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Between fresh and spoiled

Fermenting is currently undergoing a revival. But just what exactly is “fermentation”? How healthy is it? And how does it work? We took a closer look at this and other questions in our Health Tip.

Without fermentation, we would not be able to enjoy many of our favourite foods such as bread, cheese and wine. They all undergo such a process before they become edible. In other words, people have been fermenting things for a long time, in virtually all places around the world.

Good for the immune system
During fermentation, bacteria convert the carbohydrates in the food into lactic acid. It’s interesting to note that fermented foods are very easy to digest because the lactic acid bacteria stimulate the intestinal flora, an essential part for our immune system, and keep it healthy. In addition, lactic acid bacteria improve digestion and cholesterol levels and thus help us to absorb iron.

How to ferment correctly
You can ferment many types of foods at home, such as carrots, beets, tomatoes or broccoli, and you only need a few utensils. First and foremost, you need a good knife so that the food doesn’t oxidise right away when you cut it up, and a container in which to store it afterwards. Here, glass is by far the better choice than plastic. We recommend that you use a sheet of baking parchment to seal the jar afterwards. This allows gasses produced during fermentation to escape but prevents air from seeping in.

Before cutting up the food, make sure that your hands and work surface are completely clean. Then cut or mash the food and put it in the container to ferment either in its own juice or in salt water, and store it at a constant temperature afterwards. Your basement is well suited for storing the jars once they're filled. Depending on the type of food and the taste, you can let everything sit for between five and seven days, occasionally checking the taste and releasing some of the pressure from the jars.

Other things to consider
Don't heat up fermented food again because this destroys the valuable microorganisms. Ideally, fermented foods are to be enjoyed as a cold side dish. Be sure to stop eating it if you notice a strong acid taste or a funny odour, which indicates that something went wrong.

Key points in brief
When preparing fermented food, you need:
  • A glass jar
  • A good knife
  • A sheet of baking parchment
Be sure that …
  • … your hands are clean.
  • … the surface you work on is clean.
  • … you let the food ferment in its own juice or in salt water.
  • … there is an even temperature during the fermentation.
As a SWICA customer, you can get expert advice from the doctors and medical staff at the sante24 health advice helpline – free of charge, around the clock. On request, sante24 can also make a doctor’s appointment for you. Phone +41 (0)44 404 86 86. You can also use the BENECURA medical app to carry out a digital SymptomCheck and receive recommendations about what to do next. You decide in each case whether you want to share the information you have entered in SymptomCheck with sante24.