Did you know that the Standard American Diet (SAD) is not only lacking nutrients like vitamins and minerals, but also void of living beneficial enzymes and bacteria? We’re eating dead, processed foods and are completely afraid of “bugs”, even those that are good for us! Modern nutrition science (and subsequently the food industry) is jumping on the “pro-biotic” bandwagon since there are so many studies surfacing which prove the value of gastrointestinal health…meaning a healthy gut flourishing with healthy bacteria that do a myriad of wonderful things for your health.
As usual, the traditional cultures had it right all along. Fermented and cultured foods like kimchi, kombucha, (real) sauerkraut, natto, (real) yogurt, kefir, and literally hundreds of other pro-biotic foods have been consumed by traditional cultures for thousands of years…long before any studies about healthy gut flora came to the surface. Daily pro-biotic intake is essential for everyone, especially those dealing with certain health problems like digestive issues, neurological disorders, allergies or asthma, immunity problems or gastrointestinal diseases.
I often tell my clients and friends that lacto-fermenting foods is a “level 2” option for transitioning to eating real, traditional foods. Typically a really good pro-biotic supplement, like the one I recommend here, is necessary because even a “clean, whole foods diet” won’t deliver the kind of pro-biotics most people need. But honestly, lacto-fermenting foods is so ridiculously easy, costs way less than supplements, and delivers millions more pro-biotics than anything you can buy in the store. The added benefit of “homemade probiotics” is the array of bacteria you will consume, as opposed to a formulated probiotic with just one strain of bacteria.
I make a variety of lacto-fermented foods in our house, and once you understand the basic concept of lacto-fermenting the possibilities are endless. Pickles happen to be the easiest lacto-fermented food to incorporate in my family’s diet, and are the absolute easiest, no-brainer method of keeping lacto-fermented food stocked in the fridge. My kids actually love snacking on the pickles alone…they would eat a whole jar every day if I let them (which I would allow it, but I can’t make enough pickles to keep up with that demand). I also add them to egg salads or chicken salads, to sandwiches, and anything else you’d add regular pickles to.
What makes lacto-fermented pickles so easy is that you keep your brine in the jars and just keep re-using it to ferment new batches. We like pickling whole cucumbers so all it takes to make a new batch is to cut the stems off whole pickling cucumbers and stick them in the “brine”, adding a little extra water as needed. Every so often I’ll start a new batch with fresh herbs and flavorings, but when you lacto-ferment foods they can last months and months and never go bad. When you lacto-ferment you *know* when things go bad. Learn more about the Basics of Lacto Fermenting here.
You can follow this recipe alone or learn more about the Basics of Lacto- Fermenting here before you get started.
- 8-10 whole pickling cucumbers, stems cut off
- *You can also cut the cucumbers into round slices, spears, halves, or any other shape
- 1/4 cup whey made from separated raw milk or yogurt (learn more about making whey here)
- 1 tablespoon dried dill
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon salt
- You will also need:
- 1 large mason jar with a lid, like one of these
- a cloth kitchen towel and a string or rubber band
- Place the cucumbers in a jar with the whey, dill, garlic and salt. Add enough water to cover the cucumbers, leaving a little "bubble room" at the top of the jar. Cover with a cloth and tie with a string or rubber band to keep pests out of the jar. Let the pickles stand at room temperature for 3-4 days until a pleasantly sour aroma develops. Transfer to the refrigerator and enjoy eating them plain or adding them to other recipes.
- *Small bubbles or an effervescence may be present. If a small amount of white spots or a film develop, simply remove with a spoon. These are bonds of harmless spores that have formed. A lacto-fermentation that has gone wrong will have a putrid small and be intolerable to consider eating.