One of the best ways to be healthy is consumption of fermented food. It is the base for mental, physical and emotional well-being. Fermented vegetables have a lot of microbes that are good for us and people in the USA need to eat more of them.

Every culture has its own way of making fermented vegetables and some of them come from ancient times. For example, in ancient India lassi was a very popular pre-dinner drink made with fermented yoghurt. Fermented pickles are characteristic for their cuisine as well.

Bulgarians drink a lot of kefir and milk and Ukrainians drink a lot of buttermilk, raw yoghurt and eat sauerkraut.

Asian people consume pickled fermented cabbage, cucumber, carrots, squash, onions, eggplants, turnips and one of the most famous recipes for fermented vegetables if called kimchi; a combination of chili peppers, scallions, cabbage, garlic and spices that take on sour, salty or spicy flavor.

In Korea the recipe for kimchi is a secret.

You can find over 300 different recipes for kimchi and it depends on the main vegetable that is used. Kimchi is a national dish in Korea and people eat kimchi with every meal.

An interesting fact is that two batches of kimchi will never have the same taste. The final taste depends on the length of fermentation, temperature and blend of ingredients.

It is impossible to make a uniform taste. It is a tradition that you have to apologize to your guests if the kimchi is bad.

The fermentation process

If you’ve tried sauerkraut, yoghurt or kefir you’ve tried fermented food. During the process of fermentation the microorganism (bacteria) is converting the sugar in different compounds to produce energy. This process lends a texture and a characteristic flavor. Additionally it extends the shelf life of the products. In the past this process was originally used for food preserving. You can leave the natural enzymes to do their work (wild fermentation) or you can use a starter culture. The second process provides more species and you can optimize the culture by using products that contain more vitamin K2. You can use regular salt, Himalayan salt or no salt at all.

However adding salt can enhance the flavor and the ferment’s will be able to destroy potential pathogenic bacteria.
Salt is a natural preservative and it is important to use it especially if you are making a larger quantity. The vegetables will be crunchier, there will be no mold on the surface and the vegetables’ enzymatic digestion will be slowed down. It is also important to use container made of proper material. Never use a plastic container, always prefer glass jars. Mason jars are perfect for fermented vegetables and always buy a jar that is wide-mouthed, because it will be easier for you to pack all vegetables tightly.

Health benefits

Fermented foods contain a lot of microorganisms that are good for our health and people in the USA do not consume them from anywhere. Our gut is home of 85% of our immune system.

This is a big number since 100 trillion bacteria live there. Some of them are beneficial and some pathogenic. If our gastrointestinal tract is not in balance many diseases, such as autoimmune or allergies can happen. One research discovered that bacteria, viruses or fungi are very important for proper body functioning. Beneficial bacteria in fermented foods can:

– Control growth of bacteria that causes diseases
– Counteract inflammation
– Produce amino acids, vitamins, eliminate toxins and absorb minerals.
– Control asthma.
– Reduce the risk of allergies.
– Have a positive influence over your health and your weight.
– Improve your mood.

Kimchi has a lot of vitamin C and A. Because of the fermentation process is rich in lactobacilli bacteria. It has many antioxidant properties and immune-stimulating activities.

Its antimicrobial properties can have a great influence over pathogenic bacteria. Lactic bacteria are formed during the fermentation process and it can help your organism to break down pesticides.

The journal of Medicinal Food said that kimchi is produced with fermentation of vegetables by using probiotic lactic acid. In the process of fermentation different bacteria are used, but LAB is the most dominant. Other bacteria are suppressed during the fermentation and the salting process.

Adding different sub ingredients and production of fermentation byproducts of lactic acid promotes the process of fermentation of lactic acid and in the end it leads to extermination of pathogenic and putrefactive bacteria.
Kimchi is probiotic food made of vegetables and it has different health benefits which are similar to the ones that dairy products have.

In some cases is better to eat kimchi than yoghurt because it is made of cruciferous vegetables, red pepper, ginger, garlic etc.

Properties

It can fight against cancer, constipation, obesity and aging. It can reduce cholesterol levels, promotes colorectal health, skin health, brain health and it improves the immune system. It has many antioxidant and probiotic properties. It also has a fibrolytic effect.

Recipe:

The recipe is very simple and you can make it in the comfort of your home.

Homemade kimchi

You will need:

– Salt
– ¾ wombok cabbage
– 3 tbsp. of Korean red pepper powder
– 3 tbsp. water
– 3 tbsp. of soy sauce
– 1 clove of garlic (minced)
– Ginger (3cm piece), grated
– 2 shallots, chopped (use only the green part)

Utensils:

– Sharp knife
– Colander or strainer
– Chopping board
– Spoon
– Small and large mixing bowl
– A large glass jar and lid

Directions: First of all chop the cabbage in quarters. Remember to remove the core. With a sharp knife cut the cabbage in strips (2-3cm long). In the large bowl add the cabbage and salt. Massage it approximately 3 minutes or until it becomes soft.

Add water in the bowl and soak the cabbage for a minimum of 1 hour. Strain the cabbage in a colander, rinse and drain it well. Remember to reserve ¼ cup of the water where the cabbage soaked. Now it is time to make the paste.

Combine the soy sauce, red pepper, ginger, garlic and water. Mix well and add the shallots. Stir to combine. Mix the cabbage with the paste. In order to do this the best way is to use clean hands. Then add the cabbage in the glass jar and press it tightly. The most important thing is to remove as much air as you can and make a proper environment for the fermentation process. Put the lid on and place the jar on a warm place. The fermentation process lasts around 3 days but it will depend. You can taste the kimchi and leave it until you achieve the desired taste.

Benefits of fermented foods

You can start making fermented food because of its properties or because of its taste. However you will have benefits from it. They contain many beneficial bacteria and they are excellent detoxifiers, perfect for optimizing the gut flora.

They can eliminate and break down heavy metals or other toxins from our body and they have other benefits as well.

– Produce nutrients (vitamin B, K2, D, which are important for healthy bones and lower the risk of stroke and coronary artery disease).
– They help mineral absorption.
– Prevent obesity, regulate fat absorption and diabetes.
– Prevent acne.
– Improve our mental health and mood.

If you eat ½ or ¼ cup of fermented vegetables with every meal you will have amazing results. If fermented foods are completely new to you, add them gradually in your diet. Start by 1 teaspoon in every meal. See the reactions and afterwards you can increase the dose.