Fermenting Foods Using Essential Oils

Fermenting Foods

Did you know that you can use essential oils when making fermenting foods to make them even better?  

The fermentation process uses bacteria and yeast to turn carbohydrates into lactic acid.

Researchers are now exploring the health benefits of fermented foods due to the presence of microorganisms that may keep the gut microbiome well-balanced and healthy.

Common FermentED Foods

Some of the fermented foods that you can easily find on the market today include:

  • Kombucha – fermented black or green tea
  • Tempeh – fermented soybeans
  • Kefir – fermented milk
  • Miso – fermented soybeans with rice, seaweed or barley
  • Kimchi – fermented vegetables

Many health-conscious people are now fermenting foods at home, and the number of fermented products in grocery stores is growing.

The fermentation process allows bacteria and yeast to naturally break the food down, which delivers multiple benefits:

  • Bold flavor
  • Natural preservatives
  • Nutritional boost
  • Microorganisms

Fermented foods have a longer shelf life than raw produce, but they still contain the nutritional value of those fermenting foods.

Some people find the intense flavors enjoyable while others need some time to adjust. The real benefits of fermented foods rest on the gut microbiome.

There are trillions of tiny organisms living in the human gut, including bacterium known to boost the immune system and support overall energy and health.

There are also potentially harmful bacteria that promote illness and disease, so it’s important to balance the gut to maximize benefits of the “good” bacteria.

Fermented foods are an excellent source of those live cultures need for balance.

Since bacteria pre-digest sugars and carbohydrates during the fermentation process, these fermenting foods are easier to digest and can improve digestive comfort and health.

 Fermented foods may also promote weight loss while helping fight neurodegenerative diseases and many other common health conditions.

Fermenting FOODs with Essential Oils

Fermenting Foods Using Essential Oils

When essential oils are added to fermenting foods, it’s typically to improve or adjust the flavor.

The fermenting process naturally boosts the flavor of all natural foods processed, but that doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy that flavor.

Adding different combinations of essential oils allows you to create endless flavor profiles that are customized to your preferences.

If you want to try this, add just a drop or two of your chosen essential oil after the fermentation process is complete.

If you add too much oil, it may taste more like perfume than a food or drink. Start with small amounts of oil and work up until you find the right concentration for your taste buds.

Which Essential Oils?

There are also some proven health benefits that come with some essential oils.

Some of those benefits overlap with the benefits of fermented foods, including improved digestive health. Some of the most powerful essential oils for gut health include:

  • Rose
  • Thyme
  • Clove
  • Cardamom
  • Peppermint
  • Fennel
  • Tea tree
  • Ginger
  • Oregano

Adding any of these essential oils to your ferments could boost the flavor while adding health benefits for your gut.

You may also choose your essential oils based on other health benefits, including protection against inflammation and pain. Your essential oil choices may also rest purely on flavor.

Potential Downsides to Flavoring Ferments with Oils

The concept of adding essential oils to fermented foods is rather new. Many essential oil enthusiasts caught onto the health benefits of fermentation and wanted to combine the benefits of these two powerful resources.

While you will see many testimonials online of people who have made this work with delicious results, there are also some knowledgeable essential oil enthusiasts who warn against the use of essential oils in ferments for the following reasons:

  • Most fermented foods contain no fat. When adding an essential oil to a food product, the fat will naturally dilute the oil and distribute it evenly throughout the food or drink. Without that fat, a fermented food may allow the oil to pool and separate from water. You could end up with highly concentrated pockets of essential oil. That doesn’t taste great and may upset your stomach, depending on the oil used.
  • Many essential oils have antimicrobial properties. That means they naturally kill and contain bacteria and other microbes. Since the goal is to essentially grow healthy microbes in your ferments, it doesn’t seem logical to add an antimicrobial product to the final ferment. Those against the practice argue that you lower the quality of your fermented foods and drinks when you add essential oils with antimicrobial properties.

Whether you decide to flavor your ferments with essential oil or not depends on your perspective regarding these issues.

You definitely want to lightly tip your jar or bottle side to side before consuming a ferment with essential oils, allowing the oil to separate and distribute throughout the food or drink prior to consumption.

An Alternative to Consider

If you like the idea of combining your love of essential oils with the health benefits of ferments, consider fermenting fresh herbs at home.

Instead of using oil extracted from the herbs, you can turn the herbs into a fermented product that delivers their natural benefits along with a healthy dose of microorganisms for your gut.

You can still add other essential oils to adjust the flavor if you choose. 

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