Fer­mented food is one of the ma­jor food trends of the year – Me­gan Baad­jies finds out more

The Star Early Edition - - FOOD VERVE -

resur­gence of the slow food and the craft food mar­ket, make the process of eat­ing and cre­at­ing fer­mented foods that much more ap­peal­ing.

But what ex­actly is fer­mented food and how how can we make our own?

Robyn Smith, founder of Faith­ful to Na­ture, an on­line or­ganic shop, ex­plains: “San­dor Katz, au­thor of The Art of Fer­men­ta­tion, said fer­mented foods are ‘the flavour­ful space be­tween fresh and rot­ten’.

“Fer­mented foods are foods that have been through a process of lacto fer­men­ta­tion in which nat­u­ral bac­te­ria feed on the su­gar and starch in the food cre­at­ing lac­tic acid.

“This process pre­serves the food, and cre­ates ben­e­fi­cial en­zymes, b-vi­ta­mins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and var­i­ous strains of pro­bi­otics.

“Mi­cro-or­gan­isms like yeast and bac­te­ria usu­ally play a role in the fer­men­ta­tion process, cre­at­ing beer, wine, bread, kim­chi, yo­gurt and other foods.”

Smith said fer­men­ta­tion al­lows food to be pre­served for long pe­ri­ods of time with­out re­frig­er­a­tion and it usu­ally cre­ates very strong flavours.

Reg­is­tered di­eti­tian and As­so­ci­a­tion for Di­etet­ics in South Africa (ADSA) spokesper­son Cath Day, said the health ben­e­fits as­so­ci­ated with fer­mented food are re­lated to their abil­ity to act as pro­bi­otics.

“Pro­bi­otics are live micro­organ­isms (healthy bac­te­ria) that live in the gut. Pro­bi­otics have been used ther­a­peu­ti­cally to pos­si­bly re­duce and im­prove the symp­toms of var­i­ous gut dis­eases and dis­or­ders.

Among these are in­flam­ma­tory bowel dis­eases and ir­ri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome (IBS),” Day said.

“Other ben­e­fits in­clude pos­si­ble weight main­te­nance as large co­hort stud­ies have shown strong as­so­ci­a­tions be­tween the con­sump­tion of fer­mented dairy food and weight main­te­nance.”

She said foods that have been pro­duced by fer­men­ta­tion have a re­duced risk of con­tam­i­na­tion as fer­men­ta­tion it­self is a bi­o­log­i­cal method of food preser­va­tion.

Day added: “An ex­am­ple of a food fit­ting this de­scrip­tion is sour milk (amasi) which is the prod­uct of fer­mented milk.

“Amasi is a good source of cal­cium, pro­tein and nat­u­rally con­tains pro­bi­otics.

“There are also re­ports that fer­mented foods are of ben­e­fit due to their ac­etate con­tent (by-prod­uct of bac­te­rial fer­men­ta­tion).

“Ac­etate is a short chain fatty acid (SCFA) which is re­spon­si­ble for the sour taste of many fer­mented foods.

“SCFA’s play im­por­tant reg­u­la­tory roles within our im­mune sys­tem, such as re­duc­ing in­flam­ma­tion and al­ler­gic re­sponses.”

Foods that nat­u­rally con­tain pro­bi­otics in­clude un­pas­teurised yo­ghurt, ke­fir, aged cheeses, sauer­kraut or kim­chi, miso, kom­bucha, pick­les, tem­peh and soy

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