“Does canning kill probiotics in fermented foods?” Samantha A. (@SAmesInfo) asked on Twitter. I'm sharing my thoughts below in today's #AskWardee.
Samantha A. asked me on Twitter:
Before answering this question, it's important to know what makes fermented foods and veggies so special.
You'll find 2 main ingredients in fermented veggies… the vegetables and foods themselves and salt.
Yet, if you look deeper, you'll find other smaller wonders inside that crock or jar:
- probiotics — beneficial organisms that are so good for your gut
- beneficial acids (vinegar and lactic acid)
So the question is… what does heat and/or pressure do to these ingredients?
To be more specific, if you took a jar of sauerkraut and canned it, what would happen to the probiotics, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and beneficial acids?
Would they make it ok? Or not?
Does Canning Kill Probiotics In Fermented Foods?
The answer is… it's not pretty. Mostly, they don't make it through the heat and/or pressure of cooking, much less canning or pressure canning.
The probiotics die. The enzymes expire. Many vitamins are lost.
(The minerals are ok. The acids should make it.)
So, to me… it's not worth it to preserve fermented foods through canning.
Losing out on the probiotics, enzymes, and vitamins? Which are really the whole point of creating fermented foods?
Much better to keep them fresh. 🙂
Which brings me to another question: what is the best way to preserve fermented foods?
The Best Way To Preserve Fermented Foods
You really have 2 choices for preserving your fermented foods. They both involve cold storage (like a cold cellar or fridge) or the freezer.
In either case, the probiotics, enzymes, and vitamins are preserved.
If you use fridge-type temperatures, the ferment will continue to age, though more slowly. In the fridge, the organisms are just warm enough to keep eating and growing. In fact, aged sauerkraut gets more yummy after a few months!
Speaking of which, have you seen my new video on making sauerkraut in a stoneware crock? No? Here it is!
If you choose the freezer, it's like time stands still for the ferment. 🙂 Over time, you will have loss of probiotics, but it's still a very good way to just keep it the way it is. Then thaw and eat when you're ready.
Tip for freezer: Double or triple bag if freezing in ziplock bags to keep freezer burn at bay.
The Bottom Line
No, canning is not the best way to preserve fermented foods. Too much of the good stuff is lost under heat or pressure.
If you do want to preserve fermented foods, move them to cold storage — the fridge, a cold cellar, or a freezer.
Want more info on fermenting? Grab my free fermenting formulas cheat sheet so I can share the basic recipe formula for all kinds of ferments — krauts, pickles, salsa, relish, beverages, and more.
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