Is a Pickle Always a Pickle? The Difference Between Fermented and Pickled Foods

ProTrea Fermented Food

There’s some confusion about what makes a pickle and what makes a fermented food. After all, they often taste very similar. For example, there is pickled sauerkraut and fermented sauerkraut, often side-by-side on the grocery store shelf. But these two things are not the same. There is a very important difference between fermented and pickled foods. There are no probiotic benefits from eating pickled foods — though there are other health benefits — like there are from eating fermented foods.


What Are Pickled Foods?

Dill pickles, pickled okra, pickled green beans, pickled beets, pickled eggs, even PICKLED PIG’S FEET all use essentially the same method. They are preserved using an acidic solution commonly comprised of vinegar, salt and water. This is done to “cook” foods, preserve them and to enhance their flavor. They’re then left on the shelf or refrigerated. Pickled foods can last for years.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with a good pickle. They are delicious, but they are not a source of probiotics like naturally fermented foods are.


So What Makes Fermented Foods Different?

Fermented foods are made using nothing but the lactobacilli present on all living things, filtered water and salt. This mixture, along with time and a nice cool place, allows the food to produce its own self-preserving, lactic acid. There’s no high heat or pressure involved in the home-fermentation process. So, you can do this at home with little to no equipment. By using the fermentation method rather than the high heat/pressure method you retain essential nutrients and bacteria.

This method:

  • Increases the enzyme content of your food.
  • Enhances the vitamin levels in your food.
  • Introduces healthy probiotics into your GI Tract.
  • Significantly improves your digestion.

So, if you have the option, choose fermented foods with active cultures over pickled foods, unless you just crave the crunch of a great kosher dill pickle or some pig’s feet. Or better,yet, make your very own sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, etc at home. All it takes is time, a little mixing and chopping and a cool dark place.

If you simply don’t like fermented foods, there are other options out there. ProTrea probiotics offers a complete line of daily supplements. These great supplements allow you the ability to get all the benefits of probiotics without having to eat your weight in Kimchi.

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