Back when refrigeration was nothing more than a pipe dream, fermenting food was one of the only ways to preserve perishables. The process of fermentation involves exposing the food to bacteria and yeasts, which breaks down organic matter and allows beneficial microorganisms to thrive. This means that fermented foods become imbued with interesting tastes as well as a range of health-promoting properties.
While in modern times the fermentation process has been largely replaced with pasteurisation (which strips out the live bacteria), fermented foods like kimchee and sauerkraut are making a comeback. As well as delivering on taste, fermented foods like this offer some fantastic health benefits…
Fermented foods help to fight disease
It is estimated that around 70-80% of our immune system is in our gut. This means that when we feed it poorly, we are leaving ourselves open to bad bacteria and disease-triggering inflammation. Introducing good bacteria via fermented foods will help to eliminate any inflammation and bad bacteria before they get the upper hand.
They are active foods
Rather than sitting lazily in your stomach – fermented foods are incredibly active. Along with the good bacteria, fermented foods release enzymes to help improve digestion, making it easier for your body to extract and absorb more nutrients from the foods you eat.
They could save you money
While initially fermented foods may seem more expensive (especially organic varieties), they can last for months, eliminating waste and saving you money in the long run. You could save even more money by fermenting foods at home yourself.
What should I buy?
If you are tempted by the idea of fermented foods, try a variety of fruits and vegetables to find out what you like. Remember that fermented and pickled are two different things, so ensure that the item you are purchasing is fermented (it should say fermented on the label and will be in the refrigerated section).
Try the following fermented foods to get you started:
- Fermented radishes, beetroot, tomatoes, onions, kimchee, garlic, sauerkraut.
- Fermented condiments like ketchup, relish, chutney and salsas.
- Fermented dairy products like fermented yoghurts, cheeses and cultured buttermilk.