AUTHOR LOUISE AVERY / PUBLISHED: MAY-2022
5 of the tastiest fermented foods to boost your gut health
WHAT ARE FERMENTED FOODS?
Fermentation has always been a huge part of our food system; think sourdough, coffee, chocolate, cheese, soy sauce, yoghurt & Worcester sauce. Historically we fermented foods as a method of preservation pre-dating refrigeration. Across the world and especially in Asia - fermentation has always been fundamental to creating depth of flavour, and most recently these same live foods have been scientifically proven to be one of the key ingredients associated with good gut health.
WHAT IS 'GUT HEALTH'?
Gut health refers the state of and functionality of your digestive tract. Someone suffering from an unhealthy gut might often come down with colds, suffer from indigestion and bloating, have frequent food intolerances, struggle with sleep and gain or lose weight unexpectedly. Many modern conditions can affect our gut negatively including pollution, antibiotics, oral contraceptive, alcohol, stress and living in an over-sterile environment.
Unpasteurised, live fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir and Kombucha contain friendly bacteria similar to those found in a healthy gut, thus helping to overpower the bad bacteria in the gut.
If you would like to read more on this subject, here are our top tips on how to eat your way to a healthy gut. We also find these articles on gut health & the microbiome from Stanford University and the New York Times very informative.
How to eat fermented foods
Our top tip is to try to have 1 serving of fermented foods at each meal… that might include spoonful of live yoghurt with granola for breakfast, some kimchi in a cheese toastie for lunch and a glass of kombucha alongside your dinner.
With this in mind, here is our list of the tastiest fermented foods to complement a healthy lifestyle:
Kimchi originated in Korea and is enjoyed as a fermented side dish, usually made from cabbage and radish. Usually the kimchi is flavoured with spicy chilli flakes, garlic, spring onions and ginger as well as fish sauce.
We like to eat vegan kimchi which we make with white miso instead of fish sauce and all kind of seasonal goodies can be included like wild garlic, carrots and beetroot depending on the time of year.
Our favourite ways to eat kimchi are
1) breakfast - on the side of eggs or scrambled tofu
2) Kimchi enhances a cheese toastie!
3) in a bowl of rice and veggies or as part of a hawaian poke bowl.
Our favourite store brought brand is Kimchi Radish
Sauerkraut is also fermented cabbage but more finely cut than kimchi. One of Germany’s national dishes, it is usually made from plain cabbage, salt and additions of lemon, caraway seeds or juniper berries. It is clean and sour tasting and is often used as a food pairing to meat – often with hotdogs.
Both kimchi and sauerkraut are made using lacto-fermentation with the addition of salt. The added salt keeps out the unfriendly bateria (which are salt intolerant) whilst the lacto-fermentation eats the naturally occurring sugar in the vegetables to metabolise and convert into lactic acid. Lactic acid fights off any bad bacteria but preserves the flavour, texture and nutrients of the vegetables. These acids and bacteria that are produced are similar to the healthy strains found in our gut and help to clean out / balance the gut.
We love to eat our kraut in...
1) the afore mentioned hotdog
2) with roasted pepper dip in a sandwich and 3) with a dinner plate of sweet potato fritters, avocado and a protein of choice.
Our favourite sauerkraut is made by The Cultured Collective.
Miso paste is made from fermented soy beans(with a fungus called koji) and is a savoury, salty, flavouring enhancing ingredient which is also the taste now most commonly described as ‘umami’. Miso will add the complex savoury deep tasting notes that we often crave when we are looking for deeper flavours in cooking. That is why it is the perfect alternative to fish sauce in vegan kimchi for example.
Kefir, pronounced “ke-feer”, comes in two forms, water kefir and milk kefir. Traditionally fermented from cow, sheep and goat milk, it utilises a culture of bacteria and yeast which have the appearance of small white grains. Water kefir uses a similar culture but is made from sugar sweetened water that is usually infused with lemon and dried fruits for added minerals.
Milk kefir tastes similar to Greek yoghurt but thinner in consistency whilst water kefir has a fermented tart flavour all of its own.
Kombucha is a naturally sparkling fermented tea drink, made from adding a specific culture of bacteria and yeast (a SCOBY) to black or green tea sweetened with sugar and leaving to ferment for several days.
Kombucha has a tart yet mildly sweet flavour and is characterised by its tangy fizz and complex flavour notes. We like to add ginger, fruits and flowers to compliment the natural flavour of the fermentation but it is also delicious by itself.
We love to drink kombucha in the afternoon as an energy boosting pick me up (instead of cake), and in the evenings as a delicious aperitif instead of alcohol.
And of course, we recommend the one and only…… www.labrewery.co.uk
Over the next 5 weeks we will be releasing a series of Louise’s own recipes for homemade ferments to boost your mealtimes – and microbiome!