Fermented foods and drinks may not be mainstream yet, but they are heading that way. And as awareness of these nutritious products grows, a wider range of pre-packaged fermented food and drinks is also popping up in health food stores and supermarkets.
These days it’s not uncommon to see boutique containers of kimchi and sauerkraut in the chilled, specialty section of supermarkets both small and large, while some shelves of yoghurt are now neighbours to a range of kefir options.
You can also buy ready-made kombucha from some markets, and all kinds of other fermented goodies are packaged up to offer consumers all the benefits in an instant.
While it’s great more people are becoming aware of the power of fermented products through these ready-made options, there are limitations – particularly when it comes to price.
Pre-packaged food has to meet strict guidelines and undergo all kinds of testing before it can be sold to consumers, which means an extra cost to the companies creating them. That cost is often passed on to consumers. As well as that, there’s transportation and storage of the products, and even added preservatives that could all affect the quality of the product.
Put another way: these options can be great in a pinch, but if you want to regularly include fermented food and drink in your diet, there’s a whole lot more reasons to consider doing it yourself, including:
1. It saves money
As mentioned before, pre-packaged fermented products come at a higher cost than homemade options. A price comparison for kimchi from The Kitchn, for example, found that homemade kimchi was five times cheaper than a store bought option (and even includes a recipe if you’re interested). Plus, when you ferment at home, you can use the cultures or liquid for each new batch you make – so you can have a supply of fermented foods or drinks for as long as you like.
2. It’s easy (once you get the hang of it)
Whether you’re pickling vegetables, culturing milk for kefir or creating kombucha tea, most traditional fermentation processes are easy to follow and require very few ingredients. In general, it’s as simple as combining the ingredients in the right order, then letting it ferment for a set amount of time (but you can check out our recipe section for more details!).
3. You can add your own flavour to it
Want to try out different kefir or kombucha flavour combinations? What about mixing up a few different veggies for your pickle? Once you’ve got the hang of the fermentation process, you can mix it up and add in different elements based on your own taste preferences. Our water kefir recipe page, for instance, has details of how to make ginger beer, sparkling apple juice and more. We also have smoothie recipes for dairy and plant-based milk kefir options.
We all have those moments where convenience wins out over anything else, but it really isn’t worth it if it leads to spending lots of money on fermented products that aren’t really what you want. Fermenting food and drinks at home really can be quick and easy. You’ll know exactly what’s in each batch you make, and have a chance to get creative with ingredients and flavour combinations you probably couldn’t find on a store shelf.