Updated: Oct 21, 2019
For thousands of years, people used fermentation as their main means of preservation of their food. Since canning was not invented until the late 1700s and refrigeration invented in the early 1800s, people prior to that relied on the workings of natural microorganisms to change their fresh harvests into storable ones.
Many countries still do!
Folks made and ate fermented sauerkraut, kimchee, grains, milk, fish, meat, and assorted vegetables, fruits and drinks like Kombucha and Kvass. Fermenting preserved their foods as well as created digestive enzymes, probiotics and made the vitamins and minerals in the foods more bio-available to their bodies.
The ferments that we do enjoy in our culture such as coffee, beer, chocolate, cheese, and wine, are commercially made and usually pasteurized which again depletes the benefits.
This may be a dire missing category in our diets.
It is harder for our bodies to to digest our meals and maintain the probiotics that fermented foods give us. Our gut needs at least 6 pounds of good bacteria to be healthy and all disease starts with an unhealthy gut. These good bacteria need to be fed properly to be healthy. You do not need to eat large amounts ferments, but it is helpful to eat them often such as a condiment with each meal.
Below are some very easy, delicious ways to start fermenting your foods to preserve them and help your body to function more efficiently.
I like to use whey as a starter culture to jumpstart a number of my ferments, to add protein, and not a lot of overbearing flavor like some of the saltier brines.
Whey also contains probiotics that are good bacteria that is beneficial for your health, especially your digestive system.
A simple way to get whey is to strain a container of plain yogurt made simply with milk and bacteria only. Here I used a tea towel and strained the yogurt overnight. The liquid in the jar is the whey.