Monday, June 7, 2010

Why We Ferment

Thanks for all the feedback on my fermented feijoa drink - I'm planning on trying it with quince next.  I wanted to explain my reasons for fermenting food - other than the obvious taste benefits.  Above is a picture of some lacto-fermented pickles I made recently. I used a few handfuls of olives from my tree, some dandelions, some of the last courgettes and tomatoes, small onions and herbs - put them in brine for a few days at room temp and then into the fridge.  The olives are still bitter so they might take a while in the fridge before they reach perfection.

In our modern germ-phobic society micro-organisms often have a bad name (germs are just a naughty word for micro-organisms).  I'm not a big fan of sterilizing everything in sight - those hand sanitizers give me the creeps and I'm convinced that the recent increases in auto-immune diseases are related to our war on the germ.  We seem to forget that micro-organisms basically run our bodies and that most of them are harmless or very useful - particularly in the digestive system - helping to break down soluble fibre and make nutrients more absorbable etc.  Apart from cheese and the good old lactobacillus acidophalus yogurt our supermarkets seem to be freakishly microbe free - food keeps longer that way.  But traditional cuisines are full of lacto-fermented pickles, drinks and all kinds of other cultured foods.  Fermented food is easy to make and not particularly time consuming.  Here are some fascinating blog posts on fermenting food:

Fermented foods
Fermented food: benefits of lactic acid fermentation
Fermented food for beginners

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