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Why eat Fermented foods? Well for one they are delicious. For some they are an acquired taste. If you have never eaten fermented foods before, they taste “different” then you are used to. Of the five tastes of your pallet, fermented foods fall into the “sour” category usually. When I first started down the fermented path, I really didn’t care for them. I knew how good they were for me, so I kept on. Over time your tastes change, and now I can honestly say I love them.
In our modern day world we don’t eat a lot of fermented foods, mainly because we don’t have to. We can go to the grocery store in January and get a cucumber, or we can make fresh coleslaw any time we want. Back in the day, before bazillions of dollars were spent on chemical food preservation people had to preserve their fresh foods for the long harsh winter coming. The food industry has decided to pasteurize everything, which kills good and bad bacteria. People also like the predictable flavours of buying their second jar of something. Fermenting can be different every time, causing variation from batch to batch, which can throw some people off. For some like me it is exciting, you never know if it will be better than your last batch!
Some how over the years society as a whole has decided that bacteria is bad and fresh is best. Fresh foods are amazing and extremely important in a healthy diet, but I argue so are fermented foods. Fermented foods are loads with “healthy bacteria” promote healthy guts. Research now is showing the the health of your gut or digestive system is crucial to your over all health. Poor gut health can contribute to depression, weight gain, lack of energy, allergies, lowered immune system even learning disabilities.
There are so many things that negatively impact you good gut bacteria. Pharmaceuticals including antibiotics completely upset the balance, food preservatives and additives, even tap water kills good bacteria. Oh, and stress… Stress messes with your digestion, therefore messes with your good bacteria. Luckily none of us have any stress, right? Incorporating fermented foods into your diet can repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria and starve off the bad bacteria. Bad bacteria can take over when there are no good guys there to defend your gut.
Fermenting is a natural preservative. Meaning it preserves the foods nutrients naturally, keeping the goodness alive. The good bacteria break down the natural sugars of the food and create probiotics and vitamins and even some healthy fats – naturally!
If you are just starting out on your fermenting adventure, eating a plate full of Kimchi, or a gallon of Kombucha might cause you some tummy troubles. These can be attributed to the bad guy bacteria dying off when the good guys show up. None the less, take it slow and avoid the cramping.
Some commercially produced fermented products are actually pasteurized after being fermented, which kills all the healthy bacteria making the product less beneficial to your gut health. Some fermented products are packaged in BPA plastics and sealed with aluminum. Some industrially produced fermented products have small allowances for non food contaminants. It is always better to make your food yourself and know exactly what is in it. And this way you can make things to your own tastes. You can make Kimchi as spicy as you want, you can make Kombucha in a different flavour every time. You’re in charge here.