Lacto Fermentation of Veggies

By admin On July 18, 2010 Under Formulas

Lacto fermentation was a mainstay of our ancestors.  In their time vegetables and fruits were preserved for long periods of time without freezing or canning.

“Friendly bacteria keep the bowel clean from putrefaction and fermentation
which produce excess gas and bad odors.” -Dr. Bernard Jensen

Ignore At Your Own Risk

Lacto-fermented foods are a universal phenomenon.  Traditional recipes come from every part of the world.  And although it has been largely discarded in modern culture in favor of more predictable and “practical” methods of preservation, we should sit up and take notice of the wisdom of our forefathers.  It is dangerous to ignore what every race of the past has thought important.

The abandonment of lacto fermentation has come at a cost.  There is more happening in this procedure than just the preservation of food.

Important Players On Our Team

The friendly little bacteria involved in the process aid digestion and increase vitamins and nutrition in the body by breaking food down into usable nutrients.   And many of the little guys make the body their home and reinforce the intestinal flora.  With enough of these guys around to fight, the harmful bacterial invaders that attack don’t have a chance to infect the system.

A Simple and Vital Ticket To Health

Therefore I believe supplementing the diet with fermented veggies and fruits is another simple and powerful thing that can be done to ensure a healthy body.  Sally Fallon nailed the importance of lacto fermentation well in her book, Nourishing Traditions:

“Scientists and doctors today are mystified by the proliferation of new viruses–not only the deadly AIDS virus but the whole gamut of human viruses that seem to be associated with everything from chronic fatigue to cancer and arthritis. They are equally mystified by recent increases in the incidence of intestinal parasites and pathogenic yeasts, even among those whose sanitary practices are faultless. Could it be that in abandoning the ancient practice of lacto-fermentation and in our insistence on a diet in which everything has been pasteurized, we have compromised the health of our intestinal flora and made ourselves vulnerable to legions of pathogenic microorganisms? If so, the cure for these diseases will be found not in vaccinations, drugs or antibiotics but in a restored partnership with the many varieties of lactobacilli, our symbionts of the microscopic world.”

Here Is How To Make Your Own

Lacto fermentation is important in your diet and there is no better way to avail yourself of these lactobacilli than brewing your own batch at home out of quality produce.  It can all be done right in your kitchen with no special equipment.  Here is how.

Step 1:  Assemble the items you will need.

  • Quart or 2 quart jars Canning jars work well.
  • Produce Preferably home grown or organic.  Successful fermenting proves the nutritional quality of the produce.
  • Herbs and Spices Most often I only use dill.
  • Salt Add 1 tablespoon +/- per quart to taste.  I use hand raked sea salt but regular sea salt is ok.  The trace elements in the hand raked sea salt add to the nutrition of your final product.
  • Filtered or distilled water Chlorinated water will kill the elements needed to promote the lacto fermentation and the high mineral content in some water can produce poor results.
  • Whey Most of the time I don’t use whey.   I put it in when I am able to pour some off my yogurt and save it.    If I use it, I only put in less than a teaspoon per quart.  Do not use commercial concentrated whey or dried whey.  If you don’t have whey, it is ok. Just add more salt, up to another tablespoon per quart. However, if you are processing fruit you must use whey.

Step 2:  Prepare vegetables.  Clean and trim vegetables in non-chlorinated water.  To preserve their natural yeast and flora, don’t scrub them.

For sauerkraut and cut vegetables:  Chop and/or pound vegetables and mix with salt and whey.  They will form their own brine.

Step 3:  Pack jars tightly with produce.  The brine should not come higher than one inch from the top.

For whole vegetables such as pickles:  Sandwich in the spices/herbs as you pack the jar.  Add the salt and whey and then cover with water.  Again, leave an inch between the brine and the top of the jar.

Step 4:  Close jar tightly with lid and store at room temperature for 3 days.

