Frequently Asked Questions
Walk through any untended apple orchard on a beautiful fall day, and take a good deep whiff of fallen apples, lying in the grass. What you smell, and probably see, is a spontaneous, and natural, lacto-fermentation process! The apple’s deep, almost heady perfume is magnified – richer and more complex than apples still remaining on the tree.
“Fermentation consists of transformation of simple raw materials into a range of value-added products by utilizing the phenomenon of growth of microorganisms and/or their activities on various substrates.” “The History of Fermented Foods”, p. 2, Handbook of Fermented Functional Foods, Farnworth
Simply put, lacto-fermentation is a microbial process using beneficial bacteria including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium spp. and other lactic acid bacteria (LAB) (commonly known as probiotics), which thrive in an anaerobic fermenting environment.
The “lacto” in “lacto-fermentation”, comes from “lactobacillus”.
A wide variety of beneficial lactic-acid bacteria (LAB) and yeasts are involved in the process of lacto-fermentation, all of which work together to convert raw food into more easily-digestible components, along with releasing and stabilizing nutrients of the food. There are many stages and processes along the way, when converting raw cabbage into sauerkraut, or raw milk into fizzy, tasty kefir. An example of just one step includes:
Naturally-present lactic-acid bacteria (LAB), one of which is Lc. mesenteroides, produce lactic and acetic acids that:
- Lower pH
- produce CO2 (carbon dioxide) which creates a desirable anaerobic environment in the fermenting vessel
A complete in-depth explanation of the lacto-fermentation process is located in the FAQ section
More In-Depth Information and Reading:
Did you know...
Kefir includes many different microbes, including yeasts, lactobacilli, lactococci, and leuconostocs. Depending on geographical locations, the precise types of microbes will vary.
I was intrigued by the whey-method although I kept thinking, "This really can't work. It sounds like a bad idea." I had my undergrad class check out whey-ferment vs no-whey, using the German crocks. Wow. I should have listened to my original thinking. Bad idea! Don't use whey! Not only is it low-count, but the flavor is awful and the texture even worse! Love your Pickl-It! Great tool for teaching!
—Gary, University Microbiology Professor