Lactofermentation

Sharon July 17th, 2008

Usually I’m pretty fearless when it comes to the tough topics.  Want to talk about whether you probably should not do as I do, reproductively speaking?  Whether religion has anything good to add to peak oil and climate change discussions?  Why there are mostly white people in the conversation?  Even the most controversial topic I’ve ever gotten into – whether people should use dishwashers or not?  I’m for it – I’m right there diving in.

 But I’m drawing a line in the sand here, folks.  Here is a controversy I’m not willing to touch.  I will not discuss whether Sally Fallon and the Weston-Price folks are the Savior of Mankind or the Anti-Christ.  I just won’t.  For those of you who don’t know, Sally Fallon wrote a book – IMHO, it is a very good and interesting book on nutrition.  In it, she advocates many controversial things, including the fermenting of nearly everything.  This book comes up every time I talk about lacto-fermentation.  Now while I do like this book, I also think it is suffers from a common literary disease, known as “I’m fighting the conventional wisdom syndrome” – that is, when someone decides that they and they alone can overturn the conventional wisdom, they tend to get, umm…polemical, and they tend to try and make the distinctions between them and others very, very blatant – when often the distinctions are simply finer than they would like them to be.  You see, if you are setting yourself up as someone who stands against the tide, you want it to look like the tide only ever goes in one direction.  IMHO, the book is good – but not all the truth that ever was.

Now the thing is, people feel very strongly about this book, and about the Weston-Price Foundation to which Fallon is connected.  They either really love it, and everything about it, or really hate it – and many people who feel very strongly about this book feel that others should feel as strongly as they do.  They feel it quite loudly.  Since I don’t feel nearly as strongly, and this is my blog,  I’m going to play evil censor here, and ask that we contain the whole _Nourishing Traditions_ discussion and its merits and demerits and save it for another day, so that we can concentrate on actual lacto-fermenting.  Because, IMHO, even if you don’t believe everything Fallon says, lactofermented foods taste amazing, they are extremely good for you, and that’s enough reason to add them to your diet.

Lactofermentation is pretty simple – a salt brine is created, strong enough to kill off unwanted bacteria, mild enough to encourage lactic fermentation, which makes things sour and yummy.  It isn’t too picky – fermentation is faster in warm weather, slower in cool, so you want to watch it closely if you do it in the summer time.  Otherwise, easy peasy.  And the food is delicious, and nutritious, and amazing – I can’t say enough good things about most lactofermented foods.  Best of all, they are alive, and contain good enzymes that are good for you – for example, kimchi contains a natural antibiotic specific to e-coli, and so may other lactofermented foods, so these are good to eat with meats. 

My own passion for this stuff comes in part from a real liking for the taste and in part because during each of four pregnancies, I threw up between 20 and 40 times every single day for four straight months.  The category of things I could eat without throwing up was very, very small – and kimchi, sauerkraut and brined pickles were among them each time.  They were one of the few things that made me happy during those 16 months of hell.   I am not the only pregnant woman who could eat these things – they are a classic remedy for morning sickness in many countries.  Thus, they can do no wrong – and have only happy memories associated with them.

Add to this that lactofermentation is the only form of food preservation that actually makes the food more nutritious than if it wasn’t fermented - fermentation makes nutrients available, and foods more digestible, so we get more benefits.  Napa cabbage, made into kimchi, is more nutritious than fresh napa.  Regular cabbage, transformed into sauerkraut has more accessible vitamin C, and is more digestible, and doesn’t cause gas in most people the way regular cabbage does.  There’s really not a downside.

Now you may think you hate all these foods – if you’ve only ever eaten canned sauerkraut, you have no idea how delicious they are.  They also don’t have to be that sour - because these are living foods, you can adjust the sourness to taste.   A lot of my favorite kim chi panchan are very mild, even sweet and tangy.  Others are flaming hot (which I love).  So they are worth experimenting with.

The best books on this subject are Sander Katz’s great _Wild Fermentation_ – he has a website with a bunch of recipes and a lot of info on it here: http://www.wildfermentation.com/, Fallon’s book _Nourishing Traditions_ and Linda Zeidrich’s _The Joy of Pickling_.

