Updated date:

How to Make Cultured Vegetables With Healthy Bacteria

In 1983, with doctors unable to cure me, I studied the human body and diet. Since then, food as medicine has been a strong interest.

Not only are the probiotics in these foods excellent for the health of your digestive tract, fermented foods are also easier to digest because fermentation helps break down difficult-to-digest cellulose in vegetables.

Not only are the probiotics in these foods excellent for the health of your digestive tract, fermented foods are also easier to digest because fermentation helps break down difficult-to-digest cellulose in vegetables.

There is an increasing degree of medical research that demonstrates that the type of bacteria we have in our stomachs affects our health. It affects everything from brain function to the number of diseases we develop over a period of time. Scientists are only just beginning to explore the types, but they have said that there are more bacteria in our stomachs than there are cells in the human body.

We all think that yogurt is a good source of bacteria, but that would really depend on how the yogurt was made. Generally, after the bacteria has been allowed to grow, companies pasteurize (expose them to high heat) thereby killing them. Homemade fermented foods are the best. They keep you healthy and probably go a long way to keeping you slim.

Pickled foods do not contain bacteria while cultured foods do. Pickled foods do.

Pickling involves soaking foods in an acidic liquid to achieve a sour flavor; when foods are fermented, the sour flavor is a result of a chemical reaction between a food’s sugars and naturally present bacteria — no added acid required. Source

Fermented pickles offer more health benefits than other pickles. Even unfermented pickles, however, are rich in vitamins such as vitamin K and vitamin A. Source

The 6 Easy Steps: A Quick Overview

Pickle Your Vegetables

1) Grate or cut the vegetables into very small bits and pieces.

2) Put them into the bowl and put some salt on to them.

3) Use your hands to knead them almost as you would bread.

4) Put them into the glass bottles.

5) Once they are fermented, keep them in your fridge. Pickled food takes somewhere between four to six days.

6) Occasionally you will see mold forming on the top. This is normal. Take it off.

Why You Should Culture (Ferment) Your Own Vegetables

Government and state regulations mean that any food sold in stores needs to be preserved in such a way that food poisoning doesn’t result. As most food stores these days import from long distances, this includes pasteurization of milk and cultured vegetables.

The problem with any food that is pasteurized is that there is no living bacteria in it, and it is that it’s living food that makes you healthy. Dead food might take longer to kill you, but the inevitable result is obesity, cravings, mood swings, depression, cancers, and every other lifestyle illness in existence. Some scientists have stated that as much as 95% of all cancers are lifestyle induced.

To give their products a longer shelf life, manufacturers often heat-treat yogurt after fermentation. This kills off the live cultures. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that these products be labeled “heat-treated after culturing.”

Don’t be fooled by the words “made with active cultures.” All yogurts are made with live cultures, but no live cultures survive heat-treatment. Source.

Cultured foods are part of human evolution. There never used to be fridges, and when food was in danger of rotting, people learnt to preserve food by pickling it. Some foods, like milk, went sour naturally. At some point, these fermented foods became part of the human diet. Our digestive systems need the bacteria in them in order to function optimally.

There is, of course bad bacteria as well as good bacteria. The human stomach needs to be populated with good bacteria. These come from certain foods like cold starch (potato salad), sauerkraut, or various types of sour milk. When we begin to feel bloated, have gas, indigestion, etc., it is often the result of bad bacteria. According to the article cited above by Dr. Andrew Weil:

To give their products a longer shelf life, manufacturers often heat-treat yogurt after fermentation. This kills off the live cultures. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that these products be labeled “heat-treated after culturing.”

Don’t be fooled by the words “made with active cultures.” All yogurts are made with live cultures, but no live cultures survive heat-treatment.

A huge proportion of your immune system is actually in your GI tract,” says Dan Peterson, assistant professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “The immune system is inside your body, and the bacteria are outside your body.” And yet they interact. For example, certain cells in the lining of the gut spend their lives excreting massive quantities of antibodies into the gut.

Increasingly it is being found that where there is an absence of good bacteria, illness results. The best way of obtaining healthy stomach bacteria is through culturing one’s own vegetables.

