Making fermented foods at home is a lot easier and safer than many people realize, both in terms of know-how and equipment needed. For example, a kit with everything you need to start making your yogurt, wine, or kombucha can be obtained for less than $100. And you can get the materials even cheaper if you don’t mind tracking them down yourself instead of buying a kit.
All this is to say that at-home fermentation is something you can get into without too much effort. And given that you can, the question then becomes: should you? Let’s go over the arguments in favor of learning how to ferment your foods.
Fermented foods come with a wide range of health benefits. The most obvious one is the nutritional value of these foods. Whether you are fermenting milk, grapes, cabbage, carrots, or something else, the nutritional value of the fermented food often stays pretty close to the nutritional value of the fresh food item in question.
Another way in which fermented foods are healthy is thanks to probiotics. Fermentation involves allowing beneficial bacteria to grow in the food to change its properties. And the bacteria used for fermentation aren’t just harmless; they can benefit your health. For example, probiotic bacteria can become part of your gut flora once ingested, which aids your digestive process.
Different fermented foods have different levels of complexity when it comes to how they are made. In its simplest form, the fermentation process simply involves getting all the ingredients in one container and letting it sit there for hours, days, or weeks. Some recipes are a bit more complex, as seen on this kombucha recipe, but even in this case, it should take you more than a day to get the gist of how the process works.
This means you won’t have to put a ton of time into learning new recipes. However, it will take some trial and error for you to fine-tune the formula to generate a final product just to your liking.
Fermenting your foods is generally much cheaper than getting something ready-made from the store. This is especially true for fermented foods that have become popular with the health and fitness crowd or that are just perceived to be “trendy.” Some stores charge so much for kombucha that you can make liters of the stuff yourself with the same amount of money.
It lasts long
The fermentation process also helps preserve most foods. That’s because the bacteria used for the fermentation will outcompete any other bacteria trying to grow in the same food, allowing it to stay fresh and safe to eat for much longer without the need for refrigeration for weeks or even months.
This allows you to get one large batch of whatever fermented treat you enjoy once a month or once every other month without having to sacrifice a ton of fridge space to keep what you made fresh. And that, in turn, makes it much easier for you to make fermented foods a part of your routine.
Just make sure you look up the proper way to store whatever you make to prevent issues. Fermented foods kept in sealed containers will often go bad faster once exposed to air, for example.
It gives you control
You know the old saying. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Making your own fermented foods allows you to control various aspects of the production, from the quality of the ingredients to how long you allow the food to ferment, what kind of additives you’ll add to it, and more. If you want to make 100% sure a fermented product is vegan or just want to make sure it has no salt or sugar added to it, making your own is a good way to achieve that.
Of course, getting familiar with fermentation also allows you to control various aspects of the final product. If you’re making yogurt, for example, different materials and methods can change the flavor and texture of the final product. While changing how you ferment beverages like wine or kombucha can not only change the flavor but also the amount of alcohol present in the final product.