Fermentation is an ancient method to preserve food. The earliest fermented food dates back to 6000 BC and virtually every culture has their own version of fermented food. The Koreans have kimchi, the Germans have sauerkraut, and us Russians have kefir. Other examples include wine, cheese, yogurt, cortido, pickles and kombucha.
Fermented foods are food that have allowed the natural bacteria to feed on the sugar and starch in a food to create lactic acid. This creates different strains of powerful probiotics, enzymes, B vitamins and even omega-3s. Fermenting food also preserves it, I’ve kept my fermented salsa in the fridge for up to six months (although it usually doesn’t last that long before I eat it)!
I used to be SO intimidated by fermenting my own food. I knew it was an amazing addition to a healthy diet, but stuck to store and farm bought ferments.
What if I do it wrong?
Don’t I need a specific canning jar?
I think I need a starter culture.
What if it grows mold?
What if I get sick?
I couldn’t get these thoughts out of my head until one day, I decided I was tired of paying top dolla for fermented foods at Whole Foods and my buying club. I decided to woman up and just try to make some fermented Mexican style salsa.
It couldn’t have been easier. It was perfectly bubbly and probiotic-y and smelled awesome. No mold. In fact, in all the time I’ve fermented – I’ve never once had a ferment grow mold.
Mold grows due to air, so you really want an air-less or anaerobic environment for your ferments. I seriously just use mason jars (I bought approximately one million of them for my wedding, so I’m putting those suckers to work).
By now, you might be wondering why fermented food is so beneficial.
Some benefits of fermented food include:
- improved digestion
- less gas
- improved mood
- can prevent food poisoning
- improves gut issues like IBS, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis
- less anxiety, stress and depression
- clearer skin
- reduces inflammation
- stronger immune system
- improved ADD/ADHD symptoms
- helps reduce/improve food allergies
- assists with weight loss
- may help prevent cancer
We know that majority of our immune system is based in the gut, and fermented food strengthens the gut. Think of how many things are fought off by the immune system: cold, flu, pathogens, viruses, cancer, etc. Are you now recognizing how important it is to incorporate this ancient style of food preservation into your diet?
The best part is – fermenting food couldn’t be easier. While I used to be incredibly intimated at the thought of complicated jars, whey, starter cultures and fancy fermentation equipment, I’ve discovered that none of that is actually necessary.
Know what I use now? Salt. Real, simple salt.
Salt encourages the beneficial bacteria to grow while inhibiting harmful bacteria that produces mold. While I intend to post more fermented food recipes on Ancestral Nutrition, I also suggest checking out Wild Fermentation and Fermentation For Beginners.