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Fermentation brine ratio question

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
When I make pickles, I follow Sandor's recipe for a 5.4% brine (3 TBSP salt to a quart of water.) Can I use the same ratio to make all vegetable ferments, like kraut, kimchi, carrots, beats , etc?

When I make kraut, I also follow Sandor's recipe, chopping cabbage, putting in bowl, sprinkling salt, adding more cabbage, more salt, more cabbage, more salt, etc, etc. & then mashing it down. If I don't get enough brine just from the juices, I mix 1 TBSP salt in 1 cup of water & top it off.

My question is: Can I just make a standard brine of 3 TBSP salt in 1 quart of water & use this for all ferments? I made kraut & beets/carrots/ginger the other day & instead of salting & mashing the cabbage, I just stuffed shredded cabbage in jars & poured the brine over it - same with the other ferment.

I should probably ask The Man himself...but would love to hear what everyone else thinks.
post #2 of 5
My impression from Sandor's book is that there's more flexibility in brine strength than I used to think. He's got a low-salt version of sauerkraut that's quite a bit different from the usual one IIRC, and I think it has higher risk of spoiling, but other than that, it's fine (and the spoiling is supposed to be obvious). I check whichever book is closest, either NT or Wild Fermentation to look up salt: water ratios when I make ferments. Maybe I've been lucky so far, but most of what I do turns out, and I'm not as exacting a cook as perhaps I should be.
post #3 of 5
I went to a talk of his, and he mentioned that the salting/mashing method makes it a bit more nutritious, b/c the juices that the veggies are steeping in are their own. He said that some people do just brine cabbage for kraut (in Eastern Europe, apparently they brine whole cabbages in barrels).

He never measures salt himself for kraut (just sprinkles and smashes, and repeats until it tastes the way he likes it), so I know that exacting salt/water ratios aren't necessary. Lower salt just means that it ferments faster. I'm sure you could use that brine ratio for anything that doesn't give up its own juices.

Good luck!
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
Oh that's right! I forgot about the fermenting of whole cabbages - that was waay back, didn't the soldiers from somewhere borrow that idea from whatever city they were conquering?

Okay, I feel better about my lazy approach. My knuckles always take such a beating when I pummel down the salted cabbage.

My beets/carrots/ginger look so purty.

So obvious spoilage would be mold, which I have none of. I've been really good about pushing the ferments down below the brine throughout the day.

I'm hoping to find some little pickling cukes at the farmers' market this morning so I can make some pickles! I still haven't found the perfect vessel. Last time, I used a food grade 5 gallon plastic bucket - but the thought of fermenting something so acidic for so long in plastic bugs me out.
post #5 of 5
I don't like the idea of plastic either. The new Ball Ideal jars come in up to four gallon size. It would be nice to have a crock but they are so $$$... I have my eye on these for pickle jars - but I think I'd get four one gallons.
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