On Your Health

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How to Make Your Own Fermented Foods

Fermentation has been around for centuries as a way to preserve foods that would otherwise spoil and create new and interesting flavors out of common ingredients. Modern grocery stores and refrigeration make it easier to purchase and maintain produce, so fermentation is not as common as it once was. 

However, fermented foods are starting to make a comeback due to their health benefits and eco-friendly nature. We share how you can make your own fermented foods at home, and reap their many benefits.

What is fermentation?

Fermented foods and beverages are made through controlled microbial growth and conversion of food components through enzymatic action. This means that the fermentation process occurs when microorganisms, such as yeast or bacteria, break down certain food components into other products. For example, glucose can be broken down into organic acids, gases or alcohol. 

Fermentation is found in plenty of common foods and beverages, such as sourdough bread, Greek yogurt, beer and wine. Other popular fermented foods include:

  • Kombucha
  • Tempeh
  • Miso
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kefir

Benefits of fermented foods

There are so many benefits of fermentation. Many fermented foods and beverages provide probiotics, live organisms that support better gut health and digestion. Fermented foods are also linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and inflammation.

  • Better digestion - Gut health is an important part of digestion because we need good bacteria to break down complex carbohydrates. Adding a few fermented foods to your diet can help your digestion stay regular. 
  • Improved gut health - Good bacteria help to lower intestinal pH, which fights disease-causing bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. This can prevent food-borne illnesses caused by bacteria that you ingest every day. 
  • Supports immune system health - The probiotics present in many fermented foods can help the body produce vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12 and K, in addition to boosting the immune system. 
  • Lower risk of disease - People who have a less diverse gut microbiota can be linked to higher rates of obesity, asthma and chronic inflammatory conditions. Fermented foods create a more diverse gut microbiota which helps lower the risk of diseases associated with inflammation.
  • Reduced food waste - In the U.S., approximately one pound of food per person is wasted each day. Fermenting foods at home allows you to extend the life of produce, dairy and more to cut down on waste. 

Fermented food recipes

You can buy fermented foods, such as pickles and sauerkraut, at the grocery store, but not all fermented foods have the same benefits. For example, store-bought pickles are often processed with vinegar instead of a true fermentation process, which means they don’t contain probiotics. Look for the words “naturally fermented” on the label, or you can make your own fermented foods at home with ingredients you probably already have. 

Fermented cabbage (sauerkraut) recipe

Fermented Cabbage recipe

(click here to download recipe pdf)

Fermented pickles with dill and garlic

Fermented Dill Pickles recipes

(click here to download recipe pdf)

Fermented sweet peppers

Fermented Peppers recipe

(click here to download recipe pdf)

For more healthy recipes and tips, visit our INTEGRIS Health For You blog.

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