A starter culture is defined as a preparation of living microorganisms, which are deliberately used to assist the beginning of fermentation..
They’re the buzz-words we all see flying around when it comes to fermented foods. We get them, we understand them, but there are a few new ones getting pushy and making themselves heard. ’Culture Starter’ and ‘Wild’ Fermentation… they’ve been up for review, put in the ring, and are constantly being compared in a typical ‘what’s best for you’ debate. We see the question a lot, and fair enough too. We all want what’s best for us, and if we’re going to brave the world of ferments we might as well get it right, right?
What is Culture Starter? First up lets set the scene. Culture starter is a formula of naturally occurring bacteria added to shredded vegetables to aid the fermentation process. Here at Peace, Love & Vegetables, we use an L-Plantarum based culture starter to kick off the fermentation of our famous Superkraut and Cashew Cheese.
What Ingredients are in our Culture Starter? For our kraut: Lb. plantarum, Pediococcus acidolactici, Leu. cremoris, inulin.
For our kefir: LC. lactic, Lc. cremoris, Lc. diacetylactis, Leu. cremoris, Lb. plantarum, Lb. casei, Saccharomyces bouldardii, Kluyveromyces Marxianus, inulin.
What is Wild Fermentation? ‘Wild’ or ‘spontaneous’ fermentation refers to the process in which the bacteria already present on the vegetables start and control the fermentation process. In wild fermentation, there is a risk of bad bacteria flourishing just as much as good bacteria, and often a large amount of salt is required to inhibit the growth of pathogens.
So What’s Better? One of the biggest myths surrounding culture started fermentation is that there is an ‘artificial’ element introduced to the process. This is not so! Many of the bacteria used in culture-starters are already found on vegetables, some of them (such as L-Plantarum) are even found in our saliva.
When natural culture starter is introduced it creates an environment in which good bacteria flourish, and bad bacteria are crowded out of the fermentation process.
Produces more exopolysaccharides
Creates a longer probiotic life
Produces less pathogens
Is resistant to antibiotics
Requires less salt
Has a shorter fermentation leading to more good bacteria.
So here is the best bit… with culture started fermentation all the incredible nutrients and probiotics that are produced during wild fermentation are still there, just with EXTRA of the good stuff and LESS of the not so good stuff!
Here at Peace, Love & Vegetables we combine cutting edge technology and traditional fermentation methods, and through extensive testing have discovered using culture starter helps us produce the highest quality, most nutrient dense products possible.