What are Fermented Foods and Why Should We Eat Them?
Ground Up Cookery School

What are Fermented Foods and Why Should We Eat Them?

Well, odds are, you already are!! Your morning coffee, your after dinner cheese or your sneaky bar of chocolate…these are all foods that include a fermentation process in their production. However, we are really talking about the recent interest in products like kombucha, kefir and krauts.

All reported to have excellent and extensive health benefits from preventing Covid 19 deaths to reducing eczema. The increased interest in Fermented Foods in recent years has lead to an increase in scientific research. Medical and scientific claims include the following:

  • Reduce blood pressure,
  • Reduce allergies,
  • Strong link to reduced Covid 19 deaths.
  • Improved digestion
  • Cure psoriasis
  • Cure chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Reduced cancer risk
  • Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Reducing eczema
  • Improving lung performance
  • Reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis
  • Reduced risk of obesity
  • The list goes on…

There has even been a study to show a link between good gut bacteria and anxiety and depression in animals. Although this is yet to be replicated in humans. These claims come with the disclaimer that research is still relatively sparse and is also debated by some. However, a quick search on “fermented foods” on the National Library of Medicine website (USA) is certainly encouraging.

Fermenting at Home

That is the why we should eat more... but we aren’t raised to eat “fizzy”, “tangy” food in UK. We are raised to think it has gone off, in many cases it has. It is important to follow very clear guidelines when fermenting at home to ensure that you aren’t breeding the bad bacteria, which can have the opposite affect and make you ill with food poisoning. Don’t worry, we will teach you these on our Introduction to Fermented Food & Drink course. 

On a simpler level, vegetables are naturally covered in yeast and good bacteria. When they are chopped up and mixed with salt or brine this creates an atmosphere that encourages lactobacillus to multiply breaking down the vegetables and digesting the natural sugars, turning them into lactic acid. This is the tangy flavour you can taste in fermented foods, it is also the warrior which prevents the growth of bad bacteria, which in turn prevents your food from spoiling… that is why fermentation has been used as a method of preserving for thousands of years and is still the primary means of preservation in several cultures. In the UK, we tend to pickle using vinegar, which destroys the nutrients as well as the good and bad bacteria offering very limited health benefits… although I wouldn’t be without them on my cheese board!

Foraging and Fermentation

Even traders are becoming interested in the financial growth of Fermented Food and Drinks with Mordor Intelligence anticipating a growth market over the coming years!! However, if you buy off the shelf you must make sure that the products contain live bacteria. Many off the shelf probiotics have been pasteurised which destroys any health benefits. You are just wasting your money. Ferments are incredibly easy and fun to make. They last for years, so you can make them in large batches when the ingredients are in season, which is arguably better for the environment too!

At Ground Up Cookery School, Colin has spent many years experimenting with fermentation and creating products that will both challenge your senses and others which will make increasing the amount of fermented food and drink in your diet a lot easier to stomach! It is a learning process and not everyone will be a lover of the twang straight away… nor do we recommend a sudden switch, your gut will not thank you for a sudden mass intake, trust us!

Fermentation Course

Join us on one of our  Introduction to Fermented Food & Drink course which is available as a scheduled event or bespoke training event for Chefs and team building events. We will teach you how to make and care for your own Curtido. You will have the opportunity to try a lot of different products, depending on what Colin has been making including a range of drinks, single item ferments, ferment blends, ferments as ingredients for wider dishes and explore miso, garum and the slightly funkier side of fermentation, there is something for everyone. Interested? Come and join us!  Further details here.


Health Benefits of Fermented Foods


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