Fermentation has been practiced by many cultures for centuries. These processes have been handed down and and passed down, creating family secret foods and national dishes. The most familiar fermented foods are made using lacto-fermentation.
WHAT IS LACTO-FERMENTATION?
The “lacto” portion of the term refers to a specific species of bacteria, namely Lactobacillus. Various strains of these bacteria are present on the surface of all plants, and are also common for the human’s gastrointestinal tracts, mouths and vaginas.
Lactobacillus bacteria is named such because it was first discovered in milk ferments. These bacteria use lactose or other sugars and convert them into lactic acid. However, lacto-fermentation does not necessarily need to involve dairy products.
Lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. Beyond preservation advantages, lacto-fermentation has many other health benefits:
1. Enhanced digestion and nutrient absorption
Fermented foods are more easily absorbed than other foods, and this is their top benefit. They enhance digestion, and soothe the digestive tract. Give your intestines healthy bacteria, to help your body get rid of harmful bacteria. These bacteria gives the body a power to absorb nutrients from food.
2. Immunity boost
Your intestines are your biggest ally against ailments. Healthy bacteria in lacto-fermented foods will help you build up a strong immune system. Healthy bacteria regulate the function of the immune cells, and prevent autoimmune reactions like inflammation.
3. Stronger brain
Improve Brain Functions
As with most bodily processes, your brain is connected to your digestive and immune system. For an example of this, think about the last time you were sick with the cold or flu and how fuzzy your head felt. The vagus nerve is responsible for this connection.
The vagus nerve is one of 12 cranial nerves that transfers information from your intestinal nervous system to your central nervous system located in your brain. Maintaining a healthy amount of good bacteria and limiting unhealthy bacteria can keep this line of communication between the two systems open, preventing and improving cognitive issues.
4. Contain Powerful Antioxidants
Lacto-fermented foods contain a variety of powerful antioxidants that can attack free radicals known to cause cancer. These antioxidants can also fight inflammation and strengthen your immune system. This may help you deal with eczema, arthritis, and other conditions that are impacted by inflammation or an autoimmune response.
5. Lose Weight by Eating More Sauerkraut
Lacto-fermented foods help regulate various hormonal functions. This helps you control your food cravings and suppress your appetite. Studies show that people with a high intake of healthy probiotics tend to have a lower risk for obesity.
MAKE YOUR OWN LACTO-FERMENTED ONIONS
Make your own fermented foods to avoid artificial additives that are commonly added to store-bought products. Always use natural salt in your homemade fermented foods. Try Himalayan pink salt, Celtic sea salt, or kosher salt. These are packed with minerals. Commercial fermented foods are made with table salt.
You can use fermented onions in so many ways. Add these to your sandwiches, salads, tacos, and almost any other dish that fits your taste buds.
– 1 kilogram (2.2) pounds small onions or shallots, peeled
– A handful of garlic cloves, peeled
– 50 g natural salt
– 1 l pure water
You will also need wide-mouth jars with airtight lids.
– Black pepper
– Dried chili
– You can slice the onions or use them whole.
– Prepare the brine: Dissolve 50 g of natural salt in one liter (about one quart) of water.
– Place the onions in the jars a little more than half full. Pour the brine over them, leave about 1-2 inches head-space for the fermentation gas.
– Cover the jars with their airtight lids.
– Culture at room temperature (about 60-70 F is best), until desired flavor and texture are achieved. Open the lid daily for the first two weeks, to release the accumulated fermentation gas. After that, every other day.
– Fermentation process can take up to 1 or 2 months to complete. Some people leave it for up to 3 months.
– If your jar, upon opening smells putrid, go with your instinct and throw it out. Start over.
The above is a very easy process, even for a beginner. Once you get the hang of it, you can ferment almost any vegetable.
The brine used in lacto-fermented foods creates an anaerobic, acidic environment. Anaerobic means that there is no oxygen present in the environment. Many lacto-fermented recipes emphasize keeping the food below the level of the brine because the “bad guys” are unable to grow in this environment, while the “good guys” have everything they need.
Lacto-fermentation is safe, easy, healthy and economical. Foods may be kept this way in cool storage for months, providing enzyme-rich foods throughout winter when fresh produce is scarce, yet building up the immune system.
Try to make your own!