why are fermented foods important you ask? why is everyone so excited about old food full of bacteria? how can something left on the counter for weeks be safe to consume?
don't fret, civil ferments is here to soothe your fears!
fermented foods have been a staple of traditional diets for thousands of years–from alcohol, vinegar, vegetables, dairy, to meat. this process was used as a way to preserve food, but the benefits go beyond being able to eat raw veggies throughout the winter. you might say fermented foods have a rich "culture" behind them.
here's how lacto-fermentation (for lactobacillus bacteria–no dairy or lactose is used) works: vegetables or fruit are submerged beneath a salt brine, which creates a favorable environment for friendly anaerobic bacteria and yeast to bloom. that's the key: through creating an environment that helps the good guys grow, it creates hostile conditions for the bad guys (usually aerobic bacteria). the good guys release acids (giving fermented foods their signature tang), making the mixture too acidic for harmful bacteria and fungi to grow. this is what makes it safe for us to consume fermented produce. while you eat, forget your expensive store-bought probiotic pills. just have a few forkfuls of kraut every day and you're good to go!
we can't claim that these fermented foods will give you super strength and the ability to fly, but we can say–from personal experience–they have improved our digestion, are an affordable way of incorporating probiotics into daily life, and are a great way to store seasonal vegetables and fruits far past their normal shelf life.