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Fermented Carrot Pickles, I Hope

 
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I cut 60 grams of carrot rings after peeling.  Then added 12 grams of salt and water to cover.

20% of veggie weight for brine to prevent nasties from getting a foothold before the good fermentation bacteria get established well enough to our compete the nasty spoilage bacteria.

Should it be covered?  I have them in a small, round storage container covered with paper towel.  It is small enough to use a spare hair tie as a rubber band to hold the paper towel.  Carbon dioxide can get out, so I don’t have to worry about the container breaking.

How long should they ferment?  

I think if I smell a spoiled food scent or if I see bubbles, I should assume they spoiled.  Is that correct?  Are there any other no equipment tests for spoilage?

I want to get a handle on tiny batches before I try my hand at brine fermented garden pickles.  I think I will finally have a successful garden next spring.

 
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I'm not sure what you mean by 20% veggie weight per brine?  Could you post a picture?  If you mean that you put more brine than veggies, then what often happens is that most of the veggies end up floating on the surface.  This is problematic in my experience.  Surface exposure is what tends to compromise ferments the most, along with too little salt in one's brine.

The most important thing I've found with salted pickles (whether cuke, radish, carrot, garlic, whatever)  is to use a container with an opening that makes the surface area as small as possible.  This way there is less area for veggies to get exposed to air.  

Then you either weigh down the veggies so they stay below the brine using a weight or a kit designed for it, OR push them under manually a couple times a day.  If I am not using a weight, I leave a plastic lid loosely on the top and dunk the upper veggies everyday using a spoon to push down any veggies that are stuck at the top.  I've found that if I don't have a weight, but I'm able to push down any exposed veggies at least 2x a day so they get more brine on them, they haven't molded on me.  I do position the veggies so that as few as possible are sticking out, though.  That's where the shape of the mason jar comes in handy.  I don't have any going right at the moment, or I'd show you.... hmm.

There are lots of kits out there nowadays to make this easier.  Cultures For Health  and Amazon sell many different types if you want to look at some examples.  But it's still a very low-tech simple thing in the end, which requires no special equipment as long as you understand the principles.  With pickles, I often just cram a bunch of grape leaves on the top.  This also helps with reducing air.  The bubbles will come out from under the grape leaves and the grape leaves wick the saltwater up a little bit.   I still push them down daily, but usually only once a day.  If any start to get a teeny bit of mold on them, I remove them.

In my experience, bad ferments usually either mold or turn squishy.  (There is a white mold that can grow on cabbage ferments which does not seem problematic, though I remove it. That mold doesn't ruin the whole batch, I've found.  Black molds do, in my experience.)  I've also found this happens most commonly when people are being skimpy with the salt.  This is not a low-salt process.  As for smell... well that's in the nose of the beholder!  My husband loves to make fermented carrots and radishes and I think they smell terrible.  But there is nothing wrong with them.  It's the radishes that smell so strong in that case.

I think you will do fine!  If it fails, cut down on the exposed surface area next time and try again.

As for the covering choice I use paper towels on top of some of my ferments, as well.  That method can be fine for certain things - it works great with milk kefir and and sourdough starter.  But with veggies the way I do it, that does make it harder to make sure the top of the veggies stay wet and covered without wetting the paper towel.  For veggies ferments, I've switched to plastic lids after seeing many examples of the metal lids degrading into my ferments...  Though I don't like using plastic, I don't think its a great idea to be ingesting metals of unknown content.   You can cover it with a plate, instead.  That will still allow bubbles out.

Here is an example of fermented pickles I made two years ago, which have been stored in the refrigerator since they were done.  That's why they don't float anymore; they are fully fermented.  There is a little dill and garlic in there, too.  You can see how well they sliced up - they are still crisp.  A nice treat.  Your post reminded me they are still in the fridge!  Now I want to make a sandwich.




