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Fermented Food QuESTIONS

Are your products organic?

We are actively seeking USDA Organic Certification. This may take us a while, so hang tight and take solace in the following information until we are approved to use the organic seal on our labels. 

We source the cleanest, most local produce available as well as pure unrefined sea salt and certified fair-trade organic spices. We NEVER use genetically modified ingredients. 

The cucumbers and cabbage used to make out sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles come from United States farms, and most often farms in the South Eastern United States. 

Cabbage is a "clean 15" vegetable. This means that cabbage is one of the cleanest crops in America. We remove the outer-most leaves of each cabbage before washing and chopping, which leaves the cabbage virtually 100% free of pesticides and chemicals but still rich with probiotic bacteria. 

Cucumbers aren't "as clean" as cabbages, so it's better for these to be organic. Currently we wash each individual cucumber, by hand, in cool water and before chopping! This removes any potential pesticide residue, because natural pesticides are still used in organic farming. Bacteria are also wonderful powerful organisms when it comes to the "cleanliness" of fermented vegetables. The bacteria involved in all three stages of our fermentation process break down and eliminate any potential residual compounds left on the cucumbers.

Are your products Non-GMO? 

Our products NEVER contain genetically modified ingredients. Genetically modified cabbages and cucumbers do not currently exist. Also, all of the spices and seasonings used in our products are Non-GMO, certified organic, and fair trade. 

We strongly and passionately disagree with genetically modified foods. Genetic modification of plants and other living organisms is dangerous and the consequences of genetic modification are extreme. We eat our own fermented food products everyday, three times a day, and we assure you that they are GMO free. 

A note about genetically modified microorganisms: This is not talked about in mainstream media, but one of the main food ingredients being genetically modified in 2018 is probiotic bacteria. Products with ADDED cultures grown in a laboratory, usually contain a species of bacteria that has been genetically modified. Probiotic capsule manufacturers and companies producing food products with added probiotic cultures (i.e. juices with probiotics, protein powder with probiotics, snacks like granola and chips with probiotics) are genetically modifying bacteria added to their products to make them preform certain functions. This is obviously disgusting and foreseeably dangerous. These companies want to patent and own the rights to certain strains of living bacteria in their products, so they are genetically modifying them to make them unique and "proprietary". 

We do NOT add any cultures to our products. Ever. We use wild fermentation to naturally encourage specific bacteria from nature (from the surface of natural vegetables) to grow and thrive in our fermented vegetables. The bacteria originate from the soil that the seeds of cucumbers and cabbages were planted in. 

What's the difference between fermentation and pickling?

Fermenting and pickling are two different ways to preserve vegetables. Pickling is a sterile process where a hot vinegar brine is added to vegetables to preserve them in a pressure sealed jar. Fermenting (specifically wild fermentation) is different. Wild fermentation occurs when a specific salt concentration is added to vegetables with water and spices and then the mixture is allowed to ferment over time at room temperature. During fermentation a succession of microbes occurs. By the end of this succession only Lactobacillusspecies, and sometimes Leuconostoc species, are present in the vegetable mixture. These bacteria produce lactic acid and this lactic acid preserves the vegetables.  Fermented vegetables have a smoother, more savory and more earthy flavor than pickled vegetables. 

Do the probiotics actually make it to your intestines?  

The best part about getting your probiotics through fermented vegetables, is that the probiotic species of bacteria in fermented foods are acid tolerant microbes. Unlike probiotic capsule bacteria that are grown in pure cultures in a lab, fermented vegetable bacteria are adapt to thrive in a multitude of harsh conditions. The probiotic bacteria found in our ferments thrive at a pH 3 and can survive for up to two hours at a pH as low as one. Since your stomach acid is about pH 2 and food only stays in the stomach for about 30 minutes to 3 hours, fermented vegetable microbes are more than adapt to survive the digestive journey and they will make to your intestines to become part of your microbiome.  

What are CFUs?

CFUs stands for Colony Forming Units. Colony forming Units = The number of viable microbial cells able to replicate under ideal conditions that are present in a given sample of product. 

How do you determine the probiotic species present in your products?

Kaitlynn (Co-founder and Co-owner) is a microbiologist. Using cell enumeration, bacterial enrichment and isolation, metabolic tests, and microscopy techniques she is able to identify the microbial species and quantity of microbes present.  

Can you eliminate pathogenic yeasts from your body with fermented vegetables? 

