Lacto-fermentation – what is that?

Lacto-fermentation is a method of preserving food in anaerobic environment (without air). The salt inhibits the pathogenic bacteria and favors the lactic bacteria that will transform the sugar contained in the vegetables into lactic acid.lacto-fermentation-IMG_7634

Nothing to do with adding milk, it is the lactic acid bacteria that gave their name to lacto-fermentation. The best known preparation in lacto-fermentation is sauerkraut.

Lacto-fermentation – why?

  • This is an easy and safe method – failed jars are signaled by a foul smell.
  • It’s sustainable, no need for energy except yours to prepare the vegetables.
  • The prepared jars can be stored at room temperature for years.
  • Lacto-fermentation avoids food waste by an easy and fast procedure.
  • Lacto-fermented vegetables are enriched with vitamins, enzymes, nutrients and pro biotics.
  • They help to assimilate food, to digest, to strengthen the intestinal flora and the immune system.

What can be lacto-fermented?

The range is large and goes through vegetables, leaves, fruits, sprouted seeds, beverages, dairy, up to meat and fish. My favorites are the different cabbages (Chinese cabbage, white cabbage, red cabbage, cauliflower, …), root vegetables (carrots, beets, turnips, …) and leaves (wild garlic, basil, …).

How to proceed?

The material

The material is limited to few things:

  • Glass jars with a clamping system, as for sterilization (Le Parfait, Weck, …), do not use jam jars. You can easily find those jars on garage sales.
  • Possibly weights to hold the vegetables under the surface of the liquid (glass lids from Weck jars, dinette saucer, …).
  • Rubbers, which do not need to be new, but soft and in good condition.
  • Equipment for cutting vegetables (knives, grater, mandolin, food processor, …).
  • A scale to weigh vegetables and salt.
  • A glass bottle to prepare the brine.


Apart from the vegetables to be prepared and any spices, you only need one or two things:

  • salt (coarse sea salt, no additives) – in all cases,
  • non-chlorinated water (let tap water stand for a few hours in a carafe) – only for preparations in brine.

Basic recipe

Depending on the vegetables and the desired result, choose the salt method for a crunchier result or the brine method for vegetables in large pieces or leaves. For cabbages, count about one liter jar for one kilogram of vegetables.

Only with salt

For sauerkraut, kimchi and all shredded vegetables.

  • Clean the vegetables, without over-washing them.2018-LVH-AtelierLactoFermentation-IMG_7863
  • Grate or cut into thin strips.
  • Weigh the vegetables and add 10 grams of salt per 1 kilogram of vegetables.
  • Knead (strongly!!!) until the vegetable juice comes out.
  • Pack vegetables and juice into a jar to within 2 cm of the rim.

In brine

For cauliflower, pickles, garlic cloves, tomatoes, leaves, diced or sliced beets, …

  • Clean the vegetables, without over-washing them.IMG_3712
  • Grate, cut or leave whole.
  • Pack the vegetables into a jar to within 2 cm of the rim.
  • Prepare a brine with 30 grams of salt for 1 liter of water: fill for example a glass bottle and shake until the salt dissolves. The quantity is enough for several jars.
  • Pour brine over vegetables to within 2 cm of edge.

In all cases

  • Close the jar with the rubber. lacto-fermentation-IMG_7595 2
  • Note the date and possibly the contents on the jar.
  • Place on a rimmed tray at room temperature for 5 to 7 days – be careful, the jars may spit!
  • Put in a cooler place (garage, cellar, …) until 3 weeks after the date marked on the pot.
  • After opening, if there is a foul odor, discard the contents. Keep the opened jar preferably in a cool place.

How to consume facto-fermented vegetables?

We only eat them as they come out of the jar. It seems that heating the vegetables does not affect their properties too much, but I doubt it a little… In version raw food, here is how I use it:

  • As an appetizer, about two tablespoons per person and meal, possibly accompanied by a mild avocado sauce or sunflower or cashew nut mix.
  • Added and mixed with other vegetables and dried fruits to make a sauce or spread.
  • Added in a mixed salad (lettuce, grated, raisins, zucchini, cucumber, …).
  • I use the juice or brine from the jars instead of vinegar in my salads.

To go further

LactoFermentationI invite you to discover the site of Marie-Claire Frédéric: nicrunicuit.comit is full of ideas, tips, recipes and advice.

You will find some suggestions for spice combinations in the dark blue branch of the attached mind map.