|This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look. Ask for the ancient paths: ‘Where is the good way?’ Then walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it!’
17 I appointed watchmen over you and said, ‘Listen for the sound of the ram’s horn.’ But they answered, ‘We will not listen!’…
Whether you realize it or not, fermentation is a process that’s used to produce some of the world’s favorite foods and beverages. Examples of fermented foods include things like wine, beer, yogurt, certain aged cheeses, and even chocolate and coffee.
One of the most popular fermented foods globally is yogurt, which has been consumed in certain parts of the world for thousands of years.
Throughout history, fermenting foods gave our ancestors the option of prolonging the freshness of grains, vegetables and milk that were available to them during different seasons. Today, you can make a large batch of fermented foods, such as sauerkraut or yogurt, to have ready to eat in your refrigerator that should last a relatively long time.
What are the benefits of fermented foods? According to a large body of evidence, eating fermented (or “cultured”) foods is the most convenient way to obtain a daily dose of beneficial probiotic bacteria.
Some of the many ways these foods support overall health include by improving digestion and cognitive function, boosting immunity, helping treat irritable bowel disease, providing minerals that build bone density, helping fight allergies, and killing harmful yeast and microbes.
Top 13 Fermented Foods
Below is a list of some of the best fermented foods to include in your diet:
Kefir is a fermented milk product (made from cow, goat or sheep’s milk) that tastes like a drinkable yogurt. Kefir benefits include providing high levels of vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K2, biotin, folate, enzymes and probiotics.
Kefir has been consumed for well over 3,000 years; the term kefir was started in Russia and Turkey and means “feeling good.”
Kombucha is a fermented drink made of black tea and sugar (from various sources like cane sugar, fruit or honey). It contains a colony of bacteria and yeast that is responsible for initiating the fermentation process once combined with sugar.
Do fermented foods like kombucha contain alcohol? Kombucha has trace amounts of alcohol but too little to cause intoxication or even to be noticeable.
Other fermented foods, such as yogurt or fermented veggies, typically do not have any alcohol at all.
Sauerkraut is one of the oldest traditional foods, with very long roots in German, Russian and Chinese cuisine, dating back 2,000 years or more. Sauerkraut means “sour cabbage” in German, although the Germans weren’t actually the first to make sauerkraut (it’s believed the Chinese were).
Made from fermented green or red cabbage, sauerkraut is high in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and B vitamins. It’s also a great source of iron, copper, calcium, sodium, manganese and magnesium.
Is store-bought sauerkraut fermented? Not always, especially the canned/processed kind.
Real, traditional, fermented sauerkraut needs to be refrigerated, is usually stored in glass jars and will say that it is fermented on the package/label.
Didn’t think that pickles had probiotics? Fermented pickles contain a ton vitamins and minerals, plus antioxidants and gut-friendly probiotic bacteria.
Are store-bought pickles fermented? Not usually.
Most store-bought pickles are made with vinegar and cucumbers, and although this makes the pickles taste sour, this doesn’t lead to natural fermentation. Fermented pickles should be made with cucumbers and brine (salt + water).
What is the best brand of pickles if you want probiotics? When choosing a jar of pickles, look for “lactic acid fermented pickles” made by a manufacturer that uses organic products and brine, refrigerates the pickles, and states that the pickles have been fermented.
If you can find a local maker, such as at a farmers market, you’ll get some of the best probiotics for your health.
Miso is created by fermenting soybeans, barley or brown rice with koji, a type of fungus. It’s a traditional Japanese ingredient in recipes including miso soup.
It’s been a staple in Chinese and Japanese diets for approximately 2,500 years.
Another beneficial fermented food made with soybeans is tempeh, a product that is created by combining soybeans with a tempeh starter (which is a mix of live mold). When it sits for a day or two, it becomes a dense, cake-like product that contains both probiotics and a hefty dose of protein too.
Tempeh is similar to tofu but not as spongy and more “grainy.”
Natto is a popular food in Japan consisting of fermented soybeans. It is sometimes even eaten for breakfast in Japan and commonly combined with soy sauce, karashi mustard and Japanese bunching onion.
After fermentation it develops a strong smell, deep flavor and sticky, slimy texture that not everyone who is new to natto appreciates.
Kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean dish that is made from vegetables, including cabbage, plus spices like ginger, garlic and pepper, and other seasoning. It’s often added to Korean recipes like rice bowls, ramen or bibimbap.
It’s considered a Korean delicacy that dates back to the seventh century.
9. Raw Cheese
Raw milk cheeses are made with milk that hasn’t been pasteurized. Goat milk, sheep milk and A2 cows soft cheeses are particularly high in probiotics, including thermophillus, bifudus, bulgaricus and acidophilus.
In order to find real fermented/aged cheeses, read the ingredient label and look for cheese that has NOT been pasteurized. The label should indicate that the cheese is raw and has been aged for six months or more.
Is fermented milk the same as yogurt? Essentially, yes.
Yogurt and kefir are unique dairy products because they are highly available and one of the top probiotic foods that many people eat regularly. Probiotic yogurt is now the most consumed fermented dairy product in the United States and many other industrialized nations too.
It’s recommend when buying yogurt to look for three things: first, that it comes from goat or sheep milk if you have trouble digesting cow’s milk; second, that it’s made from the milk of animals that have been grass-fed; and third, that it’s organic.
11. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar that is raw and contains “the mother” is fermented and does contain some probiotics. It also contains certain types of acids like acetic acid, which supports the function of probiotics and prebiotics in your gut.
However, most vinegars available in the supermarket do not contain probiotics.
You can add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a drink twice a day. Before breakfast and lunch or breakfast and dinner, add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in your meal, and then start consuming more fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi or drinking kvass to really boost probiotic levels.
Kvass is a traditional fermented beverage having a similar taste to beer. Much like kombucha, it goes through a fermentation process and and contains probiotics.
It’s made from stale, sourdough rye bread and is considered a non-alcoholic beverage because it contains only around 0.5 percent to 1.0 percent alcohol. The longer it ferments, the more susceptible it is to becoming more alcoholic.
If you’ve never tasted kvass, it has a tangy, earthy, salty flavor and can be an acquired taste. Sometimes it is brewed with flavors from fruits (such as raisins and strawberries) and herbs (such as mint) to make it more appealing.
13. Sourdough Bread
Certain traditionally made breads, such as real sourdough bread, are fermented, but they don’t contain probiotics. Fermentation helps make nutrients found in the grains more available for absorption and reduces antinutrient content that may make digestion difficult
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