On Monday’s (09/27/2021) sustainable living show, we talked to St. Pete native Sarah Arrazola, who is the founder of St. Pete Ferments.
Arrazola talks about all things fermentation and touches on the health benefits of consuming fermented products. She says her passion for fermentation began 8 years ago when she started making homemade Kombucha with her mom.
“We were really into the whole kombucha thing back then and wanted to learn how to make it for ourselves. I had no idea what fermentation was at that time. I didn’t look up anything on the internet and was kind of self-taught,” says Arrazola.
Becoming self-taught helped Arrazola propel and look at fermentation as a style of food preservation. This allowed her to experiment and become a master at the fermentation process.
Fermented foods are technically considered a “living food” and Arrazola gives a great explanation of what fermented foods really are.
“Fermentation is happening around us at all times. It’s a natural process of microbes breaking down organic matter. A good example is if you leave a tomato on your kitchen counter for too long and it starts to develop mold and slime this means, the bacteria, yeast and fungi in the air has begun breaking down that tomato,” says Arrazola.
So remember the next time there is a rotting tomato on your kitchen counter, that there could be some serious fermentation happening to the tomato!
Some of the foods that we consume every day are actually fermented and we may not even realize it. Arrazola mentions some of the most popular consumed fermented foods out there.
“Kombucha is a great example of people being able to enjoy fermented foods on the first try. Beer, wine and bread are some of the most ancient forms of cultured foods, which are also very popular. Even chocolate cacao is fermented before it becomes chocolate,” says Arrazola.
Kombucha might be what first comes to mind when thinking about fermented products, but there are clearly more food products where the fermentation process exists.
So why should we eat fermented foods and are there benefits to consuming fermented foods?
“There are a multitude of benefits…The main benefit is the breaking down of nutrients. If you think about what bacteria is doing to our food, it is breaking down nutrients. By the time you are eating that food a lot of that hard, hefty work of digestion is done for us. So that allows us to absorb the nutrients more easily, it allows those nutrients to be bioavailable. That’s the main benefit,” says Arrazola
A popular fermented vegetable native to Korea called kimchi is a tasty, healthy snack, but is often quite expensive. St. Pete Ferments makes some good kimchi, but there are also other stores where you can find some good, cheap kimchi.
“Support your local Asian market, always,” says Arrazola. “These cultures in Asia and Korean cultures are the ones who created kimchi. It’s a national dish of Korea. Check out your local Asian market.”