I first heard about fermented foods a few years ago when the connection was made between gut health and mental health. I was in a bit of a rut and decided to incorporate these funky fermented foods into my diet.
Unfortunately, most of these foods that line the shelves in supermarkets are mass-produced and pasteurised and don't contain any of the beneficial lactobacillus bacteria. If you want to buy the real deal, your best bet is to locate it in a health food shop where a small jar could cost you upwards of £6. As a student with a limited budget, I refused to pay this and started to make my own.
1. It's cheap
How much does a cabbage cost in the supermarket? I paid 52p the last time I made some kimchi. While I recommend investing in organic fruit and veg, this is an unaffordable luxury for some. Either way, you'll end up spending far less than pre-prepared ferments. The only ingredients you need for basic fermentation are water and salt!
2. It's easy
All you need is water and salt; I hear you say? Yep, it's true. Well, and something to ferment, of course. The technique varies depending on what ferment you'd like to make, but for most fresh fruits and vegetables, all you need to do is mix salt into water, submerge your produce, and wait!
You don't need special equipment, just a container with a lid. I like to use glass jars, but you can use ceramic or plastic containers too.
3. It's fun
There's nothing I enjoy more than the process of fermentation. While you can stick to the basics and make the simple fermented cabbage dish, Sauerkraut, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
There's so much more to fermenting, and although I've now been doing it for over a year, I have barely scratched the surface. I've just purchased The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz, my bedtime reading for the next few months!
Fermenting is also a great way to teach children about how incredible food is and to get them in touch with nature. There's so much to learn here!
4. It's healthy
Fermented foods contain living bacteria, the original probiotics. The fermentation process creates enzymes that pre-digest foods, making nutrients more bioavailable.
These are by no means a magic cure, but regularly consuming fermented foods is an easy and delicious way to introduce essential vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes, and amino acids into your diet!
5. It's sustainable
This is a great way to use any excess produce before it goes off. By fermenting foods, they can store for years which can help you reduce your food waste, as fruit and veg are some of the most commonly wasted foods!