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Fermentation Crock Advise  RSS feed

 
Brett Williams
Posts: 6
Location: Savannah, TN
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So, I got this great crock as a gift last year, and the couple of attempts at using it then failed... So, I put it up and recently decided to give it a go again.

The first batch came out similar to what I had done before. But, I didn't really take the time to document it, so I haven't said anything about it to anyone else...

With this batch I have been more careful and am certain that I have followed all the steps properly. I started it on 7/24 and took a look at it last night (8/12). I was expecting to see mold and "stuff" on the inside, but was surprised that there wasn't any.

Notice the picture of my reservoir... I don't ever seem to get bubbles... Not in any of the batches that I have attempted... Is this a problem?

What is with the salt/mold growing on the outside of my crock?

Most importantly when looking inside does this appear normal?

This is a batch of Summer Squash that I am pickling as I had way more than was going to get used before it went bad...

Any advice or input would be appreciated... Especially some directions on more ideas for using this crock....
IMG_20140812_185433_600_338.jpg
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Reservoir
IMG_20140812_185547_600_338.jpg
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Salt/Mold
IMG_20140812_185608_600_338.jpg
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Inside
 
Myron Weber
Posts: 67
Location: Orange County, CA, USA
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Salt crusting on the lid is normal - looks like that's what you've got.

Not sure what you are asking about bubbles in the reservoir - you shouldn't get bubbles in that liquid, but an occasional "bloop" of gas out of the crock. BTW, I use brine in the reservoir rather than pure water to suppress mold there -rare but can happen.

Does it smell pickled? That's your best indicator.
 
Brett Williams
Posts: 6
Location: Savannah, TN
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Myron Weber wrote:Salt crusting on the lid is normal - looks like that's what you've got.


That's good to know, thanks.

Myron Weber wrote:Not sure what you are asking about bubbles in the reservoir - you shouldn't get bubbles in that liquid, but an occasional "bloop" of gas out of the crock. BTW, I use brine in the reservoir rather than pure water to suppress mold there -rare but can happen.


I had read that escaping gas would bubble out through the trough, I guess I just haven't been lucky enough to catch a bubble escaping... Didn't know if it should leave something behind as an indicator that it had bubbled.

Myron Weber wrote:Does it smell pickled? That's your best indicator.


I guess I'll just have to give it a shot and eat some to see how far along in the process it is, tomorrow will be 3 weeks. That was my target date for this batch anyway.
 
Brett Williams
Posts: 6
Location: Savannah, TN
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OK, so just a few days after I cracked the lid (8/15) I decided I was done waiting and ready to can/eat.

I thought I was going to have a clean environment when I opened the lid, based on what I saw last time, but what I had was a bit ugly...

Being that it was nowhere near as scary as some of my prior attempts, I decided to skim it off and sample the goods.

Even though I just made up this recipe, it was quite good. Much better than what I had done in the past.

See my canned results. Is this what you would expect to see? I can't seem to avoid that cloudiness, I'm guessing it is normal. It seems to settle down after a few days in the fridge, but it ends up "resting" on my squash. Is it OK to eat? Or, should I be rinsing it off? I'm going to guess it is something really good for me and I should probably just eat it, right?
IMG_20140815_061322_600_338.jpg
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Inside Crock
IMG_20140815_063038_600_338.jpg
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End Result
 
Leila Rich
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Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Welcome to permies Brett
You talk about a few things I haven't done, but I've got plenty of 'they say'
Brett Williams wrote:This is a batch of Summer Squash
When I went to a talk by Sandor Katz, someone asked him
"is there anything you don't ferment?" He said something like: "summer squash, it turns to mush"...
I dunno about scum/mould-it really seems to depend on the thing your fermenting, and generally I trust my nose.
Cloudy's fine
If I had moulds show up that were anything other than whitish, I'd chuck it out.
Brett Williams wrote:See my canned results
From what I understand, canning kills off the beneficial bacteria that make lacto-fermentation so awesome.
I suggest trying sauerkraut. The stuff is fantastic and I've been surprised by who will eat it-especially when accompanied by a sausage, fried onions and bread!
 
Myron Weber
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Location: Orange County, CA, USA
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Brett,
Agreeing with what Leila wrote, I would simply add that instead of making your own recipe, maybe you should use a reliable recipe for something simple. No disrespect intended and I'm a big fan of experimentation, but since you seem to be struggling to get started, play it safe for a while.

There are lots of recipes easily available. Here's one of mine that's pretty easy: http://www.permies.com/t/33639/fermentation/Mexican-pickled-vegetables
You can use your crock or the jar method I describe.
 
