Within the long list of processes that can be used in the kitchen, there are some better than others to preserve the natural properties of food , or to enhance its nutrients. However, we do not take full advantage of one of the best cooking processes for our body: fermentation. What comes to mind? Perhaps the process of making the dough for bread. But it can be used in many other preparations, and its incorporation into our diet is the best ally for our defenses.
Fermented foods are those that have undergone a specific preparation that makes a product change its flavor and multiply its benefits . During fermentation, healthy microorganisms develop for the human body, and these foods are more nutritious and long-lasting as they contain natural preservatives. These bacteria add to or complement the natural bacteria in our body.
The benefits of fermented foods
Fermented foods reinforce the nutritional power of foods. Some vitamins increase their presence during the fermentation hours. This is the case of group B vitamins, which are very beneficial for digestion, the nervous system, the joints, the heart … Another example is the K2 vitamins, whose presence is directly linked to the fermentation process . These vitamins are very important for the health of your bones, heart, or blood vessels.
Consuming fermented foods helps the stomach and intestines. These bacteria contained in the fermented ones allow food to be easier to digest, so digestion is not heavy . This is especially important for everyone with digestive-related problems, such as irritable bowel, constipation, or reflux . Or simply for those people who want to forget about the feeling of heaviness after finishing eating. A bit of fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut, is in this sense the ideal accompaniment to meat or fish.
These bacteria from fermented foods increase the biodiversity of the intestine, the intestinal flora . And this is key since most of the defenses that our immune system needs are housed in the intestine. In addition, fermented foods also help our emotional health and the processes of different organs of the body . These are some of the most relevant points.
Incorporation of fermented foods into the diet: make them at home!
In the supermarket, there are numerous options for consuming fermented foods, such as yogurts or olives. The problem is that these foods that we find on large surfaces do not always pass the correct fermentation process to keep the necessary bacteria alive. For example, in the case of yogurts, if they have been pasteurized or contain additives, the bacteria are no longer alive. Or they have simply been dipped in vinegar, in the case of olives, which does not adhere to the correct dissolution in water and salt. The same happens with pickles or sauerkraut that can be purchased in the supermarket: they are not fermented as such, so they do not provide us with those microorganisms necessary for the intestinal flora.
You can try to make sauerkraut, which is one of the fermented par excellence , and the king of accompaniment in many of the European culinary traditions. Cabbage takes on a different flavor, more intense and less sweet, and a much crunchier texture. It only takes cutting the cabbage into very thin strips , and add salt. This combination is mixed with your hands until the cabbage begins to naturally release liquid. At that time, it is placed in a glass container, crushed well, and bathed with water. With the passage of between 3 and 10 days , it will change its color to whitish, and its texture will also vary. When some bubbles appear, it is the signal that it is ready.
If you choose other vegetables, the process for turning them into fermented foods is similar but with a little water. A good mix is cucumber, pepper and onion . After finely chopping the vegetables, and adding the salt, they are bathed with some water so that the mixture ferments. It is a good way to take advantage of vegetables for longer, since they are in brine for several days, and then they can be consumed for as many days. A good trick is to add spices or seeds to the mix. A touch of oregano or a spicy spice will give it a different flavor than the fermented one.
Yogurts and Kefir: fermented from milk
Other fermented products that cannot be absent are yogurts or kefir . Yogurt is obtained by fermenting milk with specific milk bacteria, and fruits can be added to this mixture to give one or another flavor. To make a truly fermented product, you have to avoid the pasteurization of milk, which kills bacteria.
This dairy starter can be purchased in health food stores, or directly through the Internet portals of e-commerce that we all use. Each ferment will indicate the hours needed to make the yogurt, which can be done in a yogurt maker, oven or in a food processor. In addition, you can add powdered milk or cream to give another flavor and consistency.
Kefir is a product similar to yogurt in appearance, but its flavor is more acidic due to the type of fermentation. The way it is prepared makes it a more digestive option . The ferment must be specific for kefir: a kind of very lumpy white nodules that mix with the milk. The mixture is left to ferment in a glass jar for 24-48 hours at room temperature. Once that time has passed, you have to strain the product to separate the kefir from the granules.
Fermented to drink: kombucha
You can also choose a drink that has been a real revolution lately: kombucha . It is a kind of sweetened tea that is made by boiling water, a natural sweetener, the variety of tea you want, a little kombucha from a previous preparation and ‘scoby’: a culture of bacteria and yeast. Slices of some fruit, such as orange, or grated ginger, can be added to this liquid. This fermented drink, which comes from the ancient Chinese tradition, is a perfect alternative to soft drinks.
In short, fermented ones are an essential option for our body to function as it should. Its consumption strengthens the body’s defenses thanks to the bacteria that complement the microbiota of the intestine. In addition, it makes all digestive processes less burdensome, and provides a feeling of improvement and general well-being. In this video, we summarize in two minutes the importance of fermented products. And, if you dare to try them, tell us in the comments!