Fermented Foods and Beverages Video by Sarah Pope

Sarah Pope is a local chapter leader in Florida. She also blogs as The Healthy Home Economist.


By Sarah Pope

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, home preservation of vegetables and fruits was accomplished without the aid of canning, refrigeration or freezing.

Even milk was not typically consumed in a fresh state and was usually eaten as yogurt [picture of bowl of yogurt] and cheese [picture of cheese] or clabbered and then separated into curds and whey [picture of jar of whey next to a bowl of cream cheese].

The traditional method for preservation of milk, vegetables, and meat involves a process called lacto-fermentation. In the fermentation of raw milk, beneficial lactic acid-producing bacteria naturally present in the milk initiate the digestion or breaking down of milk sugar, known as lactose, and milk proteins like casein.

When enough lactic acid is produced by these friendly bacteria and fermentation is complete, milk is protected from spoilage for several days, weeks or even years as is the case with aged cheeses [picture of cheddar cheese].

Meat can be preserved by lacto-fermentation as well. Hard, aged sausages, such as traditionally prepared salami, are lacto-fermented foods.

The process of lacto-fermentation works in a similar manner with plant foods, transforming cabbage into sauerkraut [picture of sauerkraut] and cucumbers into pickles [picture of pickles]. While not traditionally lacto-fermented, fruit can also be transformed into chutneys and marmalades using the same process [picture of apricot butter].

Lactic acid preserves food by inhibiting putrefying bacteria. This organic acid is produced by a beneficial bacterium present on the surface of all plants and animals – even our own skin! Traditional cuisines from around the world prized lactofermented foods and beverages for their medicinal properties as well as delicious taste. Most traditional cuisines included at least one fermented food or beverage with every meal, which worked to improve digestion and nutrient absorption [show me pouring a glass of kombucha into a glass].

Regular consumption of traditionally fermented foods and drinks promotes the growth of healthy flora and overall balance in the intestines. A 1999 study published in the Lancet found that consumption of lacto-fermented vegetables in children was associated with low rates of asthma, skin problems and auto immune disorders in general.

Lacto-fermented foods are rich in enzymes as well as beneficial bacteria. Think of lactofermented foods as “super-raw” foods; the enzymes in lacto-fermented foods more than compensate for the enzymes lost in the foods that are cooked.

Whey and Cream Cheese

When embarking upon the adventure of lactofermentation in your own kitchen, the dish to try first is liquid whey and cream cheese.

Liquid whey serves as an inoculant and so is of critical value in fermenting vegetables, fruit chutneys and beverages; having some on hand is of primarily importance when incorporating these traditional methods into your routine.

[Begin Demonstration] Whey must be homemade and can be easily made by straining the clear liquid from plain yogurt, kefir, or clabbered raw milk through a dishtowel into a bowl. Powdered whey from the store cannot be used as a substitute as whey is very fragile and its qualities are ruined when it is dried or powdered.

Once separated liquid whey can be stored in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to six months [End Demonstration].

The cream cheese will last up to one month in the refrigerator and can be used in recipes such as cheese cake or even blended with fruit and a bit of maple syrup for an enzyme-rich, probiotic-rich spread for sourdough bread or properly prepared muffins. [show me stirring in some maple syrup with cream cheese in a bowl]!

Once you’ve got a jar of liquid whey in your refrigerator, the sky is the limit with regard to how far your fermenting creativity can take you.

One dish to try that is sure to please is lacto-fermented salsa.

Salsa is a popular food that is a crowd pleasing condiment when pared with Mexican foods or healthy chips and crackers.

Lacto-Fermented Salsa

  • 4 medium tomatoes, peeled seeded and diced (dip tomatoes in pan of boiling filtered water for 5 sec each – skin peels right off)
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup chopped chile pepper, hot or mild
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 TBL sea salt
  • 4 TBL whey
  • ¼ cup filtered water

To make, simply mix all ingredients together in a bowl and then place in a quart or half gallon sized wide mouth mason jar [list each ingredient with voice over of actual preparation takes place] . Press down gently with an appropriate instrument so liquid covers the vegetables.

Leave at least 1 inch at the top. Cover tightly and leave at room temperature for 2 days and then refrigerate. Salsa will last a month or two when made in this traditional manner. Another popular fermented food is sauerkraut. You can find a video on how to make this traditional dish on my blog.

Fermented Beverages

Delicious lactic acid-containing beverages can also be fermented in your own kitchen using liquid whey as the starter.

Fermented beverages were considered superior to plain water for quenching thirst by traditional cultures and modern research has demonstrated the wisdom of including them in the diet.

Natural fermented drinks contain large quantities of electrolytes in easily absorbable ionized form, beneficial bacteria, beneficial acids and enzymes that help digestion, and small amounts of sugars, which cut thirst quickly and replenish lost minerals in a hurry.

Lacto-Fermented Ginger Ale

A wonderful first drink to ferment in your home is old fashioned ginger ale.

  • ¾ cup organic ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼-1/2 cup sucanat
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ cup liquid whey
  • 2 quarts filtered water

Mix all ingredients in a 2 quart glass jug [list ingredients with voice over while demonstrating the process]. Stir and over tightly. Leave at room temperature for 2-3 days. Chill and store in the refrigerator. Serve mixed with carbonated water to delight your family as a very healthy alternative to store bought sodas. It is also most refreshing after hot and sunny work outside.

I hope this video inspires you to make some liquid whey and embark on your personal lactofermentation adventure right away.

For even more video recipes on how to lacto-ferment foods and drinks, please check out the free video library on my blog.

Also, be sure to peruse the Weston A. Price Foundation Shopping Guide for where to purchase lacto-fermented foods from small scale producers.

This is Sarah Pope, The Healthy Home Economist and Chapter Leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation wishing you all the very best in the kitchen!

Sarah Couture Pope is a Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude graduate in Economics from Furman University and holds a Master's degree in Governmental Administration from the University of Pennsylvania. She worked for over ten years in the field of Information Technology where she designed and managed the implementation of financial systems for both government and corporate clients. She is currently raising three young children with her husband and has been the WAPF Chapter Leader of Tampa, FL since 2002.

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© 2015 The Weston A. Price Foundation for Wise Traditions in Food, Farming, and the Healing Arts.