“To ferment your own food is to lodge a small but eloquent protest – on behalf of the senses and the microbes – against the homogenization of flavours and food experiences now rolling like a great, undifferentiated lawn across the globe.” RICHARD P. FEYNMAN
The process of fermentation involves the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts or other micro-organisms, typically involving effervescence and the giving off of heat.
Fermentation expresses the infinite possibility of the moment. This near magical process allows food to transform into something completely different, to change its characteristics. Expect colours to deepen, textures to soften, aromas to be pungent and flavours tangy.
Why do we ferment?
Fermentation is an exciting journey, filled with interesting discoveries and satisfying results.
The preservation of food unlocks layers of flavour and has a myriad of delicious, unique outcomes. The powerful probiotics protect the body from bacterial infection and illness. These good bacteria, particularly those in your gut, support and strengthen the immune system and allow for the nutrients in food to be absorbed easily as a result of the presence of digestive enzymes.
Probiotics also help to combat digestive issues such as diarrhea and constipation. Research is still emerging on just how important these mighty microbes might be for our health, but the early results are promising. Take care of your gut, and in turn, it will take help take care of you.
How fermentation works
Every element involved in the fermentation process plays an important role. The whole process takes place on a microscopic level. The products of fermentation are lactic acid, ethyl alcohol and acetic acid. Lactobacillus, another fermenting organism, also produces this acid. Lacto-fermentation occurs when yeast and bacteria convert the starch and sugar in food into lactic acid. Alcohol or ethyl alcohol is produced when the carbohydrates in grains or fruit are converted into wine, beer, mead or other alcoholic beverages. When alcohol in traditional beverages are exposed to oxygen, acetobacter bacteria convert alcohol into acetic acid or vinegar. This is the fermentation process used to create cider, rice, balsamic or red wine vinegar.
Traditional methods of fermentation gave mankind its first bread, cheese and wine. Thousands of fermentation recipes and techniques are available right across the globe. Experimenting with fermentation is like going back in time. Long before pasteurisation (the process of heating food in order to kill off microbes) became common practice, our ancestors fed and healed with these simple methods of food preservation.