Fermentation Frustration: Do Traditional Foods Change?


When I started this series on fermentation, I never expected it to get the response it has- both positive and negative. I anticipated that some people would be resistant to the information because they haven’t been presented with it before, but I didn’t expect the response of frustration I received from some. Some readers expressed frustration over sorting through the information given and why this is the first time they’re seeing this info. Today I’d like to address those folks.  Tomorrow, we’ll address the other frustrations I’ve heard as a result of my series.


Why aren’t other traditional food bloggers presenting this information?

Well, I can’t speak for them because I’m not in their shoes.  As far as I’m aware, none of the other folks in the traditional foods blogosphere who have spoken out on the issue have directly addressed the science with any reference other than their word. Almost all of the studies I have cited have been available for years. It seems instead of taking a look at the information presented, they’ve all just stuck to the myth of ‘it’s anaerobic as long as its under the brine,’ and I showed that anaerobic brine isn’t true.

I learned two things a long time ago in the world of traditional foods and blogging.  First, bloggers are responsible for the information they present, right or wrong. Personally, I am humble enough to change my information and update articles, posts and the paid material on this site any time new information comes along because I realize I don’t have all the answers and it’s quite possible something we believe as truth could be wrong. No one group or person has all of the answers and I don’t want to be so prideful or stiff-necked to assume that I’m always correct and what I’ve been taught by others is always correct. Because I’m responsible for the information I present, to me it is paramount it be as accurate as possible.

This isn’t the first time I’ve changed how I do things in my own home or changed the recommendations on my blog. Not long ago there was a brouhaha over phytic acid and soaking in dairy as a result of Amanda Rose’s work. While some condemned the information, I took a hard look at it and I believed the information was sound, so I amended my blog and products to reflect that those suffering from anemia shouldn’t soak their grains in dairy for maximum iron absorption. Her work on phytic acid also convinced me to modify how I was soaking my oatmeal and change what I was doing with my beans to improve nutrient absorption. I’ve further modified my soaking and sprouting information for grains and beans as more information has come to the forefront from other sources, too.

Second, their motivation to change their information will have to come from their clients and readers pushing for answers. I don’t believe it’s wrong to question or ask for answers to the hard questions in the face of evidence. Dialogue has a way of stretching you and making you grow- I always welcome dialogue with my readers, even when they disagree with me.


You’re Wrong… OK, Maybe Not

I’m used to being told I’m wrong and later having my experience confirmed. In my ten years of eating this way, I’ve been through it with celiac disease, food intolerance to raw milk, gut health and more in the traditional foods world. People told me many times that my experience was impossible. Did you know at one time, gut healing wasn’t at the forefront of traditional foods and most thought it was impossible to eat this way long-term and still be sick? Did you know eight years ago many traditional foodists believed you could heal on a traditional foods diet alone without anything like supplements, GAPS, SCD or paleo? Many people believed you could heal completely by just going to raw dairy and soaked grains. After I was dogged for two years while being so sick and healing my own gut with a protocol I put together after research outside of the traditional foods community, GAPS came out.  Not long after, people accepted it as possible because the WAPF was endorsing the GAPS diet. It soon became trendy and that has only continued.

Did you know at one time most traditional foodists believed it was impossible to be intolerant of raw milk or properly soaked grains? At one time, many thought that as long as you were eating well, you couldn’t get sicker- you could only improve. Some believed that raw milk was hypoallergenic. I wish that had been true because I was eating an excellent diet with soaked grains and raw milk but it didn’t prevent me from having hyperemesis with my son and then developing celiac disease and multiple food intolerances.  When I was at my sickest, I had been eating traditional foods for years!

So please don’t think that the world of traditional foods is unchanging, because I’ve seen many changes in my ten years. For as much as we know, I’m convinced that there is MUCH that we don’t know. I don’t expect this will be any different and I’m fully aware that I’ll likely take a lot of heat for this information. However, I put this information out there in hopes I can reach others who are having the same experience so they can get both the help and the hope that they need. What I can promise you is that I don’t blow like the wind and I don’t pull the hot then cold number you’ve seen out of other bloggers. I make decisions carefully after much research and prayer. If I find what I’m recommending isn’t the best, I admit it and change the info.
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I'm KerryAnn Foster. I live in the mountains of Western North Carolina with my husband, Jeff, and our two kids, a teen and a tween. I blog here at Intentionally Domestic (formerly Cooking Traditional Foods). I blog about Paleo, beauty, health, family, homeschool and lifestyle for women in their 30s and beyond. I have over sixteen years of real food and natural lifestyle and health experience.

