Fermentation is an ancient technique where carbs (sugars/starches) are converted into acid or alcohol with the help of yeast and bacteria. The alcohol and acids created act as natural preservative. Besides they give a distinct taste to the final product.
Does fermentation contribute to one’s state of health?
As you might know, there around 40 trillion bacteria in your body, most of which are found in your gut and are extremely important for your health. Of course there are also some bad guys among them contributing to many diseases. However, you don’t have to worry about the bad bacteria as long as you promote the growth of the beneficial bacteria by eating healthy food.
Now back to the main point. During fermentation, the good bacteria in the product and the environment can grow and multiply while the acid and alcohol prevents putrefying bacteria from colonizing the food. The final result of this process are microorganisms what we know as probiotics in charge of keeping our body healthy and functioning well.
What are some examples of well known fermented products?
Sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, amazake, yoghurt, sour-dough bread, vinegar, miso, tempeh, wine, kombucha and kefir are a few to name. The only difference between these products lies in the fermentation type.
Which fermentation types are there?
There are three which are as follow in a nutshell.
- Lactic acid fermentation. Yeast strains and bacteria convert starches or sugars into lactic acid, requiring no heat in preparation. These anaerobic chemical reactions, pyruvic acid uses nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide + hydrogen (NADH) to form lactic acid and NAD+. (Lactic acid fermentation also occurs in human muscle cells. During strenuous activity, muscles can expend adenosine triphosphate (ATP) faster than oxygen can be supplied to muscle cells, resulting in lactic acid buildup and sore muscles. In this scenario, glycolysis, which breaks down a glucose molecule into two pyruvate molecules and doesn’t use oxygen, produces ATP.) Lactic acid bacteria are vital to producing and preserving inexpensive, wholesome foods, which is especially important in feeding impoverished populations. This method makes sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, yogurt, and sourdough bread.
- Ethanol fermentation/alcohol fermentation. Yeasts break pyruvate molecules — the output of the metabolism of glucose known as glycolysis — in starches or sugars down into alcohol and carbon dioxide molecules. Alcoholic fermentation produces wine and beer.
- Acetic acid fermentation. Starches and sugars from grains and fruit ferment into sour tasting vinegar and condiments. Examples include apple cider vinegar, wine vinegar, kefir and kombucha.
What are the health benefits of consuming fermented vegetables and drinks?
The probiotic characteristic of fermented products improve digestive system by restoring the balance of friendly bacteria in your stomach.
Many probiotic food are rich in vitamin C, iron, and zinc — all of which are proven to contribute to a stronger immune system.
Fermentation helps break down nutrients in food, making them easier to digest than their unfermented counterparts.
Plus, fermentation helps break down and destroy antinutrients — such as phytates and lectins — which are compounds found in seeds, nuts, grains, and legumes that interfere with the nutrient absorption. Therefore, consuming fermented beans or legumes like tempeh increases the absorption of beneficial nutrients, making them more nutritious than unfermented alternatives.
What are some simple recipes to ferment at home?
Thanks to the world wide web, there are thousands of recipes out there you can choose from, but here below we provide you a quick start.
Same day fennel kimchi:
- 350g of carrots, cut into thin rounds
- 520g of finely sliced fennel
- 1/2 finely sliced (or grated) China cabbage
- 1 1/2 tsp sea (or Himalaya) salt
- 80g of sugar
- 15g of chili flakes (preferably Korean)
- 15g of sliced garlic
- 50g of ginger, julienned
- 3 tsp fish sauce
- 3 tsp light soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tsp shrimp paste
- 40g of spring onions, sliced
Mix together the carrots, fennel, Napa cabbage, salt and sugar and place in a bowl to rest for 2 hours.
Mix the remaining ingredients together (except the spring onions), dry the cabbage mixture and stir the two together. Finish with the sliced spring onions.
Tip: You can keep this Kimchi in a (weck) jar in room temperature for at least a week or in the fridge at 4 degrees for at least 3 months.
- 20g of water kefir grains
- 10g of sugar
- 100ml water
- 1 small dried fig
- 1 tsp of pure Maple Syrup
- Dash of sea salt
Mix all the ingredients in a jar and cover it with a tablecloth and leave at room temperature. Within a few hours and depending on the climate where you are living, you will see bubble formation in your water kefir. It’s a good sign your bacteria are kicking and living. Normally within 24-72hrs, the product is ready to use.
Tip 1: Don’t let your kefir to ferment for more than 72hrs in the room temperature and then keep it in the fridge.
Tip 2: Add a piece of strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, apple, turmeric, ginger, chili pepper or aromatic herb or Koppert Cress’s Apple Blossom somewhere between the 24th or 48th hour for flavoring.
Tip 3: In general kefir is a healthy drink when taken moderately, but do your own research to ensure if it’s the right drink for you to take.