What’s all the fuss about pasteurised and unpasteurised foods?
Pasteurisation is a sanitising process applied to certain foods in order to eliminate the presence of any harmful bacteria that may have been contained within. It was invented by an old-timey french guy by the name of Louis Pasteur.
The basic premise behind Pasteurisation is that when you heat food beyond a certain temperature then the heat creates an environment where harmful bacteria can no longer survive. The result of the process is that once the bad bugs are eliminated,your food can survive longer in the refrigerator, or on the shelf and the likelihood of you getting sick from that food is significantly reduced.
Sounds great! Why not use that all the time?
Well the thing about heat treatment of food is that along with getting rid of the harmful buggieboos - it also gets rid of a whole bunch of other stuff that is really good for our us. Uncooked foods contain a whole lot of enzymes within them that become inactive when subjected to excessive heat. It’s not just the enzymes in the food that are compromised from exposure to heat; many raw foods contain beneficial bacteria (also know as probiotics) that cannot survive beyond a certain temperature. The truth of the matter is that the application of heat to food actually alters the chemical structure of the food in many cases.
One simplistic example is if you fry an egg:
Egg proteins change when you heat them, beat them, or mix them with other ingredients. Understanding these changes can help you understand the roles that eggs play in cooking.
Proteins are made of long chains of amino acids. The proteins in an egg white are globular proteins, which means that the long protein molecule is twisted and folded and curled up into a more or less spherical shape. A variety of weak chemical bonds keep the protein curled up tight as it drifts placidly in the water that surrounds it.
When you apply heat, you agitate those placidly drifting egg-white proteins, bouncing them around. They slam into the surrounding water molecules; they bash into each other. All this bashing about breaks the weak bonds that kept the protein curled up. The egg proteins uncurl and bump into other proteins that have also uncurled. New chemical bonds form; but rather than binding the protein to itself, these bonds connect one protein to another.
After enough of this bashing and bonding, the solitary egg proteins are solitary no longer. They’ve formed a network of interconnected proteins. The water in which the proteins once floated is captured and held in the protein web. If you leave the eggs at a high temperature too long, too many bonds form and the egg white becomes rubbery. (source)
Our products are alive with probiotics. These little creatures are extremely beneficial for your gut and overall health. If we pasteurised our products then they would not posess the same health benefits.
If they are unpasteurized - won’t they be harmful?
In the case of lacto fermented foods such as Sauerkraut and Kimchi the answer is no!
The truth of the matter is that fermented vegetables are without a doubt one the safest food production methods. USDA Professor of Food Science Fred Breidt, Jr has often been quoted as saying that:
“The scientific literature has never recorded a case of food poisoning involving raw vegetables that have been fermented properly.” (source)
By creating a salty, and oxygen free environment in which to ferment the vegetables, we are essentially ensuring that any harmful bacteria cannot survive in there, and that the Lactic Acid Bacteria our tummies desire so much are able to not only survive, but thrive. There’s much more we could say about all this fermentation and safety stuff and we’ll endeavor to do so in some posts sometime in the future.