Fermentation has been practiced by many cultures for centuries. The processes have been passed down and handed down, and many national dishes and family secret foods have been created. The fermented foods that are most familiar are made by lacto-fermentation.
What does Lacto-Fermentation Mean?
The term “lacto” refers to a species of specific bacteria, particularly Lactobacillus. Different strains of the lactobacteria can be found on all plants, on its surface, and in human’s mouth, gastrointestinal tracts and vaginas.
The bacteria are named Lactobacillus because they were discovered in ferments of milk for the first time. This kind of bacteria convert lactose or some other sugar in lactic acid. But, lacto-fermentation is not referring only to the fermentation of dairy products.
Lactic acid act as a preservative that is natural and is inhibiting the growth of bacteria that are harmful. Beyond the advantages of preservation, lacto-fermentation also has lots of health benefits:
1. Improve Digestion and Enhance Nutrients Absorption
One of the main benefits of the consumption of the fermented onions is that the nutrients are much more easily absorbed for healing. They help to improve digestion and heals the digestive tract. Due to the supply of the gut with bacteria that are healthy, the digestive process is more capable to remove or destroy harmful bacteria. These bacteria also help your body to absorb nutrients from the food that you are eating.
2. Boost Your Immune System
The gut gives you huge protection when facing many illnesses. That means that if you add the healthy bacteria that are found in foods that are lacto-fermented to your diet it helps to strengthen the immune system. The healthy bacteria that are spread in the gut are helpful for controlling the immune cells and preventing some autoimmune reactions, like inflammation.
3. Improve Brain Functions
As with many processes of the body, the brain is in connection to your immune and digestive system. For an instance, remember the last time you felt sick with the flu or cold and how you felt fuzziness in your head. The vagus nerve is responsible for this connection.
One of twelve cranial nerves is the nerve vagus, that is responsible for transferring information from the nervous system in the intestine to the brain where the central nervous system is. Maintaining a healthy number of good bacteria and limiting unhealthy bacteria can keep this line of communication between the two systems open, preventing and improving cognitive issues.
4. Contain Powerful Antioxidants
The foods that are Lacto-fermented contain different antioxidants that are powerful and can attack the free radicals that are responsible for causing cancer. These antioxidants can also fight inflammation and strengthen your immune system. This may be helpful for dealing with arthritis, eczema, and other conditions that are under the impact an autoimmune response or inflamation.
5. Eat More Sauerkraut and Lose Weight
The foods that are lacto-fermented are helpful for regulating many hormonal functions. This helps you control your food cravings and suppress your appetite. Studies show that people with a high intake of healthy probiotics tend to have a lower risk for obesity.
Make Your Own Lacto-Fermented Onions
Like other fermented foods, it is best to make it yourself, so that you know that there are no artificial additives that go into them. When making your own, use natural salt (such as Himalayan pink salt, Celtic sea salt or kosher salt) that are abundant with minerals, instead of using table salt which is harmful that is used in fermented foods that are commercially-prepared.
There are many ways of adding fermented onions in your diet. The fermented onions can be eaten as they are, added to salads, sandwiches, in tacos or nachos, and as condiments with your meals.
- 1 kg (that is about 2.2 pounds) of onions that are small or shallots, peeled
- A handful of garlic cloves, peeled
- 50g of salt of choice which is natural
- 1 liter (about one quart) of pure water with absence of contamination (the best choice is distilled water)
- A few wide mouth glass jars which has airtight lids
- Black pepper
- Dried chilli
- You can use whole or sliced onions.
- Preparation of the brine: Dissolve 50g of natural salt in one liter (about one quart) of water.
- Place the onions in the jars a more than its half. Pour the brine but leave 1-2 inches’ headspace for the gas formed due to the fermentation.
- Cover the jars with their airtight lids.
- Keep it at room temperature (60-70oF is recommended), until desired texture and flavor are achieved. Open the lid daily for the first two weeks, to release the accumulated gas due to the fermentation. After that, every other day.
- The process of fermentation can last for 1 to 2 months. Many people leave it last for 3 months.
- If you open the jar, and it smells putrid, listen to your instincts and get rid of it. Start from beginning.
The process is very easy, even for a beginner. Once you have learned the skill, you are capable to ferment any vegetable.
The brine which is used in foods that are lacto-fermented is creating an acidic and anaerobic environment. Anaerobic means that there is no oxygen present in the environment. Many lacto-fermented recipes emphasize keeping the food below the level of the brine because the “bad guys” are unable to grow in this environment, while the “good guys” have everything they need.
Lacto-fermentation is easy, safe, economical and healthy. You can keep foods in this way in storage places that are cool for months, and you will provide foods rich with enzymes throughout the winter when the fresh product are limited, and yet build up your immune system.
Try to make your own lacto-fermented onions!