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Body Ecology Starter Culture

Availability: In stock

SKU: 2556


Use this starter culture as an alternative to culturing vegetables with salt or whey. Learn more about culturing vegetables with our collection of Cultured Vegetable Expert Advice Articles.

  • Each box contains 6 packets of starter culture. Store extra packets in the freezer until ready for use.
  • Use to culture vegetables or to culture cream for making cultured butter or creme fraiche (see below).
  • Instructions and recipes are included.
  • Not appropriate for culturing fruit, according to the manufacturer.


Body Ecology Starter Culture Instructions:

  • Add 1 packet culture to any vegetable ferment.
  • Follow recipe instructions or ferment each batch at 70°F for several days.
  • To make crème fraîche, add 1 packet starter culture to 1 pint heavy whipping cream. Culture at 72-75°F for 24 hours.
  • To make cultured butter, make crème fraîche and follow the instructions in our article How to Make Cultured Butter.

Body Ecology Starter Culture Ingredients:

Lactobacillus plantarum, pediococcus acidolactici, leuconostoc cremoris, and inulin

This product contains no GMO ingredients


Body Ecology Starter Storage and Shipping Information: 

Store in refrigerator or freezer. This product is shipped in a dehydrated state and keeps

  • In the refrigerator (40° to 45°F): 12 months
  • In the freezer (0° to 25°F): 12 months or more

Body Ecology Starter Allergen Information:

  • According to the manufacturer, this product is dairy-free, soy-free, and gluten-free. 
  • May contain trace amounts of dairy.
  • Inulin is derived from chicory root.

Actual product may differ from image shown above.

Questions on Body Ecology Starter Culture

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  • From Lisa at 5/6/2011 8:30 AM
    • I am allergic to milk and gluten. Can I use this product as a vegetable starter for mason jars since I cannot use whey?
    • You can very likely use this product but you should check with your health practitioner. The starter is shipped in a carrier of milk powder. Once it is used to culture vegetables, the amount of milk in the finished product is around 17 parts per million, which is less than "trace" amounts.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From SnooZQ at 5/30/2011 10:34 AM
    • The recipe instructions for BE starter ("To Use BE Culture Starter" section) says to add "some form of sugar" when activating the starter with water.

      The quantity of sugar is not specified.

      I am under the impression that some sugars favor the development of yeasts rather than lactobacilli.

      Could you please advise on the amount of sugar needed to "awaken" the culture?

    • As you point out, the amount of sugar required is not specified - probably a teaspoon or so would be fine.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From Laurent at 6/12/2011 7:05 AM
    • A matter of economy: what fraction
      of a packet is needed for fermenting
      a half gallon of cabbage?

      Substituting sugar for salt in the
      fermentation process is very attractive,
      but at what cost?
    • The measurement of the BE starter is generally done by pounds: one packet to about 4.5 pounds of vegetable. So you can calculate from that, how many pounds are going into a gallon of vegetables.

      Sugar is a completely different chemical from salt. Sugar is used as a preservative because it creates an inhospitable environment for bacteria, thus reducing spoilage, but it would therefore also inhibit fermentation. For fermentation, you want to encourage the enzyme activity in the vegetables, so salt (or whey) would do that. The vegetable starter culture contains the kind of bacteria that will jump-start the enzyme activity and produce fermentation.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From Sue at 7/13/2011 9:13 PM
    • what's the difference between the BS starter and the Caldwell's? I there a number of bacteria types that can be compared? I want the most variety plus bang for my buck. Thanks!
    • Each product page lists the ingredients and strains that are contained in the starter.

      For instance, the Caldwell starter contains sugar (as a carrier), skim milk powder, ascorbic acid, active lactic bacteria (lactobacillus plantarum, leuconostoc mesenteroides and pediococcus acidilactici). There is also an element of dairy in this product as a carrier, but the proportion in the final cultured veggies is absolutely minute, around 17 parts per million, which is below trace level.

      The BE starter contains lactobacillus plantarum, lactococcus lactis ssp. lactis, lactococcus lactis ssp. cremoris., lactococcus lactis ssp. lactis biovar. diacetylactis, and leuconostoc mesenteroides ssp. cremoris. It also contains glucose, as a carrier.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From Duise at 8/24/2011 4:17 PM
    • I am understanding this, can you pickle vegetables like pickles and cabbage etc. without needing to use salt with this product? I would like to pickle without the salt, because due to hypertension I have to watch my salt intake, so I have not done any pickling, though I would like to.
    • Yes, this product makes it possible to pickle/ferment without the use of salt, or with minimal salt for a crunchier texture.

      Often the product will not get quite as crunchy as a salted brine fermentation, but the taste and health benefits are there!
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From Sirarpi at 12/21/2011 8:53 AM
    • How can I prolong the culturing life of a packet of vegetable culture so that I can culture subsequent batches of vegetables. Would adding sugar to the fermented juice encourage the multiplication of the bacteria?
    • Added sugar just provides more food for the bacteria, causing additional fermentation. It will not necessarily prolong the life of the bacteria. While you can sometimes use juice from one batch of cultured vegetables to start a new batch, these bacteria don't perpetuate the same way yogurt bacteria do, and ultimately you may need a new set of cultures. The purpose of the culture is to increase the available bacteria in the fermenting pot so the vegetables will ferment more quickly, activating the enzymes on the surface of the vegetables and breaking down the vegetable fibers. You can achieve a similar result using whey, or even just brine, but the starter culture is especially reliable and active.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From Joelle at 12/23/2011 5:54 AM
    • I cannot eat sugar. I have an inflammatory response; therefore I could not buy Caldwell's, but can I use another form of sugar with similar results with BE; like agave, honey, coconut sugar or sucanat?
    • The role of the added sugar is to provide energy for the bacteria to proliferate. It's all metabolized during the fermentation process. Even before it's used up during the fermentation, the amount of sucrose in the final product (fermented vegetables) is tiny. If you were to add one teaspoon of sugar to 4.5 lbs of vegetables, and water to cover them, you would have somewhere on the order of 2% sugar (or less) in the mixture at the beginning of fermentation. By comparison, fresh cabbage itself contains about 3% sugars.

