Did you know that some of our favorite foods such as bread and cheese, chocolate, coffee, wine, and beer, are fermented? Food has been fermented as a way to make it more digestible and nutritious for thousands of years.

Most foods can be fermented, including grains, vegetables, dairy products, and fruits. Milk products are often better tolerated once cultured into yogurt or kefir, especially if raw, organic dairy products are used.

Tempeh, which is a soy food, is in many ways superior to tofu because of the fermentation process it undergoes. Miso, fermented soy bean paste, and cultured vegetables are considered to be pre-digested. Even before they enter your mouth, the friendly bacteria have converted natural sugars and starches in the same way that your body would begin to digest them, so you get a head start. This is an important point for those with candida overgrowth, who generally contend with digestive issues ranging from mild gas to IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).

Though almost any food can be fermented, the most common ones are sauerkraut, sourdough bread, beer, wine, miso, tempeh, tamari, ume plum, rice koji, kimchi, olives, fresh pickled cucumbers, chutney, kefir, yogurt, cultured butter, and hundreds of cheeses. Many commercially available fermented foods are pasteurized, which means they are heated to the point at which the beneficial microorganisms die. Fermented foods and drinks should be alive, quite literally, with flavor and nutrition. Heating negates the value of fermented foods. So, read labels and beware.

Fermentation is easy and exciting! Anyone can do it, and luckily, microorganisms are flexible and adaptable. Join Natural Cures to learn how to ferment food. We also highly recommend the book Wild Fermentations by Sandor Katz. You can purchase it in the books and tapes section of the site.