Ok, here’s the basic project – it works for making fermented (often called kosher-style) pickles, for pickled grape leaves, sauerkraut, kimchi and a host of other good things. You make a brine with some salt and water – kimchi a bit more, pickles a bit less.  For kimchi, I use 3 tablespoons of salt to a quart of water, for pickles 2 tablespoons.  If you are fermenting in warmer weather, a stronger, saltier brine will be useful, if in the cool weather, you can use less.  But it isn’t a very picky process – I’ve used quite little salt too.  But that’s about standard.

Chop up your vegetables (if chopping is called for) and dump them into some kind of non-reactive pot, crock or container.  Make a brine by mixing the salt and water until it is dissolved.  Let the veggies soak overnight if fairly finely chopped, or 48 hours if whole cukes – weight it down with a plastic baggie full of water or a plate covered with a weight – you want minimal to no exposure to air, but enough leakage to let gasses out (this is super important with daikon radishes, because they make explosive gasses – ask me how I know ;-) ).  Take the vegetables out, reserving the brine, and then pack them into a container that you plan to use, but now add spices, and flavorings.  Pour enough brine to cover, and leave it in a reasonably cool spot, no higher than 68 degrees, until it tastes like what you want taste. 

 The easiest way to ferment kimchi is after the initial brining, simply to pack the cabbage into jars, leaving a little headspace, add hot peppers, garlic and ginger, a little sugar and put them in mason jars with the rings on very lightly – the gas can get out, much air can get in – but the traditional method is a barrel or a crock with a lid that can be used to press down.  Or the baggie method works fine. 

How long to ferment? Kimchi usually takes about a week, depending on how strong you like it. Pickles can take several weeks, so can sauerkraut.  The key is to keep tasting it.

What’s the downside?  Well the downside is that these are living foods – they don’t keep forever, unless you can keep them very cool (fridge temps) or unless you can them.  And the bad part of canning them is that you kill many of the living organisms that make them so wonderful – and some of the taste.  If you have a fridge, putting them straight in the fridge will let you keep them for months – my kimchi and sauerkraut keep for about four months in my root cellaring space, which averages about 35-45 degrees.  But the foods do get sourer and sourer and stronger and stronger as you go on.   And they are pretty salty.

On the other hand, they are soooo good – stuffed pickled grape leaves, dill  pickles, mustard pickles, kimchi of all sorts, sauerkraut with dried cherries, juniper sauerkraut…ummm….

What do you do with them once you have them?  Well, we like sauerkraut in lots of things – with meats, in eastern-european style pies, etc….  Kimchi we eat in soup, and also stir fry with garlic and tofu or meat.  Pickles we just plain eat – and all four of my kids can keep up even with me.  Grape leaves we stuff.

 Ok, I will post recipes, but I have to do some family stuff first – later, I promise.  In the meantime, check out Katz’s site and this place for great kimchi http://www.treelight.com/health/nutrition/UltimateKimchi.html

 Sharon

44 Responses to “Lactofermentation”

  1. Wow – I must say I’m completely ignorant on this subject! I was fascinated by your post and now I want to do more research. Thanks for enlightening me!

  2. Paula Hewitt says:

    another interesting post. I have read American pickle recipes that ask for ‘kosher salt’ which is not something Ive seen in Australia. Do you use it, and if so how is if different to regular salt? I think you mentioned in a previous post Bill Mollisons book on lactofermentation, but if it wasnt you – it is worth a read too. I have never heard of Fallon and Weston Price…now I am intrigued and must go surfing to find out more, instead of weeding veggies!

  3. ldc says:

    Don’t try doing sauerkraut in the Delta South – it rots in a standard crock at summer room temps. But you can do a standard kraut recipe in a crock in the fridge; that’s what it takes (or in winter), the climate in spring/ummer/early fall is too hot and humid here. i learned this from a German friend who makes hers (delish!) in a crock in the fridge. Also, too many mold spoor in the air to do it in the summer, at room temps. All the best, ldc

  4. homebrewlibrarian says:

    Actually, I have all three (Katz, Fallon, Ziedrich) books. They each go about fermenting and what can be fermented in different ways. I’ve done a somewhat mild kim chi, sauerkraut, zucchini garlic pickles and sauerruben. Only the sauerruben didn’t taste all that good but I think that’s because I was reusing brine left over from the zucchini pickles. Otherwise, I’m into lactofermentation! Also in the lactofermentation department is kefir and kombucha, both beverages that require a medium (kefir grains for kefir and a “mother” for kombucha) instead of salt. Both quite tasty in their own ways!

