Fermenting Vs. Pickling Processes. What is the Crucial Difference?

There is a confusion what are fermented foods and what is the main difference between them and pickles? Let’s clear it up.

sauerkraut and cucumbers

How to Make Fermented and Pickled Foods?

Pickled foods contain vinegar, which preserves them from damaging. That’s all. Very simple. No probiotics. And hardly healthy benefits.

Fermented foods are the matter that is more complicated.

There are three main types of fermented foods:

  • fermented vegetables or fruits (traditional sauerkraut or fermented apples);
  • fermented alcoholic beverages (beer);
  • fermented milk products (kefir).

Fermented vegetables and fruits are pickled in terms of their taste. They are sour and salted. But they don’t have any vinegar and so they are not pickled indeed.

Fermented alcoholic and milk products are not pickled at all. Albeit some fermented milk beverages, for example, “tan” (it is a traditional drink in Transcaucasia), may be described as pickled because they are very salted.

To create fermented alcoholic beverages we use sugar and yeast, to milk products – starters.

We only need in salt to make fermented vegetables. When we make fermented fruits and berries, we use salt and sometimes a bit of sugar. But we never add any vinegar.

Why then fermented vegetables and fruits have the taste of pickled foods?

Because healthy bacteria (probiotics) are produced during the fermentation process. And they make lactic acid which has the pickled taste.

To create fermented alcoholic beverages we use sugar and certain yeast, to milk products – starters.

Why Are Fermented Foods More Healthy than Pickled?

It is sometimes said that pickled foods are not healthy because they are preserved with the use of high pressure or heat. And so vegetables and fruits lose all their beneficial nutrients. It is the truth.

But you can make your own pickled foods at home without the help of high pressure or heat. And they won’t be very healthy.


Because the fermented foods contain probiotics whereas pickled foods (even homemade) don’t. Beneficial bacteria are not able to live in vinegar, which is an essential ingredient for the pickling process. However, namely, probiotics give healthy benefits to fermented foods.

So, if you want to eat healthy pickles you should make your own “fermented pickles” or buy them in the refrigerator section of some healthfood stores.

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