Fermenting – A Kitchen Trend that Never Goes out of Style

Fermented vegetables boast a delicious sour taste. Adding such foods to your diet is also a simple way to promote intestinal health.

Preserving, drying and pickling: 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.


Dr Sonja Schottkowksy is not only a Mayr doctor at Park Igls, but also a phytotherapist. She is an expert in the field of medicinal herbs and plants and their effects. Dr Schottkowksy recognises 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 year, many have taken advantage of lockdown and the home office to spend more time cooking, but also gardening – on the balcony, for example,” says the doctor.



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. In short, everything that the Fridays for Future movement stands for, for example.

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.”

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.


“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.

“Regular consumption of fermented vegetables – in addition to a balanced diet – creates order in our gut and helps the right bacteria to re-colonise. If you eat fermented vegetables regularly, you can save on expensive probiotics.”

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.


This was our first part on the trend fermenting. In the coming week will follow the second article on the subject, in which we will also give you a brief guide to fermenting.

Gesundheitszentrum Park Igls in Tirol

Dr Sonja Schottkowsky MD –

General practitioner, Mayr physician