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Jul 102014

Much has been written about the pro biotic effect of fermented food but did you know fermentation also affects the digestibility of food? Roslyn Bono, of Well-Being for Life, explains.

fermentedfood-preperationWhen I started finding out about fermented food, I didn’t know there was a long history of fermenting fruit, vegetables, dairy, grains and legumes or indeed, that it was even possible or necessary. Ancient people used their observations of the happy accidents due to fermentation, to preserve food, make food more nutritious, make food easily digestible and make alcohol!

Fermentation History

It was the ancient Egyptians who used a form of sourdough bread about 3500 years ago. Sourdough is the oldest form of leavened bread. I can picture an Egyptian baker being surprised by the airy bread he was creating and noticing this airy bread appeared when bakers were next to brewers. The wild yeast spores used in the brewing process accidentally landed on some dough and that process of making leavened bread, sourdough, continued through the centuries until the European Middle Ages. It was then replaced by barm from brewing beer (the foam, or scum, formed on the top of beer).

Fermented strawberry jam

Fermented strawberry jam

In the 20th century, it was replaced again by purpose-cultured yeast. As bread production moved out of the home and into the factory it became an industrialised process with an emphasis on producing large quantities in the shortest possible time. So the time that used to be spent on the process of soaking and fermenting was not valued and the benefits of soaking and fermenting were not recognised. These valuable practices were largely forgotten.

Fermented foods and Digestibility

Soaking and fermenting are needed to properly process the chemicals in grains, legumes and beans. These are seeds whose purpose is to carry forward the next generation so plants use chemicals to make the seeds difficult to eat. These chemicals remain in the grains, legumes and beans, which is why soaking and fermenting are needed to remove them. Fermentation is also one way in which you can neutralize the embarrassing side effects of eating beans!

Cultures that relied on a high proportion of grains and legumes in their diet found that soaking and fermenting the grains and legumes meant that gluten was degraded. Fermentation neutralizes the acids and enzyme inhibitors in grains and legumes that cause digestive problems. Fermentation decreases the adverse effects of gluten in those who are sensitive to it. The complex starches in the flour are converted into simple sugars making it easy to digest. It has a low glycaemic index meaning it helps regulate blood sugars and produces the feeling of satiety.

It’s the sour flavour that gives you the sign that all these benefits are in fermented grains, legumes and beans.

I’ve had great fun searching out recipes and trying them out. There’s an excitement in fermenting and tasting the end result with the bonus of feeling well.

Upcoming Food Fermentation workshops

Fermented Food Workshop 1.0  – Dairy, Fruit & Vegetables
Saturday – 19 July, 16 August, 27 September 2014. 9.30am-12.30pm
Cost: $50/person  (includes morning tea & workbook)

Fermented Food Workshop 2.0 – Grains, Legumes & Beans
Saturday – 12 July, 9 August, 13 September 2014.  9am-1pm
Cost: $80/person (includes morning tea &/brunch workbook)

Location of workshops: 5 Pareena Crescent, Mansfield. Brisbane
RSVP / more info: Ros Bono – / 3343 1354 / Well-being for Life

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