Benefits of Lacto-Fermentation

ng_cabbageEver 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!

Health Benefits

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.

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!


  1. says

    Hi there, I hope one of you can help shed some light as to whether or not I just ruined a batch of lacto-fermented jars of veggies: I let them sit for 3 days (whey and salt brine) at room temperature, then put them in an extra refrigerator, and it got too cold..they froze! Did I kill this batch or is it still going to be teeming with the healthy bacteria I’m looking for? Thanks in advance, Gage

  2. says

    I did find this on the web:

    Is it OK to freeze the products for long-term storage?

    Yes. When vacuum-packed and unopened, Caldwell’s cultured vegetables can be stored frozen for up to one year. The high proportion of lactic acid protects them and prevents any degradation. Tests conducted at the Food Research and Development Center (FRDC) of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada produced the following conclusions:

    There were no detectable decreases in the concentration of ascorbic acid; in fact, the maintenance of vitamin C in the frozen product facilitated the preservation of other antioxidants and nutritional characteristics such as vitamin E and polyphenols. The conclusion of the research was that freezing does not modify the nutritional value of Caldwell’s lacto fermented vegetables.
    There were no discernable differences in taste, texture, color, or aroma compared to products that had not been previously frozen. According to a panel of testers (and numerous satisfied customers), freezing does not alter the organoleptic properties of the products.
    Your products arrived partly frozen. Is it safe to refreeze them?

    Yes. Unlike many other products, laboratory tests have shown that Caldwell’s lacto fermented vegetables can be safely refrozen after thawing. Refreezing does not alter the nutritional properties of the products. Nor does it change their taste, texture or color.

    (My note: they expanded in the jars a bit so there’s purple cabbage juice that got out, but I’m hoping they are okay…thawing now…)

  3. says

    Great stuff. I’ve been playing with the fermentation process with more and more of my foods. As a fat loss specialist, I really believe that nourishing your body can greatly improve your ability to reach and maintain YOUR healthy weight. Keep up the good works!

  4. says

    I am making my first batch of Lacto-Fermented veggies – the ginger carrots from NT. The top 1/4 inch or so is turning black. Is this normal? They have been on the counter for two days now.

  5. says

    I just wanted to mention that Lacto-fermented veggies come out so much better when using an airlock system. Our Kraut Kaps are comprised of food safe components. Be cautious of other lids for sale or DIY projects as most use petroleum based grommets and Tattler brand lids which contain formaldehyde.
    Whey is mainly used to inoculate your vegetables during open crock fermentation to help guard against undesirable bacteria, molds or yeast. With an airlock system you do away with that risk and the difference between a plain salt and airlock ferment versus an open crock whey ferment is incredible!
    I’m offering a free Kraut Kap to a few bloggers willing to try one and give us a review. Let me know if you are interested!

    • Erna Rae says

      I hope you found an answer somewhere else…But no, lacto ferments are not a problem for the lactose intolerant. The lacto part refers to the lactic acid bacteria that are found on all plants and which once allowed to proliferate in the jar, act to preserve the vegs. There is no need to use whey. Use salt in a brine and keep the vegs submerged under liquid, using a weight, and in a day or two or longer you will see signs of fermentation ie. bubbles and the process of lacto fermentation is happening before your eyes!

  6. Irish girl says

    I am on the low fodmap diet for IBS and wondered if I could have this? Also, do you have a recipe? Am just about to strain some homemade yoghurt and didn’t want to waste the whey

  7. Tere says

    I’d like to know if it’s possible to ferment store-bought canned mushrooms. If so, I’d prefer to use a salt brine than whey. How strong should the solution be?

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