Probiotics. Good bacteria. Fermented foods. These are all health food buzzwords right now. But if you think it’s too late to jump on the bandwagon—surprise! You’re likely already eating fermented foods like sauerkraut, aged cheese, and uh, beer. So you should feel right at home on July 16 at the first annual Fermentation Festival, which organizers have combined with the third annual homebrew competition. Co-coordinator Katrina Schickenberg took a minute to explain why we need more fermented foods in our diet.
What’s so great about fermented foods, anyway?
KATRINA SCHICKENBERG: There’s this quote I read this morning: “We can remember what we once forgot.” I think it’s really relevant to our times. Fermentation is something that we’ve been doing for a very long time. It was one of the building blocks for healthy living long ago. One of the things we’re dealing with in life today is the fact that we’ve lost touch with our roots. Fermentation is all about using the food, the vegetables that we have. They’re already healthy, but really using them as medicine for our bodies. That’s why we’re really passionate about it. It’s fun, too. The foods taste good.
How does fermentation work?
Fermenting is a naturally occurring action. If you let something sit around, it’s going to ferment. The way that it interacts with its environment causes it to change its chemical composition. You can also add things and take them away. For example, when you make kombucha, it’s really making tea, the way you would normally brew tea with tea leaves and hot water, mixing that with sugar—and in the case of kombucha, we add bacteria. That bacteria allows it to convert that sugar. It creates different probiotics. If you’ve heard anything about gut health, it’s really a hot topic these days. Research is showing that so much of our health, whether it be physical health, mental health, emotional health, psychological health, really relates to our gut health. That’s what has inspired a lot of people to find ways to heal the gut. And one of those ways is with probiotics. And one of the ways to get probiotics is through fermentation.
What are some fermented foods that’ll be at the festival?
We have probiotic sodas that are made with water kefir. I believe one of the vendors is going to have the drink Jun. Jun is similar to kombucha, but it’s brewed with green tea and honey. The most obvious fermented drinks are wine and beer. A very classic fermented food is sauerkraut. We’re hoping to have some sort of sauerkraut and sausage combination at the festival. Kimchi is a very common fermented food. That’s made with cabbage and a variety of other vegetables and some spices. We have some people bringing some probiotic coconut yogurt, which is supposed to be one of the best-tasting things ever. Another very common food is sourdough bread.
INFO: Noon, Sunday, July 16, Skypark Scotts Valley, 361 Kings Village Road, Scotts Valley. $5-$40. 345-2303.