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Fermenting – A Kitchen Trend that Never Goes out of Style

Dr. med. Sonja Schottkowsky
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Preserving delicious food

What once belonged to the kitchen ABCs of our grandmothers is now trendy like never before. Old, almost forgotten methods have been rediscovered in recent years by young avant-garde chefs. These experimental cooks have literally dusted off this old trend while giving the technique a fresh new look. What’s currently being celebrated at the highest level in award-winning restaurants is now also finding its way into local kitchens. For example, instead of buying sugary jam from the supermarket, organic fruit is canned at home with vegetable gelling agents. Apple slices for muesli are dried, and herbs are desiccated and processed into salt. The large head of cabbage is fermented to produce sauerkraut, while Chinese cabbage is fermented to make kimchi. Once again, delicious homemade products are being made and preserved just like in grandma’s day.

In this blog post you will find

  • Interesting facts about the rediscovered kitchen trend of fermentation
  • Information about the positive effects of pickled vegetables on gut health
  • How to properly introduce fermented vegetables into your diet

"Fermented vegetables impress with their subtly acidic flavour. Fermentation is also a simple method to support intestinal health."

Rediscovering old preparation methods

The desire to try out new things yourself

Dr Sonja Schottkowksy was not only a Mayr physician at Park Igls, but also a phytotherapist. So she is an expert in the field of medicinal herbs and plants and their effects. Dr Schottkowksy recognised lately a deep-seated desire among people to rediscover old methods of preparation. “The last few years have already demonstrated that many people are once again more interested in food, its origins and preparation. Baking bread is a recent mega-trend as well as getting involved with herbs or home farming.

The desire for transparency is just as great as the longing to try out new things for oneself. In the past few years, many have taken advantage of lockdown and home office to spend more time cooking, but also gardening on the balcony

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The renaissance of fermentation

Timelessly up to date

The traditional methods of preservation fit perfectly into the values of sustainability, climate friendliness and generationality. Not to mention the demands of regionality, seasonality and zero waste. One of these preservation techniques is fermentation, which is experiencing a veritable renaissance: “In our area, we also know fermentation as ‘lactic acid pickling’. The best-known local product that results from fermentation is sauerkraut. After harvesting, the cabbage was traditionally pickled in order to have it handy for the winter months,” explains Dr Schottkowsky. “Today, packaged sauerkraut is available in the supermarket, but it no longer contains the ingredients that we actually want from fermented vegetables. This is because industrially produced sauerkraut – like many other products – is pasteurised, i.e. heat- treated. Unfortunately, this largely negates the effects of fermenting.”

A brief history of fermentation

The oldest form of preservation

Fermentation is considered to be the oldest form of preservation known to mankind. The term goes back to the French chemist Louis Pasteur and means something like ‘fermentation in the absence of oxygen’. “The fermentation of vegetables involves lactic acid fermentation. Carbohydrates contained in fresh vegetables are converted into lactic acid by lactic acid bacteria and their enzymes, so-called ferments, in an oxygen-poor environment. In this case, it has nothing to do with milk, but with the lactic acid bacteria that are found in the soil and therefore also on plants. These bacteria convert carbohydrates contained in fresh vegetables into lactic acid,” explains Dr Schottkowsky.

Lactic acid bacteria on the rise

Creating order in the gut

“From a medical point of view, the lactic acid bacteria are interesting. These are already present in our intestines but are often pushed aside by unhealthy diets that contain too little fibre, too much sugar and meat, causing harmful bacteria to colonise. This is called dysbiosis, i.e. a deficient colonisation of the intestine, which can have health effects not only on the digestive tract, but also on other systems such as the immune system,” she continues.

Did you know ...

... that regular consumption of fermented vegetables - in addition to an overall balanced diet - helps to organise our gut and re-colonise the right bacteria? If you eat fermented vegetables regularly, you can do without expensive probiotics.

Good things take time - including a change in diet

Give the digestive system time

However, the digestive system needs time to get used to this supply of bacteria. Many are familiar with the side effects of sauerkraut, which can stimulate digestion and, in some cases, even cause diarrhoea. Therefore, the recommendation is to first consume fermented vegetables in small doses (just a forkful every day) and then slowly increase consumption.

Park Igls Blog

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You want to learn more?

This was our first article on the fermentation trend. In the second article on the topic, we will give you a brief guide to fermentation.

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About the author

Dr. med. Sonja Schottkowski

The trained general practitioner and Mayr doctor is a phytotherapist and also an expert in the field of medicinal herbs and plants and their medicinal effects. 

In the past, she worked for several years as a valued Mayr doctor at the Park Igls Medical Spa Resort.