Traditional Foods 101: Ferments & Cultured Food

Fermented foods – sauerkrauts, kombucha, yogurts – represent a staple aspect of traditional foods; that is, traditional cultures around the world each practiced the art of fermentation.  And while many fermented foods were born out of practicality – a way to preserve the harvest of summer well into the dark days of winter – even those tropical and equatorial peoples who had no need to preserve food still fermented at least some of their foods.  Fermentation imbues our foods with probiotics – that is beneficial bacteria.  These bacteria, when ingested, populate the intestinal tract and begin to interact with the body in a positive way by training the immune system, manufacturing vitamins and keeping opportunistic bacteria at bay which is why it is an essential aspect of not only a traditional foods diet but also an essential aspect of healing protocols like the GAPS diet or the Body Ecology Diet.

Fermented foods are typically also raw foods; however, fermented foods can be cooked after fermentation (think of sourdough bread).  Wild-fermented foods require little but vegetables, salt and time; however occasional recipes require the use of a starter culture (consider water kefir, milk kefir and kombucha) and those undergoing specific healing protocols may find benefit in using a  specifically formulated starter culture in all ferments which provides the added benefit of culturing very specific beneficial bacteria.

Why Fermented & Cultured Foods Are Good for You

Fermented foods offer a plethora of benefits.  They support systemic wellness, digestive system health and proper functioning of the immune system.  Fermented foods are also high in antioxidants and may play a role in mitigating the risk of certain cancers as well as reducing overall inflammation in the body.  The links below provide you with quick reads and simple information covering the benefits of fermented foods as well as the history of fermented foods.

Ready? Make These Recipes

Ready to dive in?  Start with these simple recipes for fermented foods (there’s loads more in Get Cultured! an online cooking class designed to teach you how to ferment just about anything.)  For those new to fermented foods, for reluctant spouses and for picky children, it’s often best to begin the introduction of fermented foods by fermenting foods they already enjoy: homemade ketchup, fermented chili sauce, homemade yogurt, salsa and sour pickles are good choices.

Get Started with These Resources

Now that you’re ready to get started, you’ll need to know where to get starter cultures, fermentation crocks and good quality sea salt for your fermented foods.  And if you really like how it goes, check out the online cooking class designed to teach you to ferment anything as well as the cook books and other goods.

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