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Introducing Fermentation Fridays

I have recently become very interested in fermented foods and drinks and the health benefits they have. I am also interested in the fact that fermentation is a great way of storing foods. As a gardener I’m always looking for ways to preserve and store the produce I grow.

We all know beers and wines are fermented, but there is so much more that we maybe have not considered .

So, I decided to start a journey to discover how to ferment foods at home and try different fermentation recipes, and also to uncover the benefits and what the experts say and to see if I feel any benefit from eating them.

Although fermented foods and drinks like Kombucha are perhaps new to some of us, the earliest archaeological evidence of fermentation is of 13,000 year old beer residues, found in a cave in Israel. So we know that fermentation has been going on way before this and it is most probable that it was discovered quite by accident.

Fermentation often refers to the chemical conversion of sugars into ethanol, this produces alcohol in drinks like wine, beer and cider. But there is also a similar process that happens in leavening bread. CO2 is produced by yeast activity and this is also the case in sour food production of lactic acid in Sauerkraut and yogurt.

So although most of us know little about fermented foods, and some people are put off by the word “fermented” most of us eat them already without realising. Foods like vinegar, cheese, bread, beers etc.

So what are the benefits of eating fermented foods?

What the experts say

Fermented foods provide health benefits such as anti- oxidant, anti-microbial, anti- fungal, anti- inflammatory, anti-diabetic, and anti- atherosclerotic activity. Okay but what does that really mean?

I’m not a doctor or a scientist.

Fermented foods can boost the number of beneficial bacteria or probiotics in your gut. And probiotics are associated with a variety of health benefits, including digestion and better immunity and can even increase weight loss!

It all sounds a bit complicated and scientific, but what I have learnt is that it boosts immunity and our immune systems live and thrive in our gut! Yes…I mean I don’t know where I thought my immune system lived, but I just didn’t think it was my gut. So fermented foods can boost the number of microbes/gut bacteria! These critters (microbiome) come in many different types, the more types you have the healthier your gut is, and of course the heather your immune system is.

So now in my head I have this world, a jungle, a community of critters living and growing inside me, and they are depending on me to look after them and in turn they look after me. I now also know that western diet foods like high fats and sugars really damage them and even kill some types of them off, and this can leave me more open to illness and diseases. So I now understand why it is so important to have a good balanced diet that is rich in fiber. And that eating a good variety of vegetables (as many different colours as possible) can not just be beneficial but actually essential! But mostly I have learnt that fermented foods are like a super food for creating gut critters.

And before I finish talking about microbiome (gut critters), I have to tell you a couple of did you knows about them, because I love a “did you know”……like did you know the average adult has around 10 trillion of them AND sorry if I’m going a bit geeky now, they weigh as much as your brain! I know you are probably reeling at this and sitting back in your chair in wonder, well who wouldn’t!

After finding out some of these facts I feel I have a great responsibility to look after my gut critters, I have really warmed to them. And so my fermentation journey now has even more purpose than a mild curiosity, it has become a quest!

Each Friday over the next few weeks I will share fermentation recipes. A kind of novice guide to how easy or difficult it is to maintain fermenting, and how I feel in myself as the quest goes on. I really hope you will come along with me, try recipes and share your thoughts, ideas and conclusions! So pop this in your diary “ Fermentation Fridays” with Dorset County life, and let's see what happens!

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Meet Sue & Katie

Two women. Two generations. Both mothers and lovers of the county where they live. Blogging about Dorset here at Dorset Country Life. Find out more...

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