Does Cooking Fermented Food Kill Bacteria?

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Have you ever thought of warming your kimchi before eating it? Or sauerkraut? After all, who doesn’t love warm food after a long tiring day, especially on a chilly night? But let me remind you – these are fermented foods.

The popularity of fermented foods is increasing day by day due to their health benefits and time-saving properties. These foods are enriched in probiotics which are beneficial for the digestive system.

But when you cook them, what happens to those friendly bacteria? Does cooking fermented food kill bacteria?

Cooking at excessive heat beyond 115°F can destroy the helpful bacteria in fermented food. So, to keep their health benefits, try to add them at the end of cooking. Or you can cook it for a little time at a low temperature. It will help you to retain the beneficial property of fermented foods.

However, to attain in-depth ideas regarding the heating effects on fermented foods, stay tuned with us.

Does Cooking Fermented Foods Kill Bacteria?

Does Cooking Fermented Foods Kill Bacteria

“Fermented foods, heat, and probiotics” – the talk of the town. Believe it or not, a hot topic for every healthy enthusiast is whether heat kills good bacteria in fermented foods.

Fermented foods are an excellent addition to your platter and provide numerous health benefits as well. Canned kimchi or sauerkraut are popular fermented foods available in most stores. These remain mostly at room temperature or refrigerated; after buying, people typically eat them without cooking.

But if anyone wants to warm them up, there comes the question of killing good bacteria.

Heating fermented foods can kill the probiotics, but up to a certain temperature, probiotics can survive. The temperature limitation is 115°F, which means that good bacteria that produce probiotics will be destroyed above this temperature. Probiotics are important for preserving gut health in the human body.

Now, you might be thinking of what probiotics are or why these are needed for.

Probiotics are a group of live bacteria that are good for your health, especially the digestive system. They fight against harmful bacteria that can easily attack your gut without probiotics. Fermented foods are made through controlled microbial growth, which means the production of probiotics.

It is not always necessary to cook fermented foods after buying. Yet, the ones who prefer cooking them before eating should take other ways to preserve the value of the probiotics.

The health benefits of fermented food are quite impressive in today’s busy lifestyle. So, it’s essential to ensure we get all their good nutritional value and probiotics without losing a bit.

Does Cooking Kimchi Kill Probiotics?

Does Cooking Kimchi Kill Probiotics

Who doesn’t love kimchi? However, is it safe to warm or cook them?

Well, if you cook or warm kimchi at 115°F and above, heat will destroy its maximum nutrients and probiotics. But, if you want warm kimchi, in that case, cook it for a little at a low temperature. Or you can just add them when your cooking is almost done or totally at the end.

That way, the food’s health potential will be present at most levels.

Does Cooking Sauerkraut Kill Good Bacteria?

Sauerkraut is a popular fermented food item enriched in probiotics, which means good bacteria. If you cook sauerkraut at a temperature of more than 115°F, the good bacteria will be killed off. However, a flame lower than 115°F can be a solution while cooking sauerkraut.

Does Cooking Miso Kill Probiotics?

As kimchi, probiotics in miso also are heat intolerant. That means if you cook them at 115°F, the good bacteria in them will start to die. In return, you may get a nice warm dish but with little to no health benefits.

But if you are determined to have warm miso, add them at the end of your cooking. Turn off the stove and put miso in your dish. It will somewhat keep a certain level of nutrients and probiotics.

What Happens If Good Bacteria Die Due To Heat?

What Happens If Good Bacteria Die Due To Heat

Heat above 115°F kills good bacteria in preserved foods beneficial for digestive procedures. These helpful bacterias or probiotics play vital roles in strengthening the immune system in our body. Probiotics prevent harmful bacteria from developing any inflammatory condition. 

When these good bacteria get killed by excessive heat body’s immune system weakens. As a result, toxic bacteria get a chance to provoke an inflammatory initiation.

