Fermentation is the ultimate form of slow cooking, in our high speed culture it’s hard to devote our energy and attention to something that can take weeks or months to complete. Yet fermented foods are becoming more prevalent and popular for a variety of different reasons.
Here is a brief overview of a few of the reasons why you might want to consider fermented foods:
1. Great taste
Fermenting is a great way to jazz up the ordinary and add some savoury flavours to your meals.
2. Food preservation
Before there was refrigeration, people cultured food to protect it from becoming contaminated. It’s still a low cost way to preserve seasonal foods, especially if you are lucky enough to have a cold room. Personally, I like to ferment foods for times when you might not have access to refrigeration, like when you’re traveling or camping.
Fermenting foods can help those with food sensitivities. For example, those with lactose intolerance are likely to be able to tolerate kefir, cheese and yogurt. Many people have sluggish digestion after eating grains. However, pre-fermenting grains breaks down a lot of the complex carbs and starches making them easier to digest.
Our lives are so full of texts, emails, work, fun and chores. There’s something nice about taking a break from all of that to enjoy the daily rhythms of culturing food. It’s not a task that takes much time, but it is so satisfying to know that I helped to create something from nothing.
Opening your first jar of homemade sauerkraut is so much more satisfying then simply dashing off to the store to buy some.
Finally… 5. Probiotics
This is probably the most popular reason for eating fermented foods. The reality is that bacteria is EVERYONE’S best friend. Bacteria are all over our body, helping us to digest food, protecting our skin from the sun, and helping our immune system fight off pathogens.
All it takes is one dose of antibiotics to mess up with this system, and that’s assuming you had a healthy dose of probiotics in the first place. There is the option of just buying a supplement, but eating fermented foods is cheaper and tastier (and likely more “alive”).
The take home message:
Historically fermenting foods were part of the way of life, and would have been eaten daily. Now we live in a world where everything is pasteurized and antibiotics are everywhere. Who couldn’t use a little more love from our friendly bacteria?