Get into Fermented Foods!

“The flavorful space between fresh and rotten.” --Sandoor Katz

Fermentation is an ancient way of preserving food and its nutrients for months past the date of harvest. Chemically, it is the breaking down of foods by bacteria, yeasts, molds or other microorganisms. Many of the foods we consume every day are fermented, including: yogurt, cheese, coffee, bread, wine, beer, soy products, vinegar, cured meats and some kinds of pickles.

Fermented foods containing live Lactobacillus bacteria (lacto-fermented foods) are good for digestive health, immune function, and general well-being. Lacto-fermentation is easy: all it takes is vegetables/fruits, salt, water and time. Lacto-fermented foods include dill pickles (some kinds), kimchi and sauerkraut -- we call these foods pickles, though not all pickles are ferments.

Home Fermentation Tips

  • Choose the Right Container: Wide-mouth glass, ceramic or porcelain containers with no cracks or chips are the best vessels for fomenting your ferments. Avoid metal and plastic.
  • Use Good Salt: Additive-free salt is preferable, because some additives can inhibit the fermentation process. Pickling salt and sea salt are good choices.
  • Weigh it Down: Keeping the vegetables fully submerged is important, because lacto-fermentation is an anaerobic (without oxygen) process. Glass or ceramic weights, extra vegetable leaves or pieces, or even a small plate with a weight will work.
  • Manage the Time and Temperature: Lacto-fermentation happens in two stages - the die-off of the bad bacteria and the build-up of the good bacteria. This process can take from 10 days to six weeks at 65 – 72 degrees.