To Ferment or not to Ferment is, I guess, the age old question!
Sandor Katz from Tennessee is a fermenting master. He holds seminars all over the country and the world. Many of his recipes seem strange to the average Americans palate. However there are many benefits to learning how to ferment and preserve our foods!
Sandor tells us the four main reasons people learned to ferment were (1) alcohol; (2) preserving food outside season; (3) detoxifying otherwise inedible food; and (4) saving energy. Ferments were the original fast foods.
For the full article on Sandor Katz go to the following news link…
Wikipedia has a more scientific explanation for what Fermentation does…
Fermentation typically refers to the conversion of sugar to acids, gases and/or alcohol using yeast or bacteria. In its strictest sense, fermentation is the absence of the electron transport chain and takes a reduced carbon source, such as glucose, and makes products like lactic acid or acetate. No oxidative phosphorylation is used, only substrate level phosphorylation, which yields a much lower amount of ATP. Fermentation is also used much more broadly to refer to the bulk growth of microorganisms on a growth medium. The science of fermentation is known as zymology.
The process is often used to produce wine (see fermentation in winemaking) and beer, but fermentation is also employed in preservation to create lactic acid in sour foods such as pickled cucumbers, kimchi and yogurt (see fermentation in food processing).
The fermentation process has been around forever. It is an art form that most people practiced as it was the only way to preserve what foods they had so that they could survive through the cold long winters. We have tended to believe that fermentation is mainly for Beer and Wine.
Talking about Beer and Wine it’s definitely all about Fermentation
Fermentation history goes back a long time. Food Editorials.com offers this version of wine history…
“Winemaking history started way back 6000 BC. It became popular in ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt. There are two general categories in making wine-the still wine production and the sparkling wine production.
Wine making started thousands of years ago during the early Bronze Age. It was proven by archaeologists that the earliest wine production came from the sites of Georgia and Iran in early 6000 to 5000 BC. Another evidence of wine making is found in Macedonia, a part of Eastern Europe. Remnants of crushed grapes are discovered there. In Egypt, wine became a part of their recorded history and played a remarkable role in their ancient ceremonial life. Wine was common in the classical era of Greece and Rome, too. The Roman Empire improved the cultivation techniques in making wine by establishing plantations as well as storage and by shipping wine all over Western Europe and other countries.”
Health Benefits of Fermented Foods!
The following Washington Post article is about Sandor Katz and his new book “The Art of Fermentation”. It documents the health benefits being realized from those who eat, drink, and use fermented foods.
Casey Seidenberg in the Lifestyle section of the Post gives these reasons why fermented food is good for you…
Why does this process help people stay healthy?
“Fermented foods aid in digestion and thus support the immune system.
— Imagine a fermented food as a partially digested food. For instance, many people have difficulty digesting the lactose in milk. When milk is fermented and becomes yogurt or kefir, the lactose is partially broken down so it becomes more digestible.
— Organic or lactic-acid fermented foods (such as dill pickles and sauerkraut) are rich in enzyme activity that aids in the breakdown of our food, helping us absorb the important nutrients we rely on to stay healthy.
— Fermented foods have been shown to support the beneficial bacteria in our digestive tract. In our antiseptic world with chlorinated water, antibiotics in our meat, our milk and our own bodies, and antibacterial everything, we could use some beneficial bacteria in our bodies.
— When our digestion is functioning properly and we are absorbing and assimilating all the nutrients we need, our immune system tends to be happy, and thus better equipped to wage war against disease and illness.”
She goes on to say that fermented foods are not necessarily a panacea, however eating them, along with good diet and exercise will provide you with a healthy immune system that will keep you active and vibrant.
Here are some hints she gives on incorporating fermented foods into your diet!
“Incorporating fermented foods into the diet is simple.
— Replace regular bread with a fresh sourdough variety.
— Choose kefir and yogurt over regular milk. Both work well in smoothies.
— Kombucha is a fermented drink found in many grocery stores.
— Look for naturally fermented vegetables such as pickled cucumbers, beets, onions, sauerkraut, salsa and kimchi. These are sold in the refrigerated section of your grocery store, not with the shelf-stable foods. Add a spoonful to any dish.”
Read the full article at this link…
So should the general public relearn the fermentation process? Probably not, there are many boutique wineries and food producers out there. However, for those with time and an interest in preparing and saving foods this seems like the way to go.
Unfortunately, at least for now , anything that starts to ferment in my Refrigerator is immediately thrown out! Except for…well you know…