    My next adventure will be to try miso. I have vegetable and miso soup with brown rice for breakfast using a mild, soft miso and both the cost and the excessive packaging are driving me nuts! Katz’s book explains miso so I’ll be reading up and trying it out soon.

    Kerri in AK who is so hooked on homemade sauerkraut that she might just have to go make a batch

  5. Ailsa Ek says:

    Oh darn. I was loving the idea of an easy way to deal with cucumber overload until you got to the “reasonably cool spot, no higher than 68 degrees” part. I’m not sure I have such a place in cucumber season.

  6. Sarah says:

    Oooo…if you get successful miso, I want to hear about it! My beloved is extremely fond of miso. And then you’d get tamari as well.

  7. Lisa Z says:

    I made lots of lacto-fermented pickles last year and stored all 12 quarts in the fridge all winter long. They were eaten slowly b/c the kids don’t like them as much as the groc. store varieties and even for me they’re very, very salty. Do you “de-salinize” them before eating? We usually open a new jar, dump out half the salt brine and refill with plain water and then eat from that jar a few days later. Should we dump out all the brine and re-fill with plain water? I think they’re still too salty even with half the brine replaced.

    I used Sally Fallon’s recipe. I guess I will try some other recipes this year, and maybe not make 12 quarts worth.

    Lisa in MN

  8. Jazzy says:

    Thanks. I read the post and chopped up my extra cukes and added salt and mustard seed and some garlic and water – and also a little extra juice from some old dilly beans. I wanted to add dill, but what I had in the fridge had turned yellow. I don’t know where I can store it at 68 degrees or below, but I figure I have a day or two to figure it out. Maybe I’ll go meet a few of my neighbors that appear to have basements! My hope is to discover that all of this is easy and can be done in the time it takes to warm up milk for yogurt. I assume that putting in the fridge right away will keep it too cool? Is this true?

    Thanks for your blog. It’s a gem.

  9. olympia says:

    Thanks for the instructions, Sharon!
    I’m kinda sheepish to admit (as I’ve gotten way too many horrified expressions for this) but my to go to breakfast is toast with peanut butter and kim chee. All the better if the peanut butter is the sweetened kind- the contrast of sweet and rich with salty and savory is just the yummiest for me. Since pre-made kim chee is rather exorbitantly priced, I’ve had to limit my use of it (instead I’ll pair peanut butter with pickles)- I can’t wait to start making kim chee on the cheap myself!

  10. Thanks for the information on this. I can’t say I’ve gone out of my way to learn more about this method of food preservation because, for the most part, this whole process totally grosses me out. I just can’t get past the mental barrier of the fermenting part and the potential for growth of an unpleasant kind.

    And, Sharon?

    1. If I were you I would have stopped at one pregnancy. What are you? Some sort of barfing masochist? But, then again, I pride myself on having barfed only once since 1977 (damn food poisoning in 2003).

    2. Barfing ≠ happy food memories

    Olympia – I know who’s house I’m not accepting breakfast invitations from :)

  11. Your post made me feed my sourdough feeder and reflect on cabbage for kraut.

  12. I love to eat sauerkraut with rice and beans! Yummy combination and also great for digestion.

  13. mims says:

    Sharon,

    I love your description of Noursihing Traditions. YOu hit the nail on the. head. I myself try to be more ecumenical about dietary theories…that is …all traditions have a kernal of truth and to each her own.

    Now if only I could find some great crocks at the thrift. Lacotfermenting in glass jars is so not martha!

  14. Chris says:

    Great post, Sharon and thank you for the balanced view of Nourishing Traditions/Sally Fallon/Weston Price. I’ve learned a lot from them, but like you fall somewhere between love and hate.

    I just fermented my first batch of kraut a few weeks ago and have been dipping into it regularly. In fact, in a utterly Pavlovian response, I had to get up and make a little bowl of kraut after reading your post. I flavored my first batch with a tablespoon or so of grated ginger and some dill and it’s delicious. If you had told me a year ago that I would be salivating at the thought of sauerkraut, I would have called you crazy. Now I’m hooked.

    Another good book on fermentation and other traditional methods of preservation is Preserving Food without Canning or Freezing. The recipes and techniques come from French farmers and they’re vague enough to give you the sense of how forgiving these processes can be.

