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...
Some lacto-fermented foods like garlic, Chinese black bean paste, or spicy pepper mash, take one to three years before they’re considered fully mature!
—The Original Slow Food
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