What Is Lacto-Fermentation? Does It Have Health Benefits?
Lacto-fermentation is a specific type of fermentation that uses lactic-acid-producing bacteria to preserve foods. Fermentation is one of the oldest methods of food preservation.
While fermentation was traditionally used to increase shelf life, recent research has highlighted several health benefits of eating Lacto-fermented foods.
This article explains everything you need to know about Lacto-fermentation.
What is Lacto-fermentation?
Food fermentation is the process whereby bacteria, yeasts, mold, or fungi break down carbs — such as starch and sugar — into acids, gas, or alcohol. The process results in a fermented food product with a desirable flavor, aroma, or texture.
There are different types of fermentation: wine is produced by alcoholic fermentation using yeast, vinegar is fermented with acetic-acid-producing bacteria, and soybeans are fermented by mold into tempeh.
The term "acto" refers to lactic acid, which is a type of acid that’s produced upon the breakdown of sugar in an oxygen-free environment. It was first identified in milk, which contains the sugar lactose, hence the name lactic acid.
Lacto-fermentation uses lactic-acid-producing bacteria (primarily from the Lactobacillus genus), as well as some yeasts. These bacteria break down the sugars in food to form lactic acid and sometimes alcohol or carbon dioxide.
Examples of Lacto-fermented foods include fermented milk, yogurts, meats, sourdough bread, olives, sauerkraut, kimchi, and cucumber, among other pickled vegetables.
In addition, a large number of less well-known, traditional Lacto-fermented foods are produced all over the world. These include Turkish shalgam, which is a red carrot and turnip juice, and Ethiopian injera, a sourdough flatbread.