Fermenting Foods at Gutsy Ferments
Who is Gutsy Ferments?
At Gutsy we are passionate about fermenting foods. Fermentation and fermented foods have been a prominent part of our lives even before we started our business. The transformation of a simple ingredient into a delicious bubbly ferment, through the alchemy of fermentation, never fails to fascinate us. Ferments such as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, milk kefir, sourdough and soy sauce are delicious when consumed as a condiment or added to foods, promote and aid digestion, boost our immune system and are suitable for most diets. Josh and Wei’er, Gutsy Founders.
What is Fermentation?
Fermentation is a process where microorganisms breakdown a substance creating different substances as a byproduct. At Gutsy we primarily ferment plants including: fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, legumes. Plant fermentation is the process where bacteria feed on the carbohydrates that make up the plants creating more: bacteria (AKA probiotics), carbon dioxide, beneficial acids, and a smidgen of alcohol. Fermentation is a pretty complex process, but basically it’s the bacteria on the outside of the cabbage feeding on the carbohydrates on the inside of the cabbage to create more bacteria.
Benefits of Consuming Fermented Foods
Ferment for Brain Health
Serotonin is known as the feel good hormone. It plays an important role in our emotional & mental state of mind. Studies have shown that an estimate of 90% of our serotonin production is produced in our gut.
Fermented foods nourish and supply our gut with the essential beneficial microbes required for a healthy gut. A healthy gut ensures efficient serotonin production. Likewise,an individual with a gut deprived of its vast microbiome of beneficial bacteria is more prone to depression and other mental health issues. To give your gut a brain boosting hit of probiotics, try our Red Pepperberry kraut!
Ferment to Access Vitamins and Minerals
When fermenting most vegetables, lactic acid and lactobacilli are produced; these reduce phytic acid. Reducing phytic acid is a good thing because this acid bonds with iron, calcium and other minerals and makes it harder for us to absorb. In this way the lactic acid and lactobacillus make the minerals easier to digest and absorb. The process of fermentation also produces vitamins A, B12 and K2 which are difficult to find in our diet today due to so much of our food being processed. Try Gutsy Apple Radish Kimchi to get full access to these vitamins.
Ferment for Good Bacteria or Probiotics
In order to fight off disease and infection it is important to have a healthy bacterial community living in our gut. So often in life we come into contact with viruses and pathogenic bacteria. To fight off these nasties our gut bacteria is vital. Eating probiotic food is one of the best ways to improve our gut bacteria and enable our body to better fight off disease and infection.
Our gut bacteria determines the quality of our immune system in a few ways:
In our society where antibiotics, strict hygiene and highly processed foods are the norm, we have less of an opportunity to introduce bacteria into our gut. As a result our immune systems are often not strong enough to easily cope with the pathogenic bacteria when it does invade our bodies.By eating properly fermented foods, we can introduce good bacteria into our gut and replenish our gut flora. This will gradually strengthen your immune system. As your system becomes accustomed to the bacteria, our guts are normalised and will begin to function more effectively. In turn, our immune system is better able to cope when it’s hit by bad bacteria.
Ferment for Pre-digestion
Probiotic foods, if they’re properly fermented are pre-digested. Thich means some of the hard work has already been done for our bodies. As the food ferments, bacteria feed on the sugars, starches and fibres to begin breaking down the food and making it easier for us to digest. This means that our body has to expend less energy to digest food which allows our body to absorb more of the nutrients that already exist in our food. Essentially fermentation ‘unlocks’ the nutrients in the food by breaking down the cell walls that would otherwise keep the nutrients trapped. The fermentation process breaks down complex foods and converts them into more easily absorbable components. Amino acids and nutrient-rich simple sugars are some of the components that complex food is broken into. Beetroot is a vegetable that’s pretty hard for our bodies to break down, try our Citrus and Beetroot Sauerkraut if you want us to do the hard work for you.
How We Ferment & Why We Do What We Do
How We Ferment our Foods
At Gutsy we are our biggest fans. We only ferment food that we’re excited to feed ourselves and our kids. We only ferment in a way that we’re excited to share with others. The basic rules that we follow in fermentation are: Wild fermentation, Organic Ingredients, Local Ingredients, Oak Barrel Fermentation, Long fermentation and an Airtight environment. If you’re interested in fermenting yourself at home, take a look out our fermenting cookbook Forage, Ferment, Feast. This book is written in Australia by Australians and teaches you how to ferment Australian available produce for health and flavour.
Fermenting for a Long Time
At Gutsy we ferment our vegetables for a minimum of 2 weeks (up to twelve months). Many other sauerkraut companies ferment their veggies for 3-5 days, which is much easier and allows for more profitable turnover. Long fermentation is important to us because:
At Gutsy Ferments we want the best for our children and the best for you. We produce food the best way we know how. All our methods of fermentation are based on natural, time-proven methods. We ferment organically with local produce, wildly and in oak barrels for a long time. This is what we love.
