Fermented Foods: What Are They & How To Add Them Into Your Diet
Eating naturally fermented foods has long been beneficial to one’s overall health, but your gut especially reaps the benefits. Fermentation is the result of sugars and starches in a food naturally broken down by bacteria and yeast. This changes the structure of the food and allows it to be preserved longer. What results is “good bacteria” that takes care of your stomach and helps with digestion. Fermented foods are fun to eat and popular for their distinctively acidic taste and health benefits.
Consuming fermented foods is beneficial because they contain live cultures that live in your gut and help support your immune system. One thing to note about fermentation is the difference between such and pickling. While some traditional pickles are naturally fermented, many are not. Therefore they’re not considered fermented foods (rather, they are simply cucumbers pickled in vinegar). For more information on the difference between the fermenting and pickling, check out this guide by WildBrine.
Yogurt and Kefir
One of the most popular fermented foods is yogurt because it is simply fermented milk! It’s known for containing probiotics that are helpful to your gut and digestion. If you’re unfamiliar with kefir, it’s a dairy product similar to yogurt. Kefir is a great addition to smoothies and granola! One of Tacoma Boys’ favorites is Grace Harbor Farms Plain Kefir. This drinkable yogurt is known for assisting digestion and even improving bone health, making it a great addition to your daily routine!
Kombucha has become quite popular in recent years, but do you know what this fermented tea actually is? Scoby, a colony of yeast and bacteria, is what makes the tea fermented. Depending on the brand and flavor, kombucha may taste slightly sweet and sometimes vinegary. But not in a bad way! Kombucha is flavored with herbs and fruits that are added during the fermentation process. If you’re a first-timer looking for a good option, Bellingham-based Kombucha Town Blueberry White Kombucha is one of the many kombucha brands offered at Tacoma Boys.
Kimchi is a traditional Korean blend of salted and fermented vegetables. Cabbage and radish typically makes up the base of kimchi, followed by many seasonings and spices! If you’re looking for a tasty way to get more probiotics and vegetables into your diet, kimchi is the perfect option! Try Britt’s Kimchi made by local Britt’s Fermented Foods.
Sauerkraut is familiar to many for its presence on various sausages and its crunchy, sour bite. This comes from the fermentation process when the sugars in the cabbage break down into lactic acid. Flavoring and seasonings like garlic, ginger, peppers, and other vegetables are often present. OlyKraut and WildBrine Sauerkraut are available in many flavors at Tacoma Boys.
This may come as a surprise to many, but sourdough is actually a fermented food! This means it contains those good bacterias that help support your gut. Naturally occurring yeast and lactic acid bacteria make up a sourdough starter. While making bread, the starter ferments the sugars in the dough. This is what yields such a nice sour taste, such as in Seattle Sourdough Baking Company Bread.
What are the Benefits of Probiotics?
Fermented foods contain live cultures called probiotics, which live in your body, too! What’s amazing about probiotics is that they’re constantly fighting the “bad bacteria.” And to top it off, this all leads back to your overall health and taking good care of your body and immune system. There are different strains of probiotics that are beneficial for different reasons. Some fermented foods contain dozens of different helpful probiotics that contribute to the “good bacteria.”
Realizing that fermented foods contain several live microorganisms may gross some people out. But there’s no need to worry! You have hundreds of millions of live bacteria living in your gut right now. Probiotic microbes simply add to the good bacteria in your gut that fight disease and infection. Many people even take probiotic supplements to improve their gut health. For more information about probiotics, check out this webpage by the Cleveland Clinic.
Cooking With Fermented Foods
Cooking with fermented foods can be as simple as snacking on kimchi or yogurt! But there are a few things you can do to make cooking with fermented foods part of your everyday diet. When you add fermented foods to your diet, you’re making an effort to maintain your gut health and immune system. You can simply use the fermented foods as you would with its non fermented counterpart:
- Throw kimchi (cabbage and radish) in a stir fry or pile some sauerkraut (cabbage) high on your sandwich.
- Try kombucha (sweet tea) as an afternoon refreshment.
- Swap plain white bread with sourdough on your next homemade sandwich.
- Toss some kefir (cultured milk) into a smoothie.
- Build a charcuterie board with raw cheese, kimchi, sourdough bread, and salami.
The options are endless! Get creative with cooking with fermented foods to make it a regular part of your diet.
Shop Local at Tacoma Boys
Tacoma Boys selection of speciality foods and ingredients makes it easy to find the fermented foods you love. Just stop on by to browse a wide array of sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurts, and more! And to stay up to date on insider deals and specials, sign up for Tacoma Boys’ text list. Just text (253) 246-1661 to tell Paul you want to be on the list!