Frequently Asked Questions
There’s a bit of confusion about what “lacto-fermented” or “lacto-fermentation” means. The thinking goes something like this:
Because some “Nourishing Tradition”, as well as traditional European recipes recommend using whey as a “starter” when making fermented foods, it has been assumed the term “lacto-fermentation” meant dairy is used. The thinking goes like this:
- Whey is from dairy….
- and dairy contains lactose, a milk sugar…
- that “lacto” is an abbreviated form of the word “lactose”…
- Therefore, the wrong conclusion is reached, that lacto-fermented is a term referring to foods that contain dairy products.
So what does “lacto” in “lacto-fermentation”, or “lacto-fermenting”, or “lacto-fermented” really mean?
The correct answer is much easier to follow! “Lacto”, used in “lacto-fermentation” and all of its derivations, refers to lactic-acid bacteria, familiar to most people as “lactobacillus”. “Lacto” is simply the shortened name of “lactobacillus”, the same way that we shorten “Samual” to “Sam”, or “Susan” to “Sue”.
Those who suffer lactose-intolerance, or are trying to maintain a casein-free diet can absolutely have a dairy-free diet when making lacto-fermented foods!
Did you know...
Lactic acid was first isolated in 1780 by a Swedish chemist, Carl Wilhelm Scheele.
—Lactic Acid's Discovery
Wow!! Thanks for your helpful guidance as we switched our water kefir fermentation over to the Pickl-It system. We’ve been making water kefir for over a year, but it has always been open to the air with just a mesh covering. A couple of days ago our Christmas 3 – 3 Bundle came in and we set up the water kefir grains in a 1 L. It was time to harvest (& taste!!) this morning and IT IS SOOOOO GOOD!!!! There are none of the vinegary notes that were present in our past batches. It’s fully done – which I judge by the fact that it’s only very very slightly sweet, and the carbonation is good (on the subtle side instead of tickling your nose). It’s perfection! The flavor is very pleasing and refreshing. There’s no going back now : ) This is an easy breezy way to ferment excellent water kefir for sure!
—Janice S. - Indiana