Are You Fervent About Fermenting?

Are You Fervent About Fermenting?

Just published! Four different logbook journals to notate your culinary adventures in food fermentation: kefir, kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut; and a fifth logbook to record and track your daily eating habits. Fermenting is a practice that’s been around for thousands of years, and was a common way of preserving foods. Since the advent of refrigeration, and moving from an agrarian society to an industrial one, we’ve generally lost the art of food preservation in our own homes. How many of you had grandparents who bottled their own fruits and vegetables (or made their own whiskey)? I know mine did! Minus the whiskey. Nothing tasted better than Grammy’s applesauce, peaches, and sauerkraut; not all at the same time, of course.

When you think of it, there wasn’t the same prevalence of cancer, Alzheimers, heart disease, diabetes, or obesity a century ago that there is today in Western society. Meals were prepared and eaten “farm to table,” without all the chemicals and artificial preservatives that fill many (if not most) of the foods we now eat. The introduction of highly processed foods into our diets has wreaked havoc on our digestive systems and overall health. One way of restoring the proper balance of  beneficial bacteria in our digestive systems is to incorporate fermented food into our diets. Now, it’s essential to know that there’s a difference between spoiled fermented food and food that’s deliberately and carefully fermented under proper conditions. Pickles, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, and yogurt are good examples of common fermented foods.

What is fermentation?  It’s the process of converting sugars and starches into organic acids or alcohol. Don’t worry though; it’s unlikely you will get drunk off of eating a couple Reuben sandwiches or guzzling a quart of kefir. As the sugars break down and are consumed by bacteria and yeast, they are converted into beneficial organisms–called probiotics— that aid in digestion and promote health in the gut. Fermented foods are high in:

  • B vitamins
  • Vitamin K2
  • Essential amino acids

Some of the health benefits derived from eating fermented foods are:

  • Reduction in inflammation
  • Improved digestion
  • Boosted immune system
  • Enhanced brain health
  • Better mood support

The benefits derived from reducing the amount of processed foods from our diets and adding fermented foods are numerous. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is severely lacking in substantive nutrition. Diets high in saturated fats and transfats, sugar, simple carbohydrates, chemical preservatives, and artificial flavor and color enhancers are detrimental to our health and well-being. Knowledge alone, however, is not enough to improve our lives; taking action is what makes a difference.

Certainly, using moderation in incorporating fermented foods and beverages into our eating regimens is wise. The studies look promising; but until further research is done, it’s possible to overdo a good thing. Definitely consult with your doctor or nutritionist before making any significant changes to your diet or lifestyle that could affect your health. One thing we can be certain of is that eliminating things from our diets that we know to be harmful, and adding things to our diets that we know are good, can only increase our health and enhance our lives in beneficial ways.

This is why I created The Fervent Fermenter series of journals; so you can write down the positive changes you are making in the way you approach food. My Nutrition Log is a way to write down what your dietary goals are, how your current eating habits make you feel, and what you are eating from day to day. It allows you to record the harmful things you’re eliminating from your diet and the good things you are adding. The Kefir, Kimchi, Kombucha, and Sauerkraut journals are logbooks for you to record every batch or brew of fermented food you are making in your own kitchen, so you can keep track of your failures and successes as you learn the art of fermentation. (These are logbooks only; not how-to guides.) To get the Fervent Fermenter logs, and to learn how to ferment foods I recommend the following resources (available through My Nerdy Store):

The Big Book of Kombucha: Bring, Flavoring, and Enjoying the Health Benefits of Fermented Tea (by Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory)

Delicious Probiotic Drinks: 75 Recipes for Kombucha, Kefir, Ginger Beer, and Other Naturally Fermented Drinks (by Julia Mueller)

Ferment Your Vegetables: A Fun and Flavorful Guide to Making Your Own Pickles, Kimchi, Kraut, and More (by Amanda Fiefer)

Resources for further reading: