First, the Basics on Fermenting. Yogurt and other fermented foods are generally created through lacto-fermentation: “lacto” refers to Lactobacillus, beneficial bacteria that convert sugars into lactic acid, a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. Those Lactobacillus are responsible for many of the health benefits we associate with fermented foods. And the process of fermentation improves digestibility and nutrient availability of foods; for example, turning cabbage into kimchi increases its cancer-fighting glucosinolate compounds believed to fight cancer.
Related: 5 Steps to Successful Fermentation
Simple, but Important Rules on Fermented Foods
• Start with a squeaky-clean environment. Run your supplies through the dishwasher, or wash them well by hand with hot, soapy water.
• Use fresh, organic ingredients and filtered, not tap, water; chlorine can interfere with the fermentation process.
• Temperature is critical; in general, room temperature—around 65 to 72 degrees—is about right for most kinds of fermentation. If your house is cooler, park your fermenting foods on top of the refrigerator; it’s generally warm, and keeps them out of the way.