Natural Fermentation Makes a Much Better Kraut

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Back in the day, before the rise of industrial food production, people pickled differently.

The method used was natural fermentation (or lacto-fermentation or lactic acid fermentation). All that was needed was produce, salt, and a jar. No need for starter cultures since fresh produce naturally has live lactic acid cultures. The produce was washed, chopped, or sliced, and mixed with salt. The salt draws out juices, preserves the vegetables, and gets the fermentation process started. The mixture was packed into air-tight jars, crocks, or barrels and placed in a warm spot. Ready to eat to stave off starvation in the winter and scurvy on long sea journeys.

The natural fermentation process creates live probiotics necessary for healthy digestion. On the other hand, your grocery store pickles and krauts are often made using vinegar (usually in place of fermentation) and pasteurization (which kills the live cultures), to produce a uniform, shelf-stable product. What’s missing is a lot of healthy stuff.

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