Sunday, February 22, 2009

Good for What Ales You

Probiotic products are outgrowing their shelves at places like Whole Foods and Wild Oats. But why pay upwards of $10 for kefir when there is free pickle juice in the fridge? For thousands of years, lacto-fermented foods have aided digestion, helping to break down carbohydrates and fat to create symbiotic bacteria in the digestive tract. Lacto-fermented pickle juice does just that.

Perhaps this explains why pickles are part of the daily regimen around the world: kimchi cuts the fat in Korean bulgogi; tsukemono are served in between the nearly 14 courses of a traditional Japanese kaiseki dinner; and sauerkraut helps us digest the endless platters of bratwurst and knockwurst at beer halls in Germany.

Stay tuned as I explore lacto-fermented foods and beverages in greater depth over the coming weeks! (For now, I will eat my pickles.)