Live Fermented Foods and Drinks
Fermentation is a method of natural food preservation, passed down through the generations for centuries, that seems to pass on positive benefits to human health. Fermented foods are naturally rich in live micro-organisms that act tonaturally preserve foods and give nutritional support our body. They are tasty and easy to digest and have been used as an aid to digestion and detoxification by peoples all around the world throughout history.
The History of Fermentation
Fermentation has been used as a method of food preservation for thousands of years. There is evidence of cabbage being fermented in China 6,000 years ago. Roman sailors carried a barrel of sauerkraut with them on long voyages because they knew of its protective properties. Captain Cook took 60 barrels of sauerkraut on his voyage around the world, as he knew it would keep fresh and edible, and would help to fend off scurvy, because the fermenting of cabbage increases the availability of vitamin C.
In our more Northern climates it was traditional to preserve much of the autumn harvest by various methods of lacto fermentation, which would ensure there would be fresh foods to last through the winter months. Most of the sauerkraut available today is pasteurised. Pasteurising kills the beneficial micro-flora.
Other fresh, perishable foods have been preserved by various methods of fermentation. Meat in the form of charcuterie, and dairy as cheeses, butter, yoghurts and other milk cultures like kefir, Piima etc.
Fermented Foods from Around the World
In Europe there is a history of fermenting milk into yoghurt, a familiar food to most people. There are other cultured milk products like Kefir, Piima, cultured butter and buttermilk. Sauerkraut is still popular in Central and Eastern Europe, where many people still make it in the traditional way.
Many of our familiar foods are fermented foods, but sometimes they have been altered by modern food processing techniques. Bread is a good example. Traditionally it was made with some sort of sourdough culture, then people started to add yeast to it, which speeded up the process, and we ended up with modern mass produced bread. This is a long way from "real" bread. Cheese, beer, wine and salami are all fermented foods. Many different vegetables and fruit can be fermented, such as beetroot, turnips, cauliflower, carrots, apples, herbs, garlic and vine leaves. In Asia fermented fish is a delicacy, and we supply a fine fermented fish sauce.
Many people will be familiar with miso, natto, soy sauce and tempeh. They are all produced by fermentation methods. We have sourced a traditional natto made using organic soya beans, which we supply frozen. We also have a selection of raw and organic miso to choose from. In Japan it is usual to serve pickled vegetable with meals, in Korea kimchi is eaten daily, and in India people make chutneys, which were lacto fermented and regularly drink a fermented milk drink, lassi. All our familiar relishes and sauces, like piccalilli and tomato ketchup began as lacto fermented condiments.
How Lacto Fermentation Works
Food is preserved through the process of lacto fermentation. Lactic acid inhibits the growth of putrefying bacteria. Fruit and vegetables are naturally covered in many species of lactic acid producing bacteria, and man has learned how to control these bacteria for his benefit.With the help of the starches and sugars from the fruit and vegetables, these bacteria produce lactic acid.
This process has many benefits, other than simply preserving food. The digestibility and the bio-availability of nutrients are enhanced. Enzymes, antibiotics and other health enhancing substances are created. Lactic acid is known to promote the growth of healthy flora in the intestine. Cultured foods are beneficial foods that are easy to digest, even for people with compromised digestion or those who are poorly.
When starting with these foods it is wise to begin with very small amounts and to increase slowly. Cultured foods are considered as condiments. It is suggested that, for some people, it may be best to begin with just small amounts of the juice from live fermented vegetables, and to build up to actually eating them. This will give the body chance to adjust to the enhanced array of microbes. Little and often is the way to go.
If you are making your own cultured foods at home it is best to use high
quality ingredients such as home grown or organic fruit and vegetables and unrefined Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt. Both these salts contain a natural range of minerals and no additives, and are essential to our wellbeing. It is important to use good clean water too, so filtered or bottled is best - unless you have your own water source! The mineral levels can be enhanced even more by adding seaweeds or perhaps Seagreens®. It seems the lactic acid creating bacteria love minerals, and this can help to ensure a successful fermentation.
Fermentation is not an exact science and the outcomes can vary. This is perhaps why these methods have generally been lost at a commercial level.
However, we do have an ever expanding range of live and fermented products available to buy from the chilled section of our shop and on line:
- Raw Live Sauerkraut with White Cabbage – a selection, some with added veggies, herbs or spices
- Raw Live Red Cabbage Kraut
- Raw Live Kimchi – various, some vegan, some with added fermented fish sauce
- Raw Live Sauerkraut Juice
- Raw Live Kimchi Juice
- Raw Live Fermented Gherkins
- Raw Live Fermented Beetroot
- Raw Live Miso
- Raw Live Natto
- Raw, Frozen Tempeh
- Live Organic Yoghurts (cow's milk and goat's milk)
- Live Unpasteurised Kombucha
- Raw Milk Cheeses
- Raw Cultured Butters
- Raw Crème Fraiche
- Raw Cream - that will naturally sour, if you need it as an ingredient
- Fermented Cod Liver Oil
- Organic Sourdough Bread
- Live Kefir
- Traditional Charcuterie Range
- Raw Organic Olives
- Raw Live Cider Vinegar - with the mother
- Raw Live Honey
- Bee Bread (naturally fermented pollen)
- Fermented Black Garlic
- Fermented Fish Sauce
- Traditionally Made Shoyu and Tamari
- Traditional Fermented Coconut Oil
- Coconut Aminos
- RnA Drops
- Biostrath Elixir
We often have kefir “gains” available for both milk and water fermentations and kombucha scobies too. (Please ask)
Fermentation is a passion of ours. We run workshops and demonstrations. If you are interested in what we have coming up - please get in touch.