  15. Deja vu :) I belong to a local WP chapter and I am not hard core, I didn’t like the way Sally F wrote in NT she’s so angry although I may re read some for I’ve heard the recipes are good.

    Last nights meeting was on Lacto Fermentation, Sharon the leader and one of my farm members is really good at it she demonstrated cucumber pickles and saurkraut (cabbage from my farm).

    I need more practice but Sharon’s saurkraut is great. And she made juniper last night, her original instructions to me were to use caraway seeds which I love, she says she likes the juniper better.

    I love Katz’s book. His book the Revolution can (or won’t forget which) be Micowaved it good too.

    I make Kefir and I made vingear following the instructions in Katz’s book.

    Beth

  16. Amy says:

    Paula, kosher salt is coarser grained salt without added iodine. Here in Canada it’s sold as “pickling salt” in quite large cardboard cartons. You want to use salt without iodine because it changes the colour or texture or something of pickles.

  17. Matriarchy says:

    Yes! My grandma was a wringer-washer-using, stove-stoking, chicken-feeding, onion-growing PA Dutch mother of seven. When she died, there was an auction, and my mom bought her sauerkraut crock. But she keeps magazines in it.

    I’ve never fermented anything, but my DH loves kraut, I love miso soup, and we all like pickles. Time to liberate the crock…

  18. Eva says:

    I’ve made great lacto-fermented carrots and beans. Finding a cool place early in the season has been my problem, too.

    If this “whole process totally grosses me out” how do you eat yogurt, bread, wine, beer? All fermented albeit often killed bacteria if you buy pasteurized. But why pasteurize those great bacteria that are good for us? Be wary of food/hygiene industry that says only dead food is good to eat.

  19. Tim H says:

    I have made miso and shoyu (soy sauce) for the past two years based on the instructions found in a book called “The Book of Miso” and also from the instructions included with the cultures I purchased (from GEM Cultures). Here are a few observations based on my experiences:

    1) One incredibly important thing is to make sure the rice is steamed correctly so that it is soft but also not overly wet (this is important if you are making the koji starter yourself). When I did it the first year, I didn’t have a steamer and tried to improvise. The rice didn’t get cooked enough. Suggestion: Have all your trays and everything ready to go, and just pick up perfectly steamed rice from a Chinese place. Also, all of your trays/spoons etc. need to be sanitized. It is really easy to introduce something you don’t want into the koji/miso.
    2) I used lots of shallow, metal pans (about 1 inch deep), and covered them with plastic wrap and incubated the koji in my oven (not using any heat from the oven itself). Over the 48 hours that the koji incubates, it needs a decent amount of outside heat to start with, then by mid-to-late incubation, it start generating its on heat. I used a light bulb/drop cord with a dimmer switch to regulate the amount of extra heat being put into the oven.
    3) Like the rice, the soybeans need to be cooked well (i.e. very soft and mushy but not too wet).

    4) Large crocks work better than small ones. The ratio of exposed surface area to the entire mass is less with a larger crock, and air is the enemy here.

    5) To cover my crocks, I used two pieces of plastic wrap. One on the interior of the crock, pressed all the way down and in contact with the miso (or shoyu). The second piece covered the top of the crock and was “sealed” using a large rubber band around the top….

    Good Luck,

    …Tim

  20. Squrrl says:

    I heart sauerkraut! We made two batches of it last year…the first didn’t work quite right because we let the cabbage set too long before processing and it lost water, so the liquid never covered the top. Probably we could have just chucked the ucky-ish top bit and saved the rest (smelled good) but we wussed out. The second batch was great…even to people who didn’t think they liked the stuff. We thought we’d be swimming in it all year, because we made a lot, but we blew through it. More lactofermenting is _definitely_ on our to-do list.

    Oh, and sauerkraut soup…pretty much like french onion, but with sauerkraut. Yum! (Must be made with a good stock.)

  21. valereee says:

    On the kimchi fermenting in the quarts rather than in crocks with a pressboard on top — I thought that was necessary for the fermentation, to have everything submerged?

  22. NM says:

    Do you pickle the dried cherries in with the sauerkraut? Can I put the sauerkraut in the canning jars to ferment, like the kimchee? I’ve never tasted either, and am very curious. But I keep reading that sauerkraut stinks unbelievably while fermenting, and this has frightened me off. Looking forward to your recipes.

