Fermentation is a funny thing; it kind of just happens. But most of us do what we can to control it. We add salt to our vegetables to keep them crisp and preserve them longer. We add specific cultures to our milk to manipulate the flavor of the end product. And we go out of our way to make it work for us.
But fermented foods as we know them, for the most part, were discovered often times by accident. And it is those accidents that we now cherish and add to our meals. But our ancestors most likely considered the best parts of these foods to not be the delicious flavors they add, but the preservation qualities of the fermented foods themselves.
This form of food preservation has been going on for generations, and for good reason. Before canning and freezing and the modern day appliances that made all of that possible, fermentation could preserve food with very little added energy or special ingredients. And that is precisely what makes it a more sustainable means of food preservation today.
Here’s what I mean.