If you’ve never heard the term lacto-fermentation, you’re not alone. If you’ve eaten sauerkraut or pickles, then you’ve already been initiated into the world of fermented foods and the healing nature of probiotics. Until last year, lacto-fermentation was clearly not part of my vocabulary, and when I mentioned to a friend that I was avoiding lactose, she set me straight.
She explained to me that the “lacto” stood for lactic acid, not lactose. It’s the lactic acid that breaks down the food. She claimed that these foods have healing properties, and invited me to one of her classes. where pickles and sauerkraut were on the menu.
Why eat lacto-fermented foods? The main reason is for the health benefits. Using fermentation will “cook” the foods and allow you to preserve the probiotics and enzymes in a way that benefits the digestive system, while maintaining all of the nutrients typically lost through heat exposure.
Another benefit is the extended shelf life that you will get from your vegetables. We’ve all had those moments of good intention where we stock up on fresh produce only to watch it grow mold in the refrigerator. Lacto-fermentation is one of the best ways to preserve your veggies in a live state.
How do these foods differ from traditional preservation and canning techniques? They don’t need preservatives added to keep them fresh, and the effects of the “live” food begin as soon as they are eaten. The vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and enzymes will give you a natural burst of energy that you probably have not experienced from many other foods.
Image. Jamie Frater via flickr