And last but not least, yet another way to make gut-health enhancing probiotics, through wild, or lacto-fermentation. Here we tap into the invisible world of microbes that are naturally present on our fruit and vegetables to make the process happen. Lacto-fermented vegetables are tart, tangy, sour and not as sweet as their pickled counterparts, but this is a small price to pay for the enormous nutritional benefit you get from them and it’s not too hard to get used to.
How lactofermentation occurs is likely to be similar with most vegetables, but there is not much research on individual processes as yet. The best characterised are sauerkraut and kimchi, whose national importance in Germany and South Korea are well documented.
Vegetable fermentation occurs when Lactic acid bacteria use carbohydrates for energy, in the process producing lactic acid, acetic acid, alcohol and CO2. This lowers the pH of the vegetables, to the point where other microbes cannot survive, thus preserving the food from further deterioration. Salt is added to the ferment to also prevent the growth of unwanted bacteria, yeasts and fungi, especially in the early stages.