Wondering how to make fermented foods? Making fermented foods at home is much easier than people might think. They do not have to be complicated to taste amazing! Fermented foods at home allow you to experiment with different recipes while saving money and having fun.
Fermented foods are gaining a bigger foothold in local marketplaces due to their newfound popularity in post-quarantine American life. However, it is quite easy to make fermented foods like kombucha or sauerkraut at home.
Unsurprisingly, many do not really know what fermented food is or how to prepare it safely at home. Let’s explore what they are and then discuss how to implement them easily into your daily diet.
Put simply, fermentation is the process of converting carbohydrates to alcohol or organic acids using microorganisms such as yeast.
Understanding the Connection between Fermented Foods and Gut Microbiota
Fermented foods are full of natural probiotics that may assist in maintaining a healthy digestive balance. Probiotics contain live organisms that contribute to your unique microbiome, which in turn is based upon the presence of beneficial bacteria. Unfortunately, many factors can wreak havoc on the sensitive nature of the microbiome.
Stress, poor eating habits, and certain prescription medications can sometimes lead to generalized stomach upset and/or problems digesting foods. Nutrition plays a key role in helping our bodies cope with digestive imbalance – with fermented foods being a key component in gut health.
The good news is that there are fun recipes available that are rich in beneficial live bacteria and kind to the tummy. Popular fermented foods easy to make at home include:
- Pickled Vegetables
- Sourdough bread
Kombucha has been gaining popularity over the years and this fermented drink can easily be made at home There are also tons of different flavors that can be found at the grocery store as well. Kombucha is wonderful to have handy when you want something both healthy and good tasting. Try our recipe here for Grapefruit Kombucha Spritzers! It is a fan favorite.
How to Make Fermented Foods at Home: Best Practices, Brining and the Best Salts to Use
It can be intimidating to can and bottle foods during the fermentation process. The rate at which bacteria can grow is staggeringly high making it imperative to follow safe food preparation procedures. Here is what is what you need to know:
Freshness matters. Do your best to scout out the freshest ingredients and it’s most ideal to use organic ingredients. If you grow your own fruits and vegetables, then all the better.
Cleaning is essential. Cleaning your environment and the vegetation intended for fermentation is absolutely important.
Salt in fermenting matters. When making your own fermented food at home, it is essential to use the exact amount of salt required in the recipe you are following. Most recipes will indicate the type of salt recommended. These salt types are not recommended for use in home fermentation processes, and usually won’t show up in receipes:
- Table salt
- Iodized salt
- Pickling salt
- Kosher salt
Why is Salt a Big Deal When it Comes to Making Your Own Fermented Foods at Home?
Salt is the key ingredient primarily because it inhibits the growth of bad bacteria. It also keeps the foods crunchy and crisp while also contributing to the fermentation process. Too little is not sufficient for the lacto-fermentation process to occur and too much salt kills the good bacteria growth.
The salt induced fermentation process is referred to as lacto-fermentation. It is the most common and oldest form of food preservation used today. It involves only salt, water, and vegetables. The saltwater brine creates an anaerobic environment (free of oxygen) where only lactobacillus bacteria can survive. The lactobacillus bacteria act as a preservative.
Brining 101: The Key to a Successful Fermentation Process
Learning how to make a correct solution of brine is the hallmark to making fermented foods successfully at home. As mentioned above, the type of salt is crucial. The other key element is the amount. For example, most recipes call for a 2% brine solution. 2% brine is normally coined for firm vegetables – think asparagus, carrots, beets, green beans, cauliflower, etc.
Cucumbers and peppers typically require a slightly higher salinity (3.5%) in most cases. Peppers, lemons, and potato mashes also require a hefty amount of salt to prevent mold. There are many great resources for creating an easy go-to brine process that easily encourages healthy fermentation.
Fermented Foods May Be Great for Supporting Gut Health
Making fermented foods at home is a great complement to supporting gut health. We hope you enjoy the journey of fermented foods at home. And naturally, as a maker of whole food based, fermented fruit and vegetable probiotic supplements, we endorse the power of fermented foods to support your digestion.
If you’d like to check out an awesome whole food probiotic to supplement your diet, our Probulin Total Care Probiotic is a great place to start.