Food For Thought
Fermented Foods: A Primer
By: Leanne Ely
I think our ancestors would be pretty surprised at how fermented foods seem to have all but disappeared from our dinner plates.
Since ancient times, humans around the world have been fermenting their food before eating or drinking it. Wine was being made at least eight thousand years ago. Milk fermentation has been happening since around 3000 BC and folks have been eating leavened bread around 1500 BC.
Our grandmothers made sauerkraut and pickles via lacto-fermentation (using salt) where today we use vinegar. They used wild yeast (sourdough) to leaven their bread. Those types of fermentation provided us with probiotics, replenishing the good bacteria in our bodies. Today, almost everything we eat is pasteurized. We use antibacterial soap and drink chlorinated water. We take antibiotic drugs. Most of us have an imbalanced level of bacteria in our guts and that can make us sick.
Adding fermented foods to your diet will help restore those levels of healthy bacteria and it will do wonders for your well being.
Here are some good reasons to eat fermented foods:
Improved digestion. Eating fermented foods is sort of like having it already partially digested before it hits your stomach. That allows your body to take the good out of the food without doing so much heavy lifting. When you improve digestion, nutrient absorption is naturally improved as well.
Vitamin boost. When you ferment foods you boost their vitamin content, especially with fermented dairy products like kefir.
Gut health. You need good bacteria in your gut to avoid yeast infections, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, gluten intolerance, lactose intolerance and lots of other nasty things. Eating fermented foods can help strike the right balance.
Flavor. Why do we like drinking wine with our stinky cheese and eating sauerkraut on our hotdogs? Because it’s delicious, that’s why! Fermented foods are healthy and delicious.
Fermenting food is inexpensive, requiring very basic ingredients, salt and mason jars and it helps to preserve foods for a long period of time.
To get more fermented foods into your diet, drink kombucha (a fermented tea you’ll find at Asian markets) or kefir. Eat naturally fermented condiments that you buy at the store or make your own at home. Kim chi, sauerkraut, salsa and pickles are all examples of fermented condiments you can easily make yourself.
Do you have a favorite fermenting method or recipe to share? Is there more you’d like to know about fermenting foods? Ask away! It will help me put together posts in the future, based on what you want to learn more about. http://www.facebook.com/savingdinner
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