      Additional sugar in fermentation is not required. It does provide a boost of energy for the bacteria, which speeds up the fermentation a little. If you want to eliminate any trace of sugar whatsoever in the fermenting process, you can use whey or salt brine alone. Honey should not be used in any case, as it has antibacterial properties and may weaken or damage the bacteria in the fermentation.

      Here is an article on the use of different ways to use starters in fermenting:
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From alison at 1/21/2012 4:00 PM
    • hello there,

      The instructions that came with the BE packaging don't obviously mention salt, but i would like to use salt for a crunchier vegetable. Can i also use salt with the BE culture starter? I was planning to use 2 tablespoons of salt for 3 pounds of sauerkraut. If this is not correct, could you please recommend quantities.

      Also the two recipes supplied on directions don't specify end quantities of vegetables? Can you shed light?

      And based on your comment above 'one packet to about 4.5 pounds of vegetable' how accurate do i need to be? My jars fit quantities of 1.5, 2.5 and 3lbs.

      I am storing in the refrigerator, should i store in the freezer?

      Thank you
    • You can use salt with the BE starter culture. The amount used depends on personal preference. There is no exact amount recommended.

      The unused portion of starter culture can be stored in the refrigerator for 8 months, or longer in the freezer.

      Please refer to the Body Ecology website for more information.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From alison at 1/21/2012 4:19 PM
    • Thank you for your prompt response. Are you able to answer the second part of my original question?

      Also the two recipes supplied on directions don't specify end quantities of vegetables? Can you shed light?

      And based on your comment above 'one packet to about 4.5 pounds of vegetable' how accurate do i need to be? My jars fit quantities of 1.5, 2.5 and 3lbs.

      Much appreciated
    • It is not important to be especially accurate on measuring the starter and the vegetables. The purpose of the starter is to provide additional bacteria to get the vegetables fermenting, beyond what is naturally resident on the surface of the vegetables. Using the recommended proportions, i.e., one packet to 4.5 lbs of vegetables, will produce a reliable result. More or less might result in a faster or slower fermentation.

      Regarding final quantities: most vegetables don't change much in volume during fermentation, so what you put in the crock is about what you will take out.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No
  • From Lynn at 2/14/2012 12:26 AM
    • Before these scientifically formulated fermentation products were developed, what was used to ferment veggies?
    • Natural fermentation methods include brine (salt + water) and/or whey. The starter cultures are useful because they contain more bacteria than are commonly found on the plant surfaces, so they get the fermentation going faster.
    • Do you find this question helpful?  Yes   No

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Customer Reviews

Very good product Review by Mickey

I am very happy with the taste and texture of my veggies: celery, red cabbage, broccoli, onion, and carrots. This is my first attempt at fermenting veggies, and I will will be fermenting more when these have been gobbled up.

(Posted on 10/10/2014)

good stuff Review by Rich

This is my first time fermenting vegetables but I am pleased with the Body Ecology so far. I've made two batches: (cabbage, carrot, beet, red onion) and then (fennel, cabbage, leek, & ginger). Both were quite tasty after a week fermenting. I think I need to ferment longer, the fennel was a little tough.

(Posted on 7/8/2014)

High Quality High Price Review by liverlover

Love the Body Ecology Starter~! I have made delicious crisp sauerkraut and fermented carrots. It is a little expensive, so I am gonna work on my salt and water only method skills.

(Posted on 6/1/2014)

For a beginner… very satisfied Review by Lomad

After my second attempt, I was very happy to make my own sauerkraut. (My first mistake was to not use the air lock on the jar and the first batch rotted). As the previous reviewers said…it is salt-free and very tasty. I appreciate the comment that it works without making the slurry of ground up cabbage. Looking forward to make more variations with this starter.
I am very happy with this starter culture.

(Posted on 4/23/2014)

Worked great! Review by gogirlusa

I used my juicer to make cabbage juice for GAPS Intro diet. I then used this to ferment it. The juice turned out perfect! I will be using this again soon to make actual Sauerkraut.

(Posted on 4/23/2014)

High quality but high price Review by Jim

This product works great but is pricey...would love to be able to buy it in a greater volume at a significant discount...100 or 200 gram jar, perhaps?

(Posted on 4/9/2014)

Love this starter. Review by Sarah

I love this starter and always like to have some on hand if I can. I too like the taste of cultured vegetables that aren't too salty. Even though the price is somewhat high,I think it is well worth it.

(Posted on 4/6/2014)

Interesting stuff Review by Eh?

Made a batch of cabbage using a packet of this culture and no salt whatsoever. It's good! We just each sprinkle salt to taste on our own serving. Nice to have home-fermented kraut that's not so salty. Works great in my fermenting crock.

(Posted on 3/24/2014)

great for cultured vegetables Review by Mary

Works well for cultured vegetables, good instructions but i modified slightly (didn't make the brine - used water just to cover) and cultured quickly.

(Posted on 12/22/2013)

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