From Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, Ph.D.
Fermented foods and condiments are simple to prepare. Fruits and vegetables are first washed and cut, mixed with salt and herbs or spices and then pounded briefly to release juices.
They are then pressed into an airtight container—leaving about one inch of space at the top of the jar and making sure the lid is closed tightly. During the first few days of fermentation, the vegetables are kept at room temperature; afterward, they must be placed in a cool, dark place for long-term preservation.
Salt inhibits putrefying bacteria for several days until enough lactic acid is produced to preserve the vegetables for many months. The amount of salt can be reduced or even eliminated if whey is added to the pickling solution. Rich in lactic acid and lactic acid producing bacteria, whey acts as an inoculant, reducing the time needed for sufficient lactic acid to be produced to ensure preservation. Use of whey will result in consistently successful pickling; it is essential for pickling fruits.
It is important to use the best quality organic vegetables, sea salt, and filtered water for lacto-fermentation. Lactobacilli need plenty of nutrients to do their work, and if the vegetables are deficient, the process of fermentation will not proceed. Likewise, if your salt or water contains impurities, the quality of the final product will be jeopardized.
For specific recipes, instructions and nutritional information regarding fermenting fruits and vegetables, see Nourishing Traditions, 674 pp.
This health note is from January/February 2006, Vol. 15, No. 1, out of print, but the digital version is available.