Properly fermented vegetables can help with combating yeast overgrowth (like candida) because they are such a rich source of probiotic bacteria. When fermented vegetables are made properly there are usually no yeasts present… Occasionally fermented vegetables can include a few friendly yeasts, such as Saccharomyces, so they can help recolonize your body with a balanced population of good bacteria and friendly yeasts. Always consult with a doctor if you suspect you have a medical condition such as Candida overgrowth. 

Specialty Diets and Food Sensitivity?

All of our products are Vegan, Raw, Paleo, Gluten Free, Dairy Free and Sugar Free. All of our products are compatible with Keto, Paleo, Whole30, Vegan and Vegetarian lifestyles/diets. If you are on a low sodium diet, consult with your doctor before eating fermented foods. 

Our products versus other fermented food brands 

Our products never touch synthetic materials. We ferment our vegetables in American White Oak Barrels. From the barrels, our products are jarred into glass mason jars and labeled. We do not use plastic containers or bags to jar our products due to the ability of acid to degrade plastic over time. Our proprietary fermentation process created by a Microbiologist allows us to maintain a higher bacterial load in each product than most other fermented foods. 

Infants, Toddlers, Pregnant and Nursing

Always consult your doctor if you are pregnant, nursing or immunocompromised. Fermented foods can have a profoundly wonderful affect when added to the diets of infants, toddlers and mothers-to-be.

Healthy gut microbiome development during infancy is a vital part of living a healthy life in later years. The microbiome health of children is strongly dependent on the microbiome health of the mother… because 97% of gene function in humans is microbial. If you are interested in this topic I suggest reading the books: The Human Super Organism, and 10% Human.

Why Refrigerate if it’s so well preserved via fermentation? 

Our products are to be maintained under refrigeration because refrigeration suspends the fermented vegetables at their peak time. We refrigerate our products after they are jarred, which is when the probiotic count is the highest and the flavor is the best.

What Starter Culture do you use? 

We don't use starter cultures. Instead we utilize wild fermentation which selects for the best natural probiotic microbes from nature. All the microbes needed are already on the the surface of the vegetables we ferment, even after the vegetables are washed. The vegetables themselves are the inoculant. 

Probiotics

A probiotic is defined as a microbe, usually a species found in a healthy person's microbiome, that is introduced into the body for its beneficial qualities. There are plenty of sources of probiotics, fermented vegetables being one of the absolute best. Playing outside in the garden, eating fermented foods, driving with the windows down, or just visiting the farmers market are great ways to introduce some pretty awesome bacteria to your body.

Fermented Foods vs. Capsules for Probiotics 

Why am I picky about where my probiotics come from?

Well I’m so glad you asked. If you walk through the grocery store you’ll see all kinds of things labeled as “probiotic” but if you know a little bit about the gut microbiome you’ll ask yourself “but why?” There’s everything from probiotic orange juice, coffee and peanut butter to probiotic ice cream and potato chips. It’s called marketing y’all. There’s also probiotic capsule sections in most stores now, where you can find a 30 day supply of probiotic pills for like… 80 dollars or more. These things are not good for you and are not the most effective or affordable option for three main reasons:

  • Reason 1: Adding probiotic bacteria to unhealthy, refined and processed foods doesn’t make that food healthy at all. The food products using “probiotic” as a marketing ploy are normally unhealthy, full of sugar and refined ingredients and are not considered foods good for gut health anyways. So before you grab that ice cream with probiotic cultures added remember that healthy gut microbes don’t thrive on ice cream. So the product in itself is counteractive.

  • Reason 2: THIS IS SO FREAKING IMPORTANT Y’ALL: Genetic modification of probiotic bacteria aka “pharmacobiotics” …This is going to make a lot of you uncomfortable if you take probiotic capsules, use probiotic powders, or eat foods with added probiotics. Pharmaceutical companies and big food companies have their eyes set on the profit potential in patenting particular strains of probiotic bacteria. They are specifically interested in patenting particular strains of bacteria for the treatment of certain diagnosed diseases. How might they do this you ask? Well… first off they have tons and tons of money and they have to power to navigate and lobby FDA regulations. Secondly, they have the resources to GENETICALLY MODIFY species of bacteria so to make they preform a specific function. When they genetically modify the bacteria, the bacteria contain unique gene sequences that can be registered with the US Patent Office. Sounds like the beginning to a freaky science-fiction book huh? Well its real, and I don’t want my gut microbiome to be someone’s greedy for-profit science experiment.

