Cold? Roll out the barrels

By Simon Round, December 29, 2010
Follow Simon on Twitter

Currently, I do not have a cold. I am, however, one of the few. Throughout the JC newsroom, journalists are coughing, spluttering and rasping. Tissues are piling up, Lemsip is being taken by the bucketful and occasionally a nurse will walk across the editorial floor to check blood pressure and change drips.

You may not have read in the newspapers about the current sniffles pandemic but you have only to look around you to see the huge number of victims who have been tragically afflicted with a runny nose and tickly throat.

So far, I have survived the onslaught. But then, maybe this is no coincidence. You see, I have been taking precautions - in fact, I have been taking some Jewish precautions.

There are two very haimishe things you can do to reduce your chances of getting a cold. Everyone tells you that vitamin C is the key to cold avoidance but while I enjoy a satsuma as much as the next man, it has never stopped me from becoming blocked up.

Buy a barrel of cod livers, mix with sea water and leave to ferment for up to a year

However, vitamin D does apparently bolster your immune system. While in the summer the sun supplies us with plenty of vitamin D, in winter you have to look elsewhere. Actually, you need to get like our ancestors and eat plenty of vitamin-D-rich oily fish like herring, or take a good dose of cod liver oil. This is scientifically proven. After all, when was the last time you saw a cod with runny gills?

In fact, for the best results you should make your own. You need to buy a barrel-load of fresh cod livers from your fishmonger. Then mix them with a good quantity of sea water and leave them to ferment to up to a year in a cool place. After this, all that remains is to extract the oil. Alternatively, you can pop down to Boots.

The other haimishe immune system booster is sauerkraut - not the most glamorous ingredient perhaps, but one which sustained our ancestors in the shtetl when winter living conditions approached the awfulness of Heathrow's Terminal Three in a big freeze.

You can get it in jars, of course, but to be really effective the sauerkraut has to be unpasteurised as it is the good bacteria released in fermentation which wards off the germs.

I have in the past experimented by taking the lid off the sauerkraut jar and leaving it out of the fridge to, er, re-ferment. The good news was that I didn't get a cold, but I did have rather a nasty stomach ache. Basically what you need is a big barrel that you fill with fresh cabbage, cover with salt and leave to ferment for, well, up to a year. The smell isn't a problem - you won't be able to detect the cabbage aroma at all if you leave it next to the cod-liver-oil barrel.

The great thing is that since I started taking the above remedies I haven't had a single cold. But then again my good health might have something to do with the fact that, what with the various barrels in the kitchen and the chicken shmaltz I rub on my chest every morning, I haven't had a visitor since January 2008.

    Last updated: 2:29pm, December 29 2010