From Dr. Mercola:
Consuming traditionally fermented foods is a simple strategy to optimize the health of your gut, the foundation for physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Fermented foods, like fermented vegetables, are teeming with beneficial microbes that are lacking in many Americans’ diets.
Virtually every culture has a recipe for fermented foods that has been passed down for generations and, in some cases, since ancient times. In ancient India, for instance, it was common to enjoy lassi, a pre-dinner fermented yogurt drink. Fermented pickles are another mainstay of Indian cuisine.
Bulgarians are known for their consumption of fermented milk and kefir, while Ukrainians have long consumed fermented foods like raw yogurt, sauerkraut, and buttermilk.
Various Asian cultures traditionally ate pickled fermentations of cabbage, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash, and carrots, and consume these fermented treats even today.
One of these is kimchi a fermented blend of cabbage, chili peppers, garlic, scallions, and other spices that can take on salty, sour, and/or spicy flavors, depending on the recipe used.
In Korea, the Family Kimchi Recipe Is a Guarded Secret
There are more than 300 different varieties of kimchi, depending on the main vegetable ingredient used, and the region or season in which they’re made. Kimchi is Korea’s national dish and one that’s eaten with virtually every meal.
As such, the taste of your kimchi can make or break your family’s meal and, in the case of company, “a poor-quality batch can be a social embarrassment Family recipes are a closely guarded secret,” cookery teacher Kie-Jo-Sarsfield told The Guardian.1
The nature of fermented foods is such that no two batches ever taste exactly the same, and that’s part of their allure. The temperature, length of fermentation, and unique blend of ingredients all contribute to the finished product. As The Guardian reported:2
” [W]ith so many different ingredients it’s impossible to create a uniform taste each time, adding surprise and drama to the process. ‘It’s an excuse for conversation because you say: ‘Oh come round for lunch, our kimchi is good this time.’
But if your husband brought a guest round unexpectedly you would have to apologize if your kimchi is bad, [Sarsfield said].’”
How Does the Fermentation Process Work?
If you’ve eaten traditionally made yogurt, sauerkraut, or kefir, you’ve eaten fermented foods. During this process, microorganisms, such as bacteria, convert sugars into other compounds in order to produce energy.
The fermentation process lends a characteristic flavor and texture to the food while also extending its shelf life. In fact, foods were originally fermented as a method of preservation. When fermenting vegetables, you can use a starter culture or simply let the natural enzymes in the vegetables do all the work.
This is called “wild fermentation.” Personally, I prefer a starter culture as it provides a larger number of different species, and the culture can be optimized with species that produce high levels of vitamin K2.
You can also choose whether or not to add