Guest Post: Lacto-Fermentation, Baby!

Today’s guest post is written by my good friend Shaye from The Elliott Homestead. She’s one lacto-fermenting rock star! I’ve yet to learn the art of preserving foods through fermentation, so my buddy will do all the explaining here!

First off, let me just say this: I love New Life On A Homestead.  I love having a place (be-it in some far off computer galaxy) that us homesteaders can unite and share in our experiences, both good and bad.  I love that we can meet friends here daily – to encourage one another in our homesteading journey.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

Onward we go to the point of this post:

There is something quite humbling about writing a blog.

Even though I can pretend like I know what I’m doing, if I’m bein’ honest with you readers, half the time I don’t have a clue.

Since I began blogging, almost a year ago, I have already changed the way I do multiple things.  For example, I have an entirely new soaked whole wheat bread recipe that I use.  Not to mention, I now grind my own flour.  Looking back on past posts, I suppose, is a good way to remember my journey.  However, it can also be quite humiliating at moments.

Like when I got you all excited about using sourdough starters to cook bread, pancakes, and cookies…

And then I forgot to feed my starter and it died faster than a pet gerbil.

Yikes.  I never told you that little fact, did I?

Today, I know I am venturing into one of these humbling moments.  And because I document our food/life/family journey every day, you all get to bear witness to it.

Lucky you!

Anyway, I do have a point.  Today, I want to talk about lacto-fermented vegetables as a method of preservation.  Because Sally Fallon can word this much better than I ever could, please read the following:

“It may seem strange to use that, in earlier times, people knew how to preserve vegetables for long periods without the use of freezers or canning machines.  This was done through the process of lacto-fermentation. Lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits putrefying bacteria.  Starches and sugars in vegetables and fruits are converted into lactic acid by the many species of lactic-acid-producing bacteria.  These lactobacilli are ubiquitous, present on the surface of all living things and especially numerous on leaves and roots of plants growing in or near the ground.  Man needs only to learn the techniques for controlling and encouraging their proliferation to put them to his own use, just has he has learned to put certain yeasts to use in converting the sugars in grape juice to alcohol in wine.”

So here’s the run down: Lacto-fermentation uses the natural production of lactic acid to preserve vegetables and fruits (instead of the conventional methods of vinegar or sugar).  The bonus is this:  lacto-fermenation actually increases the nutritional quality of the vegetables and fruits!  Ya, baby!

When I began in lacto-fermentation, I started with the “easiest” transition vegetable – gingered carrots.  And the technique was pretty simple:  Shred the carrots and ginger, add a generous pinch of salt, squish with a meat mallet (or in my case, wooden pummel) to release the juices in the carrots.  Then, stuff into a mason jar, allowing the released carrot juices to cover them.  Leave it out on the counter for three days before moving to cold storage.

“The ancients understood the fact that important chemical changes took place during this type of fermentation.  Their name for this change was ‘alchemy’.  Like the fermentation of dairy products, preservation of vegetables and fruits by the lacto-fermentation has numerous advantages beyond those of simple preservation.  The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels.  These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances.  Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation, but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.  Other alchemical by-products include hydrogen peroxide and small amounts of benzoic acid.”

We’ve since become semi-acquire to the acidic ting of lacto-fermented vegetables, and while I have yet to venture into other vegetables, I am slowing and happily learning the proper methods for preparing such treats.  I have a recipe for a fermented beet and apple chutney that I cannot wait to try!


Lactic-acid fermented vegetables and fruit chutneys are not meant to be eaten in large quantities but as condiments.  They go beautifully with meats and fish of all sorts, as well as with pulses and grains.  They are easy to prepare, and they confer health benefits that cannot be underestimated.”

Might I encourage you to venture into the unknown realm of lactic acid?

Might I encourage you to preserve some of your summer bounty in this wonderful, ancient way?

Might I have you over for dinner so that you can taste test my wonderful gingered carrots alongside a grilled steak?

Okay.  Scratch that last one.  Something tells me hubby would be very saddened if I used up all his currently-deep-frozen steaks.

But do give lacto-fermentation a try! You never know what delicious treasures you’ll find in the form of lactic acid!

