Although lacto-fermentation reliably creates lactobacillus bacteria, which you can learn about in our article The 3 Phases that Create Probiotics During Lacto-Fermentation at Olive My Pickle we’ve taken the step to verify our products with a third party microbiology lab that specializes in food testing.
OUR PROBIOTIC COUNTS
The specific test we ordered was to count the CFUs—colony forming units—of lactic acid bacteria (or lactobacillus) in our fermented vegetable products. Our pickles were verified to contain between 1.2 and 1.4 Billion CFUs (Colony Forming Units--the standard unit used to estimate the number of viable bacteria cells in a sample per serving).
Our standard serving sizes are based them on what a normal person would realistically sit down and eat: 4 ounces of fermented sauerkraut (a little more than half a cup) and 1 pickle, for example.
OUT FOR TESTING
We sent refrigerated samples and because we were curious we also sent samples that had been sitting at room temperature. We wanted to see the impact that temperature had on lactobacillus count. The room temperature samples turned out to still have 25% of the lactobacillus count as the refrigerated batches! This was pretty impressive since they’d been completely out of refrigeration for about 10 days at the time of testing.
We also had the vegetables separate from the brine. Cabbage or sauerkraut brine contained the most LAB count of anything we tested. Next highest was pickle brine, then the sauerkraut itself, then the cucumber pickles.
PUTTING THAT COUNT INTO PERSPECTIVE
It’s challenging to compare the counts in our products to anything to provide context. First, there is no official RDA for probiotics. Second, the other CFU nutritional claims on supermarket shelves are from probiotic supplements. When compared to probiotics supplements CFU claims (pill, capsules, powder or liquid), fermented pickles contain far less probiotic count. We’ll talk about this more below.
WHILE WE’RE ON THE SUBJECT OF SUPPLEMENTS
We acknowledge that probiotics supplements have health value and can really help people We give them to our kids on the rare occasions where they must undergo a round of antibiotics. However, the science within the probiotic industry is largely self-published, and there are many open questions about supplement products’ potency over time (as in, after it’s manufactured, how long do the products truly contain live probiotic properties?)
Additionally, many supplement manufacturers promote their own proprietary probiotic strain with claims that they are more beneficial or potent. We know that a diverse source of probiotic-strain intake creates a stronger microbiome health, so the singular “super strain” claims of probiotic manufacturer’s frankly sound like marketing hype.
OUR OFFICIAL STANCE ON SUPPLEMENTS
Our (admittedly) politically correct stance at Olive My Pickle is this: We acknowledge that probiotic supplements are valuable especially in cases where probiotic therapies are called for--in the timeframes during and after antibiotic treatments especially. However, we advocate a sustainable lifestyle approach by eating the whole foods that contain them: pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kvass, kombucha, etc. to provide consistent, diverse, tasty WHOLE FOOD probiotic intake.
ANECDOTAL FEEDBACK THAT FEEDS OUR SOUL
Feedback like this this letter below that we received from a customer keeps us going. We know science and lab tests are great verifiers, but our real life experiences and those of our many dear customers also speak volumes.
“Dear Olive My Pickle,
I want to thank you for creating the most amazing healing food I've ever eaten. I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome and suffered with it for more than a year. Although not a pleasant subject, I feel it is important to discuss how difficult it is to experience chronic intestinal health issues. More importantly I would like to provide hope that it can often be dealt with very easily by a simple addition to daily diet. I literally had abnormal bowel movements every single day. It was relentless! Taking antibiotics for many years because of a chronic case of Lyme disease did not help.
After eating your wonderful raw cultured vegetables religiously for just two weeks my symptoms began to rapidly disappear and I can today report today that my digestive health has returned to normal. It’s been a year since I've been cured of irritable bowel syndrome and I continue to eat raw cultured vegetables and naturally fermented pickles regularly to maintain digestive health.
Read about the health benefits beyond probiotics of fermented foods in 5 Reasons Why Fermented Foods are a Functional Food.