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Fermented foods, a growing category

There's been a return to return to traditional methods of food preparation like fermentation

You have likely heard of fermented foods and know it has growing interest in the Canadian market.

But you may not be very familiar with some of these foods, although they have been part of our global food culture for centuries.

Fermented foods are those that have been produced and potentially preserved through the action of microorganisms. The most familiar example of this is yogurt.

These bacteria are probiotics that have gained a lot of attention in the last decade for their role in immune system and digestive health.

Many of these foods were highly important in centuries past before refrigeration was available and to preserve foods through the winter, along with pickling and other forms of canning.

So what are these up and coming fermented foods customers are starting to ask for more often?

Sauerkraut—a traditional Eastern European cabbage side-dish that is fermented by layering raw cabbage with salt. Lactobacilli bacteria grow naturally and feed on the sugars in the cabbage producing lactic acid which preserves the cabbage. Delicious served with meats, as well as a sandwich topping or simply a condiment. Cabbage may just be the next super veggie after kale due to its numerous health benefits, versatility and affordability.

Kim Chi—a Korean version of sauerkraut using cabbage, specifically Napa or Asian varieties, but also available done with other vegetables. Usually quite spicy and served alongside Korean barbecued meats. Find it turning up in many non-traditional foodie applications and in mainstream grocers looking to capture the ethnic market.

Kombucha—a beverage made from fermenting sweetened black tea with a ‘scoby’, a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. Predominantly popular with the hippie crowd, it’s now gaining momentum in the natural foods category and is similar in taste to apple cider vinegar.

Kefir—a dairy beverage made by fermenting milk with kefir ‘grains’, like the scoby mentioned above. Even healthier than yogurt and with a similar taste profile but a little bubbly from the carbonation that results from the action of the yeast. Can be used as a drink or in place of yogurt with cereal and fruit or in baking and is often well tolerated by those with lactose intolerance as the lactose has been mostly consumed by the bacteria.

With the amount of digestive disorders these days and a health focus on improving immunity for protection against diseases like cancer, fermented foods are catching on with Canadians.

Find a space on your dairy wall and in your deli or meat department to highlight this growing category of superfoods.

Customers are also keen on learning to make these traditional foods.

Cooking classes that teach techniques for making your own sauerkraut and kombucha are gaining popularity as Canadian foodies embrace a return to traditional methods of food preparation.

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