Lactic fermentation is an ancient method used by many peoples throughout the world for preserving vegetables. Even before cultivating vegetables, man fermented wild plants.
Lacto fermented cabbage was already known in China some six thousand years ago and served as a staple food for those who built the Great Wall of China. It is thought the Mongols of Northern China brought it with them and its use spread throughout Europe by migrating tribes. Today the dish known as "sauerkraut" is still the German national dish, but versions of it are prepared in most European countries, from England to Russia. James Cook always took a store of sauerkraut on his sea voyages, since experience had taught him that it prevented scurvy.
This acquired knowledge was important to the survival of humans as it enabled them to preserve recently harvested foods and save them for the winter months when fresh food was scarce.
Many peoples, in particular the Koreans, the Japanese and the Northern and Central Europeans, have used lactic fermentation as a practical method of preservation, as well as for the particular flavour the process gives to foods.
Kimjang, the tradition of making and sharing of kimchi that usually takes place in late autumn, was added to the list (UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity) as "Kimjang, making and sharing kimchi in the Republic of Korea". The practice of Kimjang reaffirms Korean identity and strengthens family cooperation. Kimjang is also an important reminder for many Koreans that human communities need to live in harmony with nature. (Wikipedia®)
With the development of pasteurization and freezing as methods of preservation, this more traditional technique has fallen into disuse in most "developed" countries. As a result, poor gut health in these countries has become widespread.
There are still many common foods that you may be surprised to learn are fermented such as coffee, chocolate, certain teas, olives, sourdough bread, cheese, cultured butter, salami, wine, yogourts and their kin, to name but a few.
Great Wall of China at sunrise. Built c.220–206 BC. Photo: ShutterstockKimchi pots in South Korea. Photo: ShutterstockJangdokdae, large ceramic vessels used to ferment Kimchi. Photo: ShutterstockA variety of fermented foods at Gwangjang Market in Seoul, Korea. Photo: ShutterstockTypical Bavavian beer garden fare: sauerkraut, horseradish, sausages and beer. Photo: Shutterstock<>1 - 5x
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Today, however, the medical establishment is faced with a new and worrisome phenomenon, as an increasing number of bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics. Alternative solutions are being sought for the prevention and the treatment of infectious diseases.
Raw fermented foods are empirically known as an important factor contributing to health and disease prevention, and researchers throughout the world are now looking into the scientific basis for the therapeutic qualities of fermented foods.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Our raw cultured vegetables are the result of a natural ancestral process called "lactic fermentation" or "lactic acid fermentation".
They are organic, unpeeled and unpasteurized, and therefore contain not only the fibres, minerals, vitamins and trace-elements found in freshly-harvested vegetables, but also enzymes, lactic bacteria and lactic acid, which are all important for your health.
Here are some of the health benefits offered by our products:
• The live lactic bacteria that are involved in the production of our products are so beneficial to health that they have often been called "life preserving agents".
• They contribute to the protection of the body against infections and stimulate the immune system.
• They improve the digestion process by regulating the level of acidity in the digestive tract and by stimulating the production of beneficial intestinal flora.
• They act as anti-oxidants.
• They facilitate the synthesis of certain vitamins, such as vitamins C and B12 (which can only be produced in the presence of lactic bacteria).
• They are known to have a soothing effect on the nervous system.
• In producing lactic acid and enzymes, the lactic bacteria also facilitate the break-down of proteins and hence their assimilation.
• Our fermented vegetables are recommended for diabetics, since the sugar content of vegetables is transformed by lactic bacteria into a more assimilable form.
• The lactic acid contained in our products does not have the harmful acidifying effect on the human system that other organic acids tend to have. In fact, it helps prevent arthritis.
Caldwell Bio Fermentation, in association with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), are the first to apply sustained microbiological research and practical production know-how to the traditional practice of lacto fermentation.
In 2007, the team was awarded the FPTT Excellence in Technology Transfer Award for the successful commercialization of this process.
The scientific literature regarding the health benefits of lactic fermentation is voluminous. Following are just a couple of the many publications on the subject:
• A major study by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), entitled "Fermented Fruits and Vegetables - a Global Perspective". Click here to read it.
• A press release from the University of North Carolina concerning the research on lactic acid bacteria (LAB) performed by Dr. Fred Breidt. Click here to read it.
We have completed a comparative study of the three main fermentation options - without a starter; with whey; with a starter. Click here to download this fascinating report.
We also offer our commercial starters and our accumulated scientific knowledge and production expertise to other producers of raw cultured vegetables. Contact us for more information.
We are committed to running our business in an environmentally sound and sustainable manner. We make every effort to reduce the overall impact of our activities on the environment.
The traditional practice of lacto fermentation is much less demanding on the environment than other food preservation methods, which often consume large amounts of energy for pasteurization or sterilization, and can involve chemical preservatives.
Q: Why should I eat fermented vegetables when I can have fresh vegetables?
A: Because fermented vegetables are somewhat "predigested", and contain a lot of enzymes, they will be easier to digest and your body will have an easier time assimilating all the nutrients the vegetables contain. They will also help you digest and assimilate the other foods you eat.
A: Yes, certainly. Spontaneous fermentation, i.e. fermentation with only those micro-organisms naturally present on the vegetables, is traditional but can produce variable results. In addition, when vegetables are allowed to ferment with only naturally-occurring micro-organisms, there will be wide fluctuations in taste and/or conservation since there is no way to tell which bacteria or yeast will prevail over the others. A controlled fermentation process using an appropriate starter culture is therefore recommended. Inoculating the vegetables with our starter culture makes it possible to decrease the pH to a safe level in less than 24 hours, hereby ensuring the rapid destruction of harmful micro-organisms. This is not possible with spontaneous fermentation. Caldwell Starter Culture is formulated specifically for fermenting vegetables.