Fermentation techniques originally developed as a way to preserve food. With the advent of modern refrigeration, global shipping and year-round harvesting of crops, this age-old preservation method was all-but pushed aside. We believe it’s worth reviving this wonderful tradition, for many reasons…
Fermented foods are the original probiotics (perhaps even rising to this year’s nutritionism buzzword). The living bacteria involved in the fermentation process create enzymes and add vitamins to the food. They promote a healthy digestive system by supplementing and assisting the good bacteria in our gut flora— the trillions of symbiotic bacteria that live in our digestive system.
All ferments are pickled, but not all pickles are fermented! Almost all pickles you find at the grocery store are “quick-pickled” using vinegar instead of live bacteria. Compared to quick-pickling, the flavors in fermented foods are much more complex. The fermentation process is slower and more gradual, allowing flavors more time to develop naturally. Devotees describe this difference in flavor between quick-pickled and slow-fermented foods as a comparison between a $2 bottle of hooch versus a 40-year old Bordeaux.
It’s Economical (and Eco-friendly)
DIY fermenting is one of the least expensive and most natural ways to eat healthily. Fermenting food requires no special equipment and no electricity. It’s bio-powered! You can start with just a few basic ingredients and items you probably already have in your kitchen: a wide-mouthed glass, ceramic or (food-grade) plastic container, a plate, a dish towel, and kosher or sea salt.
One of the best ways to save money is to ferment seasonal produce at the end of a growing season, when it’s most abundant, and when farmers and grocers lower their prices to sell inventories before they go bad.
We recommend using seasonal (when a food is most abundant), organic (pesticide residues can slow or halt the growth of good bacteria), and locally-grown (smaller carbon footprint, and tastes better!) foods whenever possible.
Most initial preparations take about 15 minutes. During the fermentation period (which can be from 3 days to 6 months or more), some basic cleaning and maintenance is recommended to ensure that your ferments stay clean and safe. As Tom Petty put it, the waiting is the hardest part!
If you’re like me, you probably have romantic notions of an agrarian utopia, a time before the industrialization of food. Up until our grandparents’ generation, traditions like fermentation were simply the way of life. Fermentation techniques can be found in just about every human culture that’s ever existed. Personally I think it’s a good idea to listen to the the thousands of years of wisdom our elders accumulated and hoped to pass down to us. I like that fermentation allows us to stay connected to our past through our hearts, our minds, and our guts.
Fermenting and sharing fermented foods with our friends and neighbors helps bring communities together, and connects us to our ancestors who used these techniques for millenia! That’s what Fermenters Club is all about.