Making Fermented Foods At Home

Sauerkraut, kefir, vinegar, sourdough, miso and more. Why eat fermented foods? Fermented fare is quite literally alive with both flavor and nutrition and easy to make at home.

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by Adobestock/iuliia_n

Why eat fermented foods? Fermented fare is quite literally alive with both flavor and nutrition. Start making fermented foods at home.

Fermented foods and drinks are quite literally alive with flavor and nutrition, and are more common than you may realize. Cultured foods’ flavors tend to be strong and pronounced. Think of stinky aged cheeses; tangy sauerkraut; rich, earthy miso; smooth, sublime wines. Humans have always appreciated the flavors resulting from the transformative power of microscopic bacteria and fungi.

One major benefit of fermentation is that it preserves food. Live-culture yeasts and bacteria produce alcohol, lactic acid and acetic acid, all “bio-preservatives” that retain nutrients and prevent spoilage. Vegetables, fruits, milk, fish and meat are highly perishable, and our ancestors used whatever techniques they could discover — including wild fermentation — to store foods.

Fermentation not only preserves nutrients, it also breaks them down into more easily digestible forms. Soybeans are a good example. This extraordinarily protein-rich food is largely indigestible without fermentation, which breaks down the soybeans’ complex protein into readily digestible amino acids. Fermented soy gives us traditional Asian cultured foods, such as miso, tempeh and tamari (soy sauce), which have become staples in contemporary Western vegetarian cuisine. (Tofu is not fermented, but its manufacturing process makes it easier to digest.)

The fermentation process also creates new nutrients. Some live cultures have been shown to function as antioxidants, scavenging cancer precursors known as “free radicals” from the cells of your body. Fermentation also removes toxins from foods. Eating raw, fermented foods is an incredibly healthy practice, directly supplying your digestive tract with living cultures essential to breaking down foods and assimilating nutrients.

  • Updated on Aug 29, 2022
  • Originally Published on Jul 10, 2013
Tagged with: bread, cheese, fermentation, vegetables
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