Step 5: Transfer to a dark, cool place like the refrigerator, basement, or cellar.

Tips and Observations:

  • Room temperature should be greater than 70 degrees fahrenheit/21 degrees celsius.  More time will be needed if your kitchen is colder and less if it is warmer.
  • To promote ideal lacto fermentation, storage temperature should ideally be 40-50 degrees fahrenheit/4.5-10 degrees celcius.  Our ancestors used root cellars or caves for this.
  • Lacto-fermented vegetables can be eaten immediately after the initial fermentation process.  However, flavor increases with time.  It takes months for them to fully mature.
  • The salt and whey inhibit putrefying bacteria until the friendly bacteria can produce enough lactic acid to ensure preservation.
  • Grape leaves can be added to help maintain the crunch in the pickles that we all like.
  • Another way to make sure they stay crunchy is to cut off the blossom end of the pickle before you put it in the jar.
  • Occasional a batch will go bad.  But you don’t need to wonder whether it has or not.  When the process doesn’t work the smell is so awful that nothing could persuade you to eat it.
“Among other things, they (friendly bacteria) provide very valuable nutritional metabolites
for the body to use in rebuilding and maintaining health.”  -Dr. Bernard Jensen

More on the Power of Lacto Fermentation

Some strains of Lactobacillus acidophilus help the body resolve high levels of harmful bacteria and cancer cells.  They help especially with infectious bacteria such as Streptococcus (strep), Staphylococcus (staph), Salmonella, Clostridium botulinum, and E. coli.  Some strains of L. acidophilus can even help to contain viral infections such as polio, HIV, and herpes.  They also produce hydrogen peroxide that can prevent Candida yeast overgrowth.

“Lacto-fermented foods normalize the acidity of the stomach.  If stomach acidity is insufficient, it stimulates the acid producing glands of the stomach and in cases where acidity is too high it has the inverse effect.  Lactic acid helps break down proteins and thus aids in their assimilation by the body.”
-Annelies Schoneck in Des Crudités Toute L’Année

Supplements are the most popular way to take probiotics.  But I don’t feel like it is the best way.  It is better to get nutrition, as much as possible, from whole foods.   The best source of probiotics is lacto fermentation of food right in the kitchen.  Probiotic supplements can be very effective but they are costly, provide fewer benefits than natural fermented foods, and are difficult to verify for quality.

“When we buy vegetables, we are often deceived by their color and appearance whereas their aroma, taste and consistency tell us more about their quality.  And quality is of paramount importance if we want to preserve these vegetables through lacto fermentation; lactic acid producing bacteria need a great many vitamins and minerals that only vegetables rich in these elements can supply,.  This is why when foods are successfully lacto-fermented, we can be assured of their inherent nutritional quality.”  -Annelies Schoneck in Des Crudités Toute L’Année

A recent study of Swedish children found that low rates of asthma, skin problems, and autoimmune disorders were linked to eating lacto-fermented vegetables.

The importance of lacto fermentation in our diet cannot be overstated.  Friendly bacteria play a vital part in preserving our health.  Mix up a batch of veggies today!

Return from Lacto Fermentation to Formulas of Natural Healing Remedies

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Alan Plemmonms
    April 10, 2011
    5:00 pm

    I don’t understand your method. It is my understanding tight lids during the fermentation process and never releasing the pressure could eventually rupture the jars. Did I miss something?

    Thank you, Alan

  2. Bernard PINAULT
    October 6, 2012
    11:50 am

    Thank you for your article.
    However when mentioning temperatures, as readers may not be americans, it would be nice to mention whether Centigrade or Fahrenheit
    .It would even be nicer to mention both values as many people around the world are not used to Fahrenheit !
    Regards from France,

  3. admin
    October 10, 2012
    5:12 am

    I guess there is a chance that could be an issue Alan. I have never had problems with it though. The book that I learned from, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, says to “cover (canning jar) tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage”.

    Good luck!

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