Today I would like to talk to you about the difference between homemade and store-bought fermented products. I get this question quite a lot, why to spent time making your own when you can buy it in the store? Right?
1.Over the years, companies have found the ways to process foods that were originally fermented – mostly these products are just imitations of the real thing, they sometimes skip the fermentation part all together. The home fermentation has come back because people are discovering how far commercially produced foods have strayed from the real thing. The fact is that raw, wild fermented foods are hard to make commercially and are not easily exported.
2. Have you checked the labels? Store bought products can contain additives, preservatives, sugars, emulsifiers and other unnecessary ingrediencies. Whares when you are making your own you exactly know what goes in, the quality of foods you are using.
3. Store bought products are typically pasturaised after the fermentation. Which means they heat up the product to high temperatures for longer shelf life. As a result, the good bacteria, probiotics are killed in that process, they just don`t like heat. You will get no health benefit.
4. Most of the store brought products are not proper fermented foods/drinks. When purchasing most fermented foods, you want the “good guys” – the healthy bacteria – to be alive and kicking so they can do their good work for you.
For vegetables they use starter cultures – once you do this you are no longer fermenting naturally. You are using a packet mix that contains only a few strains of bacteria, it speeds up the process and limits amazing range of naturally occurring microbes. You also need to add water which just compromises the flavours and the natural environment of your ferment is lost. It’s really like making pancakes from the packet.
They also pasteurise the product for long shelf life and transportation purposes.
Same goes for fermented drinks such as kombucha. In the process of fermentation, the natural sugar transforms into lactic acid, alcohol and carbon dioxide, as a result there is only a small percentage of alcohol in ferments approx. 0.5-2% however for commercial producers to be compliant with regulations and extend the shelf life of their product (which is an important factor in commercial food production) they need to take some extra steps.
They need to water the product down, they ferment it so it doesn’t have any bubbles and then force-carbonate it to get that fizzy drink. Some companies pasteurize their Kombucha for shelf stability, to allow shipping without refrigeration and to maintain a very low – or no – alcohol level. Others, don’t use traditional fermentation techniques to build carbonation and instead add the CO2 gas during bottling.
5. In homemade products using traditional methods of fermenting you will find diverse strains of bacteria and higher levels. Probiotic reach product.
6. When fermenting at home you have full control over your ferments taste – exactly the way you like it. In terms of the sourness (it gets more sourer with time) and also in terms of the flavour, you can add your favourite herbs, spices, fruits.
Once you know how you can create your ferments, you can create your own recipes which are not available in stores. It’s cheaper and very exiting to have a little ferment farm on your kitchen bench.
When making your home made ferments it is critically important to follow certain steps to be able to produce it and store it the correct way. Otherwise you may ruin your ferment.
If you would like to know how to make your own fermented foods and drinks I would like to invite to our Ferments Masterclass – Make probiotic foods at home.