By Autumn Rauchwerk, Butter Beans Wellness Educator
There’s a lot of buzz around fermentation lately, but what exactly is it? Fermentation is a traditional anaerobic (without oxygen) preservation method, harnessing yeast and bacteria to eat the sugars in a food, and create alcohols or acids that change the flavor and help keep the foods fresh for longer.
What comes to mind when you think of fermented foods? Perhaps you think of sauerkraut and sour pickles. These foods were traditionally fermented, but they rarely are anymore. These days, most pickled vegetables are made using vinegar instead of the fermentation process. For some more insight, here’s the difference between fermenting and pickling.And there’s a big difference between fermentation and aerobic decomposition. Aerobic decomposition is what causes foods to spoil – like that mushy brown lettuce forgotten about in the back of the fridge. Aerobic decomposition is the breakdown of food by bacteria in the presence of oxygen, allowing some potentially dangerous bacteria to flourish. Fermentation, on the other hand, helps replenish the good bacteria in our bodies, which are important for digestion and fighting infections and diseases!
We do still have fermented foods in some unexpected places in our diets – you may be surprised to learn that a number of foods we eat regularly are fermented, including bread, cheese, soy sauce and chocolate! Some have bacteria or yeast added in, and some catch the bacteria that already exists in the air and on the food.Want to add those delicious and nutritious fermented vegetables back into your diet? You can try fermentation out for yourself at home! Here’s a list of 10 fermented foods you can easily make at home!Practice fermenting foods with your family using this delicious recipe:
Rainbow Kimchi and Winter Crystal Noodles
- ½ red cabbage
- ½ green cabbage
- ¼ salt
- 1 C cold water
- 2 t apple cider or white vinegar
- 1 T fresh ginger, grated
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 green onions, minced
- 2 carrots, grated
Winter Crystal Noodles
- 8 oz glass noodles
- 2 T sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 green onions
- 3 T soy sauce
- 1 carrot
- ½ bunch kale
- 2 T sesame seeds
- Salt, soy sauce, sesame oil to taste
- Cut cabbage into thin 2-inch strips. Add salt and massage cabbage to draw out moisture. Add cold water in increments to help this process. Once covered with water, let stand 10 minutes.
- Mix together vinegar, ginger, garlic, green onions, and carrots to make kimchi ‘paste.’
- Drain salted cabbage and rinse.
- Toss in kimchi paste.
- Set aside in sealed container for up to 48 hours in the fridge to allow flavors to blend (or enjoy at the end of this recipe!)
- Cook noodles (~5 minutes in boiling water).
- Mince garlic and chop green onions and carrots.
- Cook garlic and onions in oil. Add soy sauce and carrots. Cook until softened.
- Strip kale and tear into small pieces.
- Add kale to vegetable mix and cook 1-2 minutes until kale is bright green and slightly wilted.
- Combine with noodles and sesame seeds.
- Add salt, soy sauce, sesame oil to taste.
- Serve and enjoy!