Fermentation never stops. Refrigerating the product significantly slows the process, like an animal going into winter hibernation. If you left your kimchi in the fridge for a year, the flavor and texture would change. The kimchi would certainly be more sour, it might more or less spicy and it'd almost certainly lose some of its crunch. Additionally, carbon dioxide is another byproduct of fermentation and so you may notice your container top start to pop up over time. If this happens, simply “burp” the container lid.
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The end product is a delicious living food. The big difference between fermented pickles and canned and/or vinegar pickles is the bacteria. The canning process eradicates all bacteria to create a sterile environment. During fermentation, we embrace good bacteria. According to a USDA microbiologist, there are no documented cases of food-borne illness from fermented vegetables.
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Fermented vegetables are one food that contain natural probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria or microorganisms. Our bodies host many millions of microorganisms, collectively known as our microbiome. In a balanced microbiome, friendly bacteria, like lactic acid, outnumber the bad bacteria. These microbes have many health benefits, especially in maintaining a beneficial colony of bacteria in the gastrointestinal system.
Looking to introduce naturally occurring probiotics into your diet? Kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi and our fermented pickles are a place you can start. Different types of fermented foods, like yogurt, kimchi, kraut, kombucha, contain different types of probiotics. Every person's microbiome is also unique. So one person's microbiome may really enjoy the probiotics in yogurt, while another person's microbiome enjoys kimchi.
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There is a growing body of research behind human microbiomes, the connection between consuming probiotics and our microbiomes and the connection between our microbiomes and both mental and physical health. What an exciting time to be alive!