  • Reason 3: The digestive journey is tough. Digestion starts in the mouth and takes foods and substances on a harsh journey. Since the bacteria that are are grown in a labs are never exposed to harsh conditions, they are not adapt to survive. Cultures that are added to foods or capsules are commercially grown in huge vats in laboratories under perfect living conditions for the bacteria. They never have to compete with pathogenic species for living space, and they never have to survive at low pH or other stressful conditions while being grown in a lab. So the bacteria are not as adapted to survive stressful conditions as bacteria for the natural world are. The bacteria in naturally fermented vegetables come from nature, specifically they originate in the soil in which the vegetables are grown. In that soil these microbes compete for space and for their lives. During fermentation only bacteria that can survive in a very low pH environment, with no oxygen and some salt continue to thrive. These bacteria are natural, strong, and are used to harsh conditions that are very similar to the terrain of the human digestive tract!  

Variations in texture and flavor?

We source the produce we use in our fermented foods as locally as possible, which means the texture and consistency of our products may vary throughout the year. This is just a further indication that our products are hand crafted and natural. Wether or not produce is grown in its optimal growing conditions affects the texture of our fermented vegetables.  The flavor, however,  should be rather consistent across our batches. Due to the nature of our fermentation process (in large barrels) and our jarring by hand process, no two jars of our kimchi and pickles will have the exact same spice distribution. Though it should be quite close. You may find that some jars have more spices or seasonings in the brine than others, but this doesn't cause a significant difference in flavor between jars since it was all fermented together in one barrel.  

Is the Brine Supposed to be Viscous? Is The Brine Supposed to be Foamy When Shaken?

YES! This happens in most batches of our fermented vegetables. The brine can appear foamy or viscous because of the accumulation of oligosaccharides in brine ( aka the accumulation of PREBIOTICS!!). This happens in stage two of fermentation and for us indicates that a perfect salt concentration was used to produce the fermented vegetables.

A lot of commercial fermented food companies dilute out the viscosity of the brine using water, and then they have a ton of brine to sell things like small bottles of just kraut brine. We choose to keep our brine at full prebiotic potency, and do not dilute… your gut will thank us! 😍

Should the Fermented Vegetables be Effervescent/Fizzy?

Fizzy or effervescent vegetables are possible… and perfectly fine! But only if they are also sour with the pleasant taste of lactic acid. It all depends on the season and the vegetables. Sometimes, carbon dioxide producing, probiotic bacteria called Leuconostoc spp. can remain in the vegetables throughout the fermentation process. These healthy little bacteria are called heterolactic fermenters, and they produce small amounts of carbon dioxide along with lactic acid… which can occasionally make for a fizzy feeling on your tongue when you eat fermented veggies! 🤓😛 Leuconostoc bacteria are a great addition to your gut microbiome.

Here are some published papers that review the possible, fantastic probiotic benefits of Leuconostoc bacteria:

Potential use of lactic acid bacteria Leuconostoc mesenteroides as a probiotic for the removal of Pb(II) toxicity.

Probiotic Properties of Leuconostoc mesenteroides Isolated from Aguamiel of Agave salmiana.

Effects of Lactobacillus plantarum and Leuconostoc mesenteroides Probiotics on Human Seasonal and Avian Influenza Viruses.

Beneficial effects on host energy metabolism of short-chain fatty acids and vitamins produced by commensal and probiotic bacteria.

How much should you eat in a day?

2 Tablespoons, drained is the suggested serving per day. The serving size suggestion on our nutrition facts is for 2 tablespoons of the solid vegetable matter (not including the brine). 

What is the Sodium content of your products

When fermenting foods safely it is necessary to use at least a 2.25% salt concentration for the best probiotic population to thrive. This is what we use to ferment vegetables in our barrels.  With that being said, the serving size suggestion on our nutrition facts is for 2 Tablespoons of the solid vegetable matter (not including the brine). 2 Tablespoons of our fermented vegetables has about 275 mg of salt. The brine in the jar that remains can be eaten and added to meals and drinks as well. The brine has about 450 mg of sodium per 2 Tablespoons. 

Organic Ingredients?

Not all of the produce we use is organic. We are focused on sourcing local produce, and local organic produce is not always available to us. Because of sustainability, we do not believe in getting produce shipped from California for the sake of it being organic. Cabbage is a "Clean 15" vegetable, meaning that once the outer leaves are removed it is one of the cleanest, pesticide free vegetables you can eat. For us clean and local is better than far from home and organic. As of June 2017 we are working with local Organic farmers in Louisiana to begin sourcing our produce solely from them. As far as a "Certified Organic" seal goes, it is too expensive for our small business at this time, but we are seeking USDA Organic certification soon.   

How do I ferment at home? 

