Freshest is not always synonymous with healthiest when it comes to fruit and vegetables, sometimes fermented is best.
One of the oldest culinary techniqes, dating back some thousands of years, fermentation is still alive and well, especially in the East, where the Japanese, Koreans and Chinese have traditionally been fermenting food for generations. It's also behind some of the great classics of Western cuisine.
Appreciated as a source of friendly health giving bacteria, fermented foods like kimichi and miso have been in the spotlight, but there are plenty of other funky fermented foods that taste just as good, as well as puting back some good bacteria.
You only have to travel as far as your nearest grocery store or organic market to find a selection of everyday fermented foods, here are just 10 easy to find fermented foods to get you started.
List of Fermented Foods
Yes, the everyday yoghurt is the result of fermentation. Find out more about the science behind yoghurt making.
A fermented milk drink often found in health food stores, made from grain that, in short, ferments the milk. The light drink is much less full-bodied than yoghurt and has a distinctive sour taste.
We already explained what is tempeh and how to use it in the kitchen, which you can find here. You may prefer it to normal soy or seitan in warm or cold salads as it gives a more interesting taste as well as the fermentation process making it much more nutritious.
Lovers of sausages, sauerkraut and beer will be pleased to know they are getting their fix of fermented foods with sauerkraut, fermented cabbage. To make sauerkraut is extremely simple - add salt and let the vegetables stand until they lose enough liquid that will ultimately cover the whole cabbage. After a few weeks the sauerkraut will be ready for a nice German-inspired homemade dinner.
American gherkins and pickles are notoriously fermented. Ideal snacks come happy hour, where the acidity and crunch are addictive.
Fans of Japanese food will know miso soup, but perhaps not that miso itself is a paste made of fermented soybeans with a kind of mold called koji. It can be used in salad dressings and marinades for fish and meat as well as in soups.
Flour and acidified water encourage the proliferation of yeasts and lactic acid bacteria ... which obviously ferment everything, making the yeast more digestable. Find out more about the science of bread making.
Photo: © Flickr / TURIN BIKE FRIEND
Kombucha is essentially a probiotic tea with reported health benefits. A nutrient rich elixir that's deep rooted in Tibetan history, made with tea, sugar, water and culture.
Maybe not as common, nor as easy to eat for the uninitiated: natto is soybeans fermented with bacteria in a pressure cooker. In Japan natto is eaten with rice - often with sushi - although the gooey texture can be off-putting, it has a unique flavour, so you might not manage many but the experience is worth a try.