We know that fermentation was used by traditional cultures as a way of preserving fruits, veggies and dairy products.
An abundance of fruits and veggies were harvested in the fall when cultures would celebrate the harvest with big feasts like Thanksgiving or Octoberfest.
There was no real need to ferment or preserve foods in the summer because they commonly couldn’t eat the foods from their garden fast enough. Plenty of food was available right off the vine in the late spring, summer and into the fall.
It was the long winters folks feared with regard to feeding their families. It was a natural solution to take the excess fruits and veggies from the fall harvest and preserve them.
Bottling and canning was another traditional method of preserving foods that has largely been lost in recent years. Before the invention of bottling and canning, fermentation was the preserving method of choice.
Fermented foods accomplished two things that canning or bottling didn’t. Lacto-fermentation allowed the natural lactobacilli, as well as other beneficial strains of bacteria on all fruits and veggies, to proliferate and thus produce lots of lactic acid. The lactic acid was the preservative which allows the veggies to be preserved while slowing releasing sugars from the cellulose to feed the good bacteria.
Lacto-fermentation of fruits, veggies, or dairy brewed lots of good bugs which traditionally allowed people to support a healthy and robust immunity – which was so needed during the long winters.
Fermentation produces acids (lactic acids) as byproducts which naturally increase pitta, or heat, which is also desperately needed in the long cold winters. Eating fermented or cultured foods that increase body heat made no sense in the summer. It would overheat folks, plus there was no need to eat preserved foods in the summer because gardens were overflowing with veggies.
The same rules applied for dairy. Calves were born in the early spring when all the mothers’ milk was needed for the baby cow. By summers end, the calf was also enjoying the rich fall harvest. Farmers would then take any excess milk, culture (ferment) it and start making cheese for the long winter.
Come winter, consider repopulating your good bacteria with fermented or cultured foods.