We break down some of the most commonly asked questions about the latest wellness trend.
What is fermentation?
Fermentation is an ancient process of preserving foods. It occurs when the food is exposed to microbes, which convert the sugars/carbohydrates in the food into other substances. This develops interesting flavours, textures and smells in the food, and also infuses the food with beneficial bacteria which our bodies need for good health.
What are the advantages of fermented foods?
Fermented foods are filled with probiotics – beneficial bacteria which work as reinforcement for the good bacteria in the digestive system. They basically predigest our food for us, making absorption easier. Fermented foods are also rich in vitamins, low in sugar and full of helpful enzymes, and they promote the growth of healthy flora in the intestine. And since 70 to 80 per cent of the immune system lies in the gut, having a healthy balance of gut flora is important for your overall wellbeing. Check out MiNDFOOD’s top eight foods for gut health.
How do I incorporate fermented foods into my diet?
Chances are you’ve been eating fermented foods without even knowing it. Sauerkraut, kimchi and miso are all fermented, as is the popular health drink kombucha. However, if you’ve never sampled any of these delicacies, it may be best to start small. Fermented foods can be an acquired taste, so treat them as a condiment to begin with. A little goes a long way, and just a tablespoon of fermented food will give you a health boost without overwhelming your palate.
Also, make sure you’re eating the fermented foods raw. Cooking them kills the bacteria, and you lose all those amazing health benefits.
How do I make my own fermented foods?
Making your own fermented fruit and vegetables is surprisingly easy. First, chop up the fruit or vegetables you want to ferment. Chopping releases their juices and helps speed up the fermentation process. Then place into glass jars with the fermentation culture (most often in home fermenting, this is simply salt water). Weigh down the fruit/vegetables so they are completely submerged in the brine, otherwise they may spoil.
Then top with an air-tight lid and store at a moderate temperature, waiting until bubbles start to form in the liquid and it starts to turn cloudy – this may take a few days. Give it a taste – if you like it, it’s done. If you prefer a sourer taste and a softer texture, leave it longer.