'All disease begins in the gut.' - Hippocrates
There are so much to say about fermented foods.
First of all, let's understand this ancient process of keeping food, which is pure chemistry. Yup! You've heard very well, 'Chemistry'. You put salt, water and vegetable products together allowing them to oxidize. During this oxidation, also called lactic acid fermentation, you will be cultivating good bacteria that will colonize the food pre-digesting it for you.
Fermented foods are, at the same time, a natural source of probiotic (good bacteria) and prebiotic (its food). They promote a balanced gut flora, which also means a strong immune system.
Did you know that about 80% of your immune system is based in the gut?
Yeah! And you are helping your microbiome when eating fermented foods with live bacterial culture, because these microorganisms tend to survive the stomach and arrive in the intestines intact and ready to grow and colonize.
So, here is the deal, make your own fermented vegetable and provide yourself a small amount of it on a regular basis to keep your gut in a good shape.
You will need:
Chop up the veggies (you can use cabbage, broccoli, carrots, celery, cucumber, Brussel sprouts, etc.). Put them in a clean jar. The last layer should be a cabbage leaf or a carrot chopped like a jar lid, so you can use it to press down the ingredients.
Boil the water. Add the salt in the water. Stir. Now, poor that water on the veggies, making sure they are all layered. If not, you can add a fine layer of extra virgin oil on top of the water. This will work as sealant.
Now, put on the lid.
Don't need to close tight. Actually, here is the trick, put on the lid but do not close the jar entirely. This will allow some air flowing. Some authors don't like this, others recommend it. If you choose to close the jar, make sure you will keep your eye on it during the fermentation process. Sometimes you will need to open the jar to allow oxygenation, or the lid can pop out.
Okay, you got it. Set the jar in a cool, dark place for 10-15 days.
Only after that period, start serving it in small amounts.
Can you offer fermented vegetables to your animal companion?
It's a long debate among raw feeders authors. Technically, the answer is no, because carnivores do not need vegetables.
Dr. Wouter Hendriks of Utrecht University's veterinary school in the Netherlands explains that "herbivores have a high ability to extract nutrition from plant matter as the result of their ability to ferment it, and therefore have a high coefficient of fermentation. Carnivores aren't equipped to do this and therefore have a low coefficient of fermentation."
However, we are talking about a food that has been already fermented (the cells have been broken down by enzymes and microorganisms) . In very few occasions, if I am not finding raw green tripe or even a good soil based probiotic, for example, I'd offer fermented vegetables.
Bottom line: cook it for you and, yes, give a sample to your dog, but never, ever, make it a "must-have" for your pet's diet. No matter what people are spreading out there, stick with what is right for you animal companion.
I am a Portuguese writer with certifications on Small Animal Nutrition.