents the "bad" bacteria from growing, creating a hospitable environment for the "good" bacteria - the lactic acid bacteria (LABs). These are what give the ferment that lovely tangy taste you'll enjoy so much!
In the pictures to the left and below, the first day of fermenting this batch of fire tonic, you can see the weight I use to make sure my vegetables stay under the brine, and and the tool I use to seal my ferment - my Fermie Friend. I don't know who makes the weight, but I love it. It was a gift from my adorable sister. I love her.
The Fermie Friend (also a gift from my sister - does she know me, or what!) is a waterless airlock for wide mouth mason jars that let's the ferment bubble away and vent the gases without letting air back in. It is brilliant!! It has changed the way I ferment, no more mess and no ferments lost due to air getting in. The weight keeps all the veggies under the brine so they will stay yeast- and mold-free. I like to use spring water or reverse osmosis water for my brine - tap water contains chlorine and fluoride. Yuk.
It is important to use the correct amount of salt for the amount of water/size of your container - too little, and the bad bacteria and yeasts will grow, spoiling your ferment and souring your gut if you decide to drink it anyway. But too much? Too much kills everything, even the LABs, so no fermenting will happen. You'll just have salty vegetables. I recommend a 2 to 3% salinity, based on recommendations from Pickl-It Brine. I also use the Hilbilby Fermenters Friend app to make sure my salinity is in the correct range. It has been my favorite tool to use when fermenting!
Here's what my Wild Hot Fermented Fire Tonic looked like when it was done fermenting, just before I bottled it:
And here it is bottled:
I like to keep as much of the solids as I can. They have so many amazing qualities, as you can see below, that I feel throwing them out would be too wasteful. I have a Vitamix blender so I just throw the ingredients that I keep in there with the liquid and pulverize them. I keep all of the turmeric and garlic, about half of the horseradish and ginger, not too many jalapeños since they were super spicy this time, most of the lemons, all of the basil, and whatever onions happen to cling to the other ingredients. :) It makes a thicker drink, but I don't mind. If you're into it, you can keep ALL of the vegetables in the ferment - they are pickled, after all. Eat them!
Ingredients and their benefits (I am not a doctor or medical professional, and this is not medical advice):
Jalapeño or other hot peppers (like habanero, ghost, scotch bonnet) - Jalapeños, and other hot peppers, contain a compound called capsaicin. It's what makes them hot, and is also very helpful when trying to lose weight. Quite simply, it "burns" calories! It is also anti-inflammatory, great for reducing pain and swelling. It is known to help with headache pain by blocking the pain transmitter to the brain, clear the sinuses, and is actually able to kill some cancer cells. They have lots of flavonoids, Vitamin C and Vitamin A, making them an excellent anti-oxidant.
Turmeric - Turmeric contains bioactive compounds called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin. Curcumin has POWERFUL anti-inflammatory properties and is also a great antioxidant. It is fat soluble, but not easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Fermenting helps it become more easily absorbed, as does taking it with black pepper which contains Piperine and increases absorption of the curcumin exponentially. Because it is becoming more widely believed that low-level inflammation is responsible for or contributes to many diseases like heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and other various degenerative conditions, it is hugely important to get anti-inflammation agents in your system in both quantity and quality. It may even help prevent and treat depression. Go, Turmeric! Fun fact - turmeric is what makes prepared mustard yellow. No joke. Go look.
Onion - Onions contain Quercetin, a compound known to play a significant role in preventing cancer. Their phytochemical and Vitamin C levels help improve our natural immunities. RAW onion lowers the bad cholesterol, LDL, and is also a homeopathic remedy for bee stings - place a slice over the bee sting for immediate relief from the pain and burning (AFTER you pull the stinger out...). Onions are also an excellent source of prebiotics, which your good gut bacteria need to flourish and keep your gut in balance.
Garlic - Although onions have more polyphenols than garlic, our good friend garlic is also a great source of these antioxidant powerhouses. Garlic is also full of Allicin - also the source of that great, garlicky smell. Allicin is believed to help prevent cardiovascular attacks, the common cold and cancer, as well as having a broad spectrum of antimicrobial functions and the ability to restore suppressed antibody responses. Whew. Who knew garlic was such a superhero???
Fresh Horseradish root - Powerful and pungent, with many health benefits, horseradish root helps lower blood pressure, stimulate healthy digestion, improve immune system health, prevent cancer, and again with the weight loss. Who knew horseradish was so amazing?
Lemons - Besides being simply delicious, lemons are also a valuable source of vitamin C, citric acid, flavonoids, B-complex vitamins, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and fiber. They have more potassium than either apples or grapes, and potassium is GREAT for heart health. While they taste acidic, they are actually alkaline and help restore a healthy ph level. Keeping the body alkaline can help prevent cancer cells from growing since cancer loves an acidic environment. The peel contains the potent phytonutrient tangeritin, which can protect the brain from disorders like Parkinson’s disease.
Basil (Sweet Thai, Holy/Tulsi, Dark Opal, your choice) - Anti Anxiety? Count me in! Basil, especially Holy Basil, may help reduce cortisol, the "fight or flight" hormone that gives us anxiety and contributes to our bodies holding on to extra fat. It is a great source of iron, great for liver health, and is anti-bacterial. Cheers, Basil!
Ginger - Ginger contains Gingerol (go figure...), which as powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant benefits. It may reduce muscle pain and soreness, and it can even help with osteoarthritis. It can help with indigestion, may help prevent cancer and Alzheimers, can help fight infection, and new research shows it may even help lower blood sugar and improve heart disease risk factors.
Black Peppercorns - Black pepper contains Piperine, which I mentioned briefly in the Turmeric description. On its own, the curcumin contained in turmeric can be hard for the body to absorb. Turmeric paired with black pepper, however, and your curcumin absorption goes into overdrive. Oh, yeah, baby!
Himalayan Pink Salt - I like Himalayan pink salt because it is so pure, and because of the extra minerals it contains. Table salt has been stripped of most of its natural minerals, only sodium and chloride remain. Himalayan salt, according to The Meadow, contains 84 electrolyts, minerals and elements.
Sea Salt - Similar to Himalayan Pink Salt, but derived from ocean and sea water.
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