IMG_0036.jpg
Fermented pickles from 2017, stored in fridge since then. Garlic dills, specifically.
Fermented pickles from 2017, stored in fridge since then. Garlic dills, specifically.
IMG_0038.jpg
sliced fermented pickles, two years in refrigerator
sliced fermented pickles, two years in refrigerator
 
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My standard recipe for lacto-fermented vegetables is to use 0.5% salt.

Once in the crock, I place some type of weight on the vegetables to keep them submerged. If they float and come in contact with air, they are likely to mold or rot.

I ferment for a week to a month, depending on the vegetable. I taste periodically to see when I like.
 
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I don't know the name of this lid, but it makes pickling idiot proof.   The only thing you have to do is make sure all your product is submerged.

It off-gasses when needed without your having to remember to burp the container.  It is well worth the few dollars it costs.  
Pickling-lid.JPG
[Thumbnail for Pickling-lid.JPG]
 
Chris Bright
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I was reading more yesterday, between errands.  I think my first oops was to measure salt as a ratio to the weight of the carrots.  My second oops was if that make the brine too salty, no bacterial growth, good or bod.  On the 2.5% salt to carrot plus water, I put in the fridge, too cold to ferment.

I did get use brine, necessary for hard veggie pickles.  Soft veggies like cucumbers can make their own brine from salt to weight of soft vegetables.  And since I added water to the top after adding carrots and salt, and the paper towels over the top in case of bugs are damp, that should mean no air.  

So, next batch, 5% or 2.5% brine, 50g:1,000mL or 25g:1,000mL salt to water ratio.  Scrounge a weight, to hold veggies down.  If nothing else, water in a storage bag on top.  Leave at room temp.  

About how long does fermentation take on average?  Two weeks, a month? Longer?

Very weak brine tends to make sweeter pickles than weak brine.  Sugar or sweetener tends to provide food for bacteria, both good and bad.  

Soft veggies like cucumbers can be salted, then the weight of salt is a percentage of the weight of the vegetables.  

I love experimenting and learning.  
 
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Chris, you're gonna have so much fun experimenting with ferments!

Fermentation takes a week at 72 deg F. It's very slow below that, and hotter than that encourages other microbiology you don't want. I use 3 tsp of salt per pound of vegetables, but have been experimenting with using less salt and more active brine from inulin-rich ferments (containing one of burdock, sunchokes, bull thistle root). The inulin feeds lactobacilli, helping to crowd out yeasts that make ferments soft. Softness is especially ruinous to green tomatoes and sauerkraut...I believe it's caused by Brettanomyces bruxellensis, because it looks like that yeast formation and smells a little funky/keroseney. Kim, maybe that's the white mold you get; does it make the ferments softer? And yes, throw away the zinc-plated lids that come with your mason jars, unless you also use them for canning. I still have rust rings on my oldest jars. The plastic lids are the best storage option.

I find that ferments last up to 10 months in the fridge, but I'm still eating kimchi from a year ago, the oldest ferment I've kept. Sauerkraut and green tomatoes don't last as long without getting mealy-soft.

After having tried all the other lids, weights and airlocks, this one is my favorite. It's also the most expensive, but foolproof: I've broken the glass weights and cracked the plastic airlocks. The stainless steel lids never corrode,  the coils keep every last speck of veg below the brine, and the silicon seals and airlocks are easy to clean, flexible and strong. The designer is a homesteader in Colorado who also designs and sells medical equipment, so he knows his sanitary materials.



I used to fool with tiny saucers, demitasses with rocks in them, whatever to keep the veggies below the brine. I wish I'd invested in proper kit sooner, I'd have saved many pounds of spoiled/soft ferments.



 
Kim Goodwin
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Fredy Perlman wrote:I believe it's caused by Brettanomyces bruxellensis, because it looks like that yeast formation and smells a little funky/keroseney. Kim, maybe that's the white mold you get; does it make the ferments softer?



