1. Beer 

We all know the popularity of this world renowned beverage. People love their beer. Entire brands have been created solely focusing on this product and have become global leaders in their ability to push a product into the homes of consumers worldwide. This beautifully fermented beverage has been around for thousands of years and has many different varieties. Beer made with barley has been dated back as far as 3500-3100 BC. Chemical residue of barley was found in ruins of an Iranian culture. We can assume that beer has been enjoyed for years far before it became the widely worshiped commodity it is now. Breweries sprout up on what seems like a weekly basis, as the love and knowledge of beer continues to grow exponentially. Microbrewing, home brewing, and craft brewing are all avenues of beer creation that are becoming overly prominent in this day and age. We know and love beer, and are confident it will stand the test of time as it has for thousands of years!

2. Yogurt 

This popular fermented milk product exists in the refrigerators of many consumers worldwide. It is created when milk’s lactose is broken down by bacterial fermentation. The variety of yogurt spans from brands aimed at children all the way to health oriented eaters who want yogurt with a plethora of probiotics. This fermented product has been around for thousands of years, although the original birth of the product seems to be unknown. Yogurt is used worldwide and has many different varieties of application. These include use in soups, dessert, as well as drinks. It is incredibly popular and is noted as upwards of an eight billion dollar industry. Yogurt has and will continue to be a staple of diets worldwide while acting as an efficient courier of probiotics to those who choose that particular type.

3. Pickles

This tangy food product is often created by using cucumbers and a vinegar or salt brine solution. The vegetable is placed into a jar and the solution is added, soaking the vegetable and causing it to ferment and turn into an acidic version of the previous veggie. Cucumbers are not the only suspect for pickling, some popular picklers include onions, carrots, as well as eggs. It is potentially one of the most popular condiments in some of the world’s most popular foods. Hamburgers are commonly given flavor aide by a bread and butter pickle, while hot dogs are often given aid by the popular pickle relish. People have fallen in love with the pickle’s ability to offer a tangy bite to many of the food stuffs we know and love. Believe it or not, there are a wide variety of items that are commonly pickled. Vegetables are not the only avenue, as people have and will continue to pickle fruits as well. It is a great method of preservation and a great method of transforming your favorite food!

4. Miso

If you have ever spent any time in a sushi place, you’ve probably either tasted or seen this ingredient in the popular miso soup commonly served as an appetizer. Miso itself is a traditional Japanese seasoning. To make this flavored fermented seasoning, soybeans are fermented with salt and koji (a fungus) – and sometimes other ingredients. Different types of miso have been available in Japan since early eras that span anywhere from 14,000 to 300 BC. As mentioned before, miso soup is the most common use of the ingredient – and is something eaten almost daily by most of the Japanese population. If you have yet to try this popular fermenter, go grab some sushi and get some miso soup!    

5. Sauerkraut

Spend any time on the streets of Brooklyn or any major bustling city street and you’ll see hot dog stands that offer freshly cooked hot dogs to anyone with the pocket change to buy them. A wide variety of toppings can be applied including chili, mustard, relish, ketchup, onions, and the popular sauerkraut. This fermented veggie is made by fermenting shredded cabbage and was popularized in Germany. The crunchy and tangy bite the kraut offers has kept it solidified as a popular staple of many dishes across the world. Kraut can be made from a few different vegetables, but cabbage continues to be the most popular candidate. If you need a good complement to a pork dish or a hot dog, you know the route to take.

6. Kombucha

This popular fizzy drink has grown in popularity over the past couple years, reaching the shelves of many supermarkets around the nation. Kombucha starts as a green or black tea and ends as a fermented probiotic health drink. A yeast / bacterial colony is added to the tea to infuse and promote fermentation over a period of time. This colony is called a ‘SCOBY’ (Symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Kombucha comes in many different flavors, commonly being of the fruit variety. There is almost certainly a flavored Kombucha avenue for you to stroll down if you were to try this popular drink. Originally, this drink was removed from stores due to an alcohol content that was proven to be too high for a normal supposedly non-alcoholic drink. This caused manufacturers to remove the drink and reformulate their products to reduce the alcohol content. Kombucha has been seen as early as 200 BC in some areas, and like many of the other fermenters in this list has been able to stand the test of time.

7. Kimchi

Another well-known fermenter takes the cabbage route on our list. This Korean dish takes cabbage and other veggies and ferments them with seasonings such as chili powder to create a popular preparation used as a side dish all over the world. Kimchi can be seen as early as 37 BC and is another one of the long lasting fermented dishes that people have been enjoying for ages. Interestingly enough, the red hue and inclusion of chili powder are not how Kimchi originated. This was introduced when traders brought chili peppers to the Korean people in the 16th century. Many dishes include kimchi, but it is very commonly used as a side dish served alongside main courses. It can also be seen eaten alone or with white rice. If you are craving a fermented food with a little bit of spice and color, Kimchi may be your thing.

8. Dry-Aged Beef

This method of tenderizing beef is becoming more and more popular in steakhouses across the world. After the meat is butchered, the prime cuts are aged on racks in special climate controlled warehouses/coolers. It’s common for only the higher grade cuts of meat to be aged in this fashion because the marbling within the cut allows for the process to work how it is supposed to. This type of fermentation works by allowing fungi (mold) to grow on the outside of the meat. This does not actually cause the meat to go bad, but it does create a crust on the outside that is removed before the meat is cooked. This fungi aids in tenderizing and saturating the flavor of the meat. It is not common to see this type of meat in supermarkets, as it is expensive to prepare and a large loss of size is acquired by dry aging. Almost a third of the weight is likely to be lost as moisture during the process. If you ever find yourself wanting to try the most intensely flavored cut of meat you can find, venture to your closest big city steakhouse and try a prime cut, dry aged steak.

