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problems with Fermentation  RSS feed

 
Alison Thomas
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Posts: 933
Location: France
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Am I just lacking confidence or am I doing sommat wrong?

#1 Can't get sourdough bread going to save myself
#2 saurkraut was all green and horrid on the top and was SO salty it was inedible
#3 beetroot/garlic/water in a crock to make pickled beetroot and the "thickened juice" for marvellous borscht (so the article said in Permaculture Magazine). That hasn't ever thickened despite leaving it for 10 weeks now. It's just gone brown, green and hairy on top with masses of fruit flies in it and laying their eggs on the lid. So it's been tipped into the compost bin now and the hens ate all the fly eggs.

I read somewhere that preserved fruit gone wrong makes you drunk but preserved veg gone wrong makes you dead. Botulism I think plays a part.

How can you tell that all is going well?
 
Kat deZwart
Posts: 108
Location: Limburg, Netherlands, sandy loam
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Wild yeasty stuff goes better in a natural environment. I've found it easier once I moved out of town and into the country. It's more natural and literally in the air around us.

There's a nice story about a familybrewery nearby that made a pale wheatbeer with part wild fermentation. A big brew-corp bought the familybrewery and recipe, decided to take the recipes and fermentation cultures and move production to their own big facilities 100 km further. They couldn't get the flavour just right, no matter what they tried. Sales started to drop and they eventually reinstated the familybrewery, with the familymembers as managers, in the old facility and lo and behold, the flavours were back. It turned out that the specific cultures were somehow ingrained in the air at the old place (scenic town, lots of clean air). The new factorybrewery was near a crowded city, closer to sea and on industrial premises. Even when the rest of the process was the same to the uhmpth degree, the results weren't.

I start sourdough for the first time with a dried sourdoughculture from the healthfoodstore and then keep that going. It makes live easier, you learn when the dough is still okay or should be tossed and it builds confidance. Getting some dough from a nearby natural baker or fellow-permie would do the trick too I suppose.

I've got my first batch of sauerkraut going right now. I've used some sauerkrautjuice from bought sauerkraut to get things started. Green, hairy, stinky is not good... A bit of white scum is okay though.

Botulism is a danger especially with canning gone wrong. On the other hand, people have survived until now with amateur canning and other experimental conservationtechniques, so you problably shouldn't worry.
When in doubt, ask your pets for advise: If my cat doesn't want to eat a suspicious piece of meat, I dispose of it. If the rabbits or dogs don't like the veggies, same thing. If they like it and it tastes okay to you, it's problably okay.
 
Thelma McGowan
Posts: 170
Location: western Washington, Snohomish county--zone 8b
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I had some dissapointment with fermenting pickles......but I later learned that If I would have been brave enough to scrape off the scum and mold...I probably had really good pickles ...I just got freaked out by the mucky top. I was told in a fermenting class " trust your nose and tastebuds...if it doesn't taste or smell good....don't eat it"

My husband and I have had a sourdough starter with us for 21 years now, when ever we move it comes with us!
it was started with a mason quart jar ....in a bowl mix flour and water till it is like thick pancake batter. Sprinkle a pinch of bakers yeast and a pinch of sugar and mix....remember.....just a pinch!
Put it in the jar (only make enough to fill jar about half way---it will expand a lot) and cover loosley ....to let air escape....leave on counter over night or put right in the fridge.
when it smells like sour beer or the fumes make you cough :0) you know it is good and ready. We leave our jar of sourdough in the fridge, and after we use some, we just add some more water and flour to fill about half way and mix for the next batch.

I have had good luck with the recipes for making sour kraut directly in quart jars. you put the salted cabbage in the jars, top off with water, loosley cover, set for a couple weeks in cool dark place.
Leaving the kraut open to be exposed to natural yeast works, But for me By the time I get the cabbage out of the garden and hand mixed in a bowl with salt---it is a guarentee that it has been exposed to enough natural stuff to get the fermentaion going........For me the jars are the way to go, Because I am too cheap to buy a crock.. :0)

good luck with your next batch
 
Alison Thomas
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Posts: 933
Location: France
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Kat we're way out in the middle of rural France with the closest town about 10 miles away. Like the brewery story though.

Annoyingly, a friend came to stay and he got a brilliant sourdough going. Then he left, I took over and it melted away. I did feed it regularly but didn't keep it in the fridge just on the worksurface and it stank to high heaven. It made me feel sick every time I went near it.

Hmmm maybe I should have trusted my nose, not my eyes and done a scrape because the stuff underneath all the gunk in the beetroot crock looked just perfect but by then I'd taken the painful decision to ditch it. Thelma, jars maybe make good sense as then you can see how far the gunk goes I might move over to jars.

How long can you keep these things fermenting away?
 
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