The art of lacto-fermentating vegetables has certainly been lost. Those of us who want to relearn the art have been slowly trying out recipes, throwing out ones that didn’t work, and enjoying those that did.
I’ve found that lacto-fermenting vegetables is simpler (and certainly much more nutritious) than canning in some ways. It’s really easy to just do a few jars of lacto-fermented vegetables one day, while with canning, it only seems worth the work when you do vast amounts. But it’s also less simple because there is no “one way” to ferment vegetables. As people have relearned it’s benefits, I’ve seen everything from kefir sauerkraut (fermented with the help of water kefir grains), to whey ferments (as suggest by Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions), to traditional only salt ferments, to using culture starters (like the Body Ecology Vegetable Starters), to using fermented liquids (like kombucha or other dairy free liquids in place the whey). The wide variance can be overwhelming at times. Where do you start? What’s the best method? What tastes good?
There is no better place to start than having people share the recipes that have best served them. That’s why I invited a few other bloggers to share with you some of their favorite recipes here. And as always, those of you with experience lacto-fermenting are welcome to share your thoughts and ideas and recipes as well. I would love to hear what works for you too (and I know other readers would love it as well).
In closing, here is a section discussing lacto-fermentation from my post “Benefits of Lacto-Fermentation”.
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 recipes!