  23. Eva – I’m sure it’s all cultural. I grew up eating yogurt and bread and understand the process well enough. I know how to make my own beer and wine and mostly understand the process in that too. I’m just wary of other, unintended things growing in my food. And that goes for the above items as well as unfamiliar ones too…

  24. Nature Deva says:

    We made sauerkraut at home sev’l years ago for the first time and it came out really badly. Don’t know what went wrong and have been too chicken to try again until now when I have more time (sold part of my biz).

    I have been eating Bubbie’s brand of living sauerkraut like crazy and saying – 3 ingredients, I think I can handle this and try again. Bubbies is only a few bucks per jar though but doing it myself would onlyl be pennies per jar.

    I love the milder kim chee and my husband loves the hot kim chee so we will try those out, too.

    There is a big WAP group near me and I’ve read the SF book, too. I like a lot of what they say but I can’t do cow dairy (allergic) and they seem to eat quite a lot of that (even though it’s raw so if you eat dairy, this is the way to do it) and other foods I don’t really think is all that necessary, either.

    I think each person’s make up is so different from another’s make up that we all have to try different, healthy foods that work well for us. I’ve never heard of anyone allergic to lactofermented produce before, though. I agree that we all need to eat more of these foods, we’d be much healthier as a nation overall.

  25. Eva says:

    When fermented things go bad you can tell- bad taste, slimy consistency.

  26. homebrewlibrarian says:

    @NM

    I heard that sauerkraut would stink, too, but mine didn’t. I could get a whiff of fermenting cabbage if I stuck my nose right up to the crock but that was it. I will say that the ambient temperature in my apartment was 66-67 degrees so that might keep fermentation temperature down thereby keeping things from getting too stinky. Also the humidity was between 60 and 70% too. YMMV.

    @Nature Deva

    How did you brine your cabbage? The traditional way is to pound the living daylights out of it while adding plain salt. You create your own brine from the water in the cabbage. The batch I did didn’t have quite enough liquid to keep the solids submerged under a weight so I added a brine solution to make up the difference. While I did have a fixable mold problem in the crock at the end (I should have pulled the sauerkraut out sooner – d’oh!), the flavor and consistency were terrific. As I mentioned above, the temperature and humidity in my apartment were rather low.

    Kerri in AK

  27. NM says:

    Kerri,
    Thank you; that is encouraging. Didn’t want my husband disowning me for stinking up the house! :} They sell giant cabbages here in the fall, when the weather is cooling off, so maybe that would be a fine time to try sauerkrauting. I’m tempted to try it now, but every time lately that I do something temperature-sensitive, the thermometer zooms up to 90 degrees! Must be Murphy’s law. Wouldn’t want to cause another heat wave … lol. Though I was so intrigued by all of this that I went to the library today and gathered a giant armload of books on pickling everything conceivable. I’m tempted to try pickling some cherries this weekend.
    About a year and a half ago I made salt-preserved lemons and limes. Took me a year to get up the nerve to try them, but oh, the lemons are good! (Haven’t tried the limes. yet.) I kept them in the fridge, so I wouldn’t worry about them going bad, though I understand that where they originated this isn’t done. But I’m a little paranoid about food poisoning. It’s a marvelous way to preserve a batch of citrus; now I want to try salt-preserved oranges.
    Don’t speak very much abbreviation; I don’t know what YMMV means.

  28. emeeathome says:

    NM

    I preserve lemons in salt every year and store the jars in the pantry. I found a jar of three year old lemons while cleaning out the pantry last month. They tasted fine, and were just a little mushier than normal.

    I’m about to do some more this afternoon. And make some lemon cordial which I’ll have to hide from my son.

  29. Segwyne says:

    I love Sally’s books, though I understand others don’t and it got me a stern talking-to on a healthy cooking list. I just loved the ginger carrots, but I use 1/3 the amount of ginger. The technique is the same as for sauerkraut: grate it finely, then pound and add salt (and ginger). Yummy! I also picked all the individual cloves from 2 -3 heads of garlic using the method in NT. Oh, but that was delicious! I should probably make some more again soon.

  30. Squrrl says:

    YMMV= Your mileage may vary.