I only get that white mold on sauerkraut exposed to air or occasionally on grape leaves that are exposed to air, and I remove it immediately.  So I don't know what would happen if it stayed. I haven't noticed a kerosene smell, but I don't usually let it get bigger than a little spot.  

I suspect the type I've had is actually edible.  Looking at historic accounts of sauerkraut (like in Sally Fallon's cookbooks) it's talked about how some people prefer sauerkraut that is super soft and almost mush.  In GAPS diets, that soft kraut is even recommended for people who are healing their gut as starter kraut.  The cellulose is totally broken down in it, as I understand it.  I don't let it go that long!!  I like a little bit of crunch.  But I think this is like the old nursery rhyme about bean porridge - "Some like it cold, some like it hot, some like it in the pot, nine days old."  A matter of taste.

I was surprised to find that those garlic dills above - which are two years old - were still crisp as the day they finished fermenting.  I've kept them in the back of the refrigerator, maybe that helped. It's coldest back there.  That is quite an old ferment for me, but in Nourishing Traditions cookbook it's written about how ship captains would take sauerkraut with them around the world for scurvy prevention.  There is an account of a couple barrels of very old kraut being excitedly claimed at the end of a journey!  A delicacy, apparently.

That's a neat ferment kit I haven't seen yet.  Thanks for sharing about that one.  I don't quite get how the spiral part works, but I LOVE the stainless lids.

 
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Kim Goodwin wrote: I don't quite get how the spiral part works, but I LOVE the stainless lids.



You just put the spiral in the jar on top of the veggies, and when you put the lid on, the spiral holds them under the brine.
 
Fredy Perlman
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Trace Oswald wrote:

Kim Goodwin wrote: I don't quite get how the spiral part works, but I LOVE the stainless lids.



You just put the spiral in the jar on top of the veggies, and when you put the lid on, the spiral holds them under the brine.



Yes, and it's like a spring: it extends as resistance lessens, meaning an emptying jar always has its solids well below the surface.
 
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Fredy Perlman wrote:
Yes, and it's like a spring: it extends as resistance lessens, meaning an emptying jar always has its solids well below the surface.


For those of us who have a full year before we can get up to the Great Northern Consumer Land, but love to fool around, how much resistance does this spring have? Soft to the degree of a spiral notebook spiral, or a bit more resistant? It looks pretty serious. And what's it made out of?
I may have to look closely at the wire I have around here and think about what I could make. At this very minute I have a jar of half-sour dills with a ramekin with a rock in it in my fridge....
 
Fredy Perlman
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Hi Tereza, the spring is stainless, like the lid, though I don't know what alloy, and whether it contains any steel. It's made here, but probably not by union labor. It's way more resistant than a spiral notebook, I can only compare to...1/3 of a mountain bike shock? You can really pack your veg down then screw the lid on, and the silicone gasket keeps the spring from scraping on the lid as you tighten. Even with a jar packed solid, it keeps the uppermost material an inch below the liquid.

I have no criticisms of it...you can even snap out the silicone airlock to clean it, and under it. But don't lose it, it's little and fiddly.

Let me know if you can make a spring they can apply that kind of resistance... as I understand it springs require careful tempering of metal. At any rate any wire other than stainless would corrode or leach.


 
Tereza Okava
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hm. If our canning jars were straight down, I would consider calling up our metal guy and sacrificing a bowl (assuming that it is actually truly stainless, which may be a big leap here), but the jars we get here have a narrowish neck and shoulder below (narrower than a ball jar lid, then bulbing outward). I don't think stainless with the kind of resistance you`re describing will be flexible enough to get in there and then do its job across the entire jar. For these jars, I've actually found little silicone molds (for tiny cakes? or maybe tiny puddings? not sure) to be the best option. I have a few bigger jars, and those usually get the water-filled plastic bag or the ramekin-and-rock.


I should also add, I have one of these Japanese pickle presses (you screw the lid downward to hold everything under the liquid), which I use for most larger-batch pickling. Again, much easier than screwing around with stopgap measures.
 
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