To ferment at home we suggest utilizing our science based blog. When gathering information on safely fermenting vegetables at home it's all about who wrote the information and where they received their education on the topic from. Please use caution when using online fermentation recipes. Apart from our own blog, most fermentation information on the internet is not based on microbiology, is inaccurate and therefore can be dangerous.

We offer many recipes on fermenting veggies at home with many more to come!  

Will I get Clostridium botulinum from fermented veggies? (aka Botulism) 

No, as long as you get fermented foods from an educated and reliable source, or get your recipe to ferment at home from an educated fact-based source. Always use exact salt concentrations calculated by weight when fermenting at home, and always ferment any vegetable for at least 2 weeks. Remember to keep the focus on the microbes and you will have a healthy probiotic food. 

How do I eat fermented foods? 

You can use our fermented vegetable products with pretty much anything. We have a great blog with lots of recipes utilizing our products. Our blog also covers topics in microbiome health, fermentation science, prebiotic foods, and gut nourishment. Visit our Blog

 
 
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Online Orders and Shipping

Shipping

Shipping cost is calculated at the time of checkout and depends on the weight of the package.

Once you receive a shipping tracking number via email, all discrepancies in delivery time are the responsibility of USPS, FedEx or UPS.

If you have a problem upon receipt of your package please take a picture of the damage and send the picture and your order number to info@cultured.guru within 3 business days of delivery. We will replace any damaged item as quickly as possible, if the damage is our fault. Cultured Guru is not responsible for orders damaged during shipping. You can file a claim with USPS here, of FedEx here.

Shipping USPS priority includes up to $100 in insurance. If you feel that your package has been lost in the mail, please contact USPS to start a claim.

Shipping FedEx includes up to $100 in insurance. If you fell that your package has been lost in transit, or damaged in transit, please contact FedEx to start a claim.

How long are the products good for - What's the expiration date? 

Our fermented foods do not exactly “expire” because fermented foods are naturally well preserved. Fermented foods, when made properly, are actually one of the safest food products to produce. It is best to consume the contents of the jar within 6 months of opening to receive the full probiotic benefits.  

The FDA and the Louisiana Department of Health requires the use of a date on products, with the option to use “crafted on” dates or “use by” dates. We tried using crafted on dates on our products for a while… however, this confused many people. Many shoppers disregarded the words “crafted on” viewing the date as a date of expiration anyways. So for the sake of simplicity, we now utilize “use by” dates. This date can be found on the tops of the jars (or on the side of the labels for our older edition of product labeling).  

Returns

All sales are final. If there is a problem with your order please email us using the form submission on the contact page.

There is a 3 day period upon arrival of your package to bring problems with your package to our attention. If you have a problem upon receipt of your package please take a picture of the damage and send the picture and your order number to info@cultured.guru within 3 business days of delivery. 

We will replace any damaged item as quickly as possible, if the damage is our fault. Cultured Guru is not responsible for orders damaged during shipping. You can file a claim with USPS here, or FedEx here.

We are not liable, we do not issue refunds, and we don't not ship replacements for wrong or invalid shipping addresses. 

Refrigerate Upon Receipt

Online orders are shipped via USPS. All online orders should be received within 3-5 business days of receiving your tracking number. Our fermented vegetable products are maintained under refrigerated conditions before shipment and during shipment. The recipient is required to refrigerate upon receipt of the package.  

If the Ice pack in your shipment is no longer cold upon arrival, it’s no big deal! The products are still full of probiotics and perfectly safe to eat!

Where Can I find your products? 

Our products are available in stores across South Louisiana including Whole Foods Market and available on our online store. We have a Map link to assist you in finding our products in stores. 

How can I contact Cultured Guru?  

Currently, as of 2019 Cultured Guru in its entirety is run by only two people (Jon and Kaitlynn, the owners). If you have any questions, comments, concerns or just want to chat fermentation, please send an email to info@cultured.guru. We are usually unavailable via phone. You can also Facebook message us, or Instagram message us. We will get back to you within a day or two! 

Is the shipping material sustainable?

Currently the only materials used by our business that are not recyclable or biodegradable are 1. the insulated shipping wrap and 2. the cold packs that our fermented foods are shipped with. There are multiple ways to reuse the cold packs and insulated bubble wrap that our products are shipped with. If you would like to ship packing materials back to us in a large recyclable envelope, we do accept and reuse them. You can ship all packing materials back to us at:

Cultured Guru 

7350 Jefferson Hwy 

STE 485-236 

Baton Rouge, LA 70806