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The Dangers of Lacto-Fermented Foods on Your Nasal Passages

Posted by Rochelle on Aug 21, 2015

I am a preserver by nature. I pickle, I can, I cure. But what most people don’t realize is that vinegar is not the only way to preserve vegetables. You can also make lacto-fermented foods, which is a process that has been around even longer than vinegar pickling.

Lacto fermentation utilizes natural bacteria to create lactic acid which preserves the food. It is a simple process that uses water, salt, spices and vegetables. And a strong ability to ignore some funky smells.

The most well-known lactic fermented food in the U.S. is sauerkraut. The lactic acid is what gives the sauerkraut its distinctive sour flavor (not vinegar like some believe). But thanks to the proliferation of other ethnic foods, many are now also familiar with kimchi and even cordato. Sometimes, these foods are called salt pickles, and are served at your favorite local deli.

The best part about lacto fermentation is its simplicity. Simply cut and wash your vegetables, put a brine over them, weight them down and voila - you have preserved food!


You will need to check for mold and remove it if it occurs. And you will need to prepare yourself for the stink. It just… doesn’t smell good. I recently attempted making a batch of fermented kale and swiss chard. Only it never made it to my dinner table because the stench was just too much for my tiny studio apartment. It was so overwhelming, no amount of air fresheners could take it away.

Luckily, the sauerkraut worked out great. It was not only delicious, but some also claim it is healthier for you. Many bacteria, such as e. coli, cannot live in this type of environment, which means it can even be safer than eating the vegetables raw. Plus, the bacteria present in these foods helps you digest better and there are many other purported health benefits.

Luckily, they now make devices that work like air traps that can prevent the smell. But if you do not have this, prepare yourself (and your nasal passages). The end result is worth it, but it takes some getting used to.

If lacto fermenting is not for you, you can always come learn some simpler ways to preserve foods (and some canning cheats) in The Chopping Block's Summer Canning and Preserving class on Sunday, September 13 in Lincoln Square!

Topics: fermentation, Cooking Techniques, sauerkraut

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