I am also an It Works! Global Triple Diamond Independent Distributor. I love that crazy wrap thing! I have been extremely happy with how the It Works Products have tightened up my loose skin and healed my stretch marks after losing 179 pounds and having a 10-pound baby.

Read about my journey to health through celiac disease, PCOS, food allergies, obesity, adrenal fatigue and heavy metals.


  1. Claudia (Lacey) says:

    I wanted to let you know that I have been reading your posts even though I seldom comment. I purchased Pickl-it jars fairly soon after I started fermenting veggies after reading a post somewhere that the Harsh Crock was the safest way to ferment and I couldn’t afford one. I have been making all my ferments in Pickl-it ever since, except my kefir. I didn’t do kefir in it because it seemed to work just fine in a jar and since I always have kefir going, it would mean one of my Pickl-it jars was unavailable for other ferments. Recently my boyfriend decided he wanted to get healthier and has started with kefir. He isn’t crazy about the flavor but has been consuming it pretty faithfully. After reading all your posts on the subject I decided I would try the kefir in the Pickl-it and see if it was any different. I was amazed to find that the flavor is really better coming from the Pickl-it. My boyfriend says the same thing. He actually likes the flavor.

    I so appreciate people like you who go out and research all this stuff and are willing to share it because I benefit from your hard work. Thanks for all the wonderful information you provide us and for not buckling when the negative responses are flung so hard. 🙂

  2. pak says:

    I find all the brouhaha very entertaining, to say the least. I have always believed that we are all special, God made each one of us unique. What works for one person doesn’t mean it will work for the next. Why do we continue to think that it will??? Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences. I appreciate it because I work from a different side of the brain, and have zero patience for that sort of thing. I began my real food journey in order to heal members of my family – so I am grateful that you share information that works for you. I can choose to use that information or not.

  3. Suzanne says:


    I love your honesty and find it very refreshing. I am very happy you addressed some of these issues. I know many people once they get on a kick say that certain things cannot be bad for you, well that is definitely not true! I appreciate your wisdom and your research. I hope that others will too and not condemn you for the truths that you hold to be self-evident.

  4. jpatti says:

    After a couple years of not recovering doing what the doctors told me after my MI and subsequent CABG, I started on raw milk and my BP went down so much that I got off 3 meds.

    Later, I fixed my adrenal issues with the help of folks on a Yahoo group, getting my labs done, interpreting them, and figuring out how much hydrocortisone to take until I could wean off and recover.

    I also treated a reverse T3 issue with T3-only meds at the same time, which again was a temporary issue until my labs readjusted.

    These were all labs that *I* ordered; not the doctors.

    Recently, I began on ThreeLac and though I can only tolerate small doses, I’ve improved HUGELY in the past few months.

    I used to be a biochemist, so can know what makes sense and what doesn’t and have the ability to make decent judgements for myself. There’s a LOT of wacky info on the Internet, and I’m lucky to have the specific type of education that lets me read research and figure out what makes sense and rule out what is just a waste of money or possibly dangerous.

    My sister was sick a while back, yeast infection in her throat, and I Googled and found her some Diflucan. She has liver issues, so I also told her to take milk thistle while on the Diflucan, as well as to eat lots of yogurt, and that frankly the milk thistle and yogurt should be permanent changes. She had no insurance and had to do something. She is not a biochemist, basically barely finished high school. She did what I told her cause she trusted me. Not enough to drive to MA or CT for raw milk (she is in RI, where it’s illegal), but at least to fix up the active problem when she had it.

    Without a science background, people who take their health in their own hands are working on trust of someone else, an “authority” figure who they rely on. And I think there is a bit of anxiety in that.

    Heck, there’s a bit of anxiety in BEING an authority figure to others. You want to give the best advice you possibly can. But… there’s always the chance that science will discover something next month that will blow your advice out of the water.

    Now… let us consider traditional foods. Almost all of us who are into traditional foods began with Nourishing Traditions. Personally, with my background, I was most impressed by Mary Enig’s work, and that she had figured out about trans fats while I was still lathering margarine on everything and feeling guilty when I splurged on butter. Her biochemistry work is what impressed me and got me on board.

    That and the fact that when I began looking at the science of nutrition after my MI, there was SO much new stuff since I was in graduate school. I was diagnosed with diabetes back then, got into a research library (it being Internet) and learned gobs. A couple decades later, and there’s new nutrients discovered…

    Even new HORMONES that were not part of endocrinology when I was in school – no one had heard of leptin or amylin back then. Insulin, glucagon and cortisol were the only hormones that effected blood glucose when I was in grad school!

