Do lacto fermented pickles need vinegar? The answer is “no”. The modern food-processing industry replaced the traditional fermentation process with more cheep distilled acid. Nutrient-dense lactic-acid brine (created during fermentation from lactic-acid bacteria) against dead-nutrition distilled acetic-acid vinegar! Big food companies could not mass-produce pickled-foods with lacto-fermenting artisan methods.
Using distilled acetic-acid vinegar for “pickling” can best be described as an embalming and killing process. Distilled vinegar, for example, is an effective household cleaner, weed and plant killer, its acid pH effectively killing almost every microbe – harmful or beneficial – with which it comes into contact.
Using distilled vinegar has absolutely nothing in common with lacto-fermented rich-in-probiotics living foods!
Distilled vinegar is not appropriate in a healthy diet. But not ALL vinegars are unhealthy. Some, like Apple Cider Vinegar is healthy. It is properly fermented, not pasteurized, and are considered to be “raw”, loaded with “living nutrition”. Even so, the “raw” vinegars does not have a place in the early stages of lacto-fermentation.
Can I use “raw” vinegar in my brine?
The science short answer is: “no”. There’s no need to use “raw” vinegar as a preservative in a lacto-fermented food.
Lactic acid is the dominant acid. It created during fermentation by lactic-acid bacteria. The proper ratio of lactic:acetic acids needs to be in a 4:1 ratio.
Adding vinegar to a lacto-fermentation brine, disrupts that ratio, throwing the lacto-fermentation out of balance!
The lactic-acid bacteria will be stunted, unable to develop the correct pH and natural-preservative qualities that are desirable in lacto-fermentation.
The only reason to add vinegar is for more flavor. Some people, for example, will mix a 50/50 solution of apple cider vinegar with sugar, creating a sweet and sour mixture, which they pour on sliced, lacto-fermented pickles for hamburgers, sandwiches and salads.
For lacto-fermentation are perfect oak buckets and barrels.