Health starts in the gut, according to many nutritional scientists. A healthy gut can promote the following benefits:
- A strong immune system
- A healthy digestive system
- Positive mental health
- High energy levels
- Improved cholesterol levels
- A healthy weight
- Balanced hormones
- Reduced yeast infections
But how can we get our guts in optimal condition?
Good gut bacteria is essential, and eating fermented foods is the best way to introduce lactic acid-producing bacteria in the stomach. Fermented foods, also called probiotic foods, balance the production of stomach acid and destroy “bad” bacteria lurking in the intestines.
What Are Fermented Foods?
Fermented foods have been pickled in brine and stored out of direct sunlight. The food undergoes lacto-fermentation, in which lactic acid is produced.
Fermented foods are commonly pickled vegetables, yogurts, kefirs, or other probiotics. They can be made inexpensively at home, and due to the long shelf life of fermented vegetables, they are the perfect solution for a home with a garden full of excess vegetables.
List Of Fermented Foods
- Pickled vegetables
- Raw cheese
How To Eat Fermented Foods
Home fermentation is a lot easier than you might think. All you really need is an airtight jar and a way to keep your vegetables submerged under a salty brine. Mason jars work wonders, although specialty fermentation crocks are readily available online.
Choose a selection of vegetables: onions, cucumbers, beans, beets, cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, cauliflower, zucchini, and garlic all work well. Cut your veggies as desired, and pack them tightly in a jar. Add herbs and spices such as mustard seeds, cumin, anise, cloves, and dill.
Meanwhile, boil a pickling liquid on the stove:
- 2 cups vinegar
- 2 cups of water
- 2 teaspoons of salt
Using a funnel, carefully pour the hot liquid over the vegetables, leaving two inches at the top of the jar. Make sure that all the vegetables are submerged under the brine. Use a long spoon to push vegetables under the liquid.
Keep the jar away from direct sunlight, and allow it to cool for a few hours before moving it into the refrigerator. After a few days, you’ll have tangy fermented vegetables ready to add into your diet!
Alternatively, you can purchase fermented products, like pickles or probiotic yogurt, from a grocery store.
Fermented Foods For The Gardener
If you have a lovingly crafted vegetable patch, fall means that the harvest has arrived. Here’s a common conundrum for the green fingered — “What am I going to do with 20 cabbages?” Unless we’re setting up shop at the farmer’s market, most harvest seasons leave us with an abundance of crops that need to be swiftly eaten!
Luckily, fermenting food is the perfect solution. Fermentation actually began in ancient times as a way to store food through the dark months of winter. Instead of handing out carrots to everyone who walks past your front lawn, chop up your seasonal leftovers and get fermenting!
Our Favorite Fermented Vegetable Recipes
- Quick Pickled Vegetables - Feasting At Home
- Curtido Recipe - South Beach Primal
- Kale Kimchi - Fermented Food Labs
- Kombucha Tea - The Kitchn
- Homemade Sauerkraut - The Nourished Kitchen