Friday, October 4, 2013

Lacto What?

Lately I've been hearing a lot more about lacto- fermentation.  You've probably heard of it too, just without realizing that's what your friends were talking about.  I've made my own yogurt, saurkraut and kim chi.  I have friends who make their own kombucha...

People have been fermenting their foods for centuries.  It has given us breads, wines, cheeses, yogurts...  There are records of fermented foods being eaten as early as 4000 BC.

Fermentation fell out of favor in the early 1900's.  Why?  Because it's not suited for industrialized food systems.  Because flavors aren't guaranteed to be consistent batch to batch, food manufacturers switched to preservation methods that were easier to control- vinegar pickling, canning, pasteurization and increased levels of salt.  While these preservation methods made food shelf- stable, ship-able, and taste the same, it decreased the nutritional value of the food, and frankly, gave less complex and pleasing flavors.

With the surge in eating whole foods and limiting preservatives, fermentation has started to make a comeback.  Companies are springing up that specialize in fermenting foods the same way that traditional cultures did.

Many of us can't afford to but these, but did you know it's easy to make your own?  With a little bit of knowledge and a little bit of time, you can begin fermenting your own foods.

With the help of my mother- in- love, I've started fermenting some foods and drinks.

She worked on fermenting red cabbage for a sweeter tasting saurkraut (yum!  oops, am I showing my German heritage?) and salsa.

I started with a fermented herbal tea.

Lacto- fermented herbal tea

Get the fermentation caps here.

Red cabbage saurkraut

While the cabbage isn't quite ready, the salsa was delicious and the tea had a pleasant tang that was similar to, but not as strong as, lemon.

Over the next couple weeks, I'll walk you through some of the basic steps so that you can ferment with confidence!

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