    This is when I “hit” the real limitations of science and started thinking harder about REAL FOOD. Cause… I don’t know what we haven’t discovered that we’ll know 20 years from now, what nutrients might be missing from our knowledge. So… while I am science-oriented, I also see traditional food as terrifically important and think there’s a good chance that we don’t know all the reasons why yet.

    Now consider people like my sister, with no science background, and an inability to judge research themselves. They were not necessarily drawn to Nourishing Traditions because of Mary Enig’s research. I have in my head the notion of balance between what science knows and traditional foods, which fills in holes of what we don’t know yet. But if my sister read that book, if she trusted it, it would be for very different reasons. It would be because they are “experts” and she is not.

    Suddenly finding that a “traditional foods” authority is telling you to buy some expensive glassware instead of using Mason jars like our grandmothers did, or that regular crocks aren’t good enough when that’s what people have been using for multiple generations, when the original fermentation of milk occurred in bladders and stomachs of the animals… and the “arguments” for why being a bunch of science that they can’t judge… it’s anxiety-producing.

    Maybe I shouldn’t even be posting on this topic. I hate ferments, except yogurt. I made both dairy and water kefir, and couldn’t stomach either, even in smoothies. Kvass tastes like dirt to me. I only like sweet, unfermented bread and butter pickles and can’t abide sauerkraut. I thought Sally Fallon’s recipe for gingered carrots was the nastiest thing I ever cooked. So… I am content taking my ThreeLac, even though it’s very expensive.

    One of the things that annoys me about NT is… it’s the ideal diet, IF you started before you were born. When we’re ill, what we need to recover is often more than you can get just by starting the diet. To my mind, a traditional foods diet is critically important to healing, but it’s not enough. There is not enough bone broth and cod liver oil in the world to cure diabetes! Treating my adrenal fatigue and reverse T3 issues took drugs, at least temporarily (but safer drugs than what the doctors had me on).

    And that is how I see this issue. People who are ill, with GI issues or systemic yeast infections, need MASSIVE amounts of probiotics to recover. And yes, there is some amazing science behind this, including weird-sounding things like people being cured of various issues, including critical life-threatening things, by GI donors. A GI donors means… they actually take fecal matter from the donor and insert it in the patient via enema or through a tube in the nose into the stomach. Weird and gross as that sounds, it has saved lives. Here’s a Wiki article about it: – but much more info is available by searching PubMed.

    Those people are not going to get cured by eating gingered carrots and home-crocked sauerkraut, eh?

    A small quote to include though about what science is discovering about GI flora via exploring Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT): “At the CDD there were indications that FMT could benefit other conditions including ulcerative colitis[21][22], autoimmune disorders[23], neurological conditions[24], obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes[10], and Parkinson’s disease[25]; research continued.”

    See there… THIS MIGHT CURE DIABETES! Gut flora are SO important!

    As I’ve read these articles by KerryAnn, and seen the controversy explode, I am hearing several things.

    I know, cause I bought THOUSANDS of mason jars at auctions and yard sales, and a few crocks as well (crocks are harder to come by cause antique dealers bid against you). This equipment is EXPENSIVE in comparison, especially for those who are doing multiple ferments at once. When I can pick up a case of 50 jars at an auction for $3, the Pickl-it thingy is ridiculously expensive! If I were not a complete wuss about fermented foods, I’d probably have 40 or 50 ferments going right now. Heck, during my kefir experiments, I had 6 half-gallon jars going at once, plus 2 gallons of Kvass.

    To do all that, which is traditional, and suddenly find an “authority” saying it’s not good enough is going to be very anxiety-producing.

    I see this ALL THE TIME in real life. A friend’s daughter is hypoglycemic, and I remind the child to eat protein and fat whenever she eats carbs to avoid a crash. Yes, you can have watermelon, would you like cottage cheese, a slice of cheese or milk with that? And her mom has her on raw milk and lots of yogurt. But… I discuss phytic acid, and her eyes glaze over. It’s too much. She works two jobs and is a single mom, she can’t afford pastured meat, she does what she can do. And it’s easier for her, in her head, to think I’m wrong than to think she isn’t doing the best for her child. Cause she IS doing the best for her child!

    The thing with the defensiveness that I don’t get is KerryAnn has ALWAYS said to do what you can do. That you live in the real world, not in some ideal NT community. Consider which changes are most important, which ones are easiest to fit in your life. Take baby steps. She’s been saying this for YEARS!

    She has NEVER EVER said that your crock ferments are no good and I’d be darned surprised if she ever did cause she’s never been judgmental the way some corners of the traditional foods community is. This is why I’m here even though the gluten and casein things are not my problems and focused on a lot here. The ATTITUDE of doing the best you can and taking baby steps and not judging.

