Soooo, it’s come to my attention that this is Fabulous Fermentation Week. And while we are now halfway through said week, it is not done with entirely. Happy days.
Have you been keeping up with this event? I think it’s an awesome initiative! Created by uber food bloggers My New Roots and Earthsprout, the aim is to spread the word about the goodness of fermented foods, including tips, tricks and recipes shared around the web. I would highly recommend visiting both these sites and checking out the info, recipes, links and beautiful pictures you can find there. Do it.
I am a huge fan of fermented foods. Do you know what I’m talking about when I say that? It can be confusing for those not familiar with the term. Put simply, the process of fermentation occurs when carbohydrates (simple sugars found in all foods) are converted into alcohol and organic acids, using bacterial cultures.
Traditionally, all cultures incorporated some form of fermented food and drink into their diet. This is because fermentation served several important purposes, including food preservation (through lactic acid, alcohol and alkaline fermentations), reduction or elimination of anti-nutrients (chemicals present in many foods that inhibit digestion), reduced cooking time (and therefore fuel consumption), and an increased diversity of flavours and textures in the food available. Our forbears knew what was what.
What constitutes a “fermented food”? Things like yoghurt, sourdough, pickles, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, kim chi, kombucha, cider… these all fall under the banner.
Personally, I love the strong flavours and the good things these foods (and drinks) do for my digestion. And I often recommend patients to incorporate fermented foods into their diet for precisely this reason, whether made themselves or sourced from a good local market.
Last year I blogged about soaking, or activating, your nuts to make them easier to digest and, subsequently, more nutritious. Fermenting is a different but similar process, in the sense that it helps your body get maximum benefit from your food – both by making the nutrients more available and by aiding your digestive system.
I have recently begun delving into some home fermentation of my own. I’ve made my own kefir for years, but never strayed beyond that. Not even to sauerkraut, I’m ashamed to admit. However, a shiny kombucha scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) came into my possession recently, which has encouraged me to get my ferment on. And how.
I’m always up for a new challenge and I love having a home nutrition project. I also really like having a little culture (as in, literally, a small-sized bacterial culture) that I’m responsible for, almost like a pet.
I also like consuming the results. Behold: the fruits of my labour!
If you’re interested in trying some home fermentation of your own, there are a number of excellent blogs and online tutorials that will ease you into the process (and many associated with this week’s fermentation celebration). I found this post by Paleo in Melbourne super handy when I first began the kombucha experiment. There are also some great nutrition texts, including Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon (you can buy it online for something like $20) which I wish everyone could have on their shelf, next to the recipe books.
Do you make your own fermented foods at home? Favourites? Tips or tricks?