The process of fermenting foods has been a common practice throughout nearly every civilization. Different cultures have adopted methods and use different foods to ferment. In Japan, natto is a common dish made with soybeans and commonly eaten as a breakfast food. Russians love kvass, which is made using stale, sourdough or rye bread or beets and has been around since the Middle Ages. In West African countries, garri is made from a root vegetable, and if not prepared properly, it can be poisonous.
Fermentation is a method of pre-digestion that takes place when there are beneficial bacteria naturally present, or even a yeast strain, which breaks down the starch and sugars in the food. As these bacteria divide, the process forms lactic acid, which is described as lacto-fermentation. This lactic acid halts the growth of bad bacteria and also gives the fermented foods that “tangy” or “acidic” taste.
This fermenting process increases the digestibility of the foods by neutralizing plant toxins and is incredibly rich in beneficial bacteria and probiotics. Adding these fermented foods to your diet can boost immunity, while also assisting the body in detoxification.
Fermenting your own foods is a great practice to incorporate to your health routine. It’s very simple and you only need a few ingredients to get started. Most store-bought fermented foods have been preserved in vinegar and they are not as beneficial as the traditional recipes with naturally occurring bacteria. Storing these fermented foods is simple and as long as they are covered in the liquid brine and stored in a cool dark place, they can last for months and even up to years!
Here at Hippocrates Health Institute, we love the selection of sauerkraut, kimchi and other fermented foods that are available on our raw, living foods buffet. Here is a long-standing sauerkraut recipe from our Hippocrates kitchen:
Hippocrates Raw Vegan Sauerkraut
1 Head Red Cabbage, Shredded
1/2 Apple, Seeded
Kombu Seaweed, Soaked, As Needed
Outer Cabbage Leaves, As Needed
- Place half of the shredded cabbage in a ceramic or glass container.
2. Press down firmly.
3. Place the apple in the center of the cabbage.
4. Place the remaining ½ of the shredded cabbage on top, always pressing it down firmly.
5. Cover the top of the cabbage with a layer of hydrated kombu seaweed.
6. On top of the kombu, place a layer of cabbage leaves.
7. Place a heavy weight on top of the cabbage leaves, making sure that the entire container is covered so that no foreign matter can enter the kraut. The cabbage will begin to foam and bubble as a result of the fermentation process.
8. Leave out at room temperature.
9. After 3-5 days (if ready), discard the cabbage leaves, kombu, and apple in the middle.
10. Place the sauerkraut in a container for storage and refrigerate.
Article by Andrea Nison