Top reasons to say YES to fermented foods
Eating fermented foods regularly is a no-brainer, it was the norm in the past and it is cool now. Thanks to the new-age fermentationists who have worked hard to popularise fermented foods globally. Fermented and preserved food are ubiquitous in Indian kitchens, pickles made with grandma’s recipe, a Sunday experimentation with beers or a Sourdough project, we love the science and sensation of fermentation.
Fermentation in the most crude form is a chemical reaction that breaks down the carbohydrates present in our food into simpler form. A home brewer making a batch of kombucha or soy sauce producer patiently waiting for their barrels to age, in both scenarios food is left to go down in a controlled environment.
Keeping the probiotic benefits aside, below are some popular reasons to include fermented foods in your diet:
- Easy to digest. Fermented foods are easy to digest because the microbes take care of the preliminary breaking down of essential nutrients. A complex chemical reaction breaks down the sugars in raw food into simpler substances easier for the human body to assimilate
- Funk is the new delicious. A dramatic change in sensory profile is one such byproduct of fermentation. Some ferments smell sharp and pungent but tastes mind-bogglingly delicious. Who knew miso paste bursting with umami flavour is because of nothing else but the magic of fermentation
- Soothes and revives gut flora. Fermented foods are abundant in good bacteria, beneficial enzymes that help our gut replenish itself after a heavy dose of antibiotics or a prolonged stomach trouble. They also help our gut bacteria function optimally
- Food in a jar. Not just a fad for the millennial or a trendsetting photo ops, fermented foods make for a pretty decor on your kitchen counter or living room. Those preserved lemons and beet kvass could just brighten up your mood and space all at once!
- Never run out of food. Having a supply of fermented foods in your refrigerator will make up for the rainy days when you are out of grocery or don’t have the time and energy to cook up an elaborate meal. A lot of lacto-fermented vegetables tastes delish on their own for with a hot bowl of steamed rice (hello Kimchi!)
- Protects and ensures food supply. Civilisations had started fermenting thousands of years ago as a means to make minerals and vitamins available to them in harsh climates. Even in this century many cultures around the globe ferment a ton of seasonal produce to enjoy year round
- Makes for a good travel buddy. A jar of pickle can change your sandwich game or add bright flavours to a warm bowl of noodles. Super portable and cuts down your craving for junk food
- A saviour of cultures. Food is an impeccable part of a culture’s foundation. Fermented foods have put countries on the map of unique foods that they became known for. From Kimchi for Korea, Idli for India, Kvass for Russia, Sauerkraut for Germany to Tsukemono to Japan and Soy Sauce to China. Just like pickling and canning, fermenting imbibes the essence of community. It restores the practice of coming together, sourcing the most abundantly available seasonal fruit (or vegetable) at a throw away price, cutting, chopping, shredding the produce in large quantities all by hands, fermenting big jars and distributing among friends and family when it is ready. It revives bonds within families and paves the way for new traditions
- Tackles food waste. More than 50,000 crores worth of our country’s food is wasted due to improper handling, inadequate storage and lack of expertise to handle fresh produce. Fermenting foods in huge quantity will not only save the food from rotting but will make them more shelf-stable, easy to transport and fetch more value for farmers
- Fight world hunger. We believe fermented foods could be a the most sustainable choice for tackling world hunger in the future. Why wait for future when you can dig into the kimchi jar starting now!
I would love to know the fermented foods you like to add to your plates and why you choose one over other? Is it the taste, the availabilty or lack of motivation to experiment? Do you have any traditional ferments going in your home kitchen or experimenting with some uber cool ingredients want the world to know? Share in the comments below.
P.S Listen to your gut