Lacto-Fermented Foods

Foods that are lacto-fermented (also known as “live fermented”), contain myriad microbial cultures that are beneficial, even essential, to human health. For all of history and beyond, humans have lacto-fermented food in one way or another. Every culture in the world has many forms of lacto-fermented foods that they eat with their meals, some you wouldn’t even think about, such as wine, beer, sourdough breads (of course, in asian cultures all the various kimchees and pickled condiments)).

The lactobacilli organisms in lacto-fermented foods enhance digestibility and greatly increase vitamin levels (think of the Vikings, who traveled on board their ships endlessly with not a fresh vegetable or fruit in sight, and never got scurvy [unlike many later western seafarers]. They kept barrels of lacto-fermented cabbage and fish on board at all times). These beneficial bacteria also create myriad health-enhancing enzymes, plus good antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic substances.

Here’s a quote from Des Crudites Toute L’Annee, by Annelies Schoneck, that I’ve borrowed from Sally Fallon:
“Lactic acid activates the secretions of the pancreas, which is particularly important for diabetics…Sauerkraut contains large quantities of choline, a substance that lowers blood pressure and regulates the passage of nutrients into the blood…Choline has another interesting property in that it aids the body in the metabolism of fats. If choline is lacking, fats accumulate in the liver…Sauerkraut also contains acetylcholine which has a powerful effect on the parasympathetic nervous system. It helps reduce blood pressure, slows down the rate of heartbeat, and promotes calmness and sleep. As acetylcholine is destroyed by cooking, raw sauerkraut and its juice is preferable to cooked…”

To read more, here is a link to Sandor Katz’s site, Wild Fermentation. He is sort of the guru of lacto-fermenting, and has written two extremely informative books on the subject.

Here is a recipe for Basic Sauerkraut:

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Kefir is a lacto-fermented dairy food that is incredibly easy to make at home (commercial “kefirs” you find on the market should not even be called “kefir,” as the strains in them are very weak, and barely related to the real thing). Kefir contains many and varied strains of beneficial yeasts and bacterias that give kefir its antibiotic properties. Most of the lactose is fermented out of it, plus it provides lactase (the lactose-eating enzyme), so often even people who are lactose intolerant can eat (drink) it with no problems.

Basic Kefir Recipe (and more kefir info)

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Lacto-Fermented Cole Slaw coming soon

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