In this article I want to share with you the benefits of Lactic Acid Fermentation.
This lactobacillus bacteria is present on all fruit, vegetables, in the air on even on your skin. So when we leave the vegetables or fruit we want to preserve in the right conditions this bacteria can thrive, outcompete other bacteria and produce the lactic acid which pickle the vegetables and fruit to preserve them.
Lactic acid or any other acidic environment makes it extremely difficult for bacteria or microorganisms to grow. When you immerse food such as vegetables, fruit or in special circumstances fish/meat in an acid it means the organisms or bacteria that would otherwise spoil the food cannot develop.
How Long Does Lactic Acid Fermentation Take?
The process of fermentation can take anywhere from 3 – 4 days for a mildly acidic preserve to 2 – 3 weeks for a fully fermented lacto-preserve.
In the past when refrigeration was not available ferments such as sauerkraut would be left at ambient temperatures for months and months as the lactic acid fermentation was enough to preserve the cabbage without refrigeration.
In the home environment we can closely control the fermentation of vegetable and fruits by checking the acidity at certain intervals of say every couple of days. When you are happy with the level of acidity the preserve can be refrigerated to halt further fermentation and keep the preserve stable for much longer periods.
In most cases fermentation should take between 5 – 14 days to reach an acceptable acidity and flavor and after this point the lacto-ferment can be refrigerated.
Interesting Facts About Lactic Acid Fermentation
Georgia State University showed that Lactic Acid fermented foods help protect against the influenza virus, and even prevent a secondary infection.
The naturally produced lactic acid fermented foods such offers a variety of health benefits by:
- Strengthening your immune system
- Helping your body absorb minerals and vitamins
- Giving your food antioxidant effects
Many foods high in lactic acid have probiotic qualities and can boost your gut health.
Lactic acid can also protect you from constipation and other gastrointestinal issues.
“Studies have found some lactic acid bacteria strains help provide protection against bacterial infectious diseases,” she said, “such as Streptococcus pneumoniae, as well as cold and influenza viruses.
Foods fermented using lactic acid fermentation process include yogurt, kimchi, cultured butter, sauerkraut, cheese, tempeh, kefir, cured sausages and fish and fermented black tea also known as Kombucha are all very good for you.
Our ancestors long ago realized the benefits of fermentation as it was the primary method of food preservation and storage before refrigeration.
One study observed that countries that consumed high amounts of lactic acid fermented foods like Korea, Germany and the like; their fatality rate during the 1918 Spanish pandemic was less than other countries that did not have a high amount of lactic acid fermented foods.
In other words, countries that consumed more lactic acid fermented foods were healthier and the fatality rate was less than countries that did not practice fermenting foods using the lactic acid process.
In simple words, less people caught the Spanish Flu because they were consuming high amounts of lactic acid fermented foods.
Beyond the classic cucumbers, other fruits and vegetables that work well for pickles include
- bell peppers
- green beans
Using A European Fermentation Crock
This is a 2-liter fermentation crock or half a gallon or 2 quarts.
This is a great crock to start out with because of the smaller size you can get your fermentation feet under you.
I like these size crocks because I can run a number of different fermented foods trying different recipes, herbs and spices and if something does not taste that great, I have not wasted to much food.
FYI… any food that you don’t like, add to your compost pile and it will go back into the garden.
The great thing is that they are not to expensive and run about $35 on Amazon.
You want to first clean out your crock very well using very hot soapy water and rinse it really well. Finally you want to let it air dry.
While it is drying, you want to chop up some veggies so that you can add it to the crock.
I chopped up a small head of napa cabbage, cauliflower, a couple carrots, celery and some green onions.
I added all of this to my large mixing bowl and mixed the veggies up.
I then added two tablespoons of kosher salt.
NOTE – DO NOT USE TABLE SALT or PINK SALT.
Table salt has iodine added and will give the product a bitter taste and Pink Salt has a lot of other minerals that will also make the food not taste that great. So stick with kosher salt.
I then mixed up the veggies and salt to really disperse the salt all over the veggies and I have been letting it sit.
This will draw the moisture out of the veggies and start the fermentation process.
While I was at the store the other day, I saw these pre-made pickle spices and thought that I would give this a try. These are great and measured out to spice 2 quarts or ½ gallon of pickles.
So I added them to the veggie mix and mixed all if it together allowing the spices to thoroughly mixed in with the veggies.
The final thing that you want to do is then stuff it into the crock. As you are stuffing it in, tamp it down so that you can get the pockets of air out. You don’t have to have it completely compressed. This will also help start the fermentation process by helping the veggies release more of their liquid.
Once all the veggies are in your crock I then add a little bit of water to the mix.
NOTE – Do not use chlorinated water, this will kill the yeast, so I recommend using bottled water.
Add you water till you can kind of see it in and among the veggies.
Finally put the weight stones in and push them down thus pushing the vegetation under the liquid.
Your veggies will produce more liquid as well, this is why you do not want to cover the veggies with water. You need to give it room.
After 7 days you can start eating it or let it ferment longer and have the sour and spices come out more in the food.
Once done, you can put these in mason jars and can them using a hot water emersion bath or just keep them in the refrigerator.
The lactic acid process slows down quiet a bit in the cold.