Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to take a fermentation class at Ellwood Thompson’s, a local grocery store down the street, and learn all about the benefits and the process of fermentation. Who knew it had so many health benefits?
Dawn Story, the woman behind Farmstead Ferments brought in tons of fermented products, and showed us exactly how thing are made, including her delicious kraut, kefir soda, and kimchi.
According to Dawn and the folks at Farmstead Ferments, fermented foods offer tons of benefits:
While there are many techniques for putting food by—including canning, freezing and drying—fermentation is one of the simplest methods for preserving food and has the added benefit of actually making food more nutritious and more digestible. These zesty and robust foods are loaded with live enzymes and are probiotic, meaning they contain a plethora of beneficial microorganisms necessary for proper digestion and assimilation of food. That is why ferments are traditionally served alongside meats and heavier foods as a digestive aid (think sausage and kraut, pickled ginger and seafood). Ferments are high in vitamins and minerals, most notably Vitamin C, and are said to be anticarcinogenic.
While I’m not sure I buy into everything I’ve heard about fermentation, it does seem like a great way to preserve fresh produce, and create some deliciously healthy meals. I think the part that surprised me the most was learning that things like kraut and kimchi aren’t canned in vinegar, like pickles. They’re actually just fermented in water and salt.
My favorite, was definitely the Kimchi, which Dawn makes by hand, using local (if possible) ingredients.
It had a nice blend of spices which really gave it a good kick. We ended up buying a few jars from Ellwoods, and adding it into a stir fry of brown rice, egg whites, bell peppers, and yellow squash. It was a simple but delicious dinner. (This stuff was also delicious straight from the jar.) I also enjoyed trying the kefir sodas, which reminded me a little bit of kombucha, although it’s actually just a fermented water, flavored with things like apples, or persimmons. It’s interesting how it gets the “soda” type of effervescence, without actually being carbonated. It would be a great lower-sugar alternative to soda.