There’s a fine line between fermented fish and rotting fish: one is gaggingly putrid, and the other is retchingly foul. In Sweden, surströmming — fermented herring — is fermented in barrels for a few months, then put into cans for another year. Some airlines ban surströmming cans because they consider them explosive safety hazards. That’s right — the cans are under so much pressure from the fermentation process that they become potential stink grenades. Enthusiasts know to open the cans outdoors because of the strong odors discharged when the can is opened. The stench of rotten eggs, vinegar and rancid butter can even stick to your clothes!


Fermenting fish is a technique that is popular in many cultures. Africa has many dried, salted and fermented meat products and Asia is replete with fermented meats, including some pretty intense fermented fish sauces. The main benefit of fermented meats is the beneficial bacteria that ends up beating out all the nasty bacteria during the fermentation process. 🐟🐟🐟🐟🐟🐟🐟🐟⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The proper balance of bacteria in our gut is arguably the most important first step in ensuring optimal digestion, nutrient absorption and general well-being. Several autoimmune and inflammatory disorders, like asthma, allergies, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis and multiple sclerosis, are linked to poor gut health. Our gut is home to more to about 700 trillion bacteria representing 1,000 different species, making us more bacteria than human. We have co-evolved with our tiny friends to form an intricate symbiosis of interconnecting relationships that help us harvest more energy and nutrients from our food, protect us against infection, support our immune system and even synthesize nutrients for our bodies. Our immune system is so closely associated with our gut that over 70% of it is found within one inch of our intestines. Forget what your nose is telling you. Listen to your gut; it’s telling you to quaff down that rotting fish.