As we promised in our last cookbook review we will talk about the benefits of fermented foods.
According to Sandor Ellix Katz, author of The Art of Fermentation, fermented foods are “the flavorful space between fresh and rotten”. The process of fermenting foods isn’t new. Evidence indicates that early civilizations were making wine and beer between 7,000 and 8,000 years ago. And bread even before that! If you think about it, most cultures have their own version of fermented cabbage or sauerkraut – European sauerkraut, Korean Kimchi and the list goes on and on.
Unfortunately, for us, these foods have virtually disappeared from the Western diet, which is a major loss to our health and economy. And since fermentation is an artisanal process, its disappearance has accelerated the centralization and industrialization of the food distribution chain.
Fermented foods and drinks are in a very literal sense alive, full of flavor and nutrients. Its flavors tend to be strong and pronounced. Although not everyone loves these flavors, humans always have consumed these products.
A great benefit of fermentation is that it conserves food. The fermenting organisms produce alcohol, lactic acid, and acetic acid, which retain nutrients but also prevent food from spoiling. Some foods are highly perishable, so our ancestors used all the techniques they discovered to store food in periods of abundance so that they could be consumed later.
Besides the fact that they conserve food, there are several great reasons to start making and eating fermented foods:
1. Probiotics – Eating fermented foods will introduce beneficial bacteria into your digestive system and help the balance of your digestive system. Probiotics have also been shown to help slow or reverse some diseases, improve aid digestion and immunity.
2. Absorb Food Better – Having the proper balance of bacteria and enough digestive enzymes helps you absorb more of the nutrients in the foods you eat.
3.Budget-Friendly – Incorporating healthy foods into your diet can get expensive, but not with fermented foods. You can make your own food at home for a few dollars. And you can also make kefir or Kombucha for only a few pennies per serving.
Fortunately for us, there are people who are working hard to bring back this millennial process. Sandor Ellix Katz is one of the names behind this new revolution in food. A self-described “fermentation fetishist”, Sandor has taught hundreds of food workshops around the world, and his book Wild Fermentation has been called a classic. Due to his brilliant work, Sandor was named in 2009, as one of the most influential people in the world by CHOW Magazine.
More recently, René Redzepi, chef and co-owner of restaurant Noma, is the latest chef to join this movement. Last week, him and David Zilber, the chef behind Noma’s fermentation lab release a true masterclass in fermentation. The Noma Guide To Fermentation lay out a fresh set of transformative cooking fundamentals, that promises to change the vision we have about this topic.
The conclusion is clear! Fermented foods are highly beneficial. They are traditional, natural and provide us with the probiotics and enzymes we need to function. So, what are you waiting to start doing your own fermented foods?