What are fermented foods?
You have probably heard of sauerkraut and kimchee. These are examples of fermented foods, but beware if you are buying these straight from the shelf at the supermarket. Store bought fermented foods often contain high doses of salt. They also tend to be completely over processed and are also usually pasteurized, which means they have been prepared at high temperatures that kill all the goodness that properly fermented foods provide. What you want to look for is raw fermented foods. An example of raw fermented foods is cultured vegetables that are left in airtight jars at room temperature for several days. Commonly, the vegetable used for this is cabbage, but you might also find it mixed with carrots or beets or radishes and other vegetables which can be used as ferments too.
Examples of traditionally fermented foods that naturally contain probiotics include:
• Fermented dairy: Kefir, yogurt, cheese, buttermilk, and sour cream.
• Fermented vegetables: Sauerkraut, kimchee, and dill pickles.
• Fermented soy: Miso, tempeh, and natto.
Why eat fermented foods?
When vegetables have been fermented, they become even more nutritious. The healthy enzymes which are present in the vegetables flourish when fermented, and create an environment that is full of probiotics, enzymes and minerals which are important for a healthy body. The probiotic good bacteria and enzymes in fermented foods help to populate our gut and intestines with lactobacilli which are really important for healthy digestion.
They also help to eliminate toxins from our body, so eating them will allow your intestines to detox which is a really good thing! Raw, cultured vegetables are really potent in terms of helping your body to operate efficiently. When your body is working the way it should, then you will not only feel great, but you will look beautiful too. Eating fermented vegetables will also help with weight loss and lead to more energy, as well as balance out the pH levels of your body.
When everything is working as it should, you will find your immunity is boosted from having a healthy gut and you will start to really feel cleaner. It is important to eat fermented foods regularly to really experience all the amazing health benefits that were mentioned above.
The great thing is that they are easy to eat with just about anything. It is recommended to get into the habit of adding them to your salads or even just having them as a side to other dishes you eat. They are particularly good to eat paired with starches and proteins, as it will help you to digest these foods better.
Top reasons to eat fermented foods
1. Fermented foods improve digestion.
2. Fermented foods restore the proper balance of bacteria in the gut. These health ailments (lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, yeast infections, allergies, and asthma) have been linked to a lack of good bacteria in the gut.
3. Raw, fermented foods are rich in enzymes. Your body needs enzymes to properly digest, absorb, and make full use of your food. As you age, your body’s supply of enzymes decreases.
4. Fermenting food actually increases the vitamin content.
5. Eating fermented food helps us to absorb the nutrients we’re consuming. You can ingest huge amounts of nutrients, but unless you actually absorb them, they’re useless to you. When you improve digestion, you improve absorption.
6. Fermenting food helps to preserve it for longer periods of time. These fermented foods ie sauerkraut, pickles and salsa will keep for months. A suggestion: if you have a huge batch of produce in your garden that you don’t know how to use up, ferment it!
7. Fermenting food is inexpensive. There’s nothing fancy required for this hobby. And many of the foods required to make these recipes are very cheap. You can use inexpensive cabbage to make sauerkraut, or get yourself a kombucha scoby and with a little water, sweetener and tea, you have a health elixir.
8. Fermenting food increases the flavor.
How to Incorporate More Fermented Foods Into Your Diet
Drink fermented beverages. Kefir and kombucha are available at many health food stores. They’re also very easy to make at home. Serve food with pickles, sauerkraut, salsa, ketchup, sour cream, kim chi, mayonnaise and other naturally fermented condiments. You can buy naturally fermented condiments at health food stores or make your own. Get creative and experiment! Try making kefir ice cream, sourdough crackers, fermented coconut milk, mead (honey wine), Eat some Japanese natto with rice.
How to Ferment Your Own Foods
It’s easy to get started with fermentation. You just need some starter cultures and some mason jars.
1. Start with a cabbage or cucumber. Shred the cabbage in the food processor or slice it finely with a knife. Add this mixture to a bowl and start to massage the cabbage with your hands. If there is some liquid that appears this is good! Next, make brine from blending water and unpasteurized miso paste. Use about 4 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of miso as a good quantity for a medium-sized cabbage. Pour the brine over the cabbage and mix well.
2. Next fill the mixture into a jar, and squash it down so that the cabbage is tightly packed. Leave some space at the top of the jar, as the cabbage mixture will expand. Fill the space between the top of the mixture and the rim of the jar with rolled outer cabbage leaves. Now seal the jar and leave at room temperature for 5 days.
3. After 5 days, remove the top cabbage leaves and throw them away, then put the jar into the fridge. If you have a scum or bubbles at the top, this is great! These are a sign of the healthy probiotics being present in the ferment. You can start eating some of the fermented cabbage once you put the jar into the refrigerator and enjoy!