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Questions about using an airlock  RSS feed

 
jacque greenleaf
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I've just used an airlock for the first time, making "krautchi" (cabbage, cauliflower, carrot) in a mason jar. At about 24 hours, I saw the first bubbles, and then over the next four days or so, there was great action. But a lot of the juice escaped through the airlock, and now there's a layer of dry veggies above the brine level.

Should I remove the lid and add more brine? Or would it be better to not disturb things, let the ferment proceed for a few more weeks, and discard the dry layer when I do open the jar?
 
John Saltveit
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The lid over the veggies and the airlock are two separate things. The airlock lets the gases escape without letting unlimited more air in. The airlock is part of the lid to the entire container

THe lid over your veggies, and your rock/glass weight/etc. to keep it down, make sure that the veggies are under water and not exposed to air. That lid is inside the container, just over the veggies, but under the water.

You could check the veggies to see if they're still ok. THen I would add water that doesn't contain chlorine, chloramine, etc over the inside lid to make sure it doens't happen again. Keep the inside lid over the veggies and under the water level always to make sure they are in an anaerobic situation.
John S
PDX OR
 
jacque greenleaf
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John Saltveit wrote:

THe lid over your veggies, and your rock/glass weight/etc. to keep it down, make sure that the veggies are under water and not exposed to air. That lid is inside the container, just over the veggies, but under the water.



But there's the rub - the level of brine has dropped *below* the weight. By quite a bit. And I had plenty of juice when I started, and I left more than an inch of headroom.
 
M.R.J. Smith
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You will be fine adding more. Whenever we make it we don't even use an airlock and it turns out fine. You probably have plenty of added safety because since it's been going you already have a well established flora. I'm under thee suasion that people overemphasize sanitization when making ferments. Humans have been fermenting stuff for a long time, far before the advent of germ theory!
 
jacque greenleaf
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M.R.J. Smith wrote:You will be fine adding more. Whenever we make it we don't even use an airlock and it turns out fine. You probably have plenty of added safety because since it's been going you already have a well established flora. I'm under thee suasion that people overemphasize sanitization when making ferments. Humans have been fermenting stuff for a long time, far before the advent of germ theory!


Thanks!

I am new to fermenting, and am a bit confused. My understanding is that it is supposed to be an anaerobic process. Seems like removing and replacing the airlock/lid defeats the purpose of having an airlock?

I understand that when the veggies are completely submerged, the acidity and saltiness prevent Clostridium from growing. And the veggies were all submerged when I began, so it makes sense to me that they are still unlikely to be Clostridium-friendly. But none of the reading I did before I decided to try the airlock ever suggested that the brine level could fall below the weight!
 
M.R.J. Smith
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It is anaerobic, but the stuff bubbling out is co2, which is heavier than other gasses in atmosphere and this rests in the bottom of jar and lifts the o2 out, making it anaerobic the bacteria kind of create their own airlock (evolution never ceases to amaze)! Using fresh veggies helps brine level stay up. Ones kept in fridge lost a lot of their moisture and suck up the brine I've found.

Just push it all down and you should be fine. If you're not fine, you'll know it because it will smell dreadful!
 
jacque greenleaf
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M.R.J. Smith wrote:It is anaerobic, but the stuff bubbling out is co2, which is heavier than other gasses in atmosphere and this rests in the bottom of jar and lifts the o2 out, making it anaerobic the bacteria kind of create their own airlock (evolution never ceases to amaze)! Using fresh veggies helps brine level stay up. Ones kept in fridge lost a lot of their moisture and suck up the brine I've found.

Just push it all down and you should be fine. If you're not fine, you'll know it because it will smell dreadful!


Not sure how I can push it all down, since the brine level is a good 2-3 inches below the veggie/weight level! You must mean after I add new brine.

I'm thinking that if I have to remove the lid/airlock to tend my kraut that it is pointless to spend the money on an airlock.

BTW, I did try emailing the folks who sold me my airlock, but their online contact form is not working and they apparently don't work weekends so no one is answering the phone.
 
John Saltveit
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I think the benefit of the airlock is to stop a film developing on the top of the sauerkraut.
John S
PDX OR
 
jacque greenleaf
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John Saltveit wrote:I think the benefit of the airlock is to stop a film developing on the top of the sauerkraut.
John S
PDX OR


So then what I could have done is to open the jar, add back the brine that had been pushed out, and continue the ferment? Opening an airlock jar before fermentation is complete is not a problem?
 
John Saltveit
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It's not really a problem. An airlock is not a necessity. It's a convenience or an aesthetic improvement. Most of my fermenting is done in a giant 5 gallon crock with just a cloth over it. I only have 1 that has a real airlock, and the others don't.

The plate or lid (or some other method) under the top of the brine to keep the vegies under the water is a necessity.
John S
PDX OR
 
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