Fermented foods have been celebrated all around the world for centuries, and for good reason. Full of probiotics and helpful bacteria, they’ve been found to strengthen immunity, improve digestion, and aid in the absorption of key nutrients. Oh, and did we mention that fermented foods are also delicious?
In case you’re feeling run down, or just want to add some flavor to your diet, here’s our rundown of all things fermented.
Chances are, you’ve already taken the plunge and tried a sip of this fizzy fermented drink. Thanks to SCOBY (the Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast), kombuchas are chock full of healthy flora, which translate to improved digestion and strengthened immunity.
This refrigerator staple is made of fermented dairy or dairy alternatives that have been introduced to certain strains of healthy bacteria. One scoop of yogurt in your smoothie, parfait, or dip can provide lots of tasty fermented goodness.
Kefir is a popular fermented beverage similar to yogurt, but thinner in consistency. Like yogurt, it can be made from dairy or non-dairy substitutes – almond, rice, coconut, and cashew, just to name a few. But, unlike yogurt, it’s fermented at room temperature. It all begins with a “kefir starter,” a powerful combination of yeast, bacteria, and protein. The end result is a delicious drink, available in every flavor under the sun.
The recorded history of kimchi dates back to the year 7 AD. Today, this Korean wonder is more popular than ever. Typically, kimchi is made with fermented cabbage and radish, but there are all types of varieties to explore, including some with apple slices for a touch of tangy sweetness. Eat it as a side dish, add it to rice, or use it to top off your favorite ramen – the list of kimchi combos is practically endless!
It’s so much more than a tasty base for soup – it’s a key ingredient for a number of Japanese dishes. Typically made with soybeans, rice, and a beneficial mold (kōji), miso is high in helpful bacteria. If you make your own miso soup at home, try to keep the broth below a boil. That way, you can prevent the live probiotics from cooking off.
Tempeh essentially is Indonesia’s fermented take on tofu. Firm, nutty, and slightly earthy, it’s a fantastic meat alternative that even carnivores can appreciate. And, thanks to tempeh’s unique fermentation cultures, it’s been known to help with indigestion.
Fun fact: Sauerkraut is German for “sour cabbage or vegetable,” but its origins have been disputed by historians for centuries. We’re not exactly sure where it’s from, but we do know that it’s mighty tasty and worthy of a spot on your plate. Fermented by lactic acid cultures, sauerkraut is regarded as one of the most accessible forms of probiotics.
If you’ve ever eaten a half-sour pickle, then you’ve already tried a fermented food! Remember, there’s more to the fermented pickle world than just cucumbers. Asparagus, carrots, beets, and onions are all extra tasty when pickled. Grab a jar next time you’re in the store or…
Make your own!
If you want to make your own pickles, check out this beginner’s guide from The Kitchn. It might sound like a lot of work, but we promise you it’s not a big dill.