All Gutsy Sauerkraut and Kimchi is fermented with organic or chemical free products. When fermenting wildly it’s extremely important to use chemical free vegetables. The probiotics that we want don’t do so well in an environment full of pesticides and fertilisers. Fermentation is more fervent and probiotically abundant, usually chemical free ingredients.
We want to use food that has been grown with our health in mind, not just profit. We want food that is nutrient rich and low in (artificial) chemicals. Our bodies have been designed to draw the nutrients that we need to thrive from the food that we eat. We know that our bodies are affected (positively or negatively) by the food that we put into them. Our bodies are a temple and we are called to care for our bodies and treat them with respect.
We want to use food that has been grown with a care of our earth, not at the expense of it. The way food is grown affects more than just the immediate ground in which it is grown. Each one of us is called to care for and steward this earth. One way that we can do this is by supporting farmers who do their best to care for the earth.
For these reasons most Gutsy products are certified organic. But not every one of our products is certified. With every season comes an abundance of seasonal produce that often goes to waste due to the oversupply. One of the responsibilities that we take on as fermenters is to turn this excess into a ferment that will be enjoyed in the months to come. We don’t usually certified seasonal ferments due to its short run However, you can be assured that all of the produce that we source will alway be certified organic or chemical free. Check out our Green Papaya Kraut, it’s one of our all-time-favourite seasonal sauerkrauts.
At Gutsy we Wildly ferment our vegetables. Wild fermentation is the process of allowing all the locally sourced, naturally existing bacteria that live on and in and around our vegetables to multiply and propagate. Some people say that you need to add a starter culture to vegetables before fermentation; but that’s not true! People have been wildly fermenting for thousands of years, and it’s worked for them just fine. There are also many benefits to wildly fermented vegetables over vegetables fermented with a start culture.
For example: Each batch of wild fermented vegetables has slightly different strains of bacteria depending on:
Wild Fermentation will usually produce longer living strains of bacteria than artificially cultured vegetables. Vegetables will best feed the bacteria that naturally live on that vegetable. Here’s an example: If you use milk whey (for example) to culture your sauerkraut, the bacteria from the milk whey don’t survive long. Who knew that bacteria in milk whey don’t naturally feed on cabbage?
It’s important, for wild fermentation, to make sure that your veggies are chemical free or organic. This is because both fertilisers and pesticides can dramatically affect the bacteria that live on vegetables. Artificially fertiliser, when it’s applied to soil, can dramatically decrease the number of bacteria that exist in the soil. Bacteria in the soil are quite important as vegetables get their initial bacteria from the soil in which they’re grown.
Oak Barrel Fermentation
As far as we are aware, Gutsy is the only Australian Company to ferment in oak barrels. We love oak barrels for so many reasons. We believe that oak barrels are the best vessel we can use to ferment our vegetables. Oak barrels are chemical free, sustainable and create some great flavours.
During fermentation, vegetables will often get very acidic. Depending on time, temperature and levels of carbohydrates, vegetables can achieve a pH of 3.5-3 during fermentation. Vegetables fermented in plastic, poor quality stainless steel, or even ceramic crocks with the wrong type of glaze, can be extremely problematic. Imagine our acidic vegetables sitting in a plastic, poor stainless or wrong ceramic container. After 3-4 weeks of fermenting the flavour is noticeably changed, what about the chemicals? Fermenters have been using oak barrels for thousands of years for sauerkraut and kimchi. Oak barrels are great as they contain no artificial chemicals. Oak only produces lovely flavours.
It’s important for us at Gutsy to use locally grown vegetables. One reason that we use locally grown vegetables for our Sauerkraut and Kimchi is because fermentation locks in many of the nutrients that already exist in the vegetables. We want fresh local vegetables arriving to our door as soon as possible so that we can begin the fermentation process and lock in the goodness. Of course, once the nutrients are locked into a Sauerkraut or Kimchi, that jar can sit in the fridge for years. A well fermented Sauerkraut or Kimchi not only locks in the goodness, it also makes the nutrients more bioavailable to our bodies. Try our Cauliflower Kimchi as an example of fresh QLD cauliflower fermented into a delicious Kimchi that will last in your fridge for years. At Gutsy we ferment (literally) tonnes of vegetables every year. It’s important for us to make sure that we are supporting our local farmers here in Australia. We also want to keep the food kilometres down. Our commercial kitchen is based in Brisbane. We don’t want to buy vegetables from overseas or far flung states and have our vegetables travel thousands of kilometres, using many litres of fuel in the process. Whenever we can we buy local, QLD or NSW veggies. Sometimes we have to go further afield, especially when it’s very hot and dry in QLD and NSW.