What is an "authentic ferment" and why does it matter?

What is an "authentic ferment" and why does it matter?

Fermentation is the most ancient form of food and drink preservation, around long before popping something in the fridge was the norm. Back in the day fermentation would have been the only way to keep food and drink safe for consumption.

Fermented food and drinks can be found in many cultures across the world and the diversity in ferments born out of the need to keep food and drink safe to eat, is simply amazing.

By authentic we mean the production methods used rather than any cultural authenticity, it’s not our place to even attempt to define that. Our focus here is educating on the traditional methods of fermentation vs macro-produced factory ferments. BUT we’re also not here to gate-keep ferments. If you enjoy eating or drinking it, that’s your business and nobody else’s.

The fermentation process involves microorganisms like bacteria, yeast or fungi converting organic compounds like sugars and starches into alcohol or acids. These act as natural preservatives and improve the taste and texture of fermented foods, leaving them with rich umami, sharp sour, and funky flavours.

These microorganisms are crucial to all ferments, some ferments can be spontaneous for example old wine turning into vinegar, but most require some form of starter culture or minor intervention by humans. Think of your treasured lockdown sourdough starter kickstarting your dough into bubbly perfection.

We have intervened in the fermentation process as humans for a long, long time, rearing stronger strains of brewing yeast, picking thicker Scobie’s for kombucha, evolving spores to do exactly what we want with cheese or rice. So we're not against the intervention in ferments by human hands but we draw the line at pasteurising our product and therefore killing off all the gut healthy probiotics.

 It seems a whole lot of effort to make fermented food and drink, slowly and carefully to harness the power of these ancient cultures and then kill them off so they can sit on a shelf a bit longer.

So, for us we have taken the probiotic pledge and will NEVER pasteurise our products because it seems a little bit like missing the point.

Below are our handy hints for how you can spot which ferments are the real deal and those that are mass produced, dead and flavourless?

  1. Is it in a fridge? This is usually a good sign that your ferment isn’t dead and has those all-important cultures intact.
  1. Sediment at the bottom, like any good craft beer or natural wine, there should be sediment in your ferment as the yeast/bacteria drop to the bottom. Some products are heavily filtered, (again for shelf stability) the research into filtration’s effect is still ongoing.
  1. Check your labelling, if its chock full of preservatives and non-food sounding products it’s probably not authentically made. Our sauerkraut and kombucha both have just 4 ingredients.
  1. If it’s in a powder, tablet or syrup form, well there’s been some heavy mass production intervention gone on and despite whatever spurious claims come with them, they’re probably not based in actual science. 

The research into fermented food is ongoing, and for us we base our knowledge in the science available at the current time. We don’t make any outrageous claims about our ferments, simply that they are delicious, some products contain probiotics, and a diverse diet is good for your gut!

We are happy to answer questions around our ferments, gut health, and the process we undertake, if you have serious questions around your health we always recommend speaking to your doctor before making any big changes to diet.

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