Some Answers about Lacto-Fermentation

As you have seen we released Shannon’s new book, Lacto-fermenting: The Easy & Healthy Way, and the response has been overwhelming. Today I wanted to share some of the great questions that have been asked about the book.

A Few Questions & Answers

Q: I was looking at the sample of your new book.  Do you always have to use whey?  I am new to this and don’t understand the reasons for whey and don’t know how to get it.  Thank you. – T.H.

A: Not all the recipes use whey… only some of them. The short answer on why whey is used with some foods it because the foods need some added good bacteria to help start the fermentation process. Much more on the why is explained in the book. To understand more about whey and how to get it see the article, Whey: What It Is And How To Get It. The book is written to help beginners and advanced lacto-fermenters alike.

Q: Do you use sugar in your recipes? I am very interested in lacto-fermentation, but must stay sugar free.- L.B.

A: The majority of the recipes DO NOT use sugar. There are a few that do, like a couple of the condiments, but in some of those the sugar could be replaced with stevia. The only exception would be the lacto-fermented sodas. They need sugar to consume and be transformed into a light bubbly health tonic. The good news is much of that sugar is consumed (eaten by the lacto-bacilli) during the fermenting process.

Also keep in mind that foods that do contain high sugar content like carrots and beets will have their sugar content reduced overall as the fermentation process eats this as food in the process. 🙂

Q: I see that you are selling the Lacto-fermenting book and an airlock kit together, is that all I need to do the recipes in the book? – L.S.

A: You will have all the special items needed to lacto-ferment. A wide mouth caning jar will still be needed. The kit includes the lids that hold the airlocks and storage lids for after the processing is done and the food is ready to be refrigerated. And you will have to supply the food you are planning to ferment. 🙂

If you plan on making some of the soda recipes in the book you may want a couple of these Swingtop Glass 1-Liter Bottles. They are not absolutely necessary if you cannot get your hands on any, just use a 1/2-Gallon wide mouth jar with the metal lid (on tight) – though with this you will not get as much fizz in your drinks as when using the swingtop bottles.

FYI – if you are local to the Dallas-Fort Worth TX area and need some of the swingtop bottles of other supplies we can get some to you, just drop us a line.

Q: I have not done any kind of fermenting before, is this hard to learn? – K.C.

A: No it is not hard at all. We use the time tested methods of lacto-fermenting and keep them simple. We have gotten many comments back from people that have followed our instructions, that they were surprised by how easy things were to make and how items came out tasting good on the first try. I hope you give it a go. You will find that it can change your life.

Q: Is lacto-fermentation safe to do at home? I hear about all the food issues today with prepared food. – A.M.

A: Yes, lacto-fermentation is a safe process to do at home. The great thing about this process is you will know if something goes bad, which does not happen very often. I have been doing this process for years and have only had a couple of food items go bad on me and the smell was horrid. So rest easy you will know. The book goes into more detail about the safety of lacto-fermentation.

If you have some questions to add to the ones above do leave a comment below.

Don’t miss out on your chance to get this great book at a super price. You have till this Friday, midnight to order your copy at the reduced low price, Lacto-Fermentation: The Easy & Healthy Way.

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Disclaimer: The information in this post is meant for educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.

About Jeff

Jeff Pearce is a board certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant and has coached hundreds of people in the Dallas/Fort Worth to help them achieve their health goals. If you would like more information about his services view the Health Consultations section. For those not in the physical area Distance Coaching is an option. A 15 minute "No Cost" informational consult is available, by phone, to chat and answer questions about services. To schedule your no cost informational consultation please contact us .


  1. Is tap water ok to use or should it be filtered water?

    • Jennifer, thanks for stopping by. In answer to your question, tap water is a big No-No in lacto-fermenting (fermented foods). One of the problems with tap water is the chlorine, it kills bacteria so will not work when making fermented foods as it will kill the good (friendly) bacteria that we are trying to culture. I also don’t think you would want whatever else is lurking in tap water in your fermented foods either. So it is important to use filtered water. You can use just about any water filter system as long as it removes the chlorine from the water. We use a Berkey, which you can read about here.

  2. I’ve been making lots of kombucha and have started looking at herbal sodas. But most of the recipes call for 1-2 cups of sugar per gallon!!! Yipe! That’s 20g – 40g per 12 oz serving. Hire’s and Coke have 30g – 35g, respectively. Can I use Stevia for sweetener and then a little sugar for bottling with the yeast? I remember a brewer friend that used to put a teaspoon of white sugar in every bottle before he capped them. Would that work for a lacto-fermented soda?

    • John, I would be concerned about the sugar too. I would suggest looking at water kefir for soda, it eats most of the sugar used in the method. Thanks – Jeff

  3. How do I tell when the fermentation process is complete?

  4. I started a bottle of purple cabbage the other day. After the 2nd day when I checked it, the top 1/2 inch or so had begun to turn brown–oxidation?? I had read somewhere where if that happens you should throw it out, so I did… My question– should all jars be packed to 1″ from the top. This jar was about 2/3 full, so I’m guessing that was why it had turned brown.

    Also, during fermentation should there be bubbles formed in the bottle?

    I have 2 bottles of red onions in the refrigerator which taste pretty good–had also read that when putting into the refrigerator that putting them in smaller bottles is a better choice… ???

    • Gail, I would’ve scraped off the brown layer of purple cabbage and continued on with the ferment. It might’ve been that the cabbage would’ve turned out fine. Sometimes these things happen.

      In answer to your question, all jars should have at least 1-inch of space from the top of the jar to allow for expansion. This does not mean there cannot be more space, it just means 1-inch is the minimum. And for sauerkraut (cabbage) I find it is best to not fill the jar more the 2/3 to 3/4 full as cabbage does like to get quite active on occasion and it is good to have a little more space so your jar doesn’t leak or ooze all over the counter :O

      Sometimes you will have bubbles or bubbling in the jar and sometimes not. Lack of bubbles does not mean the ferment isn’t working.

      I do not think it really matters what size jars your ferments are in when they are in cold storage. The only thing that matters is that cold storage is in-fact “cold” (50F minimum, preferably more towards 40F).

      I hope that covers all of your questions… and good luck with all your fermenting endeavors 🙂

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