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Taking a new look at fermented foods
Donna Krug

With the maiden name of Meyer and married name of Krug, you might guess that our family has a rich German heritage. I have always enjoyed learning about the foods that are tied to various cultures and when you think of German foods, one that comes to mind is sauerkraut. Did you know that sauerkraut is easy to make in your home kitchen so that you can enjoy it often?

The past year I have been busy learning more about the fermentation of vegetables. I submitted a proposal to write a Fact Sheet for K-State Research and Extension titled, “Taking a New Look at Fermented Foods.” I had been seeing articles in several sources and heard a conference speaker touting the health benefits of eating a small amount of fermented foods often. Then I noticed a fermentation kit on the shelf at our local hardware store. The kit made fermenting vegetables in wide mouth canning jars in small batches sound like a fun thing to try. 

The practice of fermenting foods has been around for thousands of years. There are many claims to how fermentation was discovered, but now, every culture with access to salt, makes some kind of fermented food. The simplicity of this food preservation method coupled with its unique flavors and reported health benefits has made fermenting food popular worldwide. Today there seems to be a renewed interest in preparing fermented foods at home.

Many foods and beverages are created through the process of fermentation: Sourdough bread, yogurt, beer, wine, sauerkraut, and kombucha to name a few. The fact sheet I wrote focused on the fermentation of vegetables, known as lactic acid fermentation. Fermentation is a process where the natural bacteria found in fresh vegetables utilize the carbohydrates to reproduce and excrete lactic acid, which preserves the vegetables and creates a characteristic tangy flavor.

I would love for you to join me at one of the public educational programs I am scheduled to present during October. My presentation will include sharing the techniques for making sauerkraut and kimchi successfully in a wide mouth canning jar. Kimchi is a delicious Korean condiment that is fun to make. I will also discuss the health benefits of including fermented foods in your daily menu. 

The free educational programs are set for: Wednesday, Oct. 14, at noon, at the Great Bend Activity Center, 2715 18th Street; Thursday, Oct. 22, at 5:30 p.m., at the Extension office meeting room at 601 Main Street, Hays; and Friday, Oct. 23, at 1 p.m., at the Great Bend Senior Center. I hope to see you soon!

Donna Krug is the Family & Consumer Science Agent with K-State Research and Extension – Cottonwood District. Contact her at 620-793-1910 or