The history of fermentation is very interesting. Recipes for storing food are very important in food history throughout the world. Today we pickling with the same sense of well-being than our distant ancestors. We get benefits for health and enjoy fermentation foods.
Today, more than any other time in the past 200 years, people are turning back to the ancient paths of food, reclaiming lacto-fermentation techniques. While many people have never seen real sauerkraut being made, or are familiar with its flavor – we may be two, three, even four generations removed from such experiences – recapturing the skills are still within our reach!
The basic is “Salt + Water = Lacto-fermentation” – formula with high-quality toxic-free components that take little more than loading, locking and walking away.
History of the use of fermentation
The history of fermentation tells that the earliest methods of food preservation involved drying then, later, salting, smoking, and freezing of meats from the hunt.
Human beings create fermented foods since Neolithic times. The first fermented products were beer and wine, then vinegar (soured wine), and cheeses. A little bit later people learn how to make leavened bread, yogurt, and other fermented milk products, pickles, sauerkraut.
Thousands of generations of families have sliced, diced, shredded, pour or mashed fruits, vegetables, grains, milk – even meat – packing each into salt-water filled vessels, stored for weeks, even months, in caves or earthen pits. Amazing, spontaneous, natural microbial transformations when vitamins became more available, create soluble-fiber, as were numerous probiotic bacteria. Perishable foods became imperishable, their flavors more complex!
People learned how to save the bounty of the harvest through the cold months and lean times. And they learned to do it deliciously. Fermentation makes the end product more digestible. Also, fermentation creates improved flavor and texture, appearance, and aroma. Laktofermentation synthesizes vitamins (C, B-12, B-2, and other) and replenishes intestinal microflora.
In every corner of the globe, knowledge and techniques of the “pickling” process – also known as brine-cured, fermented, lacto-fermented, cultured and aged – were learned through the immersion of the senses. There were no recipe cards or books that were as precise or instructive, as the familiar complex flavors, mouth-watering aromas, and textures of perfectly aged foods, created using small-batch, artisan-style pickling methods. The senses of seeing, touching, smelling and tasting were the standards of knowledge, passed from one generation to the next.
We know that the Egyptians put in tombs large jars of wine and other preserved staples for a comfort afterlife.
In South America, people began preserving peppers as early as 2500 b.c. In India at the same time people using and preserving onions, garlic, and cucumbers. The Egyptians praised Osiris for the brewing of beer and the Greeks established Bacchus as the god of wine.
Two Types of Fermentation
History of fermentation tells us about two types of fermented foods. Fermentations are foods preserved by the action of microorganisms – molds, yeasts, or bacteria. Usually, it is the fermentation of sugar to alcohol using yeast. It is the first type. The second type is the use of bacteria such as lactobacillus. For example for making yogurt and sauerkraut.
Many pickling products are simply prepared with brine, vinegar, or another acid such as lemon juice.
Salting and lacto
At one time, salting was almost the only method by which food could be preserved on a large scale in temperate climes. Barrels of salt meat and fish were essential in all big establishments. The art of curing in brine was mast have for every farmer.
There are two distinct methods of salting.
- First method: you use a mild solution in which products undergo a slight fermentation.
- Second method: you use enough salt to prevent fermentation altogether.
Both these methods are part of History of Fermentation and still valuable for preserving meat, lard, fish, beans, and vegetables.
The effectiveness of salting is due to the fact that the bacteria and other microscopic organisms cannot grove in the absence of water.
Old traditions of the seasonal rhythm of planting, growing, harvesting and preserving – the ancient paths of survival – continue to exist in some parts of the world today. Koreans still cherish their kimchi, Japanese have their traditionally-aged soy sauce, and much of Europe values several forms of sauerkraut. Eating naturally-cured sausage in parts of Italy, is to taste the foods of generations past.
Sterilization – dead food
Sterilization kills the bacteria and other microorganisms by subjecting them to heat. To prevent other organisms from entering, the containers must then be made completely air-tight.
In present days sterilization by heat, known as bottling and canning, has almost completely ousted salting in commercial purposes. For home cooking it has disadvantages.