7 Fermented Foods You Probably Already Eat


You may have been hearing about all those ‘crazy’ fermented foods that can restore the beneficial bacteria in your system and heal leaky gut and IBS(like in this article).

Stuff like kefir and kombucha and ginger bugs.
If you’re not really into a traditional diet or way of eating, it may seem like fermented foods are a little ‘out there’. After all, one of the most popular books on the subjects has WILD in the title!  If you’re not quite into the wild side of real food yet, you may think it’s too far too fast to introduce fermented foods into your family’s diet.

But, don’t get so caught up in the ‘out there’ stuff to realize that you are probably already eating fermented foods quite often and a minor adjustment here or there can get those probiotics working for you instead of against you!  Here are 7 foods you might already be eating that are…YEP, FERMENTED! 

1. Chocolate and coffee.

Yes, chocolate can be probiotic! Healthy! GOOD FOR YOU! For real.  Cocoa (or cacao) beans are fermented for 5-7 days before being dried, roasted and ground. Some chocolate products also have bacteria added in the processing. To get the most out of this treat, make sure to find chocolate products that don’t have a lot of refined sugars or oils that can be damaged in processing.  Better yet, make your own chocolate with coconut oil, cacao powder and honey or sucanat. Try this recipe from Homemade Mommy.

Coffee beans are also fermented before being dried, roasted and ground. Although coffee beans ARE a fermented food, the jury is still out on whether the caffeine and chemicals in coffee cancel out the benefit of the good bacteria. Some studies suggest increases in cortisol and adrenal fatigue from the high amounts of caffeine in coffee beans.


2. Vinegar

This may seem obvious, but it is surprising that many people are not aware that vinegar is fermented fruit or grain. Apple Cider vinegar is fermented apple cider. Wine vinegars are usually made from grape juice. White vinegar can get tricky because it can be made from grain, which can include GMO corn, OR, it can be made from petroleum. Yeah, gross and probably cancels out the beneficial bacteria you would get from it. We use white vinegar that says ‘made from grain’ on the label (like this) but mostly for cleaning. For cooking, nice wine vinegars like this are my favorite and for ingesting as an antacid or ailment remedy or using on the body, I prefer apple cider vinegar like this one.

3. Cheese!

One of my favorite fermented foods. You may be thinking that only sour or strong cheeses like feta or blue cheese are fermented, but with a few exceptions like paneer or queso fresco, pretty much all cheese has been fermented in some way. Most of the time it’s done by inoculating the milk with special molds and other bacteria to sour it and give it a distinct flavor. Even good old cheddar is fermented. Your label most likely says ‘aged’ and that’s a tell-tale sign of fermentation! Cheeses like Gouda not only have probiotic bacteria, but they also have an abundance of vitamin K2 once they are cultured. You can read about the awesome benefits of K2 here.

4. Pickles!

Most store bought pickles are made with vinegar, so they would be fermented kind of by association. There are other types of pickles that don’t use vinegar, but salt to ferment the cucumbers. This process is lacto fermentation and it is really easy to do at home. We’ve made a few batches of pickles with dill and spices and salt and filtered water. They turn out great and have tons of good bacteria for our tummies. Our kids love them and my husband, who is not a big fan of fermented anything loves them.  If I can get probiotics into our diet with something the family enjoys, I am SO doing it. Here’s how I made my first batch of lacto fermented pickles.


5. Yogurt, sour cream and cream cheese

I lump these all together because they are made in similar ways. In fact, you can make cream cheese directly from yogurt like this. Cultures are added to milk to ferment it. In the case of yogurt, the milk is heated to kill some of the existing bacteria that would interfere with the culturing process. The new bacteria are kept warm and allowed to grow and take over for 8-12 hours and the milk thickens and sours into yogurt.  Here’s another one kids tend to love! My kids will eat it plain and unsweetened, but they like it better with honey and fruit. My husband will only eat it if it’s mixed with raw cream and fruit and sucanat and put through the ice cream maker for 20 minutes. Better than nothing! If you’re interested in making your own yogurt, sour cream or cream cheese, you can get starter cultures for all of them here.

6. Bread

When yeast is used to make bread, the final product is considered fermented because of the rising process. The yeast feeds on the carbs in the flour and leaves carbon dioxide, which causes the bread to rise.  Yeast bread = fermented!  Go a step further and use a sourdough starter to leaven your bread and you’ve introduced even MORE good bacteria! You’ve also done part of the ‘digesting’ of the phytates and anti-nutrients in the grains ahead of time so your stomach doesn’t have to.  Win-win! Plus, starter cultures are also available to get things going quickly. Even Spelt and San Francisco Sourough. Get them here.


7. Meats

Some meats like salami, aged beef and ham are fermented in the curing and drying process. They can be cured raw or cooked in a salt solution or smoked etc. If you’re looking for the best option in fermented meats, be sure to choose one with no added nitrates. HERE is a great sustainable company that raises grass-fed beef and adds no nitrates or other junk. They are tasty, too!


So, there you have it! You don’t have to jump right in to kefir or kombucha to get beneficial bacteria. I bet you already eat a bunch of these foods! Let me know in the comments below, which ones you are eating or which you didn’t know were fermented!  


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