Fermentation is a rather simple process. With an origin even older than pickling, it started in China with records of fermentation that date back to as early as 7000 BCE. It made its way around the world slowly but steadily, gaining popularity in 2,000 BCE.
What is Fermentation?
Fermenting is the use of microorganisms such as bacteria or yeast to convert carbohydrates to alcohol. This process also tends to take place in a brine, though this brine is devoid of acidic ingredients. Two types of fermentation exist. Both kinds work on the same principles, though one is a more advanced form of the other.
- Alcoholic– this is common in bread, beer, and wine. It is the process of pyruvate breaking down into ethanol and carbon dioxide by bacteria and yeast. There is no pickling involved, even though you will sometimes hear drunks being referred to as “pickled.”
- Lactic Acid– the process of pyruvate molecules further breaking down into lactic acid.
Fermentation encourages probiotics to thrive, which is exactly what our digestive systems need. Eating fermented foods is widely thought to be part of a healthy diet. A little more about probiotics….. You probably already know this, but your gut is home to trillions of bacteria — both good and bad. Besides helping with digestion, good bacteria helps the gut boost your immune system to help fight infections and out-of-control inflammation. Sometimes bad bacteria can start to outweigh good bacteria, and that is why the introduction of probiotics into your diet is absolutely crucial!
Buying Vs. Making your Own Fermented Foods
Have you noticed the expensive price tag on fermented foods at the grocery store? A delicious jar of sauerkraut in my area of the world can cost upward of $10 USD. Am I going to savor every last bite, justifying the price tag? You betcha.
But when you realize you can usually make similar products at home for a fraction of the cost, and the homemade stuff is often better for you than the store bought anyway, it’s time to get busy in the kitchen.
The supplies that you need are not an overly steep investment – They hold up, last a long time, and can be reused over and over. The real investment is your time learning and implementing what you learn.
Here you can find all of the tools you need to start fermenting your own foods! You can eat all the healthy food in the world, but if you are not taking in any form of lacto-fermented foods on a regular basis, you are doing a disservice to your body, allowing your body’s bacteria to become unbalanced and triggering a series of possible illnesses.
Allergies, immune system weakness, mood swings, leaky gut syndrome…. These are just a few of the issues probiotics by means of fermented foods and drinks can help to alleviate, and sometimes completely heal.
If you forage and harvest wild edibles, knowing how to ferment them and multiply their beneficial qualities will enhance your and your families quality of life, strengthening your immune systems and gut health. Don’t be fooled by a lot of the so-called fermented products at the grocery store… These modern foods are the product of high heat and pressure which destroys nutrients and do not in any way enhance health.
The one exception to this rule are the various fermented foods in the refrigerator section of many healthfood stores. These products are actually fermented and pickled. The only drawback is that these gourmet items are rather expensive compared to the pennies per ounce it costs to make them yourself If home fermentation is a kitchen goal that you are ready to tackle in 2020, feel free to explore more posts in the Fermentation Section!
Have fun fermenting!