Updated: Jan 6
The benefits of fermented foods are just enormous. I call them "magic food!" There many studies these days showing these kinds of fruits and veggies are the safest to eat on the planet. Fermentation is the digestive action of bacteria and fungal cells and their enzymes. Minerals become more bioavailable, and certain difficult-to-digest compounds are broken down. In the process of pre-digestion, many ferments increased levels of B vitamins like: thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), and niacin (B3).
Detoxification can remove a variety of toxins from foods. Some of the toxins in foods can be quite dangerous. For example, phytates – found in all grains, legumes, seeds, nuts – function as anti-nutrients by binding minerals and thus rendering them unavailable for our absorption. During fermentation, the enzyme phytase releases minerals from their phytate bond, increasing their solubility. Also, fermentation has been found to reduce naturally occurring nitrate and oxalic acid in vegetables.
I've seen so many scared faces from people thinking about food that was left out of the fridge. My husband is one of them. I remember him telling me that it's a big mistake to store eggs at room temperature. Yes, if eggs are from a supermarket, they're more likely a few weeks old already, plus the enzymes that naturally occur on eggshells have been washed off. Those eggs should be kept in the fridge. But remember, the fridge isn't that old of an appliance. Up until 100 years ago or so, people somehow survived without it.
Many people are afraid of making fermented vegetables for fear they will mess up and make themselves sick, which is never the case. United States Department of Agriculture research service microbiologist Fred Breidt says, “Properly fermented vegetables are actually safer than raw vegetables, which might have been exposed to pathogens like E coli on the farm. With fermented products, there is no safety concern. I can flat-out say that. The reason is the lactic acid bacteria that carry out the fermentation are the world's best killers of other bacteria.” Breidt works at a lab at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, where scientists have been studying fermented and other pickled foods since the 1930s. He adds, “Fermented vegetables, for which there are no documented cases of foodborne illness, are safer for novices to make than canning vegetables. Pressurized canning creates an anaerobic environment that increases the risk of deadly botulism, particularly with low-acid foods. There vegetables are even safer than raw foods due to the probiotics, so eat and ferment away.”
These are the safest vegetables on the planet and a great way to use up summer produce. The most dominant bacteria found in cultured vegetables is Lactobacillus plantarum. This is the main probiotic in cultured vegetables. Cabbage naturally has this type of bacteria, which is why the classic sauerkrauts are made only with salt.
Probiotic food, fermented food, cultured food, naturally pickled! All those words mean foods that contain good bacteria. Culturing of microorganisms is a technique that involves using bacteria and wild yeast to break down food to make it easier for digestion, while still maintaining the same and even higher amount of nutrients like vitamin C, etc. This creates helpful microbe enzymes and lots of other stuff which is good for us. It’s not brave to say, that the oldest way to preserve food is still the best way in the 21st century.
Naturally pickling food is unlike the pickling based on vinegar, and sugar gives all good bacteria to your gut to help digest different kinds of foods. Vinegar, as we all know, kills bad bacteria, and a as result, veggies are preserved without any good or bad thing being added. On the other hand, fermentation adds good bacteria and is the simplest way to preserve your food for several months.
I know for most people, just the word “bacteria” automatically has a negative meaning. We dose our children with antibiotics, keep them far away from microbes, and generally strive to sanitize their world. Biologists have come to appreciate that the war on bacteria futile. Bacteria can out-evolve us, which means they will always win. The overuse of antibiotics has produced resistant bacteria as lethal as any we managed to kill. Those drugs, along with a processed food diet lacking in both bacteria and food for bacteria (soluble fiber), have disordered the microbial ecology in our gut in profound ways that we are just beginning to understand, and which may well explain many of our health problems.
If you, like my dear husband, are just starting to eat fermented food, this recipe I offer you today for fermented jalapenos is incredibly simple. No special lids or equipment required at all. All you need is good quality salt like this one, full of unprocessed minerals. I promise you, with this condiment, your next Mexican dinner at home is going to be taken to the next level and packed with all probiotic goodness.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Waiting time: 3-5 days
Total time: 3-5 days (depending on your room temperature)
Author: Inna of innichkachef.com
1 lb jalapenos
3 tablespoons Celtic salt
2 cups water room temperature
1-2 clove garlic (optional)
1 bay leaf (optional)
1 anise star (optional)
1. Clean your working surface. This is very important! Don't use any harmful chemicals.
2. Slice jalapenos and add to a clean wide mouth jar.
3. Add salt and any combination of garlic, bay leaf, and anise star (feel free to use one or all of them).
4. Pour water over the jalapenos, covering them by an inch or two of water.
5. Close the lid and give it a good shake. Leave the jar in indirect sunlight in your kitchen for 3-5 days.
6. They do have special lids you can use for fermentation that would let your work stop here. However, if you don't have a fermentation lid, you can continue the old-fashioned way. Once a day, open the jar to release the gas. After three days, there will be lots of bubbles! Check it every day to see if it suits your taste. It should be slightly tart but not too sour.
Just like with any cultured food, the warmer it is, the faster the food will ferment.
Cultured veggies are perfectly fine to keep in your fridge for up to 9 months.