Fermented foods from breads to vegetables to beer to yoghurt are all the rage. They have been around for centuries, their flavours may be bland, may be spicy, may be calming.
First things first – What is Fermentation?
Beneficial microorganisms like yeast, bacteria and mould are all around us. When we put them in an environment where they can proliferate and thrive, fermentation magic happens. During the fermentation process, microorganisms transform sugars into acids or alcohol. The result? A highly nutritious, probiotic-rich food that is fantastic for our digestion and immunity.
Some fermented foods that you may know already are:
- Sauerkraut, fermented cabbage from Germany
- Tempeh, fermented soybeans from Indonesia
- Kefir, fermented milk and Kvass a fermented drink made from bread or beets
- Kombucha, fermented tea from China
- Miso, fermented rice, barley or soybeans and natto, fermented soybeans
- Kimchi, fermented cabbage or radish from Korea.
Then we asked Patricia to explain the Key Health Benefits of Fermented Foods
- Fermented foods improve our digestion: Fermentation kicks off the digestive process by releasing nutrients and breaking them down, so by the time we actually eat fermented foods, digestion is much easier. When digestion is easy, our bodies are able to absorb nutrients more readily. Fermented foods also encourage a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut, which has multiple benefits that are outlined below.
- Fermented foods improve immune health: 70 to 80 percent of our immune system lives in our intestinal tract. When the organisms in our digestive system are out of balance, our immune health is affected. Fermented foods offer us the microbes we need to enhance and balance immunity, leading to an improvement in a multitude of immune conditions – such as allergies and, autoimmune conditions.
- Fermented foods may help manage weight: Researchers are discovering that a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut can help manage obesity and boost our metabolism. Studies show that people who are overweight have a poorer diversity of gut bacteria. Fermented foods, from kimchi to red pepper paste, can help us improve our bacterial balance in the digestive tract.
- Fermented foods help get rid of anti-nutrients: Many grains, beans, nuts and seeds contain phytic acid, which interferes with our ability to absorb nutrients. Fermentation helps get rid of these anti-nutrients, which makes it easier for our bodies to access those vitamins and minerals.
- Fermented foods can improve complexion: Our skin is an ecosystem and is impacted by what we put on our bodies as well as what we put in our bodies. An imbalance of gut bacteria can impact our skin microbiome, and vice versa. Research shows that fermented foods can improve skin health and various skin conditions such as acne, rosacea and eczema.
What are some of the dishes that you ferment in this class?
- Simple fermented vegetables (some call pickles) – using salt water brines for a wide range of vegetables, including classic sauerkraut and kimchee.
- Traditional milk kefir
- Fermented Chilli sauce
- Great beverages – coconut water kefir, classic kombucha, Kvass and
- A nice way to enjoy the Beet Kvass, once its fermented, is to serve cold with squeeze of lemon!
- A nice way to enjoy the Coconut Water Kefir, is to serve chilled with a squeeze of lemon OR lime.
- Fermented Nut Cheese
If you are not sure what fermented foods taste like, try our Putia Power Bowl which is packed with amazing flavours in the baked miso chilli kale and the pickled carrot kraut. Vegetarian food never tasted this good.
If this whets your appetite for fermented foods, email eat@putiapurefood if you are interested in attending our next “Adventures in Fermentation” cooking class at Putia Pure Food Kitchen.