We throw out milk that has ‘turned’ and purchase sour cream; we slice off the mouldy parts of the cheese block before paying top dollar for blue cheese and toss the stale bread then buy breadcrumbs by the bag. Don’t even get me started on the price of fungi – those delicious little spores we know of as mushrooms and truffles.
So it’s a rather surprising fact then that bacteria, fungi and yeast – three things we traditionally try to keep out of the house – are some of the most popular ingredients to make their way into the kitchen.
Whether it’s a step back to times gone by or just a classic case of DIY daring, more and more people are making their own sourdough starters, kimchi, kefir, kombucha teas, sauerkraut and, if you peek in the odd hot water cupboard, don’t be surprised to find buckets of mushrooms growing.
As the global food revolution pushes for sustainability, we’re getting back to basics and it’s seeing us get a bit crafty in the kitchen, delighting the senses with culinary creations that have their roots many centuries – and even cultures – ago.
So just what is the big deal? We’ve broken it down for you. At their simplest, fermented foods have been through a natural process where microorganisms (bacteria, yeasts or moulds) break down complex molecules into simpler substances. This is believed to enhance the foods’ nutrient value.
Pre-refrigeration, this fermentation process enabled foods to be preserved and last longer. But its popularity continues based on a number of perceived health benefits.
The good bacteria – probiotics – found in fermented foods are believed to improve digestion, boost immunity, promote healthy weight and increase gut health. Fermented foods, like yogurt and kimchi, are rich in these probiotics; the good bacteria that develops during the fermentation process.
Keen to get some fermented foods in your life? Why not start with kombucha – a fizzy fermented tea – natural, probiotic yoghurts and sourdough bread, or serve sauerkraut as a dinner accompaniment alongside your sauces and mustards.
Or why not make some yourself? Making your own fermented foods is an easy and enjoyable investment in gut health.
Get a sourdough starter up and running, sucking in some natural yeasts, some jars of salted cabbage fermenting away in the cupboard, transforming into sauerkraut, or create kombucha tea from a ‘scoby’ (an acronym of symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).
So when you want to get some culinary culture in your life, why not think outside of the box?