Why Ferment from scratch
Updated: Oct 8, 2018
Recently fermented foods have been popping up at farmer’s markets, health food stores, and even traditional grocery stores. Why should you introduce fermented foods into your diet? And why should you make them yourself?
Since the time of Hippocrates (470-360 B.C.) it has been understood that “All disease begins in the gut.” If disease begins in the gut, it is probably to our benefit to have a healthy gut to help us ward of disease. A healthy gut does, in fact, lead to overall better health.
One way that good gut health is achieved is by including fermented foods in your diet. Fresh fermented foods contain probiotics that are alive with good (pro) bacteria (biotics). These microbes help to populate your gut and fight off bad bacteria. One healthy effect is they act as a digestive aid, helping to break down some foods and making their nutrients more available to the body. Research has shown that good gut microbes bolster the immune system and can enhance mood. 90% of the serotonin in your body, a neurotransmitter associated with good mood, is produced in the gut as a result of microbial action. Certain lactobacilli are being recommended by researchers to supplement other treatments for osteoarthritis and osteoporosis and to increase bone mass density. Those microbes need to be nurtured and supplemented.
Some of the most common good gut microbes are in the lactobacilli family. The fermentation of vegetables is often called lacto-fermentation. The “lacto” in the name refers to the lactobacillus strains that are active in the fermentation process. Natural microbes such as lactobacilli in the atmosphere create lactic acid which is a natural preservative for food. The microbes pass into your system when you eat the food. Pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and yogurt are a few of the more common foods you may recognize that contain lactobacilli.
Although there are sources for fresh fermented foods, there are a number of reasons you may want to make them yourself.
Easy and inexpensive. It takes very little time to put together some vegetables and a brine. Once you’ve combined the ingredients the microbes do all the work! No heating. No bake times. No expensive equipment. Simple measurements.
More probiotics. Cooking from scratch gives you more control over length of time, and therefore the density of microbes in your foods – the longer a vegetable ferments the more microbes are developed in the food. Many commercially sold foods have additives that stop the fermentation process. That is for the ease of the manufacturer for distribution. But at home, you can allow fermentation to go as long as you wish.
Seasonal. You can support your local farm economy and feel good about what is on your plate. Eating fresh may inspire new and different ferments. You can ferment more than just cucumbers and cabbage. Have you tried fermented okra? Cherry tomato bombs? Curried rutabaga?
Variety. By fermenting from scratch you can be creative and make dishes that are unavailable in the store. One can add a variety of flavors to sauerkrauts and other fermented vegetables which leads to a diverse menu full of flavor and good gut health.
If you haven’t already started fermenting from scratch, I hope you’ll give it a try. To get started come to a workshop with me. For more information go to www.wowxtwo.com