It may seem strange to us that people in earlier times knew how to preserve vegetables without the use of freezers or canning machines. This was done through the process of lacto-fermentation. Lacto-fermentation happens when the sugars and starches in vegetables are converted to lactic acid by lactic-acid producing bacteria.
The benefit of this lactic-acid is amazing. In addition to food preservation, lacto-fermented vegetables are easily digestible. They are rich in nutrients, fiber, and higher vitamin levels. They also produce helpful enzymes, as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances. It also promotes the growth of healthy flora in your gut by increasing beneficial bacteria.
Some examples of lacto-fermented foods:
- salt cured meats, such as summer sausage and dry salami
- sauerkraut (not cured with vinegar)
- pickles (not cured with vinegar)
- Greek olives (Kalamata)
- brined olives
- real chutney, marmalade
Lacto-fermented vegetables and fruit chutneys are not meant to be eaten in large quantities but as condiments. They go beautifully with meat and fish. They are easy to prepare, and the health benefits cannot be underestimated.
*For more information on fermented vegetables, Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions is a great resource.