“Maybe I’m a nerd, but I get a sweet satisfaction out of washing dishes, cooking from scratch, and brewing kombucha.  I know.  That means I’m a nerd.  But, none-the-less, I blog to revive the homesteading spirit inherent in all of us!  Be it nerdy or not.  I often look to the past for my inspiration – traditional & effective methods of food preparation and preservation, cloth diapering, homemade cleaners and beauty products, gardening & gleaning, home brewing, fermenting foods – you name it!  Rediscovering traditional ways of living can be very rewarding for geeks like me!  Each of us has our own unique way of building a homestead (wherever and whatever that may be) and I hope to encourage, learn from, and laugh with folks along the way.  From learning to cook a whole chicken to mixin’ up homemade deodorant and everything in between – there is such fun to be had in the home!  With husband, Stuart, and baby daughter, Georgia, I hope to further grow our homestead to a place that is overfilled with joy, fellowship, and homegrown food!”  Shaye can be found cooking and blogging over on her homestead at!

8 thoughts on “Guest Post: Lacto-Fermentation, Baby!”

  1. I just listened to a podcast over at The Survival Podcast all about this topic! Might have to try our hand at making some homemade sauerkraut. I’ve heard it is actually a great way to treat acid reflux because it creates balance in your digestive system.

  2. Jill, let your nose be your guide. If it smells bad, throw it out. Believe me, you will know if it is bad from the smell! Otherwise, you’re good to go.

    I went on a lacto fermenting frenzy this summer. I currently have 3 quarts of pickles, 1 quart of sauerkraut, 1 quart of sliced carrots with onion and garlic (love these!), 1 quart of salsa, 2 quarts of dilly beans, 1 pint of daikon radish, 1 quart of beets, 1 quart of bananna peppers and 2 quarts and 1 pint of a very spicy pepper, cauliflower, onion, garlic, celery and carrot mix. Lacto fermenting is SO EASY! I highly recommend it!

    The only time I ever used whey my ferments went bad, so I don’t use whey. I use a brine of 1 1/2 T of sea salt per 2 cups of water for everything but sauerkraut. For sauerkraut, I salt the shredded cabbage, let it sit for a while to draw the water out, then stuff it into the jar and the water will rise to cover the cabbage.

  3. I’ve been debating whether to dabble in lacto-fermentation. But here’s my roadblock: we’ve been trained to view fermentation to be akin to mold…i.e. rotten, spoiled, and bad.

    So how do you know where that line is betweenb where your lacto-fermented food is still good….and when it’s gone bad?

    What I mean is…with canning, you can tell when you’ve screwed up if the bubble on your jar lid pops back up. (Something’s brewing in that jar that shouldn’t be.) But how do you tell when your fermented food changed in its chemical make up – – but not in a safe to eat way?

  4. I have Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon- what fabulous cookbook/textbook!
    I have made this recipe.
    Let me tell you, if you make it without the whey and just the salt it is totally AWFUL.
    I wanted to warn anyone before going to all that work and one can’t taste it right away to see if their efforts paid off.

    However, don’t fret, making homemade whey is super easy.
    Buy organic full milk yogurt
    Line a strainer over a bowl with a towel- (light weight not terry cloth, cheese clothe is too thin)
    pour in the yogurt and let the whey run out
    after a few hours tie up the ends of the cloth and hang over a pitcher
    until it stops dripping- don’t squeeze
    I do it in the evening and by morning it is ready.

    viola’ Whey and cream cheese

    Add some salt to the cream cheese and yum- or onion salt and chives…….
    The whey is good for about 6 months in a glass jar. in the refrig.*

    *Also to note is cold storage really means cold. I would have to use the refrig. my basement is just not cold enough.
    Sadly, I can only dedicate a small portion of my refrig to foods I can’t eat for six months.
    The whey is also an excellent tonic. I add 1 Tbs. whey
    1 Tbs. lemon juice
    1/4- 1/2 cup water and gulp it down.

    Sally Fallon will teach you so much about true nutrition- you will rarely hear in the news the real food truth. Get it just for the reading.


  5. Great post! I have a recipe for lacto-fermented salsa that I am trying to find one last ingredient for: whey. Other than that, I will set to try this! I might try the ginger carrots too! Sounds yummy!

  6. Hi,
    Last year I did kim chi in much the same way. The beauty of kim chi is you can use a variety of your harvest. Including the stumps and leaves of broccoli or cauliflower. I also added carrot, apple, swiss chard and mustard leaves. I added the ginger, chili peppers and salt and let ferment. It was pretty yummy during the winter!

  7. Thank you for this blog post. I’m definitely going to try my hand at the gingered carrots, and if all goes well, will move from there to more complex lacto-fermentation experimentation!


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