Brett Williams
Posts: 6
Location: Savannah, TN
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Leila Rich wrote:When I went to a talk by Sandor Katz, someone asked him
"is there anything you don't ferment?" He said something like: "summer squash, it turns to mush"...


Weird.. I haven't had anything close to mushy... They have come out nice and crisp,

Leila Rich wrote:I dunno about scum/mould-it really seems to depend on the thing your fermenting, and generally I trust my nose.
Cloudy's fine


Good thing that cloudy is OK...

As for trusting my nose..... Sure if it smelled rancid, I would know better than to eat it... But I don't know that my nose is experienced enough to know what smells acceptable and what doesn't. This batch, upon smelling inside the crock has been mostly odorless. However, as I started "jarring" (won't use the canning word) them I noticed a sweet pungent aroma, much more pleasant than prior batches.

Leila Rich wrote:If I had moulds show up that were anything other than whitish, I'd chuck it out.


I'll keep that in mind.

Leila Rich wrote:From what I understand, canning kills off the beneficial bacteria that make lacto-fermentation so awesome.
I suggest trying sauerkraut. The stuff is fantastic and I've been surprised by who will eat it-especially when accompanied by a sausage, fried onions and bread!


Guess I should have said "jarred" no way I was going to go and destroy all the work that went into this...

As for kraut... Everything I read seems to indicate you should only do this process with organically local grown produce. If the only cabbage I have available is sitting in the bin at the grocery store, should I use it?
 
Brett Williams
Posts: 6
Location: Savannah, TN
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Myron Weber wrote:Brett,
Agreeing with what Leila wrote, I would simply add that instead of making your own recipe, maybe you should use a reliable recipe for something simple. No disrespect intended and I'm a big fan of experimentation, but since you seem to be struggling to get started, play it safe for a while.

There are lots of recipes easily available. Here's one of mine that's pretty easy: http://www.permies.com/t/33639/fermentation/Mexican-pickled-vegetables
You can use your crock or the jar method I describe.


No disrespect taken... I am working with recipes that I have found on the net along with general advice from Cultures For Health.

One of the challenges I have, and maybe I am being too strict, is that I don't have my own garden. So I am stuck with using whatever I am getting from my CSA. I don't have a farmer's market nearby which means my only other source of produce is going to be Kroger. I've read so many posts stating that the produce in the grocery store is not likely going to do well for fermenting. Any thoughts?
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Brett Williams wrote: I haven't had anything close to mushy... They have come out nice and crisp

If you're happy with the texture, that's all that matters!
just checking we're talking about the same things, as to NZers 'summer squash' generally only means the round 'pattypan' types; the long guys are zucchini.

Brett Williams wrote:As for trusting my nose..... I don't know that my nose is experienced enough to know what smells acceptable and what doesn't

You're there already: not rancid+pleasant=good to go
Brett Williams wrote:I should have said "jarred" no way I was going to go and destroy all the work that went into this

Oh whew. I've seen many online conversations where people discuss actually canning their ferments
Brett Williams wrote:As for kraut... Everything I read seems to indicate you should only do this process with organically local grown produce

In my experience, any old cabbage will ferment successfully, so that leaves all the other reasons one might choose not to:
nutritional, ethical, environmental ...(and so on)
From what I understand, even a dodgy supermarket cabbage will be nutritionally improved by fermenting but it still won't be great.
 
Rebecca Norman
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I've fermented American supermarket cabbage with no trouble several times.
 
Brett Williams
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Location: Savannah, TN
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I've been using Patty Pan, Yellow, and Zucchini in my ferments... They all seem to some out with a good crisp texture...

I had mentioned before that I have never seen bubbles coming out of my crock... I started a new batch Saturday afternoon, and this mornin (less than 48 hours) I occasionally am catching the sound of the bubbles. In all the batches I have ever made, I have never seen nor heard them...

Most of the modifications of recipes that I am doing is related to the difference between fermenting in jars vs a 7.5lt crock. I am increasing quantities by quite a bit, having to figure out salt/water ratios, etc. and allowing more time for the ferment. I've been going 3 weeks, but think I may pull this batch at 2 weeks to see how they taste.

Thanks for all the advice and I'm always open to any input you care to give...
 
John Saltveit
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To increase crispness, some people add grape leaves. I've even seen people add oak leaves successfully on this forum.

Cruciferous vegetables are the default fermenting vegetable. Having some in your mix increases the likelihood of having a successful fermentation. I almost always add some. I haven't grown them yet. They are from the supermarket so far, so no problems there, although I think it's a good idea to go organic.
john S
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