Fermentation is responsible for some of the most delicious foods and beverages around, like kefir, yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha, sourdough bread, tempeh, miso, and more. Throughout history, fermentation has been used to prolong the freshness of certain foods to make them available when they’re out of season. Today we know that they’re not just tasty and long-lasting, they’re also packed with probiotics — good bacteria that help support digestion and boost immunity.
When shopping for fermented foods, look for labels that refer to products as live, cultured, active, raw, or probiotic to make sure you’re getting all their health benefits. The Island has a variety of different locally made fermented foods. Yogurt from Mermaid Farm can be found at its farmstand in Chilmark, Cronig’s, and at Ghost Island Farm. Locally made kimchi can be found at Ghost Island Farm, and the Larder in Vineyard Haven has many different fermented foods.
To incorporate more fermented foods in your diet, try adding a dash of kefir or yogurt to a smoothie, or a scoop of miso to soup broth. I like to add kimchi to rice dishes, either on the side or cooked into a stir-fry. You can also try this month’s featured recipe, Creamy Miso Dressing.
Creamy Miso Dressing
Recipe by Gabrielle Chronister
3.5 Tbsp. white miso paste
3.5 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 cloves of garlic
½ in. knob of fresh ginger, peeled
A few pinches of black pepper
¼ cup water
½ cup avocado oil or olive oil
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Store in an airtight jar in the fridge.
If you don’t have a blender, place the miso and water in a jar and whisk together to dissolve the miso paste, then grate the ginger and garlic in. Place the remaining ingredients in the jar, put the lid on tightly and shake until creamy.
This flavorful dressing is great as a dip for fresh veggie sticks, over a salad, or drizzled on a breakfast sandwich or some avocado toast.
Ava Castro is the preschool coordinator for Island Grown Schools, the Vineyard’s farm-to-school program.