    Also, wanted to add my agreement that our sauerkraut didn’t stink at all, and you had to be right up on it to smell it at all. And we just did it in the pantry, main floor, room temp. of maybe 70+. Like Sharon says, the “right” microbes are not fussy at all, and they are _rugged_.

  31. Chile says:

    I will second the recommendation for The Joy of Pickling. I happened across it in a used bookstore and picked it up because of the wealth of ethnic recipes in it. I have liked everything I’ve tried from it! I got Wild Fermentation after several friends at the CSA raved about it, but have only tried the sauerkraut from it. My very first time making it and soooo nervous. Loved the result! Favorite lunch for several weeks was rice topped with sauerkrat with Sriracha sauce and toasted sesame seeds.

    Ailsa – I made pickles that were not lacto-fermented with my glut of cukes. Fresh refrigerator pickle recipes are all over the internet. And the Pickled Cucumbers recipe from Joy of Pickling was Japanese with a Chinese flavor – outstanding. (I’ve got 4 jars in the fridge still!)

    I don’t have a crock but I do have half gollon glass jars. I’ve been using those for pickling. It’s easy to set a smaller jar inside, full of water, to weight down the cabbage or whatever. I’d love to have a crock but none of shown up at the thrift stores and I’m not positive it’d be a good idea to buy a used one without knowing the prior uses.

  32. Sharon says:

    Sauerkraut and kimchi don’t smell bad while fermenting – or that much at all. If they do, there’s something wrong. For those suffering from high temps, you could do what they do in Korea, and bury it in the ground to keep it cool.

    Crunchy, if you have bad organisms, you’ll *know* – it really is almost impossible to screw it up and not know – and I’ve only ever screwed it up once – if I can screw up that little, so can you!

    Using canning jars – when you use canning jars, you need to leave more space, and make sure the liquid covers them – but if the stuff is packed tightly enough in the jars, it can’t really float up.

    Sharon

  33. equa yona says:

    Altough I love pickles and grew up on kapusta(sauerkraut)and kielbasa, the several thousand mg of salt per large serving have put me off the stuff for a while. Any info on that in the books mentioned?
    The Ceter For Science In The Public Interest has published a lot of info on the subject of salt consumption
    http://www.cspinet.org/salt/index.html

  34. Lynnet says:

    I’ve been using half-gallon jars for lactofermenting lots of different foods. I learned the technique from my friend Ursula who came from Germany. I have never had any of that white mold problem that happens so often with the crocks.

    I just put up three half-gallon jars of lacto beans, two plain and one with herbs and spices.

    There are really two styles: cabbage, beets, carrots, turnips, etc., cut up fine, pound with salt until the the juices flow well, and layer with onions, spices, etc., as you like. You want about 1 to 1.25 tablespoons pickling salt per jar.

    The second way is for beans and cukes. I cut up cukes unless they are very small, pack into jars with spices, etc., then pour brine over to the top. Green beans must be blanched first, about 10 minutes. The shoulders of the jar pretty well keep the veggies in. You want to leave about 1 inch of head space.

    In either case, screw on the lids but not too tight. They work on my kitchen counter even at 75 degrees, it just doesn’t take as long as in the winter at 65 degrees. It’s good to put a saucer under the jars, so you don’t have pickle juice running over the counter.

    After a few days, with a CLEAN SPOON each time, sample your pickle. When it is sour enough to your liking, put in the frig. It usually takes 6-8 days to ferment. Once in the frig, they can keep at least 6 months and sometimes up to a year, if we don’t eat them first.

    If the veggies have strange-colored growths or have turned funny colors, or smell bad, are slimy, etc., throw them out. You can tell. I have only had failures using crocks; the jars have always done the job for me.

  35. One thing that would make me concerned about this is the strong link between the consumption of fermented / pickled and salted foods and some forms of cancer. In particular, oesophagal cancer and stomach cancer are linked to this sort of food in the diet.

    My father-in-law has been diagnosed with the former, and when you get cancer of the oesophagus, you’re usually young (60s or less) and you are usually given less than a year to live. Of the various types of cancer around, thisis one that you don’t want to get.

    I’m very ignorant of lactofermentation, how it works etc., but I did a truckload of reading when my FIL was diagnosed a few months back, and this risk factor stood out. He eats a diet very high in pickled and salted foods, but is otherwise healthy and not overweight, nor a smoker, and he exercises regularly.