Promoting a healthy gut microbiome may be a powerful strategy for lowering cholesterol and other heart attack risk factors. In mice that develop high cholesterol and atherosclerosis from a high-fat diet, the peptides beneficially shifted the balance of species in the gut microbiome, which refers to the trillions of bacteria that live inside the digestive system. This shift reduced cholesterol levels and dramatically slowed the buildup of fatty deposits in arteries—symptoms that are the hallmarks of atherosclerosis. Source.

Yogurt Isn't Providing You the Acidophilus You Need

There is a story that the human body stops producing lactase after babies stop being fed by their mother. Supposedly, the only race that this does not apply to is Semites (Jews and Arabs), whose bodies still produce lactose after they become adults. Of course, through the years, there has been so much intermarriage between one race or another, that it’s no longer a black and white picture. However, if it’s true, it might explain lactose intolerance

It also means that yogurt is not such a hot choice to get your health-giving bacteria.

With regard to yogurt, the bacteria are killed off by pasteurization, and what lives on doesn’t have a long life span. Even more interesting is that bacteria that thrive on milk will die if someone isn’t constantly fed milk. So that becomes a problem when someone does not do well with milk and the only way that they can keep acidophilus alive in their stomach is by consuming a lot of milk!

Particularly, the milk of camels, goats, sheep, and cattle was naturally fermented as far back as 10,000 BCE. It’s likely that the fermentation occurred spontaneously, rather than intentionally, due to naturally existing microflora present in the milk. It wasn’t until 1910 that fermented foods were first considered as beneficial to health. A Russian bacteriologist, Elie Metchnikoff, noted that Bulgarians had an average lifespan of 87 years, which was exceptional for the early 1900s. He named a bacteria found in these fermented milks Bulgarian bacillus, and he inspired a surge in the consumption of fermented milks by attributing many benefits of good health and longevity to this strain of bacteria. Source.

Detailed Instructions for Making Your Own Fermented Foods

Believe it or not, making one’s own cultured vegetables is very easy. You will need the following.

What you need:

  • A board to work on
  • A knife and, possibly, a grater
  • A bowl
  • Salt
  • Some bottles
  • Any type of vegetable or combination of vegetables

Preparation:

  1. Either grate or cut the vegetables into very small bits and pieces. You can slice cabbage or grate carrots. This makes sauerkraut.
  2. Work in steps. As you complete some of the vegetables, put them into the bowl, put some salt on to them, then cut or grate some more vegetables, put some more salt on them (very, very lightly), and proceed this way.
  3. When you have grated or cut up all your veggies, then use your hands to knead them almost as you would bread. You will see that the veggies become mushy. This is good. It’s the way it is meant to be.
  4. Now put them into the glass bottles you have. As you put the veggies in, squash them to the bottom so that the liquid covers them. It’s important for the liquid to cover them as this is the part that ferments. If the veggies run low on liquid, put some water in. Always make sure that the liquid comes right up to the lid. It’s the brine (water and salt) that is required. And, of course, keep the lid on tightly!
  5. Once they are fermented, keep them in your fridge — unless you want them to ferment some more. The degree to which you want your veggies fermented is to taste, so you will have to find out your best time frame by trying them every day or so. Essentially, pickled food takes somewhere between four to six days.
  6. Occasionally you will see mold forming on the top. This is normal. Take it off. The veggies underneath are perfectly healthy — just brimming with the best healthy bacteria for your tummy. No more ant-acids! The Chinese believe that if the stomach is healthy and digesting food properly, then there will be few health issues.

Pickling Food Is Also Healthy

You might want to pickle food rather than culture them. When you pickle them, you will not be adding bacteria. Rather it is the sour taste that you are going for. These foods are also good for you because they don’t contain sugar. Sugar stimulates the growth of bad bacteria in your tummy.

When you pickle food, you put vegetables (or even fruit) into a solution of brine (salt and water) and/or vinegar. In addition, various spices can be added. Onions, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, cucumber, or any other vegetable can be pickled.

