I'm pretty sure that probiotics are your friend and can help maintain a healthy gut biome. You can find things with live cultures all over the place these days, but there are some that I make at home to handle food sensitivities in our household:
(one note: if you might have a fungal issue, e.g. candida, it might be good to steer clear of kombucha and keifer to minimize the possibility of them intermixing.)
(another note: I think I say this elsewhere, but in general, it’s good to soak foods and it’s good to ferment foods, for both toxicity and digestion, so if you can’t give up wheat or other grains, a sprouted sourdough is probably better than the default.)
⭐ Start with Homemade
Even easier (but much less miraculous):
⭐ Homemade Sauerkraut — literally just sliced cabbage salted and packed into a big mason jar (or fancy fermenting container).
- Starting from the stem-end, chop the cabbage into quarters and cut out the cores.
- Slice each quarter into 1/8th inch strips.
- For every pound of cabbage, sprinkle 1 tsp pickling salt on the cabbage and work it in with your hands until it starts to release water, about 3 minutes. Then mix in the juniper berries.
- Pack it tightly (to minimize oxygen), put the airtight lid on, and leave for 2-3 weeks at 65F, tasting it daily after a week, then move it to the fridge (which will slow the fermentation) to eat with hotdogs.
I have a smaller version of my kimchi container that I use for sauerkraut. 0.45 gallons should hold a 2.5lb head of cabbage. (The head pictured was about 1.8lbs.)
Update: 2.5lbs fits just fine, but if you don’t keep an eye on it (burping at least once a day, maybe more), it will bump the gasket inner lid up as the gasses form and you’ll have some sauerkraut juice puddling around your container.
But if you don’t have a special container yet:
I put it in a half gallon mason jar, I cut a circle of parchment paper to cover it (some people use one of the outer cabbage leaves) and I put a ziplock of saltwater on top to make sure it doesn’t get oxygen exposure and so that if the bag leaks, the saltiness isn’t affected. I have essentially a modern version of a pickle pipe that I screw on, so that the gasses that are released can push the O2 out without me needing to open the jar to burp and skim.
⭐ Homemade yogurt
Yogurt is also surprisingly easy to make and being able to choose your own milk and the amount of time you leave the probiotics to grow/replicate gives you more control over flavor as well as dealing with any potential
I make mine in individual 8oz wide mouth mason jars with a scoop of jam at the bottom (but if I were pressed for time, I think a big jar would also work fine and cut down on labor).
My sous vide water heater (I actually have the stainless steel version, but only because that’s the one that went on sale for Prime Day) works perfectly to keep the temp at 110F for about 5 or 6 hours (after tempering the milk at 180F and adding some store-bought yogurt to the cooled milk as a starter).
- Heat milk to 180F to kill unwanted microorganisms and denature the proteins in the milk (which makes it creamy instead of lumpy and separated). Do not stir (also to prevent forming lumps).
- Let the milk cool to 110F, stirring occasionally to limit skin from forming, and then pour it through a fine-meshed sieve. (if you don’t have one, maybe a tea ball would work?)
- Take 1/4 cup regular yogurt with live cultures and mix it thoroughly with 1/2 cup of the cooled milk.
- Stir this mixture into the rest of the cooled milk.
- Filter through the sieve again and then pour into jars (I put a scoop of jam in the bottom of the jars first), and screw the lids on not-overly-tight.
- Place the jars into a waterbath at 110F for 5-6 hours (you can keep it going for up to 24hrs and it will keep getting more sour, which can be good as a recipe ingredient or as as a tangy accompaniment). As noted above, I use my sous vide (sometimes confusingly in the pot of my instant pot).
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes on the counter, and then chill and store in the fridge up to a week.
I usually serve it with granola. Trader Joe’s has an excellent grain-free option that’s largely coconut and almond based. (I also tend to add milk, so it’s yogurt, jam, granola, and milk as a sort of strange bowl of cereal experience).