Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sauerkraut Saga - Part 3 - The History and Some Theory of Lacto fermentation

The sauerkraut method of preserving vegetables has been used for centuries.  It was a method of keeping some of the fall harvest late into winter without refrigeration. In central and eastern Europe; it was sauerkraut or a similar dish by a different regional name.  In the east, the dish is kimchi, similar to sauerkraut, but usually spicier. In central America the dish is Curtido; and is usually milder and fermented for a shorter period of time.

The practice in all the regions was the same.  Members of the cabbage family are fermented using the naturally occurring bacteria.  A salt brine is used to encourage the growth of the desirable bacterial while suppressing the growth of undesirable forms.

Very little has changed in many centuries.  We now recognize that the bacteria we want are anaerobic; that as, they do live in the presence or air and the ones we do not want are aerobic.  This gives us a few better ways to protect the fermenting batch.  We have isolated the bacteria and have names for them.  Little else has changed for the home sauerkraut, kimchi, or Curtido maker.

Next - Controlling the primary variables, air, salt and water.

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