How to Make Pickled Gherkins

Here’s a quick and easy way to make the kind of gherkins they made in days gone by. You will notice that these recipes are based on the way our grandparents and great grandparents made their cultured foods. There’s no need to use starter packs, etc.

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds small cucumbers suitable for pickling: They are generally dark green with lots of little warts on them.
  • 6 large cloves of garlic, cut into either halves or quarters
  • Some fresh dill, which is normally available between spring and fall, but not in the winter. In the winter, you will need to use dried dill. You won’t need more than a couple of sprigs.
  • Sea salt
  • White vinegar
  • Water to top up, if needed

Preparation

  1. Prepare the cucumbers by cutting off the ends.
  2. Add half the dill and half the garlic into the jar you are going to be using, then add the cucumbers until the jar is full.
  3. Add sea salt to taste. This can vary from a dessert spoon to a tablespoon. You will probably need to experiment a few times until you get the exact taste you enjoy.
  4. Take a cup of water, add a tablespoon of sea salt, and pour into jar. Repeat this until the jar is full of liquid.
  5. Add the remaining dill and garlic.
  6. Close and tighten lid. Ensure that the liquid comes right up to the top of the lid.
  7. Gherkins take between 4 and 6 days (as do most cultured foods).
  8. When they are ready, you can store them in the fridge!

Benefits of Eating Cultured Foods

As I said earlier, cultured foods have been around for almost as long as human beings have. Those societies which have kept using the original recipes (non-pasteurized) tend to live longer and healthier lives. It is no accident that Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches that when the stomach is healthy, then the rest of the body is healthy. The way to keep the stomach healthy is to ensure that it has lots of good bacteria, has the right amount of acid to digest food (antacids are counterproductive), and to eat food prepared at home.

In point form, here are some benefits of culturing your own veggies.

  • You’ll be manufacturing the best lactobacilli in town. It’s a far less expensive option than buying probiotics—and they’ll reproduce and flourish in your tummy.
  • The job of your stomach is to break down food. It does this with the help of hydrochloric acid and bacteria. However, when food has been cultured, the bacteria have already broken it down. This means that there is less stress on your stomach, and food is digested more quickly and easily. The additional bacteria on the fermented foods also helps to break down the other food that you have eaten with the cultured food.
  • Fermented vegetables contain a lot of vitamin C. Vitamin C is probably one of the most used vitamins in the body and the higher the amount in the body, the greater the effectiveness of the immune system and the nicer the skin looks.
  • As fermented food has live bacteria in it, it contains enzymes. In fact, it contains many, many enzymes. Enzyme depletion is responsible for many illnesses and conditions as we grow older. Apart from breaking down food in the stomach, enzymes process toxins and remove them from the system. The greater the number of enzymes we have available in our bodies, the healthier we will become.

Benefits of Eating Pickled Foods

  • For those wanting to lose weight, the pickles seem to kill the desire for sugars and starches. This is very helpful if one is trying to lose weight. It is also useful because neither sugar nor starches are healthy.
  • The tummy won’t form bad bacteria from too much sugar

Foods that Produce Good Bacteria in the Stomach

There are some foods that we ingest that just naturally form good bacteria in the stomach. These include strawberries, green bananas, raw garlic and starchy foods like potato, pasta, and rice which have been left for 24 hours to cool and then reheated (or eaten cold).

Most food today is not doing its job because it really isn’t food. Cultured vegetables are an option that feeds the body what it needs and keeps the stomach healthy. If the stomach is healthy, it keeps the other systems in the body healthy. They are delicious, add tang to any food, and sate the appetite, so preventing one from overeating. They are also inexpensive to make, take little time to prepare, and they’re all ingredients are easily obtainable.

Stores Sell Pickles Not Fermented Foods

It's virtually impossible to find fermented foods in stores. They are generally home-made, and are probably only found in small food stalls in flea markets, etc. It's therefore important if you want a healthy gut to learn how to culture and pickle your own vegetables.

Sources and Further Reading

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2016 Tessa Schlesinger

Related Articles