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fermentation questions from a beginner  RSS feed

 
Ian Sullivan
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Looking for someone with experience fermenting who I could ask several questions. Such as- how long can my saurkraut last before going bad? How would I even know? smell? mold? Recently made my first ferment, super basic, rediculously delicious, of course I made half a gallon of it. Why make a little when you could make
a lot? Looking forward to experimenting next month with some different vegetables. Please help if you can. Thank You.
 
John Saltveit
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If it tastes good it should be good to eat. Many people put it in the fridge. That way it lasts longer and the fermentation process slows. After awhile, it becomes slishy, then slimy, then it can actually get mold on it. Then don't eat it. After awhile, you'll get a sense of how often you need to make it. It is one of the cheapest and most delicious ways to improve your health.
John S
PDX OR
 
Landon Sunrich
pollinator
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Location: Western Washington
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I had a bunch a beet kavas going with damn near a half inch of various molds on top of it. I just poor it out past it (the mold mat floats) and dilute with water and drink. It's great stuff. Super invigorating. Beets. Water. Salt.
 
Danette Cross
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Location: St. Ignatius, Montana, zone 5b
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You call half a gallon a lot? I have a fermentation crock that holds 3 gallons and load that bad boy up every year. Right now I still have fermented pickles in it that I set up this summer. It is a Polish style crock with the water seal, so I can keep things fresh. Mold is not usually a bad thing. There are plenty of cheeses out there that are darn good and all of them have a "mold". But, slimey is bad. Slime indicates cell break-down and that means decomposition. That can be nasty and you will taste it. If you put some kraut on a plate and run your finger over it, then "snap" your fingers, it should simply feel wet, not slimey.
 
Danette Cross
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Location: St. Ignatius, Montana, zone 5b
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Landon Sunrich wrote:I had a bunch a beet kavas going with damn near a half inch of various molds on top of it. I just poor it out past it (the mold mat floats) and dilute with water and drink. It's great stuff. Super invigorating. Beets. Water. Salt.


My home-made Apple Cider Vinegar has a "mother" too and that is a good sign. You can share a piece of that mother with someone who wants to start a batch themselves. It has all the good bacteria in it that makes fermentation the great thing for your body that it is.
 
John Saltveit
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Just to clarify. You are probably going to have a white film on top of your sauerkraut. If it is not hairy, it is probably kalm yeast, which is a probiotic. I throw most of the yeast out anyway because I think it's too much. BUt that's normal and ok. I eat all of the sauerkraut then.

If you get hairy, blue, red, green stuff it's probably mold, so throw that out. I don't mean red sauerkraut, that's ok. I use beets and red cabbage. Cheapest form of antioxidants and tastes great.

Lots of bubbles at the beginning are totally normal. That's just the fermentation happening.

They are all different. Observe carefully.
John S
PDX OR
 
Landon Sunrich
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Location: Western Washington
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John Saltveit wrote:Observe carefully.


And sample slowly! You'll know pretty quick if it's no good, if you don't strait spit it out it will not sit well if it has a bad sort of funk to it. over rather than under salt is my general rule. I mostly do tonic and soup stock type stuff though. I've only done a couple kim chi batches though and really only watched others do the kraut thing.
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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I made a couple of inedible sauerkraut batches before it all somehow started working.
I'm not sure why it started working, although I cut the failed kraut reasonably finely
and now it's always really chunky...
I had a sauerkraut in the fridge for months,
and it stayed crunchy and fresh-tasting till I finished it the other day
Test with your nose before you use your tastebuds,
and as others have mentioned, mould doesn't always mean it's off;
although I'd chuck anything with mould that's black, or yellow, pink, orange or red.

Beetroot ferments are getting lots of love here.
For my version I just fill a jar with big, unpeeled cubes,
add quite a bit of salt, top up with water, lid it and give it a good shake.
Test the brine (it needs to be saltier than I feel comfortable eating)
and sit it on a plate or beet juice will inevitably get everywhere!
 
Colleen Codekas
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Location: Ashland, OR
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You should get Sandor Katz's book Wild Fermentation. It's super awesome and should answer all of the questions that you have.
 
John Saltveit
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His book the Art of Fermentation is a newer more comprehensive book and it's also great. You could get both.

I have heard that putting a grape leaf or an oak leaf in can keep them crunchier longer. Probably add some more good probiotics also.
John S
PDX OR
 
Ian Sullivan
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Thank you all for your pointers and experience.
 
Roy Hinkley
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Location: S. Ontario Canada
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Try not to have outside air in contact with the surface. Cover with a tightly woven cloth or similar.
I find if you add an onion to each head of cabbage your kraut will smell less and need less skimming.
 
Emilie Tweardy
Posts: 8
Location: Palmyra, VA
chicken food preservation goat
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Ian - I'm all about fermenting!! Any specific questions or troubleshooting feel free to PM me, and I'll do the best I can to answer. There are a few basic rules, but it's really pretty simple for the most part. The easiest way to get started is to get a little digital scale (you can find them for $10-$15) and weigh out your veggies.

Easiest veggie recipes=
Vegetables chopped + 2% salt by weight. (Ex. chop cabbage and weigh it, then mix in 2% of that weight in salt.) Massage, weigh down and cover. Try to keep the solids below the liquids (ie, use a plastic baggie full of water to weight the solids down/use a weight of another kind)

Vegetables chopped + saltwater brine. Easiest recipe I've found for this is 2tbsp. salt in 1 qt. water. I forget the percentage this comes out to, but it works well. Again, weigh vegetables down so they sit below the brine line.

Shortcut called the "burp and shake". In lieu of an airlock, or if you don't want to try and weigh down the veggies, here's an easy shortcut: Ferment in a jar that can seal with a mason jar lid (band+ring type). Leave it very slightly open so it can offgass, then vent the air once or twice a day and shake it afterwards, then close it back up loosely, so the gas can continue to escape. By keeping it almost-closed you'll keep the majority of bad bacteria from charging in. Venting/burping it will let the gas out (although if the lid isn't twisted down hard it should be able to vent on it's own - but you should still give it an extra burp to let off pressure) Shaking it makes sure that all of the contents get covered in salt regularly, so no bad bacteria can grow.

Tip - the smaller you cut things the faster they'll ferment (more surface area for bacteria and less thickness for them to penetrate) and the more even/consistent the product will be. Often people struggle with their first kraut because it's too chunky.

Try these methods with your favorite veggies, you'll be surprised how easy and delicious this is! And once things have fermented to a sour state they'll keep a loooong time in the fridge. Have fun!
 
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