I always over promise things but to be honest I lost the research and citation I had on the topic of wild vs cultured fermentation and it has taken me a while to find where I was at the time and what I wanted to get across.
Do you ferment vegetables? Drinks?
Have you heard people talk about Kimchi, Water Kefir, Milk Kefir, Kombucha, Whey, Kvass? Are you wondering what all the craze is and why people are using these words and swapping grains and SCOBY’s?
It’s called Lacto-Fermentation:
Lactic acid is a natural preservative it inhibits the growth of harmful, bacteria. Fermentation has travelled through cultures for years as it allowed people to preserve foods for extended periods of time before the advent of refrigeration or canning.
Lactic acid also promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestinal tract. That is why lacto-fermented foods are considered probiotic foods. (Probiotic means “for life”.)
The process and science behind lacto-fermentation is amazing and it is where it first had me hooked (inner geek). You see lactobacillus (from a prepared culture, fresh whey, or just naturally occurring) plus sugar (naturally present in vegetables and fruits), plus a little salt, minus oxygen (anaerobic process), plus time, equal lactic acid fermentation. How cool? How complex? Let’s cut to the chase.
Why have people started on the fermented foods?
Nearly every person I meet has a topical, digestive issue. Thyroid’s are very popular, candida’s population could inhabit 10 of our worlds plus venus, mars and pluto….get my drift?! Doctors have been prescribing antibiotics, cortisone creams for as long as I can remember. Now remember that I speak from personal experience only, I love doctors, nurses, the medical profession is needed but for me I abused it and it’s resources. Most people who I suggest lacto-fermentation to have one or more of the following;
- Signs of intestinal or systemic Candida overgrowth
- An immune system that has lost its balance—with signs of allergies or autoimmune disease
- An inflamed and leaky gut
- Bacterial overgrowth
- Multiple food sensitivities
- Mood or behavioural disorders
- Skin rashes, eczema, or acne
- Antibiotic overuse
But with everything in life there are road blocks, there are caution signs. Lacto-fermented foods are kind of like a really good block of chocolate. You eat a small piece you feel great, you eat the whole block you feel like a warrior for 3 minutes then curl in a ball and cry wondering why you went so far and delving into the seven deadly sins over the following 48 hours.
So it brings me to how much and when?!
For a regular person that presents with no real issues and wants to boost their immune system and jump on the ferment train (wooo wooo) then I say for WILD! Wild fermentation is wonderful. Using whey, kefir grains, kombucha scoby’s, salt only is a special process. We reproduce all our Wild cultures and love how we can share our ‘babies’ around. So check my recipes and make some. Find a person locally that can supply you with a SCOBY and grains or contact me personally.
Now for the rest of us WILD can be more bad than good. I started the lacto-fermentation process in a WILD way and I went backwards quickly. What I thought was going to be the answer to my prayers was a nightmare. You see, people with damaged ecosystems need more than what wild culture has to offer and in order to repair the damage caused by antibiotics, sweet additives and preservatives in foods and a poor diet in general.
By using a starter culture to begin with you can start to repair the damage. Starter cultures help the fermentation phase by limiting cause for contamination, help nourish and grow the right bacteria and yeast needed to build your ecosystem.
So why not just take a tablet?!
Think of over probiotic supplements as a sleeping biotic. They are not LIVE and do not act immediately. They are also manufactured in a laboratory and contain a lot more than a million lactobacillus. Wild and cultured probiotic’s are alive and naturally beneficial.
So where do you start and what do you look for?!
I don’t endorse any brand, I don’t think any brand is better but what I can say is what to look for in a starter culture.
Look for these ingredients; Sugar (as a carrier), active lactic bacteria (lactobacillus plantarum, leuconostoc mesenteroides and pediococcus acidilactici) anything else that is listed move right along.
Beware of prepackaged fermented drinks and yoghurt too. Always look at the ingredients. If you see numbers, agave, long words that don’t match the above then don’t use it. You will end up feeding the buggers that are causing all the problems rather than nourishing and repairing.
Above all else speak to a body ecologist if you have inner ecosystem issues. Don’t go it alone either. Find a cultured community and work together, cook together and share your cultures.
I will holding classes locally this month for beginners offering a nurturing approach to lacto-fermentation and how to nourish your body.