9. Kefir

A close cousin to number two on our list, Kefir is a fermented milk product that is created by infusing cow/goat/sheep’s milk with kefir grains. Kefir grains are essentially collections of bacteria created during the previous culture of milk. Similarly to some yogurts, Kefir contains tons of probiotics that can aid in improving the health (particularly in the gut) of those who drink it. Kefir has been seen as comparable to Greek yogurt in terms of taste. While we do see Kefir commonly in drink form, it has many recipes where it is transformed and used in the creation of ice cream and other products where yogurt or milk are used. Kefir is more popularly used in Europe but is now growing in popularity worldwide. Many grocery stores will have no shortage of Kefir available for your wandering eye to find.

10. Tempeh

Soybeans are a popular product when it comes to the list of spoiled foods, and Tempeh does not stray from this trend. In the same process that tofu is created, Tempeh is created by further using fermentation to bind the soybeans into a cake form. Tempeh is often used as a supplement for meat in vegan and vegetarian diets, as it can mimic the texture and taste when cooked in the same fashion. Tempeh started a couple hundred of years ago and has been a staple in diets across the world since. Due to the high protein content in tempeh, we can see it become even more important to the diets that cut out meat. The dish is often fried, deep fried, or boiled. If you are aiming to find a replacement for meat for your diet, tempeh may very well be your saving grace. Check it out!

 

We’re always looking for more ways to add fermented foods into our diets! One easy very easy way is simply to chose the fermented/cultured version of a food. Have you ever tried a cultured cream cheese? It’s absolutely delicious and much more flavorful, although it can be a little difficult to find. The good news is you can make your own! We decided to use a cultured cream cheese to make some colorful, no-bake “Unicorn” truffles, because why not? Rainbow food is everywhere these days! While the sugar in these may offset the benefits of using a cultured product, sometimes it’s ok to indulge. These truffles are super easy to make, end up looking pretty stunning and taste a little like frosted circus animal cookies. They’re fun for the kiddos, as well as the kid in all of us!

Cultured Unicorn Truffles 

Makes approximately 24 1-inch truffles

  • 4 oz cultured cream cheese (can’t find any at the store? Make your own.)
  • 2 Tbsp softened butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla
  • 5 graham crackers, crushed into small crumbs
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp finely chopped lemon zest
  • 1/2 bag (6 oz) of white chocolate chips
  • Rainbow colored sprinkles
  • 4 different colors of food coloring

Cream together the butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar. Add lemon juice, zest, vanilla, and graham crackers; mix well. Divide the mixture into 4 bowls, and color each a different color, using 2-3 drops of food coloring for each bowl. With a spoon, scoop a little mixture of each color, and compress it into a rough one-inch ball. Set on wax paper, and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

Once chilled and slightly hardened, remove the truffle filling from the fridge. The truffle mixture will be slightly sticky and soft. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler, and carefully dip each truffle ball into the chocolate. I found it helpful to lay the truffle on a spoon and then drizzle the chocolate over the mixture. Set your dipped truffle on wax paper, add sprinkles, and let the truffles sit for 6-8 hours to harden completely. After hardened, store in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Make sure to take bites off the truffles, so you can enjoy the fun unicorn colors!

It has become more and more common in this recent day and age for younger people, particularly millennials, to take a more critical look at what is being put into their bodies. Veganism is becoming more common, health conscious and non-gmo foods are also becoming the norm. As people begin to protest the consumption of unhealthy foods that have been so prominent in our culture for decades, they begin to usher in an era that includes fermented, pickled, sprouted, and spoiled foods.

What are some of the main reasons for the fermented food craze?

    • Fermenting creates an acidic environment, often changing our normal food into a tangy, more vinegar-like tasting evolution of what was previously there.
    • Lactobacillus (the friendly bacteria) stay present in the end product of what is fermented, so when you consume said product, you add millions of tiny beneficial bacteria into your stomach. These will aid in fighting off unfriendly organisms that cause ailments.
    • Some of the proposed benefits of eating fermented food include: reduced risk of infection from pathogenic microorganisms, reduced constipation or diarrhea and improvement of inflammatory bowel conditions (Chron’s, IBS), reduced urinary tract infections, improvement of and reduced risk for atopic dermatitis (eczema) and acne (1).
    • Allows the fermenter to make use of any and all leftover foodstuffs that may not have been cooked and are likely to be thrown out. Why not throw it into a jar for fermentation and preserve not only your food but your wallet’s health?
    • Absorption of nutrients – it has been seen that the bacteria that are ingested when eating fermented foods make eating other foods easier. The bacteria break down these foods and make it easier on the gut to handle, as well as making the nutrients more readily available to absorb.

Can we blame the younger generations for wanting to delve into this untapped resource of health? Civilizations have been fermenting food for hundreds of years, but we have seen fermentation become rarer as we settle into the world of mass produced overly processed food. We made food cheaper, easier to produce in large quantities, sugary and calorically dense, but in doing so have eliminated many nutritional benefits we used to see with an old world and natural outlook on food. Our ability to produce goods in this way has made an immense amount of money for our country, as well as making food and sustenance more widely available for a cheaper cost. While this is beneficial, we can see millennials trying to find a balance between consuming what will make their wallet’s gut health increase and what will make their personal gut health increase.

1. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/07/18/health-benefits-fermented-foods.aspx