Why Serve Fermented Foods at Thanksgiving

Ever wonder why, on Thanksgiving day, you can barely keep your eyes open for a football game? Forget visiting with the cousins or playing with the kids in the backyard, you need a nap, and now! That is because our typical Thanksgiving feasts include high fat/high starch foods. Imagine if you could still eat your holiday favorites without the normal side effects? Read on for reasons to serve fermented Thanksgiving foods.

When November rolls around we begin to think of turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. Few people think about adding fermented or cultured foods to the table, though. Not only are fermented foods easy to integrate into your Thanksgiving spread, they can improve the meal for everyone by improving their digestion!

We’ve all experienced the Thanksgiving food-coma and bloating that leaves you feeling a bit hung-over. A number of things contribute to the indigestion and bloating we recognize so well. One culprit is a larger than normal meal. We tend to eat more because there are so many tempting foods. We also eat foods that are richer than our normal fare. A carb-heavy meal, as Thanksgiving easily becomes, can cause indigestion. No matter what the cause, adding some fermented foods to your Thanksgiving spread will help.

Why You Should Serve Fermented Thanksgiving Foods

Fermented foods help with digestion in a number of ways. Here’s how:

  1. Fermented foods introduce beneficial bacteria into the digestive tract which are essential for proper digestion. Lactobacillus helps break down sugars and carbs in your food.
  2. Fermentation produces digestive enzymes that can help you digest the other decadent foods you’re eating. If you’ve had too much pie, following dessert with a fermented beverage may help break down the sugars in the pie, easing your digestion.
  3. Fermenting helps unlock the nutrition in the vegetables being fermented, making them easier to digest and easier to assimilate (absorb). Eating fermented foods with your meal also helps absorb the nutrients in those foods by improving the gut microbiome.

Seventy to eighty percent of the immune system resides in the gut, so without proper gut health, our immune system suffers. Thanksgiving is near the beginning of flu season so increasing our immune system function is a good way to start the winter season.

How to Serve Fermented Foods at Thanksgiving

5 Ways to Serve Fermented Foods at Thanksgiving

Though many of us don’t think of fermented foods as being traditional Thanksgiving foods, they probably were on the first Thanksgiving table—even if only as fermented apple cider. Today we can add fermented foods in a number of ways:

  1. Add pickled and fermented vegetables to your appetizer platter. Even plain old cucumber pickles are a welcomed addition to a cheese platter or crudité. Other ideas are fermented cauliflower, carrots, onions, or a combination.
  2. Try fermented cranberries instead of, or in addition to, cranberry sauce. Other ideas are fermented chutneys, relishes, and fermented citrus.
  3. Offer cultured butter or cream cheese to spread on rolls, sweetbreads, and vegetable mashes. Cultured sour cream is a great addition to mashed or roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes.
  4. Consider sourdough for all of your baked goods from pie crust to stuffing. Or add a bit of cultured cream on top.
  5. For beverages, brew some kombucha, beet kvass, or homemade ginger ale. When fermented foods are too unusual for your guests a fermented beverage usually saves the day.

Thanksgiving doesn’t have to cause the indigestion we’re so familiar with. Fermented foods can help you and your guests indulge in the feast without discomfort!

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.


Mindy Wood is a writer, wife, mother, and homesteader, living in the beautiful mountains of New Hampshire. She writes at Purposefully Simple where she shows people how to live more self-reliant and healthy lives by growing their own food and learning other homesteading skills.

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