6 Fermentation Myths—Busted


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© 2014 Shanna Lea

Fermented foods have been a staple item for many cultures.  A lot of these fermented foods seem new to us, because several generations have been raised on processed food, but these fermented foods have been around a for long time.  There’s a lot of misinformation out there about probiotic foods, so let’s learn the truth behind the myths and misconceptions.


Myth #1—Bacteria are bad for you

Yes, some bacteria are bad for you and cause illness, but the majority of bacteria found in food is beneficial.  The fermentation process works to culture the good bacteria—which enhances your digestive system, boosts your immune system and reduces the risk of many diseases.

Myth #2—You must have a starter to ferment all foods

Some foods like sourdough bread or kombucha do need a starter.  But there are others that don’t need anything special.  For example, to ferment veggies you need water and salt.

Myth #3—Fermented foods are spoiled or rotten

Fermented foods are broken down by yeast and bacteria.  But, they are not so broken down they are rotting.   Typically, when you ferment a food, the salt you add stops the process before it goes too far.

Myth #4—There’s only one way to ferment a specific food

Many people fidget about getting the fermentation process just right.  They may have learned a specific method from a friend, only to now learn that someone else does it another way.  There’s more than one way to ferment just about any food.  Relax, read up on a few methods and then decide what works best for you.

Myth #5—Fermentation is just a food fad

Fermentation may seem like a fad right now, but it’s been around for thousands of years in many different cultures.  Fermented foods include:  breads, drinks, dairy foods and preserved vegetables.

As we learn more about nutrition and food as medicine, research shows that fermented foods are a crucial part of our diet and health.  As we learn more, fermentation becomes more popular as a healthy choice.

If you think about it, you’ve already seen plenty of fermented foods in the supermarket for years—pickles, kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, and sourdough bread.  The idea of fermentation is not new.

Myth #6—I can just take supplements instead of eating fermented foods

While it’s true, you can purchase probiotic supplements, the best way your body can utilize probiotics and nutrition is through food.  Naturally occurring fermentation produces cultures of bacteria that your body uses more readily.

Where Do I Start?

So you want to add fermented foods to your diet, or maybe try your hand at making some.  Where do you start?

Many health food stores now carry kefir, live culture sauerkraut, kimchi, sourdough breads, kombucha and other fermented foods.  You can try them and see what you like before making your own.  But there also are many easy and simple foods you can ferment.  Click here for my previous article on making pickles.

You can also click the resources below for further information and supplies.



Cultured Nutrition–The Magic of Fermented Foods

Learn how to make Kombucha with the Free DIY Kombucha Guide

 The Art of Fermentation

Fermented:  A Four Season Approach to Paleo Probiotic Foods

Real Food Fermentation:  Preserving Whole Fresh Food with Live Cultures in Your Home Kitchen


Milk kefir and water kefir grains

Kombucha starter kits


Kombucha starter kits

Kraut Kaps 3 Pack Platinum

Perfect Pickler Pickling and Sauerkraut Kit

Fermenting crock handcrafted in Poland 

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