Guest Post by: Adrian Volenik
- Boosts your mood and brainpower
- Increases your immunity
- Helps with digestion
If a meal or food that I’m eating can help me with just one of these things, I’d call it a superfood, let alone with all of them. But what exactly is fermentation and why are people rediscovering it now? I think of modern folks like we’re Columbo, discovering already known places over and over.
What Is Fermentation?
Fermentation is a metabolic process that makes bacteria and yeast break down sugars. They basically suck out energy from carbs when there’s no oxygen available (ie. in a jar) and make a desirable change to the food or drink that we’re fermenting.
So, fermenting not only preserves the food for a longer period of time but it changes the taste of it and develops loads of new bacteria in your gut when we eat the food.
I’ve recently read a great analogy about the bacteria in our gut – they’re like pets living inside us and we’ve got to feed them! Isn’t that funny (or creepy – tell me in the comments!).
All three of them are super convenient and they are super easy to ferment at home or buy in a health store. You might be even eating some of them, fermented or not. I didn’t include the super-obvious ones like pickles that may or may not be fermented, depending on the process, as they’re probably in your fridge already.
Cabbage is arguably the most widely utilized veggie for fermentation. There are two types of fermented cabbage – sauerkraut and kimchi. Both are excellent for your gut health. Cabbage contains plenty of fiber, vitamins C and K, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin that promote eye health.
Let’s talk some specifics now about sauerkraut and kimchi.
Making fermented cabbage in the form of sauerkraut is super easy as it contains only two ingredients – green cabbage and salt. What did I tell you? You don’t have to be Gordon Ramsay to prepare this staple of German, eastern European countries, and baseball cuisine.
You can use sauerkraut in plenty of dishes; from sandwiches to hearty soups. It goes well with meat, and potatoes and does wonders for hangovers.
Another fun fact? Those 17th century explorers would always have cabbage on board their ships to help prevent scurvy!
Here’s an easy recipe:
Simple Fermented Cabbage
- 4.4 oz Cabbage
- 2 oz Salt
- Cut up or shred your cabbage and put it in a bowl
- Add 2 % salt to it, more or less depending on size
- Knead the cabbage with your hands
- Transfer to a mason jar and add the cabbage and salt liquid
- Cover with a plastic wrap or the outer leaves of your cabbage. You can use a string to tie it to the rim
- Label it and leave at room temperature for a couple weeks
Kimchi is a popular Korean dish that can be made from other veggies apart from cabbage. But usually, it’s napa cabbage and daikon radishes that are added to the cabbage. Kimchi is great for lowering your cholesterol and reducing insulin resistance.
If you haven’t tried this excellent food yet, you need to know that it’s much spicier than sauerkraut which has more tartness to it. There are quite a few more ingredients necessary for kimchi and a few more steps required than making sauerkraut so I won’t share it here. There’s plenty of recipes and videos on how to make kimchi.
Making kimchi is also not complicated and anyone is more than capable to do it. If you like spicy food, kimchi is the way to go as it has much more punch to it than the sour cabbage aka sauerkraut.
I like to make and eat both, just because I like to have variety on my menu.
This one might surprise you! Although we all know that there are a lot of benefits to eating carrots (yes mom, I’m actually eating them now!), fermented carrots are not that popular, I believe. And, that is a shame, so let’s try and rectify that as they can really give a good punch to the gut. Share this post on your social media if you’re a carrot lover!
Fermenting carrots makes raw carrots even better. It’s like if Superman and Wonder Woman had a baby. They’re now easier to digest, safer to eat (no E. coli), and have loads of probiotics, vitamins, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals.
There’s a couple of ways you can ferment carrots. Here are three:
- Carrot sticks
- Spicy carrot salad
- Carrot kraut
Here’s a video that explains in laymen’s terms how to make all three of them
Beets probably originate from the Mediterranean, where they were cultivated for their leaves aka the stuff you throw away in the bin. They are a popular and versatile root vegetable that has many health benefits. But because of the power of fermentation, beets are even more beneficial in improving your blood pressure.
They are also high in nitrates that the body converts to nitric oxide. You can read more about that in my post about the positive nitric oxide boost. Another plus for fermented beets is that they can boost your sports performance and endurance as well as having anti-inflammatory properties.
Fermenting beetroots is easy. All you need is 2,2 lb of beetroots, 2-4 cloves of garlic, 6 peppercorns, and 1-2 bay leaves.
You can ferment almost everything and the best thing – it’s easy, healthy, and can improve your gut health. You can experiment to find what works best for you. Apart from the veggies on my list, you can ferment veggies like broccoli, peppers, green beans, and cauliflower, make drinks like kefir (from milkor water), kombucha tea, ginger ale, pear cider, probiotic lemonade, and so on and so on. You get it.
I hope this post has made you think twice about fermented foods and drinks and that you might even venture out and make something from scratch by yourself. In that case, here’s to you *drinks kombucha*.