What Are Fermented Foods? Hello, Sauerkraut and Pickles!

By Angela Tague in Healthy Feeling

My latest meal sidekick is sauerkraut. It has a smelly reputation, but a few tablespoons of the tart fermented cabbage regularly gets a spot next to my vegetable breakfast hash, hearty lunch salad, or lentil wraps at dinner time. Why? I've recently discovered that fermented foods improve my digestive health and help me curb cravings for sweets. All-around vinegary victory!

What Are Fermented Foods?

So, what exactly are fermented foods?

Fermentation is the transformation of food by bacteria, according to the Washington Post. During the process, small, useful amounts of proteins, acids, and enzymes are created. Sound weird? Well, you've likely enjoyed several fermented foods over the years, including beer, wine, the Indian yogurt lassi, kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, yogurt, vinegar, mead, and hard cider, just to name a few!

A bubbly glass of fermented gluten-free beer

The Benefits of Fermented Foods

Fermented foods contain good bacteria that help influence what your gut digests and absorbs, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Other effects of these foods can include reducing inflammation in the body, boosting energy levels, and improving your mood. Sign me up!

Since I have a complicated digestive system due to celiac disease, I love experimenting with new fermented foods regularly. You can create them in your own kitchen or pick them up at the supermarket during busy weeks.

Fermented kimchi on chickpea patties, with a side of baby carrots and Brussels sprouts

Enjoying Fermented Foods

Whip up a batch of sauerkraut this weekend with the kids and start adding it to your meals. This simple recipe lets the kids see the bubbling fermentation process in action.

You can also increase fermented foods in your diet by using vinegar-based salad dressings, adding pickles to sandwiches, and sipping water-based kefir in the morning.

What are fermented foods up to in your kitchen? Snap a picture of your favorite types of fermented foods and tag us on Instagram with the hashtags #GoodMatters and #TomsOfMaine.

Image source: Angela Tague | Angela Tague| Angela Tague

The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom's of Maine.

Why It’s Good

Adding fermented foods to your daily meal planning can help boost the immune system and regulate digestive disorders. Plus, these bold-flavored foods are fun to make with kids and may turn the pickiest vegetable eater into a fan of cucumbers or cabbage simply by changing the flavors with fermentation.