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Why I learned Fermentation
by Christie LaValley
Fermentation is a process developed by our ancestors to produce wine, mead, cheese. beer, yogurt and other products. Here's a look at the chemical process that occurs during fermentation.
Fermentation is a metabolic process in which an organism converts a carbohydrate, such as starch or a sugar, into an alcohol or an acid. For example, yeast perform fermentation to obtain energy by converting sugar into alcohol. Bacteria perform fermentation, converting carbohydrates into lactic acid.
Our ancestors used fermentation to preserve their harvest and have food through the winter months. Though they did not understand exactly how it worked they knew if they used this process, they did not get sick from their stored food. It was a process of trial and error.
In the 1850s and 1860s Louis Pasteur became the first scientist to study fermentation when he demonstrated fermentation was caused by living cells. These same living cells are in our stomach and digestive tract and are needed for use to process our food. They are known as probiotics now a days. There are more then18 different strains of probiotic bacteria in you digestive track starting in the mouth through are large intestines. e
At the same time that this was learned, we learned about germs and bacteria in general. We found that certain germs and bacteria could kill us or make us very sick. We tended to focus on this... Germs are bad, so bacteria is bad. Most of the time, people use the words “germs” and “bacteria” at the same time. Most of the time, people consider these two words as similar. It is thought that these words are just the synonym of each other, but this is wrong. Let us try to differentiate between germs and bacteria.
Germs are considered harmful microorganisms while bacteria is a broad classification of a microorganism. Germs are generally known as culprits or bad microorganisms while bacteria can be classified as good bacteria or bad bacteria.
Penicillin was discovered in London in September of 1928. As the story goes, Dr. Alexander Fleming, the bacteriologist on duty at St. Mary’s Hospital, returned from a summer vacation in Scotland to find a messy lab bench and a good deal more. Upon examining some colonies of Staphylococcus aureus, Dr. Fleming noted that a mold called Penicillium notatum had contaminated his Petri dishes. After carefully placing the dishes under his microscope, he was amazed to find that the mold prevented the normal growth of the staphylococci. The birth of Antibiotics was a life saving discovery of how a bacteria could work to save lives. Note though, it kills off even life sustaining bacteria.
You ask why and I telling you this history? Well, I do have a point so please keep reading.
Also in the early 20th century, in 1913, refrigerators for home use were invented. In 1923 Frigidaire introduced the first self-contained unit. Home freezers as separate compartments were introduced in 1940. Frozen foods, previously a luxury item, became commonplace.
In 1930, Michael Cullen, a former executive of both Kroger and A&P, opened his first King Kullen store, widely cited as America’s first supermarket. Merchandise was sold out of packing cartons and little attention was paid to décor. The emphasis was on volume, with this one store projected to do the volume of up to one hundred conventional chain stores. The volume and the no frills approach resulted in considerably lower prices.
Modern food processing technology developed in the 19th and 20th centuries was developed in a large part to serve military needs. Canning and Pasteurization help reserved foods and introduced the wine, beer, and milk preservation. Later in the 20th century, with World War II, the space race and the rising of a consumer society in many developed countries contributed to the growth of food processing. With this large consumer society growing and busy life styles, food processing companies marketed their products especially towards middle-class working wives and mothers. Processors utilized the perceived value of time to appeal to the postwar population, and this same appeal contributes to the success of convenience foods today. Honestly isn't it easier just to buy your food and make it in the shortest time? Companies were determined to sell more and have it cost less to their bottom lines.
Microwave were discovered. Kills our nutrients but quick. Active dry Yeast- Replaces natural occurring yeast, but super fast. So many things to keep us out of the kitchen. Lastly, the invention of television, the internet and cellphones. What great inventions they are, they allow us to communicate and learn. They bring us closer to those thousand of miles away. They entertain us. Yet, They are not just entertainment, they are time consuming, mind altering and based on consumerism.
Now to why?
It seams that during this time period with all the new inventions many of us have lost our roots and are not familiar with fermentation,except that we get alcohol. And that is not always well received. Also, in that time, we have more cancer, more acid re-flux, more allergies, more fibromyalgia, Could it be with science, the industrial revolution, inventions, war and consumerism and convenience that we have lost touch with our relationship with food. With the world around us? I believe Yes. We need to take a step back.
In fermentation we are trying to cultivate good bacteria and steering clear of bad bacteria. So our practices must be strictly done to avoid disease causing objects--germs and we must have a loving relationship with our food and bacteria. We have been so concerned with killing bacteria, with antibiotics, hand sanitizer, disinfectant, that we do not have an ample supply of good bacteria in our lifes. Yes, we want to be vey wary about bad bacteria, virus, fungi and mold, but we need the good bacteria. Luckily it is readily available in the air. We can harvest it. Fermentation is exactly that. Taking care to sanitize the environment, adding the right ingredients and having that relationship with your food.
You must watch it and feed it as you would with a child. You must feed them with the best products so they feed us with the best they have to give. Most fermenting you do will give you strains of lac to-bacillus and natural yeast. My grandson has even learned this word and he is four. He loves to ferment.
I came upon fermenting as a result of persistent acid re-flux due to a medication I was taking. It was like my gut hated me. And my gut inflammation was affecting my fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis. I took probiotics, but they weren't helping. I was drinking processed ginger tea. The doctor handed me yet another prescription. AHHHH! I asked her about fermenting. She said it can't hurt getting whole food. A fermenter was born.
I took to fermenting immediately and I took the medication for the week things were getting started. As my ferments came to maturity and I began to eat them I noticed I did not need the medicine daily any more, except on days I ate processed cookies or bread. Note just those. Granted I don't drink OJ. I only eat oranges. I did limit Tomato sauce and garlic as well. But I did use them sparingly.
Now I had to choose what foods I was going to ferment. I never liked alchohol. It give me heartburn. Reason for that is it has gone past probiotic stage. Something you must watch out for. I chose a few different things for all my research said you need variety of bacteria. I watched days of youtube. There is some great stuff on there. I read mulitple websites. I kept wishing I had learned this from my mother or grandmother, but they were in the process of losing this info.
These are the foods I got straight to fermenting :
Kombucha- A sugar tea ferment as tea is known for its anti-inflammatory effects.
Carrots- I missed raw carrots due to missing molars
Ginger Bug- good for a upset stomach
Sour dough Bread - For my love of it and inability to buy it locally since I moved.
Apple Cranberry Chutney-- Something sweet.
I am only a few weeks in but I have seen great progressed and have learn much about how the fermentation was the missing piece of my life and why it is so important I will NEVER go back to being lazy. I will appreciate my food and give it life, so it can give me life. In the recipe section I will give you direction and hints to good fermenting care with educational tips and links
My first would be to watch Cooked on Netflix. It will teach you much about why we cook and how we cook. Don't miss it