“Almost all the fermented foods and beverages we know of are so ancient that they predate recorded history. Humans could never have settled many regions of the world without the benefit of fermentation, and agriculture would not be possible without it.” Sandor Ellix Katz a self-proclaimed “fermentation revivalist” and author of
, the original “bible” on fermentation, and his most recent book The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World. explains, “How could people ever begin to invest their energy in crops that are ready at particular times of the year if they didn't have techniques for preserving the harvest to get them through the rest of the year?”
This is one of the most common fermented foods consumed in the U.S., but often it’s loaded with sugars and processed flavors, which can detract from the benefits, so make sure you buy the natural stuff containing only milk and cultures. You can also make your own at home, as simply as in a crock pot.
If you want to get started with home fermenting, sauerkraut is an easy place to start, because it can be as easy as just fermenting it with the help of salt. Here's a recipe to start with.
Because it has become a popular drink, kombucha is also expensive, but it’s simple to make at home as long as you can get your hands on a scoby, also known as a kombucha “mother.” Check out this how-to guide for brewing your own. You can even start playing around with it and making your own flavors like Apple Cider Kombucha.
Kimchi, the traditional Korean fermented side dish, is a great example of pickled vegetables. But, as long as you have the right fermentation down, you can pretty much pickle any vegetable you like, like cauliflower, carrots, bell peppers, and beyond. Here’s a good recipe to start out with.
If you've ever bitten into a good, rustic loaf of sourdough bread, you know the dynamic flavor that can come from fermentation — in this case, the wild yeast (as opposed to commercial) used to make your sourdough starter. It takes a few days to make your first starter, but after that you can keep reusing it to make loaf after loaf.