    For the record, I should state that I think the Weston A Price foundation are rather misguided, as they are ‘believers’ in an almost religious idology, rather than basing their food practices on the two logical options: cultural practices (e.g. a traditional mediterranean diet or asian diet and or/evidence-based healthy eating (e.g the Fuhrman eating plan a.k.a. Eat To Live). People who follow Price also tend to be very aggressive and anti-science/nutrition.

    So while I’m intrigued by this, I’d be wary. I think the logical thing is, as always, to eat a balanced diet and not too much of any given food. Basing your diet on any one method of preparation or one particular foodstuff is, evidence seems to indicate, more likely to cause disease than eating a large variety of food prepared in a huge number of ways. And I’ve never read *anything* that says you can eat too many fresh fruits and veggies :-)

  36. Amy says:

    Thanks for the clear explanation. After reading this post, I tried lactofermenting some radish greens (since the silly radishes hadn’t grown anything EXCEPT greens). I didn’t think of it at the beginning as I wasn’t sure what the taste would be like, but after it had fermented somewhat I threw in some chili & garlic sauce and it made a great combination. Now I want to go prowl around in the back yard and find some other odd greens to ferment!

  37. [...] info but a really good blog to read for lots of detailed info on all things food preservation is Casaubon’s Book. Sharon is really very talented in explaining all that you would ever need to know on this subject [...]

  38. Michael Roberts says:

    @equa yona – I haven’t tried fermenting anything yet (except yogurt, which we’ve been making daily for a year now), but I’ve read that if you start your fermentation with half a cup of drained yogurt whey, you can cut down on the salt. This makes sense to me, because lactofermentation runs on lactobacillus, which is the perpetrator of yogurt — the brine is to slow everything else down and let the lactobacillus prevail. So if you *start* with lactobacillus, it stands to reason that you’ll need less salt.

    I’m in Puerto Rico, though, so I might have to go the refrigerator route. No basement, and no cool weather ever. If this works out, I might actually buy a small fridge just for fermentation, so I can cool things to just 70 degrees.

    My wife is Hungarian, so we’re really looking forward to csalamádé (which is effectively sauerkraut with peppers and onions).

  39. Tami says:

    I have just found out about this style of food preservation, haven’t read any books on the subject yet, and based on what I’ve learned on the internet over the last two days I’m planning a trip to the library! This blog was the first blog I’ve read and felt enough passion for to actually add a comment! I’ve been preserving food by steam, waterbath, and pressure canner for a while now, and as I’m happy with the results, I’ve been wondering about the health benefits of this type of preservation vs. eating fresh. I will definately be adding lactofermented foods to my preservation practices! From what I have read, Michael has the right idea, the lacto part of lactofermentation is from the whey that you get off of natural yogurt and you can use significantly less salt when using this vs. just a salted brine. I also agree with Leanne in creating balance in your diet. Life is all about balance and as healthy as lactofermented foods are, I’m sure they can easily be very bad for you when eaten in quantities that create any kind of imbalance. I’m looking forward to opening my horizons and options with lactofermentation in the 2009 season! Thanks for this great blog!

  40. Thanks, and for anyone that is having trouble chopping onions without the crying, here’s an incredibly simple tip – put them in the fridge for a few hours, then chop them straight away after taking them out! No more tears! I found some more onion soup recipes here if anyone wants to try some more recipes.

  41. Great post. I bookmarked your blog.Thanks :)

  42. There are some fascinating points in time in this article but I don’t know if I see all of them middle to heart. There may be some validity but I will take maintain opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we wish more! Added to FeedBurner as nicely

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  44. I have 4 Endless Summer Hydrangeas. They are planted along a fence, they get sun and shade. They were planted on Mother’s Day. All did well until a few days ago. I did spray some weed kiler on some poison ivy and I thought I ws careful not to get the spray on the Hydrangeas. Three are doing well, but one (the one that was closest to the Poison Ivy) has drooping leaves, still green, no spots, just drooping, it even has a bloom starting on it with no signs of dying. I watered it thinking that it may not have enough water because it is planted where the ground starts to slope downward. It is slightly under a limb of a Dogwood Tree but still seems to get good sun. Can anyone provide some tips for me to try and see if I can bring this plant back?

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