Not only is fermentation handy for food preservation, but eating fermented foods boosts the beneficial bacteria in your gut which has been associated with a ton of health benefits (better digestion, increased immunity, etc.).
But the probiotics you find in capsule form pale in comparison to getting your probiotics from fermented foods.
There are a ton of different fermented foods out there; it seems like every culture puts their own unique spin on it and often times people have a love/hate relationship with them. Have you ever heard of Surstromming?!
I’ve experimented with making many different fermented foods in the past and some I’ve enjoyed more than others.
Here are my top 3 favourites:
Milk kefir is made by adding kefir grains (a combination of yeast and bacteria) to milk and letting this ferment at room temperature for 1-3 days. It’s handy because you don’t need to keep it at a constant temperature the way you do with yogurt. The result is like a thin, tangy yogurt. I eat it with granola and fruit, put it in smoothies and salad dressings and I bake with it (it is so good in pancakes and muffins!) although much of the bacteria would die in the cooking process so generally you want to avoid heating it.
Kombucha is a fermented green or black tea that’s fizzy and tart and has potent health promoting properties.
I made kombucha at home for a long time (again you need a SCOBY starter to do this) but to be honest my home made versions were never as good as some of the delicious options we have locally. I love the Parkerview Brews we sell at the Odla market and Three Treasures has Happy Belly kombucha available that is super good!
Sauerkraut and Kimchi consist of shredded cabbage (and other veggies in Kimchi) that ferment thanks to lactic acid bacteria. No need for a starter here! It’s just veggies and salt and the result is full of probiotics, antioxidants and vitamins C and K.
In my first attempts, years ago I tried to make sauerkraut in the old crocks that you’ve seen in antique shops. Some batches worked and some failed and when you’re growing the veggies for your ferments, your tolerance for failed batches is pretty low! Then I discovered fido jars and that was a game changer and makes the whole process pretty fool proof. Now my crocks are mostly used for planting flowers in!
You can use sauerkraut in just about anything. It’s so good on a fresh bratwurst, on eggs, in wraps or added to a hearty bowl of soup.
To get the maximum health benefits make sure to choose unpasteurized sauerkraut because pasteurization kills off the beneficial bacteria.
With all of these ferments it’s best to either make your own at home or source from a trusted supplier that is using natural processing because often the grocery store versions of these products don’t have nearly the same probiotic benefits.
Your guts will thank me 🙂