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fermenting in the tropics?  RSS feed

 
Genevieve Higgs
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Anyone have any tips for pickling in a tropical climate? I've tried saurkraut a few times and nothing good happened. I can get thebrine but it doesn't picke it rots. i've tried normal or super-duper salt, with or without a "yogurt juice" starter, always in the coolest part of the house.
 
Scarlet Smith
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If it rots rather than pickles you may not be using enough salt. We are in the tropics in a woefully uninsulated house that gets super hot. I do only leave it on the bench for 3-7 days, until the little bubbles appear then put it in the fridge. Leaving it out longer in the humidity is asking for rotten ferments.
 
John Kindziuk
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Cabbage is cold climate vegetable, it does not grow well in tropics, however, you may get good results growing it in winter months. Remember to water it often. A good sauerkraut is always made at about 72 F and it will be done in 3-4 weeks. Fermentation will be faster at 80 F and sauerkraut can be produced in 10 days, however, certain lactic acid producing bacteria will not ferment properly. They simply do not grow at high temperatures. A good sauerkraut can be produced with 2-2.5% salt. In hot climate 2.5% sounds better. Humidity does not matter much, after all shredded cabbage is submerged and covered in brine and that is 100% humidity.

My concern will be the presence of air inside of the container. It will promote growth of molds, off flavors and will lead to spoilage. Use a water channel fermenting crock or fermenting glass jars. I cannot go into details as it will take many pages, however, you can follow a great lecture on sauerkraut (total of 10 files)
at Sauerkraut Fermentation You can make your own fermenting container using wine air lock, it is explained in one of the files.
 
Jasper Blues
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Scarlet Smith wrote:If it rots rather than pickles you may not be using enough salt. We are in the tropics in a woefully uninsulated house that gets super hot. I do only leave it on the bench for 3-7 days, until the little bubbles appear then put it in the fridge. Leaving it out longer in the humidity is asking for rotten ferments.


This seems to make sense, but my research indicates otherwise.

The optimum temperature for sauerkraut fermentation is around 21ºC. A variation of just a few degrees from this temperature alters the activity of the microbial process and affects the quality of the final product. Therefore, temperature control is one of the most important factors in the sauerkraut process. A temperature of 18º to 22º C is most desirable for initiating fermentation since this is the optimum temperature range for the growth and metabolism of L. mesenteroides. Temperatures above 22ºC favour the growth of Lactobacillus species.

And the Lactobacillus species are less salt tolerant than L. mesenteroides, meanwhile the bacterias that cause spoilage can tolerate salt concentrations up to 7%. Its the acid produced by the anaerobic cultures that preserves the food, not the salt. (Unless you're using bucket loads of salt (above 7%), which will simply preserve the food by preventing both desired and undesired bacteria without any fermentation).

So. . . . . since lactic acid will be favored above 22 degrees it makes sense to use a little less salt. It might also help to use a starter culture to achieve an acidic environment quickly, or to add some acidic fruit like a green apple. The end product should be safe and healthy to eat but would have a different taste to krout that has been initiated at 'fall' temperatures, given the different range of microbes involved.

I live in a tropical climate and we have plenty of cabbages here. Both the European and Asian kinds. I think they're grown up in the hills.
 
Mike Harmon
Posts: 24
Location: Port Lavaca, Texas
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food preservation tiny house urban
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I am not an expert on fermenting and am a relative newcomer to the sport. BUT I live like you in the age of the internet and am good at gathering information.

Most all recipes say to use 2-3 tablespoons of salt per 5# of cabbage. Keep in mind that some salts are coarser than others so try to find a recipe that gives weights for the salt.
ANother thing is the mashing and pounding of the cabbage. Salt helps pull moisture from the cabbage but you still have to bruise it pretty good.

ANd what happens to lots of people is that they pack to tightly and dry. resulting in air space in the cabbage that are homes for spoilage causing bacteria.

I would suggest that you packed a little looser in your container. Add extra brine solution and above all keep your cabbage under the brine [right offhand I can't remember the basic brine formula but I am going to guess 3 tablespoons per quart Google "basic brine solution"]. Think of that "floatie" as a fuse to your cabbage brine and the air as fire Also move to cooler area of your house. If you are air conditioned you should have no problem. It wouldn't hurt to use some sort of airlock system as well.
 
Joseph Bataille
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Location: Haiti
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Our main problem with pickling and canning in the tropics is the abundance of fresh food every season! We've come close to picking beets a few times before, but we always end up eating them well before they are actually pickled. But they did taste like they were going through the process well enough.
 
Mike Harmon
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Location: Port Lavaca, Texas
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That is not a problem... We had such a mild winter here that we are still picking peppers ! And it is past time to start our transplants. I was hoping for a lot more cold. Dang cucumber beetles wiped out our squash and cuck planting this fall.... We can only get a spring crop here before the ground is full of larvae. We count on the cukes for fermenting as well as the peppers and thrive on the squash. Well.... I stopped eating sugar so I could eat more fried squash so I am even i think We are going to do a lot more dehydrating here this year as well. My old tobacco dryer is not used much anymore and gan really dry some veggies. Love the drhydrating.... Just cant afford freeze drying at this point either. We need a good DIY dryer plan.
 
Scott Gallant
Posts: 46
Location: Costa Rica
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If anyone wants to go deeper, we offer a yearly workshop called The Art and Practice of Live Culture Fermentation here in tropical Costa Rica.

http://ranchomastatal.com/fermentation-workshop/

Good chance to get your questions answered.
 
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