Let’s see how fermentation functions as a natural form of food preservation. Depending on the base product, fermentation also may generate an array of compelling flavors and textures.
Critical factors in the production of safe fermented foods are the correct level of salt, proper fermentation temperature and sufficient acid production. The correct level of salt varies by food. Proper fermentation temperature allows desirable organisms to be active while at the same time inhibiting spoilage and the growth of pathogenic organisms.
The idea is to elevate the plainest of foods into flavor sensations while adding an organic element to it. Some of its uses in culinary traditions around the world are incredibly diverse, and yet visionary chefs are experimenting with exciting new applications of fermentation.
So many chefs are adding fermented products in their restaurant style cooking to develop new flavors into their dishes.
The pitfall of some vegetable fermentations is the product becomes too soft from the enzymes.
Fermented foods are those produced through interactions between microorganisms and food components, such as:
- yeast with alcohol and carbon dioxide,
- lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and lactic acid,
- Acetobacter and acetic acid, and
- Bacillus or molds and ammonia and fatty acids.
How Fermentation Boosts Health
Fermentation augments the nutritive value of many foods and beverages by partially digesting anti-nutrients and unlocking the bioavailability of stored nutrients. The microorganisms involved in fermentation produce by products such as vitamins, peptides, and enzymes. These nutrients give foods increased antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, and anti-atherosclerotic qualities. Fermented foods infuse a population boost of diversity to your gut microbiome. Mounting research links increased microbial activity to enhanced immunity, cognitive function, heart health, weight management, and glucose metabolism.
Approximately 70 to 80 percent of our immune system resides in our gastrointestinal tract. Coincidentally, that is where most of the trillions of microorganisms within our bodies live, as well. A poorly fed gut leaves a person vulnerable to pathogens that cause inflammation and respiratory and digestive ailments. Fermented foods can reinforce the internal troops that fight to keep us healthy.
Future research will likely yield more clues about how the microbiome contributes to overall health. This may eventually enable scientists to pinpoint microorganisms that could target specific diseases or help people lose weight. Until that day comes, fermented foods are useful because they help provide a spectrum of probiotics to foster a vigorous microbiome in your digestive tract that can keep bad actors at bay.