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The fermentation revival

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How traditional fermented foods are staging a comeback

There’s nothing new about fermented foods. In fact, many of our most loved and cherished foods are fermented. Think chocolate, coffee, sourdough bread, cheese, salami and so many more foods that you eat each and every day.

Fermentation is one of the oldest methods of food preservation available and, in his book Cooked, Michael Pollan writes, “If there is a culture that does not practice some fermentation of food or drink, anthropologists have yet to discover it. Fermentation would appear to be a cultural universal, and remains one of the most important ways that food is processed.”

But what is new in recent years is the growing resurgence of interest in traditional fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, filmjolk and, of course, kombucha.

What’s driving the fermentation revival?

Many people are impressed with the potential health benefits of eating fermented foods. The jury is still out on whether these claims stand up to scrutiny, but there is some limited evidence for the probiotic benefits of fermented foods. Here at Good Earth, we like CHOICE’s stance on fermented foods and their benefits:

“While some fermented foods appear to have health benefits, they’re certainly no magic bullet and their potential benefits must be considered in the context of overall diet and lifestyle…
Although the foods with live microbes appear to be the most beneficial, take care to ensure there’s no contamination with harmful microbes, such as listeria, E. coli and botulinum. And if you’re watching your sodium intake, note that some fermented foods have very high levels of salt as well.”

Sounds like sensible advice to us.

Beyond the health claims

Here at Good Earth, we think one of the best reasons to consume fermented foods is because they are delicious! Fermented foods can provide an additional depth of flavour, with complex sour, salty, umami notes. They can also add a pleasant textural counterpoint. Just think of the sour yet salty crunch that sauerkraut can add when paired with melting pork knuckle and mashed potato. Or the chilli kick of kimchi to a bowl of bibimbap.

In his seminal work, The Art of Fermentation, some of the other benefits Sandor Katz gives for fermentation include:

  • Preserving food: think of how much longer yoghurt or, even better, cheese lasts compared to fresh milk
  • Saving fuel: By breaking down some foods that would otherwise require long cooking
  • Food safety: Acidifying bacteria can make it more difficult for pathogenic organisms to establish themselves 

Are you adding fermented foods to your diet?

What are your favourite fermented foods and how do you like to incorporate fermented foods into your diet? Are you buying your fermented foods or getting adventurous with making your own? We’d love to hear your fermentation stories.

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