Fermentation is an ancient technique of preserving food; examples are like sauerkraut, cheese, yogurt, wine, miso, tempe, natto, kimchi…to name a few. The fermentation occurs through the breakdown of carbohydrates and protein by microorganisms and because of these, the food becomes even more beneficial to the body. Some benefits are:
- Probiotics: The microorganisms that facilitate the fermentation are beneficial to the body, so called “good bacteria”. They aid digestion, support immune function, and improve metabolisms
- Increase Nutritious Values: Microorganisms make more nutrients available for us. Fermentation food typically has more vitamin Bs (including B12), vitamin C, Vitamin K and more. Also Fermentation process reduce anti-nutrition such as phytates in soy and goitrogens raw cabbage family.
- Prevention: cold and flu, cancer (there are many studies in breast and colon), obesity (by improving metabolisms), heart disease (especially natto).
- Taste: most of the fermented foods are considered as gourmet in many cultures. This is because the taste that is created by the microorganisms stimulates a specific taste buds and as you eat more, it becomes more irresistible…
The important thing to know is commercially prepared foods are sometimes not the real fermented food (especially the pickle, olive, processed cheese, some yogurt), thus do not contain these benefit we talked above. This is because processed foods need to be consistent in taste, also fast and cheap to make; thus the process of creating these food does not go through fermentation.
The great news is that the preparation of the fermented vegetable is actually REALLY SIMPLE and EASY! I usually make fermented vegetables in small quantity while I am cooking some other meal, so it doesn’t really take a much effort and time to make it. Take a look of this YouTube video by Sandor Kats, the author of Wild Fermentaion. He is one of the active pioneers who is reviving fermenting cultures.
After you got the basics, try to create the combination you like! I make some fermented vegetables with additional benefits in!
- Cold & Flu Prevention: I make Kimchi like fermented cabbage by adding minced garlic, ginger, chili pepper and green onion.
- Cancer Prevention: add turmeric, powdered seaweed, garlic, ginger, few different cabbage families (kale, boc choi, etc).