    She has discovered what works better and why. For most folks, the Mason jar ferments ARE good enough. It’s good enough for the vast majority of folks who are not ill. It is good enough for most folks to feed their families and keep them healthy and strong, if they are already in good health.

    For those who are ill, who need something like Biokult or ThreeLac, it’s probably NOT good enough. But those folks, I’d still recommend try jars and crocks first to make sure they can eat the stuff before investing in the equipment to do serious fermenting. But yeah, it’d be WAY more frugal than buying probiotics.

    The science impresses ME and if I were able to eat ferments, I’d be quite thrilled to quit buying ThreeLac. I can’t eat enough yogurt to heal myself though, and the ThreeLac is working wonders for me, so I’m onboard in that direction.

    Cause… well, buying WAY overpriced probiotics or a few “overpriced” jars beats the heck out of having other people’s poop stuck in your nose or butt. 😉

    Science progresses, folks. This is how we learned sprouting beans destroyed more phytic acid than soaking, that oats needed a phytase-containing flour to make soaking do any good. NT was not the end of all we know. Another couple decades, and we might be ready to chuck most of the book… who knows what we’ll know then?

    I did low-carb for DECADES. I was utterly attached to it, proselytized… and… my diabetes progressed until I had an MI and wound up on insulin anyways. At which point I decided the likely problem was the wrong fats in my diet, building the wrong shaped insulin receptors in my cells, and just fixing my fat intake might help. And after several years of healthy fats, I’m still diabetic and it might be my freaking GI flora causing it! More information means… adjusting your behavior because you know more.

    KerryAnn has done a bunch of research to provide the BEST for herself and her family. I find it very convincing. If you don’t, well… don’t buy a Pickl-it. I won’t, cause I don’t like ferments.

    If you REALLY don’t like that knowledge progresses, you need to get a paper and pen and send your hate mail to KerryAnn via the postal service instead of using this whole Internet thing – which is not traditional, ya know. None of the folks Weston Price studied used it! 😉

  5. Lynda B says:

    Kerry – I want to say thank you for doing this series. I’ve been interested but very hesitant to get into fermentation beyond the homemade yogurt I’d done long enough to be familiar with out of fear of exactly what you’re talking about – might it be possible to ingest mold and the like without knowing about it? I have a litany of auto-immune disorders that make me fear getting ill or worsening those conditions without realizing it… but I also want to see if fermented foods might help.

    What I didn’t realise is that my fiance was having the same concerns and gently resisting just enough for me to go without our combined hesitance rather than diving in. Until I showed him your articles and the anaerobic options available that eliminate the concern. Suddenly, he’s on board and eager to try this, because it no longer feels ‘scary’.

    It may or may not be needed for everyone, and of course, if it’s not a concern and cost is – go for the mason jars. But for me, knowing that I can buy piece of mind and truly venture into fermentation with a supportive, on-board partner for less than $100 (well less if we start with just a couple jars) – that’s pretty priceless.

  6. Mandy says:

    I now have the Pickl-it, and I am very happy with it! My kefir grains already seem better too! A question though, and perhaps I already missed this in one of your posts….after I strain my kefir, or kvass, or whatever I fermented, does that need to still remain in an airtight container? Or can I then put it in a mason jar?

    Thank you!

    • The answer lies in what type of ferment you’re after. If you are going to be making a soft drink replacement and you want the bubbles provided by the probiotics, you need to trap them so you want to use an anaerobic storage method like a Grolsch or other lock bottle with a narrow neck.

      If your kids don’t like the bubbles, you’ll want to keep it in a Pickl-It so it’s airtight but able to off-gas so the majority of the carbon dioxide is lost.

      But if you put it into an aerobic container, you’ll start killing off the LABs.
      KerryAnn Foster recently posted..Fermentation Frustration: Do Traditional Foods Change?

      • Mandy says:

        Thank you! I need to get more anaerobic bottles! I do my water kefir in the Grolsch style bottle, but I end up putting my dairy kefir in a mason jar…..ugh… What about kombucha….I know during the ferment it is aerobic, but what about after you transfer it to a bottle? Should it be anaerobic too?

        • I do put my kombucha in an airtight bottle for second stage because I want it carbonated. I’m honestly not sure about damage to it at that point, but I believe I remember reading that it’s the SCOBY itself that needs the oxygen and not the liquid, so I believe that is ok, but I could be totally wrong. I’ll put that on my list of things to research during this series and I’ll see if I can find answers for you.

          • Mandy says:

            Thank you, I will look forward to hearing what you find out! Just in case, I think I will do airtight for Kombucha as well.


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