An Age Old Tradition

Those of you who have received Above Rubies for awhile know that I love eating raw foods and encouraging you to include lots of them in your family’s diet too.

I am always searching for new ways to boost the enzyme pool in my family as enzymes are our true measure of age and health. Well… I have just learned a way of preparing raw foods that greatly multiplies the enzymes and throws in naturally occurring probiotics to boot. This stuff is amazing and it is dirt cheap, as cheap as a few cabbage leaves.

My family enjoys raw-ing along with me, but sometimes they like a good stew or a bowl of beans. I have sometimes wished that we were rich enough to buy enzyme supplements to give them when I serve up food that has had all its enzymes killed by cooking - a little something to lighten the digestion burden. God has now shown me a way that is cheaper and a whole lot healthier.

This new craze is culturing food. It has been done for centuries and across the globe. It was the way our forefathers preserved their food before refrigeration. Nearly every condiment we know was originally cultured and invented to aid digestion. They were considered health foods, rather than sugar or corn syrup and the heavily salted pasteurized kinds we lace our foods with today.

Raw food contains lactic acid. To culture food, we put our food in the perfect environment for this lactic acid to incubate and flourish. In no time it turns into an army of “good guys”, namely lactobacillus. When you eat them, this amazing regiment moves into the bowels and sets up base camp. They take over from the “bad guys” that are intent on wrecking havoc all through your body. Because of giving frequent antibiotics, many of our children’s bodies have become unbalanced. The “good guys” have been decimated and the “badies” now rule the roost.

Adding cultured foods to your family’s meals, not only adds additional enzymes to aid digestion, but restores the flora and balance back to the bowel. This is incredibly important, because a lack of good flora is the beginning of a hoedown of bad bacteria that initiates many annoying complaints and life-threatening diseases.

Culturing food is as easy as brushing your teeth and whole lot more fun. Grab a book from the library, a health food store or look up the “How To’s” on the Internet. Involve your children -- it’s a homeschooling adventure. Discover history together as a family and research family explorers as you learn about culturing foods.

Captain Cook, while 27 months at sea, ate 60 barrels of sauerkraut (cultured cabbage) along with his crew. This stuff was the real McCoy, not the fake pasteurized stuff you find today. Despite the incessant rocking of the ship, the sailor’s weather and no refrigeration, he opened his last barrel after two years and it was better than the first. On his ship there were no cases of scurvy which often wiped out entire crews.

Teach your children that the red stuff McDonalds’ serves with its fries used to be a medicinal food. Ketchup was invented by the Chinese and was called ke-tsiap. The Chinese brought it to England and from there the English, who founded New England, brought it to our American shores.

Take a trip around the world while still in your home. Discover Austria and Germany where they make sauerkraut. Go to Japan, where it’s pickled ginger, Korea, where they serve kimchee, and on to Bulgaria where yogurt was first invented (also a cultured food). Visit the Indians of North America who made healthy cultured drinks out of pecans.

A beautiful aspect of home-centered family living is a desire to pass on the baton to our next generation, to teach our girls the skills of their great grandmothers, to complete them in the gracious femininity of ages past, to learn the lost arts of quilting, sewing, crocheting and how to be a hostess of hospitality. Of course there is more we want to teach daughters and some might be more naturally “climb the tree” types, but I believe a touch of nostalgia and refinement does them good.

As parents, we desire to apprentice our sons in trades and train them in a solid work ethic, young men who are responsible and hard-workers, who know how to get stuck in and sweat a little. It’s a desire to pass on the baton from their great grandfathers and teach them the old artisan skills.

I don’t want to be the broken down bridge that stops the passing of home and heritage to my children. Culturing foods is an age old tradition and an artisan skill of turning food into medicine. I have made up my mind to pass it on. I obtained a simple book, sat my toddlers on the kitchen counter and we laughed, sang and made a jolly, happy mess, smashing down shredded cabbage with meat hammers.

Bringing health into your family is pure fun. Don’t make it boring and heavy. Include your children and make it an exciting journey.

