Fermented cooking

Basic Recipe and Effect on Digestion
We encounter fermented foods on a daily basis. Kefir, yogurt, cheese, soy sauce, bread, wine, and even some teas and coffees are produced through the fermentation process.

People in the past were forced to ferment foods to keep them alive longer because the acidic environment prevents bacteria from multiplying.

Fermentation is one of the oldest types of culinary processing, used for thousands of years in the traditions of the peoples of the world. Fermentation is the process of breaking down nutrient molecules to release energy, as well as the process of microbial growth in a suitable environment.

Many plant foods have a complex cellular structure that is difficult for our body's enzymes to "open up" during digestion.

Microorganisms (bacteria, yeast) help prepare foods for easier digestion and at the same time change the taste and flavor of the product, thus helping to maximize the variety of our diet and gut microflora.

Functions of bacteria in human metabolism:

- They contribute to the production of a number of enzymes involved in the metabolism of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, cholesterol and bile acids.

- Intestinal bacteria produce B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12) and vitamin K.

They are responsible for nerve regulation, immunity, cell growth, skin and mucous membranes, and the ability to cope with stress.

- They produce some bioactive substances, estrogens, uric acid, neuropeptides, essential amino acids, as well as many cofactors and/or signaling molecules that regulate a variety of physiological functions, metabolism and behavioral responses.
Lactobacillus Reuteri, for example, has proven effective in treating social deficits in children with autism spectrum disorders.

What do people ferment foods for now?
Fermentation should not be confused with pickling or salting. These two methods of food processing do not involve the development of bacteria. Fermentation creates an environment for the growth of these bacteria, which will change the product: changing the fibers, giving a new taste and smell.

Our microbiome plays an important role in maintaining our health: it helps the absorption of nutrients, supports immunity, protects against the development of infections, and ensures the integrity of the intestinal mucosa (lactobacilli produce substances to repair and thicken the mucosa).

The microbiome makes up a large part of our immune system and it is very individual and has a different composition, which depends on genetics, lifestyle, diet.

In turn, fermented foods are sources of probiotics and bacteria that maintain the composition of beneficial microorganisms in the intestines. Their benefit lies in their positive effect on the gastrointestinal tract and on the state of the microbiome in general.
What do I need to know before I start experimenting?
  • The fermentation process likes stability and is sensitive to changes in the environment. To start the fermentation process in solid products, it is necessary to ensure the absence of air and the presence of salt.
  • The absence of product contact with air is mainly achieved in three ways: placing the product in a vacuum with a vacuum packer, or in a container under load, or in a liquid medium.
  • The salt should be 1.5-3% of the weight of the fermented product, but no more than 8%. In this concentration, it does not interfere with the development of beneficial bacteria, on the one hand, and blocks the development of some harmful ones, on the other hand, without overshadowing the other flavors. But the main role of salt is the process of releasing liquid from the product and penetration of salt into it.
  • A stable temperature is necessary. In general, fermentation can proceed at any temperature up to 45-50 °C degrees. If it is higher, the beneficial bacteria will die.
  • The higher the temperature, the faster the fermentation. The result you get in a shorter time will be different from the result of a longer fermentation. There are no clear rules: some consider the optimal temperature 21-28°C, some - 36-37°C. The period of fermentation varies from product to product, but tentatively it varies between 2-7 days.
  • It is necessary to avoid direct sunlight on the product during fermentation, and it is better to put the jar in a dark place or wrap it in something.
A basic recipe for fermenting vegetables
Not everyone knows that almost any vegetables, fruits and even berries can be fermented according to the same principle.
Common to start the fermentation process in any recipe is the presence of the following ingredients: water, salt, sugar, heat and time. The best containers for fermentation are wooden barrels or glass jars. Water should be taken cooled boiled or distilled.
  1. Prepare a brine of boiled water and salt (about 1-2 tablespoons of salt per 1 liter; if desired, you can add 1 teaspoon of sugar to speed up fermentation). Leave to cool.
  2. In a clean (can be sterilized) jar put the vegetables, alternating them with spices.
  3. Pour the brine so that all the vegetables are covered. If the contents of the jar rises above the brine, you need to put a weight on top.
  4. Cover with a lid and leave to ferment at room temperature (18-25 °C degrees), away from direct sunlight.
  5. Open the jar daily to release the gas formed.
  6. After 3-7 days (depending on the desired flavor) put the jar in the refrigerator.
Contraindications for the use of fermented products:
Individual intolerance to the products or strains of probiotic bacteria used
2. Bacterial overgrowth syndrome in the small intestine
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