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New trends: fermented and preserved

The new episode of the podcast “A gust amb la Terra” tells us about the new trends in cooking: Who hasn’t heard of probiotics? Have you ever considered making your own preserves or fermented foods?

Cooking is a trend and it is increasingly easy for a family member or friend to confess to us that they make their own fermented foods or preserves at home or to tell us about the benefits of probiotics.

But… How well do we know these terms? Once again, with the help of Noelia López, Nestlé nutritionist, we open up to a new world.

On the rise: home brews

With origins in all cultures and antecedents throughout history, fermented products are more present today than ever, but not because of their easy preservation and consumption, but because of the fame they have gained for what they provide and the benefits they they have

And it is that fermented products are those foods or drinks that are obtained from a biochemical processin which living microorganisms are added to a food, either bacteria or yeast.

These transform the sugars in these foods or those added to other substances, making them more nutritious or favoring the appearance of more bioavailable nutrients. In other words, they make these sugars turn into substances that our body makes better use of.

An example is cheese, cider, wine, chocolate, beer… Although foods foreign to our culture are beginning to appear, such as kombucha.

Is vegetable fermentation at home safe?

One of the most frequently asked questions is whether it is really safe to prepare them at home. And the Nestlé specialist assures that, as long as it’s done right, there’s no problem. That is why it is important to consider the following points:

  • Clean vegetables: ensuring that they remain free of pathogenic microorganisms.
  • Clean material: the cutting board, the knives to be used, the pots must be very clean.
  • Wash hands with soap and water: although it is always important, in this context it is even more so.
prebiotics and probiotics, fermented
Plate with a sample of probiotics. EFE/Manuel Bruque


Ultimately, fermented foods are intrinsically linked to our gut health, as they help regulate the microorganisms found in our gut. And that is why they are often referred to as probiotics, although we should know that not all fermented foods are.

Of course, in excess, they can be counterproductive. What’s more, there are many fermented preparations that have high salt contentso abusing it is not a good idea.

Frequently fermented vegetables

Among the different fermented ones, a German preparation stands out:

  • sauerkraut. It is something typical of Alsace. It’s basically white cabbage or cabbage fermented for a few days. This product can also be bought already made, although it must be taken into account that they will be found in the refrigerated area, since if this were not the case, the fermentation process would be interrupted. For this reason, we must know how to distinguish them with regard to pickled candies, which are stored at room temperature.

But beyond this, other preparations such as

  • Kimchi: Asian dish whose base ingredient is Asian cabbage.
  • olives: more typical of our gastronomy

One way or another, the truth is that most vegetables can be fermented. It is the case of broccoli, turnips, cabbages, lombardes

Fermented, probiotic and prebiotic

As previously indicated by the Nestlé nutritionist, equating fermented to probiotics is a very common mistake. For this reason, he decides to make a distinction between the following concepts:

  • fermented. Not all fermented with probiotics. If they were, they would always be refrigerated and have living organisms. Bread is a fermented but not a probiotic.
  • probiotic. They are living microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, provide us with a health benefit.
  • prebiotic. On the other hand, prebiotics are the foods that the intestinal flora needs to be able to grow in a healthy way. Fruits, vegetables, vegetables with fiber, resistant starch have prebiotics.

Your own preserves

Another booming trend is the preparation of homemade preserves. To be able to do it without posing a danger to our health, do not overlook that the preparation process is essential.

From the Spanish Food Safety and Nutrition Agency it is specified that it is necessary

  • Clean utensils and hands. Especially important in this type of process
  • Sterilize jars and drain them. For 15 minutes and dry them before using them
  • Peel, scald, cook. It is an option to avoid “bad” microorganisms
  • Separation between the lid of the jar and the product. Once ready, we place them in a jar in such a way that there are 2 or 3 centimeters of free space below the rim.
  • Boil the jars and turn them upside down while they cool. That’s why you need to make sure they are well covered.
  • Date and food: before one year. It must be stored in a cool, dry place and preferably consumed within 12 months of packaging.
  • Heat to 180º to avoid possible dangers. Noelia López assures that boiling these preparations before consumption is something important. Boiling for 10 minutes at 180 degrees can make a big difference as botulism toxins are avoided.

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