“Fermented” isn’t exactly a word that springs to mind when we think of something tasty and delicious, or even healthy for that matter. However, that conception is rapidly changing as fermented foods are being recognized as some of the world’s healthiest foods to eat, with famous health foodies scoffing them down. So what’s all the fuss about? Read on to find out.
What Is Fermentation?
Fermentation is a natural process that has been used for centuries to preserve food, long before equivalent chemical processes were introduced. There are different types of fermentation, but one of the most common and popular ones is called “lacto-fermentation”. Yeast fermentation is slightly different and is used to make beverages and foods like bread.
How Does It Work?
The actual process of lacto-fermentation is when the bacteria, ‘lactobacillus’, converts the sugars in food to lactic acid. Lactic acid is a natural preservative, so the quality of the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes in the food stays at a much higher level, which can contribute to one’s overall health.
Why Is It Good for Us?
The reason you’re seeing celebrities, bloggers, and anyone in the know eating and creating their own kraut and kimchi is down to the health benefits of fermented foods. They are full of probiotics (otherwise known as the good guys), which are a special type of bacteria that works its way into the gut to help with digestion and to boost the immune system. They’re usually what the doctor prescribes after a run of antibiotics to get the body back on track and to replace all the healthy bacteria that has been killed off. On top of that, probiotics help to preserve food at its best, so pickling your veggies will make them last that much longer and make them taste delicious.
Fermentation also gives the foods that we love their “zest”. With yogurt, for example, its thick creaminess and slight zing come from the actual fermentation process. You can even take something as simple as a box of crudités and turn it into a healthy fermented snack! Click here to see how.
Here are Goodness’ top five fermented foods to eat and drink, along with easy recipes to make them at home.
Miso, the ingredient that brings the traditional Japanese miso soup together, is a paste that packs a punch and can turn a simple fish or soup dish into a tasty meal. Click here to learn how to make a delicious miso soup at home.
This is similar to tofu but can be described as a more fermented version, made from soybeans. With much more protein and fibre than tofu in every cup, it’s a brilliant fermented food to add to your salads, sandwiches, chilies, and more. Make sure you’re using organic soybeans or tempeh to keep your dishes healthy. Here is a delicious recipe to inspire you to try this.
This can actually refer to any type of sweetened tea that has been through the fermentation process, be it black or green. It’s rich in enzymes that the body uses to detox, so it’s perfect for a morning wakeup call. You can also make big batches to last you the week. Click here to learn how to make your own Kombucha tea.
Milk kefir is another drink rich in probiotics, beneficial yeast, and a wealth of vitamins and minerals. It’s almost like a drinkable yogurt, but better! It has a slight tart flavor, which also adds to the taste. It’s made from milk that’s fermented with kefir “grains”, and anything from cow’s milk to coconut, rice, and soy milk will work to get the final product. Click here for how to make your own milk kefir.
These are some of the more common fermented foods we see on a day-to-day basis. Making your own pickled vegetables is super easy to do, eliminates the vinegar and other nasties that can be found in store-bought jars, and adds so much flavor to what can be a rather uninspiring taste. For homemade pickled cauliflower, peppers, and carrots, take a look here.
Carly Rothman is the blogger behind LeanLivingGirl, a health and fitness website based in Dubai.