Teach them about the amazing human body, the way it ticks and what keeps it ticking. Discover God’s bountiful provision. Run bare feet with your children through a field. Let the wind blow through your hair. Grab handfuls of any and every green weed or plant you  can all find. Bring your bounty home. Get a book from the library and find out what you picked that was poisonous. Maybe you brought something home that could save a life --  if you chewed it up and spat it into a snake bite it would draw out the venom. Maybe you found a wild edible plant that is a cure for cancer. Let them learn the land. Today many children only know the difference between French fries and a donut.

Teach your daughters the flowers you can actually eat. Maybe you could make a window box together. Plant beautiful edible flowers to arrange on dinner plates or brighten up a salad that is as beautiful as confetti from a rainbow. Sprouting too, is great fun when children are allowed to be the little gardeners.

If you are already in over your head on your health journey, put this culturing idea on the shelf and bring it out when you are ready. It’s got to be fun, not a chore. Healthy foods are His gift to us. Every meal we can choose to eat some of His gifts and it should be a party, not a dirge.

P.S. Although I encourage joy and baby-steppin’ your children towards health, it is my opinion that we should not allow our children to be picky about their food. I believe that children have to be trained and even disciplined out of pickiness. It is the opposite of heaven to have to pick out the raisins or tomatoes or cut off the crusts for each individual child and have to suffer through a huge wobbly if you don’t. The fun comes in our health journey when pickiness is sent packin’. There is nothing worse than pickiness. Ugh!



Primm Springs, Tennessee, USA

Serene is married to Samuel Allison and they have seven children--Arden, Chalice, Cherish, Cedar, Engedi, Vision and Shepherd. Cherish and Engedi are adopted from Liberia, West Africa, and Serene is expecting a new baby in November 2009.



Simple Sauerkraut

* First, highly sterilize all utensils.

* Shred a head of cabbage in your food processor with the slicing side of your grater attachment, not the grating side.

* Put it in a bowl and sprinkle 1 Tbs. of Celtic salt in it.


* Sprinkle in caraway or cumin seeds or any other herb you fancy.

* Add 3 Tbs. whey *

* Put your children on the counter. Give them anything that pounds.  Sit down with a cool drink and watch them have fun. Let them pound the cabbage for ten minutes until it releases its own juice.

* With clean hands, stuff it into a wide-mouthed quart jar and press it down until the juice comes to the top.

* Leave an inch of space at the top and put the lid on tightly.

* Leave in cupboard at room temperature for three days, or four to five if your house is cold.

* Place in refrigerator. Eat as desired but the longer it sits the more the flavor develops.

Cultured cabbage is brimming with Vitamin C.

This sauerkraut is to be used as a condiment as it is rather salty. It helps you digest your cooked food. I like to make sauerkraut with no salt when I eat it in large amounts. I use the cultures mentioned in The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates (

You can also do it by doubling the whey. Whey inoculates your batch with copious amounts of lactic acid which gets the ball rolling quickly.

* Whey. It is incredibly healthy to culture goat milk products. If you can find a source of raw goats milk try making kefir and yogurt or even cheese by culturing it you break down the lactose and the casein which are already more digestible than cow’s milk  You gain a bunch of friendly critters (probiotics). Your left over whey from making these products is what you can use in the above. If you look up the Int3ernet you’ll find wonderful sites on how to make these.


Beet Pickles

* Cut up beets coarsely. Do not grate as this releases too much of its natural, sugary juice which is more likely to create an alcoholic environment than a lactic acid environment.

* Rinse under water until the water turns clear.

* Place in quart jar and fill with enough water to cover, leaving an inch spare at the top. The water will turn a little pink again.

* Add 1 Tbs. healthy sea salt (or whey if you have it, or the cultures if you have ordered them.)


You can also add juniper berries, whole peppercorns, dill, tarragon and other herbs to spice it up.

Leave for three days. When you take the lid off and it explodes and fizzes over the rim like a soda that has been shaken, it’s a good sign. It means the lactic culturing works. Sometimes it may not fizz and that’s okay too. Cultured veggies are bright in color, have a zingy taste and smell cultured. You will know if it didn’t work as it will taste too disgusting to eat. In this case, try again – you’ll get it. Beets are blood purifiers.


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