I will admit it. I am easily intimidated when it comes to learning new cooking techniques. Don’t get me wrong — I love to learn new procedures and I taught myself, through trial and error, lots of new cooking skills when my family went grain free. Probably the most difficult new skills for me to learn involve preserving food, sigh. It is not because the process is hard — it is actually quite easy for most foods — it’s feeling comfortable and confident about fermenting foods.
I have found that once you make something a time or two, you get to know how it should look, taste and smell. After you eat it (and you don’t get sick, lol) you realize that you were successful in your fermentation. This gives you some confidence.
The fermentation process adds value to the food by supplying vitamins and enzymes manufactured by the bacteria
Beneficial bacteria protect food from degradation by culturing. For example, the bacteria inherent in cabbage may be used to ferment and produce a “value added” food such as sauerkraut. The same may be said of cultured dairy products, such as yogurt and kefir although with these, a culture needs to be added.
It is best to learn how to make these things at home. Homemade fermented foods are cost effective and actually take very little time to put together — they just need time to culture.
Canning as a way to preserve food
In 1809, a French confectioner and brewer, Nicolas Appert, observed that food cooked inside a jar did not spoil unless the seals leaked. He developed a method of sealing food in glass jars as a cheap and effective method of preserving large amounts of food.
Because glass containers were too delicate for transporting food, around 1910 they were largely replaced in commercial canneries with cylindrical tin or wrought-iron canisters. Cans were cheaper and quicker to make, and much less fragile than glass jars.
The rest is history
Canning is a method of preserving food in which the food contents are processed and sealed in an airtight container. The method prevents microorganisms from entering and proliferating inside.
To prevent the food from being spoiled before and during containment, a number of methods are used: pasteurization, boiling (and other applications of high temperature over a period of time), refrigeration, freezing, drying, vacuum treatment, a sufficient dose of ionizing radiation, submersion in a strong saline solution, acid, base, or sugar solutions.
I — Lacto-fermentation adds value to the food by supporting the growth of beneficial bacteria. The beneficial bacteria have a big job.
1 – Beneficial bacteria provide enzymes which aid in digestion. Fermented foods are rich in enzymes that assist us in assimilating our food. As we age, the number of enzymes decrease, contributing to poor absorption of nutrients. Eating cultured foods rich in enzymes will contribute to longevity and are part of any anti-aging program.
2- Beneficial bacteria provide a protective barrier along the entire length of the digestive tract much like a thick layer of turf protecting top soil.
3- Beneficial bacteria provide antibiotic and antiviral substances for protection. Lactic acid bacteria enhance GI and systemic immunity in humans by:
4- Lactic acid bacteria produce SCFA (short chain fatty acids) such as butyric acid and proprionic acid. Importantly, these organic acids lower the ph in the GI tract, making it more acidic which reduces the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
5- Beneficial bacteria nourish the enterocytes (cells of the lining the digestive tract) and are the primary source of energy for these cells. It is estimated that the gut cells receive 60-70% of their energy from bacterial activity.
6- Beneficial bacteria manufacture vitamins thus increasing vitamin content of the cultured foods.
II – Lacto-fermentation is a cost effective way to provide beneficial bacteria.
Eating foods that have been preserved through fermentation on a daily basis will provide a constant stream of beneficial bacteria through the digestive tract that will protect against pathogens. You will not need an expensive probiotic supplement if you consume a diverse array of foods and beverages that have been cultured.
III – Canning requires high heat and high pressure which kills the beneficial bacteria as well as the pathogens.
Why choose a method of food preservation that kills the nutritive and protective elements in the food? Canning produces vegetable cadavers. Fermentation produces food that is alive and teaming with nutrients. Are you ready to take the plunge and learn new skills?