Moreover, probiotics have antioxidant, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-hypertensive, and many more health properties. All these good criteria get lost once probiotics are killed.

What Temperature Kills Probiotics?

What Temperature Kills Probiotics

The study shows that cooking at 140°F for 15 minutes kills most bacterial cultures. Do you know how much bacterial culture this temperature kills? It’s 95%! Yes, it’s true. And probiotics in fermented food start to die at 115°F.

You can eat fermented foods like miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, etc., just out of the can, bringing them out from your refrigerator. You don’t need to cook them. However, if you want to warm them, as I said earlier, warm them at low temperatures.

But, in the end, it’s your call – do you want cold with intact probiotics or warm with fewer probiotics?

How To Heat Fermented Foods Without Killing Bacteria? 

As excessive heating can destroy the good bacteria in fermented foods, you should think of alternative ways. You can go for several ways to heat or cook preserved foods without killing probiotics. Let’s see what the methods you can apply are.

  • You can cook the foods on low heat below 115°F to prevent the destruction of probiotics. 
  • To heat the fermented foods, you can also put them into warm liquid foods.
  • Do not heat the canned foods for prolonged periods.
  • Don’t rush to heat the canned foods in the microwave, as it can produce excess heat and kill the beneficial bacteria. 
  • If you want to add fermented foods to a warm dish, be sure that the dish is in the state of cooling down. 
  • Foods like sauerkraut can be added to one cup of warm broth, cooling down.
  • You can add fermented vegetables or mushrooms to a mild warm bowl of soup. 

How Can You Enjoy Heated Fermented Foods At Home?

If you love eating fermented foods after heating at home, you should know how to enjoy them. You can easily add the foods to warm dishes that have started to cool down. For example, you can add fermented carrots, mushrooms, etc., into the warm soup while cooling off. 

You can also directly eat fermented foods without cooking or heating. It is best to enjoy refrigerated fermented food items without destroying probiotics. However, you can also cook these foods at a low flame to warm up at home before eating.

What Are The Advantages Of Eating Fermented Food?

As you know, fermented food is packed with nutrients and probiotics. Their benefits are indeed numerous.

  • Fermented foods are easy to digest as they break down sugars, starches, and other nutrients.
  • They help maintain a healthy digestive system by balancing the good bacteria in your gut.
  • Fermented foods help maintain balanced blood pressure and cholesterol levels, lowering heart disease risk.
  • Good bacteria in fermented foods help produce essential vitamins like B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, and K in your body.
  • Fermented foods, especially good gut bacteria, also improve obesity, asthma, and chronic inflammatory diseases.
  • The rich probiotics in fermented foods improve your immune system, reducing the risk of infectious diseases.


  • Can fermented foods be cooked?

Though fermented foods can be taken directly, some prefer to cook them before eating. You can cook the fermented foods but at a flame not more than 115°F.

  • Does cooking kill fermented food bacteria?

Cooking fermented foods above 115°F destroys the probiotics present in these foods. But cooking at a low heat can prevent this problem.

  • Can You Cook Fermented Vegetables?

You can cook fermented vegetables; however, high temperature will kill all their good bacteria. Just cook them below 115°F.

Fermented vegetables like kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, kombucha, etc., are a delicious side dish, giving your meal a pleasing kick. So, add them to your food to get all the nutritional benefits.

  • Can you get botulism from fermented foods? 

If the fermented foods are preserved or canned appropriately, there is no chance of developing botulism. But when the fermenting procedure is incorrect, toxins come in contact with the foods,, leading to botulism.

Final words

Does heat kill bacteria in fermented foods? Well, people who prefer fermented foods mostly have the query. There is a certain limit on temperature that defines whether the good bacteria will survive or not.

Heating it beyond 115° will kill the healthy bacteria. So, it would be great if you could keep the temperature below that.

However, fermented foods are pleasing as they are. Cool or warm, they are a great side dish to your meal. So, if you can enjoy it with all its nutrients and probiotics, you are the gainer.