How to Start with Fermented Foods

Of course, you’ve heard of the health benefits of fermented foods. How could you not, it’s in the news every day. Are you considering adding them to your diet but have no idea where to start? No worries. Keep reading for Maat’s tips on making it an easy journey.

Have you wondered how to start with fermented foods? Trust me, it is possible to start adding fermented foods to your diet without overhauling your life.

The whole process can be a bit daunting when you’re just starting out, but it doesn’t have to be difficult or overwhelming. With some of these tips, you can successfully start adding fermented foods to your diet in no time.

How to Start with Fermented Foods

If a nutrient-rich diet is a must for you, then fermented foods are your ticket to a healthier lifestyle.

Let’s start at the beginning.

What are fermented foods?

Fermented foods are fruits, vegetables, and even grains, that have been combined with a beneficial bacteria starter (and usually a small amount of salt) that allows the beneficial bacteria to grow while creating an environment that reduces the number of bad bacteria.

Usually, these beneficial bacteria are found on the surface of fruits and veggies naturally.

Fermenting foods has been used for centuries to preserve harvests and to make raw foods more nutritious. In the days before refrigeration, fermenting foods was one of the most popular ways to preserve food for months, sometimes years.

Examples of fermented foods include sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar, homemade pickles, as well as beverages like kombucha, water and milk kefir, and beer and wine.

When you ferment fruits and vegetables, you create an anaerobic environment (in which there is no oxygen) where only beneficial bacteria such as lactobacillus can survive.

Lactobacillus does not rot food like other bacteria, and in fact, releases nutrients from the food. So, creating an environment where it can grow, but bad bacteria can’t, means your food not only is preserved but is more nutritious (and easier to digest).

Learning how to start fermenting vegetables is easy, once you have the tools and a little bit of know-how.

How to incorporate fermented foods into your diet

Making your own fermented food is much easier than it sounds and doesn’t require much more than tools that allow you to create an environment for lactobacillus to grow.

The easiest fermented foods to start making are sauerkraut, pickles and apple cider vinegar. Making them yourself, rather than buying them, allows you to control the ingredients and customize recipes to your tastes.

When you first start eating fermented foods, the new tastes and smells might put you off (kids usually balk at them). Starting with something simple that you already enjoy eating (like pickles) is a great way to consume the beneficial bacteria without overhauling your diet.

When it comes to store-bought pickles and sauerkraut, avoid them if you want to start eating fermented foods for their health benefits. You don’t ferment these items in the same way (and some pickles are not even fermented at all) so they won’t yield the results you want.

Another option is to make apple cider vinegar, then use it in salad dressings or put a teaspoon in your water. Homemade apple cider vinegar is quite different than store-bought vinegar, not just because it has the beneficial bacteria, but the taste is brighter, more complex, and really quite lovely.

So, no more excuses! There are plenty of ways to start eating fermented foods today without having to overhaul your diet.


If you are new to fermented foods, try a Fermentools Starter Kit. It includes everything you need to turn your Mason jar into a fermentation vessel for minimal investment.


Maat van Uitert is a professional writer and homesteader based in the South. Maat is a fermenting nut who specializes in making cheeses, yogurts, probiotic sauces and condiments to spice up and create flavorful meals. You can read more about Maat and her homestead at FrugalChicken, where Maat helps everyday people achieve independence by raising chickens, learning traditional skills, and becoming more self-sufficient. You can also catch up with her on her weekly podcast, What The Cluck?!, available on iTunes now.

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