A dozen years ago, there was very little information available about the health benefits or techniques in making lacto-fermented foods.
Although my maternal grandmother had several crocks in her rock-walled cellar, perpetually curing sauerkraut, pickles and beets, I never had the opportunity to stand by her side, learning the basics of how to re-create the same foods for my family.
What I did learn, came from eating her food. I developed a deep, strong memory of how great, authentic, well-made German-kraut smelled and tasted. When my first batch of lacto-fermented cukes turned soft and slimy, my experiences told me that shouldn’t have happened – that it was realistic to expect pickled-cukes to last through the winter, and into spring (if we didn’t eat them all first!). Back to the drawing board!
The voices of Sally Fallon (co-author, Nourishing Traditions and President, Weston A. Price Foundation), and Sandor Katz (author of Wild Fermentation) filled in the words, teachings and wisdoms, for the many questions I never thought to ask my grandmother.
My fervent prayer is my children will carry the reclaimed knowledge of “pickling” a wide variety of foods, into their adult lives and that of their children. Next to teaching them about the love of Jesus Christ, I can think of nothing more important to pass along.
Here are a few pieces of “wisdom” regarding lacto-fermentation, that I’ve found to be fascinating and encouraging:
“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 anti carcinogenic 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, co-author of Nourishing Traditions
“Though the term ‘fermented’ sounds vaguely distasteful, the results of this ancient preparation and preservation technique – produced through the breakdown of carbohydrates and proteins by microorganisms such as bacteria, yeasts and molds – are actually delicious. Even more so, they are so beneficial to overall health that some of these ‘functional foods’ are now considered to be ‘probiotics,’ increasing your overall nutrition, promoting the growth of friendly intestinal bacteria, and aiding digestion and supporting immune function, including an increase in B vitamins (even Vitamin B12), omega-3 fatty acids, digestive enzymes, lactase and lactic acid, and other immune chemicals that fight off harmful bacteria and even cancer cells.” – Nancy Bentley, co-author, Dr. Mercola’s, “Total Health Program”
“Nobel Prize winner Dr. Elie Metchnikoff was one of the first scientists to recognize the benefits of eating fermented foods. His research in the early 1900’s focused on the Bulgarians. He believed the daily ingestion of yogurt was a major contribution to their superior health and longevity. Today, if you search the Internet on probiotics, you will find an almost endless supply of reasons why ‘good bacteria’ are good for you. We hope to convince you that fermenting your own foods is cheaper, more fun, and better for you than just popping a pill of freeze dried bacteria.” – The Healing Crow
“Why do some foods like chocolate, wine and cheese taste so delicious? Fermenting magically transforms their original ingredients into something more desirable. Besides upping flavor, some lactic-acid ferments, such as homemade sauerkraut, actually strengthen your immune system. Pickling, brewing and culturing are other terms to describe this process by which friendly enzymes, fungi and bacteria pre-digest a food. Fermentation increases the flavor, medicinal value and nutrition of foods.” – Rebecca Wood article, “Fermented Foods Strengthen Immune System“http://bit.ly/R8lL
“The process of fermentation offers other benefits beyond preservation. Fermented foods are easier to digest, have natural preservation properties and more available vitamins and minerals. The foods still contain live cultures that offer a boost to both the digestive tract and the immune system.” – Sarah Flessner, BS, dietetic student and Mark Kestin, PhD, MP, dean of the School of Nutrition and Exercise Science Bastyr University Natural Medicine – Fermented Food for Health
“Fermented foods arise in the human relationship to the microbial environment. Human survival is connected to yeasts and bacteria that produce lactic acid and alcohol in preserved foods. This constitutes a fermentation ecosystem that embodies the succession of species, partitioning of resources, disturbance and equilibrium found in larger ecosystems. Fermented foods are preserved by microbes that live in food storage vessels. In many societies, the contribution of fermented food has been central. Fermentation ecosystems can be used as an engaging instructional tool to illustrate ecological concepts and lead to a more complex understanding of the ecology of human nutrition. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
|by Kathleen in Research | Permalink|
Did you know...
Fermented sweet peppers (torshi felfel) are produced in west Asia and Africa.
Thanks for the clear instructions, Kathleen! I mustered the discipline to let the fermentation work undisturbed, leaving it alone! I’m not used to that! Used to skimming off mold! I’m amazed how good my first attempt with it – khimchee – has come out. You made it so easy.
—Jamie - Massachusettes