Many years ago, a friend told me of a book she found in the library. She enjoyed it so much, she bought her own copy. The book was Better than Store Bought by Helen Witty and Elizabeth Schneider Colchie. Reading that book was the first seed planted in my mind that I could make my own food, without relying on bottles, can, and boxes from the grocery.
You hear fermented food enthusiasts talking about sauerkraut, yogurt, kombucha and more. But they seem to go to a lot of trouble to make their own and you are just happy to buy these items at the grocery. But do you know why other folks go to all the trouble of making their own? Here are a few reasons that home fermented foods are better than store bought.
Why Home Fermented Foods are Better than Store Bought:
Have you read labels lately?
When I make yogurt at home, I use milk and a starter, a little sweetener and some vanilla. Store-bought yogurt may have any of the following ingredients on the label:
- Artificial coloring
- Artificial sweetener
- High fructose corn syrup
- Modified food starch
- Tilapia (yes, fish)
- Xanthan gum
- And a host of other things I cannot pronounce or spell
I don’t know about you, but I love knowing that the food my family eats has just a few ingredients in it, and that I know where those ingredients came from. We are promoting the health of our bodies with homemade yogurt and avoiding the side effects that come with food dyes, artificial sweeteners, and the like.
The beauty of lacto-fermented foods is that they are rich in pro-biotics. You know, those good beasties that feed your gut and boost your immune system. But if you take your freshly fermented sauerkraut and pressure can it, you will kill all those good beasties. Sadly, they don’t stand up to the heat. Likewise, the sauerkraut you buy in the can at the grocer, is completely devoid of all those health benefits. Making your own sauerkraut only takes minutes at home and you don’t even have to worry about the canner. After the fermenting period, move the jars to cold storage where it will keep for months.
Flavor is king
Which would you prefer: salsa out of a jar or pico de gallo made from tomatoes and peppers right out of the garden? Who wouldn’t want the fresh taste of pico de gallo? You can’t even taste the cilantro in canned salsa! If it’s the end of the season, and you are faced with putting up salsa for the winter, fermented salsa will last for months in the refrigerator or cold storage—and have that fresh taste that canned salsa will never have.
The fear factor
Last week, I heard of two recalls on food products due to listeria infestation. Salmonella and E. coli are others that commonly find their way into factory foods. When a person prepares his own foods at home he knows how clean his kitchen is, where his produce came from, and if he washed his hands after going to the bathroom.
Don’t get me wrong. I am thankful that I can go just a few miles from home and purchase a loaf of bread, jug of milk, or just about anything else I may want from a store if I cannot provide it for myself. But personally, I don’t want to rely on food manufacturers to provide my every need. I like that peace of mind that growing my own food brings.
What about you? If you are fermenting foods at home, do you think they taste better than store bought? Please share with us in the comments.
Perhaps you are just beginning your fermentation journey. To get your own supply of fermentation lids for Mason jars, visit the Fermentools store. Get a Starter Pack, if you’re not sure this fermenting thing is for you, and that’s all you need to turn your own jar into a fermentation vessel.