Fermentation has been around as long as humans have been able to dig holes. The process of fermentation is a food preservation method that enables one to store food for long periods of time without spoilage. Fermentation is why we have yogurt, wine, or pickles to name just a few of the yummy fermented foods out there.
All you need to ferment is some glass jars or high quality earthenware, salt, produce, water, and a dark, cool spot out of direct sunlight. Koreans buried their classic fermented dish, kimchi, in their gardens.
Fermentation declined in popularity with the general population over the last seventy years as food technology gave manufacturers the ability to produce food that could sit on store shelves without spoiling. I like to call this zombie food. The bread that never gets moldy, the apple that has been genetically engineered to never turn brown, or the lettuce that has been sprayed with so much pesticides no bug would ever even consider eating it. Ick!
Half, if not more, of the food in the supermarket isn't worth putting in your body. Your body craves natural foods as close to their source as possible. Fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains that haven't been processed to death, and nutritious, antibiotic-free meats and poultry. Food that comes from a box and has unrecognizeable ingredients listed is not giving your body the nutrients and good bacteria that it needs to renew and restore cells.
Probiotic foods have been the subject of much study lately. With research pointing to the importance of the right types of bacteria being crucial to mental and immune function, it's no surprise that fermentation workshops are popping up. Aside from being a great source of probiotics, home fermented foods are also high in B vitamins and way more digestible that any pill you could take.
Fermentation can sound a bit scary and even time consuming when you first hear about it, but taking a workshop to walk you through the steps makes the whole process painless and fun!
Fermenting at home yields way more probiotics and maintains the integrity of the food, plus its a lot cheaper than store bought stuff. Pasteurizing kills all that good stuff you want in your cultured foods, while doing it at home insures that you are eating top quality food that is full of happy bacteria;)
Once you get the hang of it, you can have your own homemade pickles and fermented veggies without too much time invested. My favorite thing to make if I have an extra five minutes is pickles. So super easy and loved by all my kids and Shabbos guests.
I learned how to ferment from a Shoreshei Tzion workshop and lucky for you, now you can too! They are hosting another workshop on September 16th. Learn how to make sauerkraut, kimchi, cheeses, yogurts, and more with their interactive, hands on workshop. Visit the www.shoresheitzion.com for details.
If you don't have time to make it to a workshop, start off your fermentation knowledge by reading the classic "Wild Fermentation" by Sandor Katz. This is the "bible" of cultured foods and will get you excited about introducing this new method into your health routine.
I'll keep you updated with my own fermenting adventures (Kambucha anyone?) and ould love to hear about yours.