Fermentation is “the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms, typically involving effervescence and the giving off, of heat.” The process of fermentation converts compounds, like a carbohydrate, including vegetables and sugar, to carbon dioxide and alcohol to an organic acid.
Fermentation brings out amazing health benefits in certain foods, it helps increase digestion and bioavailability of nutrients, manage and prevent disease, including H. pylori infection, cancer, liver disease, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and lactose intolerance.
Fermented foods are filled with beneficial bacteria (probiotics) that work as reinforcement for the good bacteria in the gut, 80 percent of the immune system lies in the gut, having proper balance of gut flora is important for overall health.
Orange cashew yogurt (yields 500ml)
125g cashew nuts, soaked for 2 hours then drained
150ml freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 tsp or 2 capsules of probiotic powder
Place the drained cashew nuts in a high speed blender with the juice and blend until smooth.
Blend in the probiotic powder process for 2–3 minutes – this will warm up the mixture slightly and speed the fermentation process. Transfer to a bowl and ferment in a dehydrator at 40°C/105°F or a thermos, or simply place in warm place in the kitchen or use a yogurt maker.
Ideally ferment for 24 hours. Place in the fridge until required
You can use a range of nuts to make yogurt – macadamia and almonds are also excellent
Coconut yogurt (yields 500ml)
2 cans Full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
4 Probiotics capsules
Scoop out cream of coconut into a sterilized bowl, mix well with emptied capsules, add some of the coconut water to make a smooth mix, cover with cheesecloth or clingfilm, leave in a warm place for 24 hours. Now ready to eat or keep in fridge for up to 5 days
Mango lassi mousse (serves 2-3)
35g dried mango soak in 100ml water
125g your choice of any unflavoured yogurt (I use the coconut one)
1 tbsp grated lemon
1/2 tsp turmeric
Soak mango until soft this can take 4 hours, or use hot water to speed up process. Reserve the water, wiz altogether, add yogurt, lemon and turmeric until smooth, pour into dishes and chill.
Fermentation breaks down nutrients into more easily digestible forms. When lactobacilli in fermented foods proliferate, their vitamin levels and digestibility increase.
Milk is also difficult for many individuals to digest. A type of bacteria present in fermented dairy products converts lactose into digestible lactic acid.
Soybeans are protein-rich bean yet indigestible without fermentation, but fermentation breaks down the soybeans complex protein into readily digestible amino acids, giving us traditional Asian ingredients, such as miso, tamari (soy sauce) and tempeh.
- Kefir is a unique cultured dairy product due to combined lactic acid and alcoholic fermentation of lactose in milk. Kefir is produced by microbial activity of kefir grains, which have a relatively stable and specific balance of lactic acid bacteria and yeast.
- Sauerkraut is finely chopped cabbage that has been fermented by lactic acid-producing bacteria. By fermenting cabbage, it can become more functional by protecting blood vessels and increasing vitamin C, and folate.
- Kimchi is a spicy and popular fermented food from Korea. With similar properties to Sauerkraut.
- Kombucha is a fermented tea that can be made from home or bought commercially, reducing blood pressure, improving cholesterol levels, increasing the body’s resistance to cancer and detoxifying the body.
Miso is a paste-like food made from fermented soy. It is a staple food in Japan and is used to make miso soup and seasonings. The bioactive compounds formed or released by the enzymes during miso production have been shown to have antioxidant, antidiabetic and anticancer properties.
- Yogurt After fermentation, yogurt contains the characteristic bacterial cultures called Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophiles. Probiotic yogurt (nut or dairy) is also extremely high in protein, calcium, zinc and B vitamins. Yet, lower levels of lactose than milk if a dairy base.
About the author
Suzanne is a Nutritional Therapist trained in London at College of Naturopathic medicine. She has 25 years experience as a chef and recently trained in raw foods, at a gourmet level with Matthew Kenney.
Suzanne’s business is Vital Nutrition which she founded in 2008. She offers private consultancies focusing on diet and lifestyle improvements supporting patients on their journey to optimum health.
Her regular cookery workshops are delicious, fun and educational and her cooking skills are available to private clients, on retreats and for chef training.