Introducing fermented foods to kids

It’s not surprising that fermented food has made quite a popular return to our diets in recent years. With the amazing health benefits fermented foods provide for all the family – both young and old, they really do deserve all the attention they receive.

If you are trying to introduce fermented foods into your child’s diet (and your own), then read on as we have some great tips to get you started.

For those wanting to know what fermentation actually is, it is a metabolic process which converts microorganisms into an organic compound. So in easier terms, the food is left to sit and steep while the microorganisms kick out the bad stuff and eat the nasties until you are left with a food that provides so many incredible health benefits.

A small glimpse into these benefits include promoting the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut, helping to balance gut flora, providing probiotics, whilst enhancing and improving digestion. Fermented food is also rich in enzymes and vitamins, increases nutrients and absorption, do we really need any more reasons? Fermented food can keep for long periods of time without having to be refrigerated or canned as well as being inexpensive, not to mention the mouth-watering and unique tastes they provide.

Most kids are used to sweet and salty foods so it can take some time to introduce them to a broader range of flavours and develop a liking for the sour taste that they provide. However, with repeated tastings, they will become accustomed to it and may even enjoy it!

The variety of fermented food is huge and quite safe for children. Start small with something they are familiar with such as homemade yogurt or possibly a small amount of fermented vegetables included with dinner until they are used to the flavours and textures.

Or you may like to introduce a fermented drink such as Kombucha, which has a similar description to a soft drink with its sweet – tart flavour and fizzy bubbles.

Or Water Kefir, which has a mild sweet-sour flavour also with a fizziness similar to soft drink but has the added benefits of minerals and probiotics.

Other drinks to try are smoothies. You could add in milk kefir, frozen fruit, cocoa or vanilla to create a subtle introduction to a fermented beverage.

What about including finger foods such as pickles, pickled cucumbers, or carrot sticks. You could add fermented relish or sauerkraut onto sourdough bread alongside some homemade cheese. Even tomato sauce can be made using the fermentation process.

Kids follow by example so be their role model when it comes to trying new tastes and textures. Teach them early to enjoy fermented foods, just as is done with trying a variety of fresh vegetables.

Keep encouraging them and don’t give up too early as fermented foods can be an acquired taste and it may take time for your child to enjoy. There are so many options of fermented foods and drinks for your kids to experience so whilst it may seem quite daunting to begin with, once you work out the best dietary needs for your family, you will reap the rewards with the array of health benefits to follow.