What is lacto-fermentation?


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

Graphic Separator

A complete in-depth explanation of the lacto-fermentation process is located in the FAQ section

More In-Depth Information and Reading:

Handbook of Functional Fermented Foods