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Kimchi, Sauerkraut, lacto-fermented vegetables  – what are they?

Kimchi, Sauerkraut, lacto-fermented vegetables – what are they?

The absolute foundation of my business is lacto-fermented food. With an overall aim to develop a range of foods that meet the needs of my customers, lacto-fermented vegetables will always be a cornerstone due to their long history and heritage.

Inherent knowledge of these traditional foods doesn’t however appear typical in the UK psych and I often talk to people about my food who have never heard of this process or of the health benefits. However, for people who have travelled, lived or are from other countries lacto-fermented foods are fundamental to their diet.

So to answer the questions:

We are generally familiar with fermentation, where bacteria, yeasts, moulds or fungi break down carbohydrates, ( starches and sugars) into acids, gas or alcohol. Probably the best known type of fermentation in the UK is making beer and wine using yeast to result in alcohol.

Lacto-fermentation uses lactic-acid producing bacteria, usually ‘lactobacillus’ to breakdown sugars in an oxygen free environment to form lactic acid and crabon dioxide. These bacterial are naturally found on the vegetables I ferment and the vessels are tightly sealed to eliminate in flow of oxygen that also gradually depletes as the jars ‘self burp’ the carbon dioxide as it forms.

Lactobacilli are also the ‘good bacteria’ or probiotics naturally found in our guts and other body systems.

Writing this I’m mindful of wanting to be the person who explains the science without making it complicated, therefore:

My fermented vegetable products are made by adding salt, this encourages the ‘juice’ to come out of the vegetables, keeps unwanted bacteria, yeasts and moulds away, helps the vegetables stay crisp, preseves the vitamin content and adds flavour. Its the natural bacteria on the vegetables that causes breakdown of the sugars in the vegetables to produce lactic acid which gives the ‘vinegary’ taste ( Vinegar is produced using acetic acid producing bacteria). Extreme care is taken to stop air getting into my products and I measure how acidic it becomes (using a pH meter).

Fermentation has been used to preserve food for thousands of years.

The term ‘lacto’ has nothing to do with milk its because the lactobacilli ( bacteria) create lactic-acidAll my fermented vegetable products are vegan and some are FODMAP friendly too.