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Think fermented foods are gross? Some tips

Watch my video below or read the text under that for tips about a few ways to eat (and enjoy) fermented foods.

* Note that putting yogurt in muffins will cook out the good bacteria, but there are many other ways to sneak it into your food (e.g. smoothie).

 

natto fermented foods healthy food grossI’ve tried a number of fermented foods that I’ve wanted to spit right back out (ayran and poi, for example). And some I’ve not been able to get past the smell of (natto and stinky tofu). But don’t be offended if those are your favourite foods. My grandmother grew up eating natto, so she loves it. I think it looks like chunky mucus and smells like rotten garbage. Nothing I’d want to eat. But, the first time people try beer or alcohol, they also tend to think it doesn’t taste good. Our tastes change with exposure.

A friend once proved that to me when I told him I would not eat Marmite (New Zealand’s version of Vegemite, a food paste made from leftover yeast extract). He quietly snuck it into sandwiches he made for me. He started with tiny, miniscule amounts so I wouldn’t notice. Then gradually increased the amount bit by bit. Eventually, he opened up my sandwich as I was partway through eating it to show me that I had been happily eating something that I had once thought of as vile.

My mother used to sneak yogurt into my dad’s food because he doesn’t like yogurt. Not knowing it was there, he didn’t mind it. Though he still says he doesn’t like yogurt. Sometimes it’s also mind over matter.

Nevertheless, there are a huge number of fermented foods, all with different flavours, so I’m sure there are some that you will enjoy from the start.

Did you know that even coffee and chocolate are made from a combination of fermentation processes?

(By the way, this is a sidebar in my TCM healthy nutrition book I’m writing.)

Summary of how to like fermented foods

  1. Include just a little, so you can barely taste it (or not taste it at all). Easier to do if you are the cook and the fermented foods-hater doesn’t know they are eating it.
  2. Mix it in other foods that will hide the flavour.
    1. Yogurt or kefir in a smoothie. Check out this delicious lassi recipe! 
    2. A bit of sauerkraut on a burger. Try it on a bean burger recipe.
    3. Chop up fermented veggies really small and add them to a salad.
    4. Find a chutney you’ll like–there are so many options, from fruity and sweet to savoury or spicy. 
  3. Just because you don’t like one kind of fermented food doesn’t mean you’ll hate them all. Explore your grocery shelves and online ideas and recipes.
  4. Remember that tastes change. And sometimes we actually learn to like something we didn’t like once upon a time. I’ve discovered this about Brussels sprouts, fish, tomatoes, and olives (provided those olives are in Greece when I eat them).
  5. Try this easy sauerkraut recipe.

What are your favourite fermented foods and fermented food recipes?

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