What are fermented foods and how they can make you healthier

These days most curious, ‘in the know foodies’ will have some variety of vegetable fermenting in a jar at home. When it comes to vogue ferments, Korean kimchi and German sauerkraut top the list. Sauerkraut, a sour fermented cabbage, has been a German staple for centuries and on the other side of the world, the spicy fermented vegetables that make up kimchi are so loved that people throw kimchi parties to celebrate the opening of kimchi jars. So, what are fermented foods?

easy-sauerkraut-recipe

Don’t feel like reading? You can also listen to this article on fermented food via our Crumbs Podcast channel.

First, what is fermentation?

Fermentation is a natural process constantly happening around us on forest floors, in your local craft brewery and even the garden compost heap. Since ancient times people have been making use of fermentation to preserve seasonal vegetables beyond their time and sustain themselves throughout the year.

There is beneficial bacteria present on the surface of all fruits, vegetables and even your hands. Lactobacillus is one of these bacteria and when fruits or vegetables are submerged in a salted solution, this surface bacteria begins to convert natural sugars into lactic acid. Lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria and leaves behind the beautiful, tart flavours of fermentation.

Why has it become so fashionable?

The current revival and worldwide spread of the fermentation trend could be put down to us all living in a world where food is fast, convenient and in most cases, nutrient deficient. There’s a growing demand for farm to table produce and a renewed appreciation for age-old techniques that take time; preserving not only tradition, but all the goodness that real food has to offer.

There is much to be said for putting time and effort back into what we eat.

Why fermented foods are so good for you The probiotics contained in fermented foods are incredibly beneficial for our digestive tracts – they restore the proper balance of bacteria, are rich in enzymes, vitamins and nutrients; and because the food is already partly fermented, it is easier to digest and helps the digestive system run efficiently.

Reap the rewards of fermentation with this easy sauerkraut recipe.

Have you experimented with fermented foods? We’d love to know what works for you and what doesn’t.