I've been reading more than any of you care to know about lacto ferments. Most of them still sound repulsive to me, but I'm coming around. Basically, lacto fermented foods are left to ferment at room temperature with the addition of salt to keep bad bacteria at bay, and sometimes with added whey (you remember Little Miss Moffet eating her curds and whey, don't you? That stuff is real!) to give the good bacteria a head start. The food ends up sort of pickled, and you can store it that way in a cool spot for months. This is one way food was preserved prior to refrigeration. I'm not planning to get rid of our fridge any time soon, but I am experimenting with lacto fermentation because it makes the food healthier.
That's a claim and a half, isn't it? A healthier vegetable? I say it's healthier because the bacteria begin digesting the sugars in the veggies thereby lowering the glycemic index of the foods. (This has been shown by people doing studies for diabetics.) They also provide your body with good bacteria which bolster your immune system and help counteract all the other things we do that promote the bad guys (like eating white flour and sugar, taking antibiotics, drinking pasteurized milk... the list goes on, believe me!)
So far I've finished 1 batch of lacto fermented green beans. A batch of cucumbers is fermenting now. The green bean verdict? I like them perfectly well - honestly! Daniel (6 months now, woo hoo!!) sucked happily on one, Abby (so nearly 3 yrs old) spit hers out after .2 seconds even though she loves raw green beans - that was a big disappointment, Sadie (6), Maya (8), and Alicia (our brave nanny) each choked down a tiny piece. And Len (dh) gave it a big, loud X sound. You know the "game over" noise? Yeah, that. He barely survived one bite. Clearly my palate has changed more than theirs! But I'm not giving up. If I can get a mac and cheese addicted 5 year old to go gluten free, a Mountain Dew slurping husband to like yogurt, and a nursing baby to suck a fermented green bean, I think there's hope.
Instead of linking you to all the "popular" lacto ferment web sites, books, and blogs (because they really are a hot topic in some circles), I want to send you here. In place of a bunch of sponsored hype and links to buy cookbooks or starter cultures, you'll find a full text book from 1998 put out by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Read chapters 6 and 7 for recipes.
Happy reading, I've got to go check how my sourdough's rising :-)