Ever thought of how people in the past survived without refrigerators, freezers, and other modern luxuries? When you read about our past history, you soon discover that they had a wealth of knowledge on how to preserve food.
Besides their cold cellars, insulated milk houses, or other even more simple ways to keep food cool (such as placing buckets of milk in a stream, or placing roots in a hay lined hole), they also lacto-fermented or cultured food to preserve it. This simple method not only preserved food, but also gave a wealth of nutrition.
Lacto-fermented foods span the nations. You will many traditional recipes for lacto-fermented foods from all over the world. If so many peoples thought this an important part of their diet in the past, I think we should pay attention!
What is Lacto-Fermentation?
Lacto-fermentation happens when the starches and sugars in vegetables and fruit convert to lactic acid by a friendly lactic-acid producing bacteria.
This produces not only a tangy, delicious product (like the sauerkraut pictured above), but it also preserves it….. and does so much more than that!
The health benefits of lacto-fermented fruits and vegetables are wonderful. I think we probably only know a small part of why they are so good for us. For example, unpasteurized sauerkraut and kimchi got a lot of buzz in recent years after some scientists found that birds fed kimchi or sauerkraut would often start recovering from the Avian Bird Flu!
Here’s what we know, when you lacto-ferment vegetables it increases in vitamins, it is more digestible and you get a plethora of good bacteria when you consume it!
“The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.”
Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions, pg 89
A healthy nation in perhaps wiser times would be getting healthy, good bacteria from numerous sources, including lacto-fermented vegetables and cultured drinks every day. Today, instead we bombard our bodies with chlorine (not just in the water we drink but we also absorb it from our showers and baths) and antibiotics (in our milk, meat, and what we take ourselves).
Stay tuned for more about lacto-fermentation!I hope to experiment more as fresh, local produce becomes available and will also be sharing my thoughts and questions on the different methods out there for lacto-fermenting.