Before the advent of freezers and modern preservation techniques, one of the few ways to keep food for longer than a few days was to ferment it. Many of your favorite foods and drinks are probably fermented. Think: sourdough bread, cheese, wine, beer, mead, cider, chocolate, coffee, tea, pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, salami, miso, tempeh, soy sauce, vinegar, yogurt, kefir, kombucha. A happy coincidence is that fermented foods are rich in probiotics, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. Unlike pickles preserved in a vinegar brine, fermentation captures beneficial yeasts and other micro-organisms from the air, which begin work on the sugars and starches naturally found in the food, converting them to lactic acid, which then acts as a (tangy, tasty!) natural preserving agent. Because fermented foods are nutritional powerhouses, we're sharing some of our favorites, along with some ideas for enjoying them!
Intrigued and want to learn how to brew your own probiotic, fermented beverages at home? Check out our upcoming class and think beyond kombucha!
Plain Goat Yogurt:
- Strain in a cheesecloth-lined colander for 30 minutes and use as a sour cream replacement in dips.
- Strain for 12-24 hours and add fresh herbs from the garden for a more cheese-like spread.
- Use to replace some of the fat and dairy in your favorite baking recipes.
- Dill pickle juice is the secret ingredient in our favorite potato salad.
- Sauerkraut juice can be made into beet kvass, a fermented tonic/drink (which also makes a good cocktail ingredient).
- Roll up pickles in a veggie sushi roll or spring roll (make sure they are well-drained).
- Make a quick tapenade with chopped olives mixed with with herbs, garlic, anchovies, lemon juice and olive oil.
- Olives are always good in salads--we love them tossed into a marinated chickpea salad.
- Who are we kidding, we eat them by the bowlful!
- Make an Asian-inspired salad dressing with miso paste, fresh ginger, rice vinegar and a touch of toasted sesame oil.
- Mix a spoonful with some mirin, fresh grated ginger and rice vinegar to make a sauce for grilled fish.
- Stir some into tahini spread and enjoy on crackers or rice cakes.
- Use in place of or in combination with other liquid in smoothies.
- Use in place of buttermilk for ranch dressing.
- Use in place of buttermilk in your favorite baking recipes.