|Angie Danak with Home Made Kombucha|
Angie Danek recalls that her great-grandmothers, one Russian, one Italian, used fermentation as a way of preserving food over the winter. Between the two they pickled everything from sauerkraut made from cabbage to eggplant.
Subsequent generations weren’t quite as interested in the cost-saving way to put up food to tide their family over the winter and dropped the practice from their household chores. One grandmother is even reported to have said "We don’t do that any more. That’s for poor people."
Danek, however, got back into fermentation when her son, Logan, developed Lymes Disease. "I realized I had to add probiotic food into his diet to bolster his immune system," she said.
Danek learned how to ferment all sorts of foods herself, first by reading a book titled "Fermentation" then by doing research online. "I was home schooled as a youngster so online research was natural to me," she said.
As soon as she was comfortable about the things she learned, she began leading classes at her father’s, (John Wohar), chiropractic office in Belle Vernon. An LMT (licensed massage therapist), Danek leads fermentation classes the last Tuesday of each month and also conducts classes for individuals and families at her home in East Millsboro, Pa. on request.
"You can ferment almost any fruit or vegetable even meat - sauerkraut, beets, carrots, cranberries, salsas," she said. "Not only are these foods nutritious and full of SCOBY (symbiotic colony of beneficial yeasts), but they are also cost effective if you make them yourself."
One of the easiest things to make, kefir, is ready to consume in a day. Simply take the gelatinous kefir grains in a jar and add anything you want to ferment - milk or juice and let it sit overnight. The next day, filter out and save the grains, then drink the rest.
Another easy food to make, kombucha or fermented tea, originated in Russia or China thousands of years ago. In China, the drink is referred to as the "tea of immortality." A mix of bacteria and yeast, kombucha is purportedly rich in anti-oxidants, a cancer preventative, a detoxifier, a healer of gastric ulcers and an aid to arthritis sufferers and diabetics.
"So many people today are sick from their food," Danek said. "Most inflammation diseases, for instance, are food related. Caffeine, sugar and alcohol are particularly inflammatory."
The health guru said that if you eat right 90% of the time, you can allow yourself a treat 10% of the time. She also considers herself and her family spoiled because she prefers to make her own fermented foods made at home, especially kombucha.
"We don’t buy it in the store because home made tastes better, and we can flavor it anyway we want," she said. Strawberry/mango, blueberry/basil and lemon/ginger are just three of the flavorings she’s tried.
Besides her classes in fermenting, Danek also teaches 19 other classes at her father’s office. These include everything from Essential Oils and Aroma Family to Smoothies and Oils and Healing Oils from the Bible.
"Fermenting dates back thousands of years, but is now mainstreamed again in the world of DIY (do it yourself) food preservation," reads one of her handouts. "It’s simple and it’s healthful."