Lactic acid fermentation is an age old process for preserving foods using the natural action of lactic acid producing beneficial bacteria to preserve vegetables without cooking them. Ancient civilizations used this technique to preserve their harvest. Some classic lactic acid fermented foods are sauerkraut and kimchee. Most vegetables can be preserved using this easy and inexpensive food preservation technique.
There are countless reasons to prepare and eat your own lactic acid fermented vegetables including:
If you are a frequent visitor to this site, read our blog or subscribe to our newsletter, you know we are ardent evangelists for the health benefits of eating raw and especially living foods. Raw foods aren’t fresh picked but haven’t been cooked. Living foods are fruits and vegetables that have been very recently picked or are otherwise still alive when you eat them. Sauerkraut and other lactic acid fermented vegetables are both raw and living foods at the same time. Take sauerkraut for example. The cabbage is raw, never having been cooked. But real homemade sauerkraut is teeming with living beneficial probiotics that are incredibly beneficial for your digestive system. The incredible health benefits of lactic acid fermented foods are far too numerous to list here, but to learn more see our article here: Lactic acid fermented health benefits.
You may be thinking that you don’t really like sauerkraut, so why would you like any other vegetables fermented in the same way? Our bet is you probably have never tasted real sauerkraut. Store bought sauerkraut isn’t real sauerkraut in the traditional sense. It is cooked and pasteurized and doesn’t taste anything like real homemade sauerkraut. When you make your own you can experiment with countless combinations, spices, and seasonings, not only for sauerkraut but other lactic acid fermented vegetables.
If you have ever done canning before, lactic acid fermentation will amaze you with how easy the process is by comparison. In traditional canning, you need tons of heat, a huge canning bath, specialized tools, and obsessive sterilization techniques. You know the traditional canning process is an all-day affair. Lactic acid fermentation takes a tiny fraction of the time and can be done with no specialized tools though the process is easier with either jar-top fermenters or ceramic fermentation crocks. Lactic acid fermentation requires no cooking or heat and is an incredibly reliable method for preserving food.
If you maintain some emergency supplies in case of natural disasters, zombie apocalypse or economic turmoil then having the tools and knowledge to do a lactic acid fermentation is crucial to add to your arsenal. In addition to being easy and inexpensive, lactic acid fermentation requires minimal tools and equipment, requires no heat or fuel and can be used to preserve your garden harvest reliably through to the next growing season. you might also consider a solar food dryer and long term storage vegetable garden seeds (featured products).
When you make your own fermented vegetables, just like your ancestors did, you are using the natural action of probiotic lactic acid forming bacteria to preserve your food. It is this living, beneficial bacterial culture that gives fermented foods their characteristic flavor and health benefits.
You will rarely if ever find any lactic acid fermented vegetables in a traditional grocery store, except sauerkraut, so you are missing a whole world of fermented flavors. And… the sauerkraut you get from the store might have been made in the traditional fashion, but then it was cooked and pasteurized before it was put on the shelf. Meaning it is just regular old cooked food that provides neither the amazing flavor of real sauerkraut, the benefits of the raw cabbage nor the benefit of the live probiotic culture.
Once you taste real sauerkraut and fermented vegetables you will have a hard time swallowing the tinny, thin store bought stuff again.
There are two ways to ferment. Using a dairy based starter culture or doing it all vegan using a technique called “Wild Fermentation”. We obviously prefer the vegan approach as it’s cheaper, easier, and all natural. Learn more here: How to make your own fermented vegetables. Once you determine if you prefer vegan or dairy culture as a starting point there are three different methods, using a bowl, using mason jars, or using a fermentation crock.
- Bowl: You don’t need any special equipment to do this, so it’s totally free. The drawback is it that it’s high maintenance (needs to be tended daily) and is prone to mold and spoiled batches. This is not our favorite approach, but it is an approach taught by Ann Wigmore.
- Mason Jars: Using our Jar Top Fermenters, which are inexpensive (Under $20) you can do fermentation using one or two quart mason jars with very low maintenance.
- Fermentation Crocks: For large quantities, these specially made crocks are the traditional European approach. The crocks are expensive but allow you to do very large quantities of fermented vegetables with minimal fuss.
Before electricity, how did your ancestors reliably preserve their harvest? Well, there are lots of techniques, but two that keep your foods raw are lactic acid fermentation and drying. If the worst should happen (electromagnetic pulse…) you will be grateful to have the knowledge and tools to preserve your garden harvest without fuel or electricity. Consider adding our long shelf life garden seeds, jar top fermenters, fermentation crocks and hanging pantrie solar food dryers to your emergency disaster supplies.