Various cultures across the globe have been fermenting food and drink for more than 6,000 years. What began as a method for food preservation was soon recognized for its benefit to nutrition, flavor enhancement and medicinal properties. In addition to providing gut-happy probiotics, fermented foods are also linked to lowered blood pressure, and a reduced risk of heart disease. Because of these benefits, the popularity of fermented foods continues to grow exponentially every year, inspiring makers to offer unique flavors and varieties to consumers with delicious results. If you’re looking to try something new in fermented products, or jumping onto this exciting trend for the first time, try these unique foods and brands that are revolutionizing the next generation of fine fermented food and drink.
This traditional Korean food consists of various vegetables and seasonings, all fermented together according to ancient techniques. Kimchi is known as one of the world’s healthiest foods, packed with lactic acid and essential vitamins. Typically recognized by its fiery red color, this low-calorie food comes in a wide range of palate-pleasing flavors and textures. If you’re looking for a traditional-style kimchi, we recommend Choi’s Napa Kimchi, a blend that’s delicious in stir-fries and rice bowls. Choi’s also offers a fun Radish Kimchi that adds a zesty crunch to Korean barbecue, and a Green Cabbage Kimchi that’s great for those who like a little sweetness in their pickled foods. If the mention of radish kimchi peaks your interest, we also recommend trying Cindy Yi’s Radish Kimchi, made with Himalayan salt and sesame seed. Wildbrine makes a vegan, gluten-free Korean Style Kimchi that’s excellent as well. They use all the traditional spices and peppers found in the original kimchi recipe, but without the fish sauce, MSG or sugar.
German for “sour cabbage,” this garnish is a popular addition to hot dogs and brats, and is often featured as a side to many Eastern European dinners. Sauerkraut is made using the same lactic acid fermentation process that’s used for making kimchi, so it has all the same probiotics and vitamins, but with a distinct sour flavor that differs from the spiciness of its Korean counterpart. One of our favorite sauerkrauts is Cortido, by Blue Bus Cultured Foods. This combination of fermented veggies, garlic, cumin, chile pepper, oregano and turmeric, brings together a world of unique flavors to spice up your favorite savory dishes.
These unique beverages are making a splash in the fermented food and drink community, and with all the health benefits they’re packing, it’s easy to see why. Drinking vinegars are a combination of apple cider vinegar and various fruits and herbs muddled together to create a palatable beverage that naturally balances stomach acids. In addition to bringing great relief to those suffering from acid reflux disease, drinking vinegars may also regulate blood sugar, and help to fight obesity, a major risk factor for diabetes. We recommend Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar Refreshers, a delicious blend with flavors like Lime Citrus, and Honey and Green Tea. But, uses for this zesty concoction aren’t limited to improving health. Drinking vinegars also make great alcohol replacements for your Zero Proof cocktails.
This fizzy, sweet-and-sour drink is made by fermenting tea (black or green), a practice that originated more than 2,000 years ago in China and quickly spread to Japan and Russia. In recent years, kombucha has gained popularity in the United States for its probiotics and B vitamins. It’s known for helping with digestion, weight control, heart health and blood pressure regulation. And, as demand for these drinks grow, so too do the creative juices of brewers who want to stay competitive in the market. The result is a wide range of unique combinations and flavor profiles that make this drink highly approachable. Wild Tonic offers smooth flavors like Apple Prickly Pear, and Strawberry Blood Orange that make great replacements for soda or beer. We also recommend Kevita Master Brewers kombucha for those who are new to brew. Kevita offers classic flavors that are lightly sweetened with Stevia.
Yogurt is made with cultures from fermented lactose. This creamy food contains gut-healthy probiotics with the added benefit of calcium and protein to fortify bones and teeth. Yogurt also offers a host of vitamins that help defend against heart disease such as vitamin B12, and minerals, such as potassium, that are essential for regulating metabolism and blood pressure. With so many great flavors and textures available, yogurt is a tasty way to get the nutrients your body needs. We recommend Tillamook yogurt. It’s made right here in Oregon with rBST-free milk and fresh fruit picked in the Pacific Northwest. Tillamook yogurt doesn’t contain any preservatives or artificial flavors or sweeteners, and comes in both creamy, and Greek style. If you’re in the mood to try something a little exotic, we recommend siggi’s skyr, an Icelandic-style yogurt made right here in Oregon. siggi’s is low in sugar, and made with milk from homestead cows. They offer whole milk yogurt and triple cream as well as a delicious plant-based yogurt.