You’ve decided that including fermented foods in your diet is something you are interested in, after all, there many known health benefits and people rave about the taste. However you can’t quite bring yourself to make or buy your first batch. Or maybe you’ve acquired your first batch but are afraid to try it?
These are the three common misconceptions about fermented foods that may be coming between you and a happier gut and taste buds.
1. Fermented food could make you sick
If you are worried about fermented food making you and your family sick, then don’t worry, you are not alone. Leaving food out on the counter for days then eating it is a bit counterintuitive in western cultures especially. You grow up believing that you need to keep food refrigerated or it would make you sick. Re-training your brain so that it is okay to eat fermented foods is a big step for some.
Learning more about the process can help with overcoming this fear. Let’s take lacto-fermentation for an example. This is thought to be the oldest food preservation technique in the world. Lacto stands for lactobacillus bacteria. Lacto-fermentation involves only salt, water and vegetables. The salt water brine creates an oxygen free environment (anaerobic) where only lactobacillus bacteria survive. Harmful bacteria cannot survive in this environment.
So basically, the good guys survive while the harmful bacteria is killed off. Next, the Lactobacillus guys convert lactose and other sugar present in the food into lactic acid. This creates an acidic environment that naturally and safely preserves vegetables, and makes them taste distinct-fully tangy.
As long the veggies are kept submerged in a the salty brine, you’re safe.
2. It’s hard or complicated to make fermented food
There are no special tools to make fermented food, it’s a very simple process. We hear over and over again after someone has made their first batch of kraut, is how mind-bogglingly easy it is. All you need is a knife, cutting board, veggies, salt and a glass jar. You can even reuse a sterilised old mayonnaise or jam jar. There are no fancy bits you have to buy! Mind you, a good recipe and expert advice help really help make at tasty end product.
3. You need a culture starter
Finally, the big one, people think you have to add a culture-started to the food to start the fermentation process. A culture starter is essentially an addition of probiotic bacteria to get fermentation started. But veggies have the probiotic bacteria naturally occurring on their skin! So no need to worry, let nature do its thing.
Now remember, for kombucha, this is another story as a SCOBY culture is definitely required. More about that later.
Do you feel better now? Are you sighing a sigh of relief? Fermented foods will not make you sick, are easy to make and there are no fancy or expensive culture starters needed from your local health food store.
For some expert advice on this topic and some delicious recipes, keep an eye out for The Fermented Kitchen’s next fermented food making workshop.