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Fermented Foods in European & Korean Diets

Posted by Meghan Wilson on
fermented foods

You may hear a lot of buzz around fermentation from trend-spotting articles and your favorite health blog, but the process of fermentation isn’t new at all. Fermented foods are experiencing a sort of reawakening driven by their numerous health benefits as they are a goldmine for living probiotics.  

All this hype has brought products like kombucha, yogurt, and kimchi to the front of the shelf in US grocery stores. Keep reading to discover how fermented foods have been a staple in European and Korean diets for centuries, inspiring the fermented food craze in the U.S. today!

History of Fermented Foods

The origin of fermentation is hard to pinpoint as it stretches as far back as human history itself; historians have traced the origins of fermented foods all the way back to 7000 B.C.! Almost every culture and geographical area have embraced fermentation. Societies’ relationship with fermentation goes way, way back! 

Microbes became a staple in food preparation as they created more digestible food, preserved food for longer, and tasted better. Techniques slowly differentiated themselves around the globe as societies adapted with their local microbes. Let’s explore how fermentation plays a role in European and Korean Diets. 


Many of the globally popular fermented foods are derived from Europe. Here are a few examples of fermented foods that are staples in various European diets.  


To make it simple: sauerkraut is fermented cabbage. Sauerkraut is said to have originated in Northern China, among the Mongols, and was introduced to Europeans by migrating tribes. Sauerkraut is a staple in Northern European countries like the Netherlands and Germany.  

Sauerkraut is thinly-sliced white cabbage fermented with lactobacillus bacteria. Sauerkraut is a reliable source of fiber, vitamin C and K, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus. During fermentation, probiotics multiply and flourish. This good bacteria is great for digestive health--balancing out the bad with more good! 

Sauerkraut has expanded worldwide due to its unique taste and benefits. We are proud to bring this tradition to your kitchen! We aim to create authentic and traditional sauerkrauts, leaving them unpasteurized and raw--just how nature intended; this allows our krauts to pack a serious punch of probiotics!

Pro-Tip: Add our krauts to your burgers, salads, or level up your bowls--it’s really up to you. We won’t judge you if you eat it straight out of the bag (we do it too!)    


Kefir is a traditional fermented milk beverage that originated from the Caucasus region (the intersection of Europe and Asia). Kefir has been called the champagne of dairy products, earning this title from its complex flavor profile and slightly bubbly properties. 

Milk kefir is produced by kefir grains, which have a complex microbiological composition including a mixture of lactic acid bacteria, yeasts, and acetic-acid bacteria. After fermentation, kefir is packed with probiotics, healthy acids, and antioxidants, making it a health nuts dream! 


A fundamental part of Korean culture is marked by their preservation of fish, meat, and vegetables with lactic acid fermentation due to times of scarcity! Keep reading to discover their most popular fermented dishes. 

Soy-Based Products

Korean diets include soy-based fermented products. These fermented soybean pastes were traditionally prepared once a year and stored in large clay pots to be used throughout the year. Today these fermented soybean pastes are a part of Korean diets! 


Cheonggukjang (or chongkukjang) is a short-term fermented soybean paste that is a favorite dish in Korean cuisine. Cheonggukjang is usually thinner, including whole, uncrushed soybeans. Cheonggukjang has a short fermentation period of about 2-4 days, allowing it to develop useful organisms and bioactive compounds! 


Doenjang is traditionally used as a basic seasoning in Korean dishes. It is produced by the fermentation of cooked and crushed soybean seeds (or blocks) by naturally occurring bacteria and fungi. Doenjang is prepared to be thicker and smoother paste. Doenjang has been consumed for centuries as a source of protein and flavoring ingredients in Korea.   



A Korean dish is never complete without kimchi! Kimchi is the most important traditional fermented food in Korea! Kimchi has been embraced and prepared in Korean for thousands of years. Kimchi is made of vegetables such as cabbage that are fermented with probiotic lactic acid bacteria (or LAB). 

There is a wide variety of preparation and materials used to make kimchi, generating various products--each with a unique taste! Kimchi is also touted for its nutritional lineup. Rich with antioxidants, amino acids, fibers, and vitamins. Kimchi is considered a probiotic vegetable food that can help balance out your gut bacteria!   

Can’t get enough of kimchi? Our Gnar Gnar Kraut is the best of both worlds. Sauerkraut inspired by the flavors of kimchi--need we say more? With bold spice and flavor, this will add a memorable kick to any dish! 

Fish and Shellfish

Both fish and shellfish are popular fermented food consumed throughout Korea and can be prepared as they are or alongside kimchi. These dishes are a healthy source of essential vitamins, high-quality proteins, minerals, and polyunsaturated fatty acid--making them a staple in a nutritious diet. 

Passion For Fermented Food

From Europe to Asia, we are inspired by the cultures and traditions that surround fermented foods! Cleveland Kitchen is proud to bring the traditions of fermented foods into American kitchens. Our products are curated to create effortless dishes that respect traditional roots!

We believe everyone should be able to reap the benefits of fermentation! Fermented foods are the key to a healthier diet, supporting your gut health. With endless to-do lists and social agendas, it can be hard to prioritize a fermented food-filled diet. 

Not to worry- we made it easy! Our raw krauts and new fermented salad dressings are the easiest way to get delicious and healthy fermented vegetables onto your plate (and into your belly!). Dizzle onto your favorite salad, or use a new veggie dip! With a base of fermented veggies, we created a wide variety of unique flavors so you can decide! 

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