What are fermented foods?
Lacto-fermented foods are made with the process of fermentation, where the natural bacteria feed on the sugars and starch in the food creating lactic acid.
Beneficial enzymes, B vitamins, Omega 3 fatty acids and various strains of beneficial probiotics are created during the fermentation process.
Civilizations around the world have been eating healthy fermented foods for years, such as:
- Kim chi in Korea
- Sauerkraut in Germany
- Yoghurt in Middle Eastern countries
- Kombucha tea in Japan
- Kefir in Ukraine
I’ve included an easy fermented vegetables recipe below for you to try.
5 Reasons to include probiotic foods in your diet.
- Populates your gut with good bacteria and crowds out the bad microbes.
- Improves digestive health.
- May improve mental health issues via the gut-brain connection.
- Boosts the immune system.
- Provides protection from inflammatory bowel disease.
Introduce fermented foods slowly.
If you are new to eating fermented foods, it’s best to introduce them slowly one at a time to see how well your body accepts them.
Fermented vegetables are a tasty and convenient way to include gut supporting probiotic food in your diet. Very easy to make, taking no time at all and only a little effort, you’ll soon have several jars of fermented veggies ready to use in your fridge.
A variety of different vegetables can be used, and the recipe below uses some of my favourites, capsicum, cauliflower and cucumber in a simple salt water brine. It makes a crunchy, tangy Italian Style Giardiniera, a summer vegetable medley that is great to serve with cold cuts and cheese for snacking, or as a side condiment to main meals.
- VEGETABLES – Using fresh organic vegetables in your ferments means no nasty chemicals are included in the finished ferment and you get maximum nutritional value.
- SALT – Sea salt, mineral rich Himalayan salt, or kosher salt can be used to make the brine. Iodized salt is not recommended as it can inhibit the beneficial bacteria in the ferment. Just make sure that whichever salt you use it has no additives or anti caking agents included.
- WATER – The water used for your brine should ideally be non chlorinated/filtered water
Additional tips for successful fermented vegetables.
Because I like my vegetables to retain their crunch, I include a pinch of black tea to each jar. The tannin in the tea keeps the veggies crisp. Traditionally, grape leaves are used to provide the tannin, but it’s not always possible to find grape leaves easily. I find black tea leaves do the job very well.
Instead of the simple salt brine, you can also use a probiotic starter culture added to the filtered water to start the fermentation process, but this is by no means a necessity. If you’re starting your fermenting journey on a budget, a salt brine does the job perfectly well.
Depending on where you live, the temperature of your fermenting environment will vary and the time it takes for the fermenting process will change. I live in a hot climate, so I test my veggies on day 3 to see if they are ‘done’. If you live in a cooler climate, the fermentation process will take longer.
You can see that fermentation is happening when small bubbles start rising in the jar and the liquid will turn cloudy. It’s entirely up to individual taste how ‘tangy’ you like our giardiniera. The longer you let it ferment, the tangier the finished taste will be.
Try this easy Italian Style Giardiniera recipe and let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.