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The Wholefoodie: Susan Jane White makes fermented fennel

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Susan Jane White

Susan Jane White

Susan Jane White

As my darling Hippocrates almost once said, let food be thy medicine, bitches. It seems like we're finally riffing on his philosophy.

Scientists now know that serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of joy, is predominantly made in the gut and not in the brain. Could our food impact our psychological well-being? Advances in microbiome research can now show there is more communication from the gut to the brain, than vice versa. The two are hard-wired by the vagus nerve. This gut-brain axis is supported by professors Ted Dinan and John Cryan in their book, The Psychobiotic Revolution. For wholefood divas like me, it reads like a thriller.

This week, I'm giving you serotonin in a jar: fermented fennel to optimise your mind and your mood. Party for your pipes!

Fermented Fennel

Makes 1 x 500ml jar

You will need:

800g sliced fennel

1 teaspoon good-quality fine sea salt

1 I slice my fennel by hand, but feel free to use a mandoline or the special blade on your food processor. Pop the sliced fennel into your largest non-metallic bowl and sprinkle over the fine sea salt. Massage the salt into the fennel for three minutes. Leave to rest for 30 minutes.

2 When you return, you'll find the fennel is much floppier. Massage again for three minutes, and leave for 10-20 more minutes.

3 Give it a final massage to soften the fibres, and transfer it and all the liquid from the fennel into a spotless 500ml jam jar. Push down firmly, so that the natural brine rises above the level of the fennel. This helps to prevent air pockets, which would wreck your lovely ferment.

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4 Leave at room temperature for at least three days, until it is tangy but not fizzy. Pop in the fridge, where it will live for another 4-5 weeks. I love this served with fish tacos, rice bowls, or Cheddar toasties.


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