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#1 of 22 Old 02-22-2012, 11:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Im new to fermentation. Can someone help? does the material of the.container matter? Glass vs plastic vs ceramic vs opaque and clear? How's the smell? I was reading the wild fermentation website and seems.pretty smelly being so open. Can I use a maason jar or regular jar or one of.those plastic or.glass containers with the latch on it and just cover cabbage, or whatever, with brine or is it better to just use salt.and let the water come out of.the cabbage itself. Thaanks. Looki forward to adventures in fementation!

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#2 of 22 Old 02-23-2012, 08:16 AM
 
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Yes, container matters, somewhat.  You don't want to use metal because the salt content will eat it.  You don't want to use plastic if you ever want to use it for something else, since getting the smell out may be difficult (or it may not, depends on many factors).  I don't believe opaque vs transparent makes a difference though.  I just use mason jars. 

 

The smell is about like bread rising, unless you catch something nasty, which has happened to me a couple times.  If it smells bad, I'd dump it. 

 

As for the salt vs brine thing - something that contains sufficient water like cabbage does not need added water, in fact adding water can cause the salt to be too diluted, leading to bad bacterial growth.  You can add brine if you're not getting enough liquid to cover, but not straight water.  I've only had to add brine to carrots... cabbage, cucumber and daikon all provide plenty of their own water once salted and allowed to sit. 

 

And I don't recommend leaving it completely open - that's a good way to find bugs drowning themselves in it.  I usually cover the mouth of the jar with a piece of muslin and then screw the ring on.  Bacteria can pass through but bugs can't.  You don't want an airtight seal on it while it's sitting out, otherwise the good bacteria can't colonize and you'll only get the bacteria that was present on the vegetable matter itself, which can be a crap shoot.  I put the solid lid back on when I move it to the fridge. 


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#3 of 22 Old 02-23-2012, 08:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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And I don't recommend leaving it completely open - that's a good way to find bugs drowning themselves in it.  I usually cover the mouth of the jar with a piece of muslin and then screw the ring on.  Bacteria can pass through but bugs can't.  You don't want an airtight seal on it while it's sitting out, otherwise the good bacteria can't colonize and you'll only get the bacteria that was present on the vegetable matter itself, which can be a crap shoot.  I put the solid lid back on when I move it to the fridge. 


NAK... thanks for the info.  I would have done this all wrong!

 

so all i need to cover is muslim cloth as a "lid" in the mason jar? how much do you pack in the veggies?? how do you keep it submerged in its own liquid?  how long til you move it back to the fridge and cover?

 


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#4 of 22 Old 02-23-2012, 11:51 AM
 
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Yeah, I've cut a few pieces of muslin that I run through the wash after use - they're big enough to cover the jars, and I don't worry about the fraying.  It's cheap enough to replace it if it needs to be.

 

The veggies should be well packed.  Particularly in the case of cabbage, which is going to shrink as it releases water.  I don't keep it submerged - after trying that the first time, I just stir it every day.  As for how long before it's done - I taste it.  Depending on the weather it might be 3 days or 7 days.  Except during Indian Summer around here, it's rarely hot enough for it to ferment faster than 3 days (I'm in the same area as you).  When it goes from tasting salty to tasting like kraut, I stick it in the fridge, although you can let it go another day or so past that if you like. 

 

So, with cabbage, the way I was taught was not by measurement, but by feel.  Slice the cabbage, add the salt, and pound the cabbage.  Rest a few minutes, give it a quick stir and see how much liquid there is, taste a piece of cabbage.  I usually have to go through salting/pounding a few times before I get the right consistency.  The cabbage should taste just a little bit too salty to the tongue, and there should be enough liquid in the bottom of the bowl so that the cabbage is fairly wet (so that when you pack it, it's covered with liquid).  For pounding I just use the bottom of a mason jar.  When it's the right consistency, pack it into a clean mason jar, making sure there's enough liquid to cover.  Cover with muslin, screw on the ring and set it aside.  Every day I open it up, use a clean spoon and stir it down/pack it down if it's floating.  Sometimes it doesn't.  After 3 days or so I'll fish a piece of cabbage out and taste it.  When it is no longer salty to the tongue, it's pretty much done.  Continuing to let it ferment after that point just gives it a stronger fermented flavor, which some people like.

 

For daikon/carrots I skip the pounding.  But I peel it, julienne it on a mandoline, toss it with salt, let it sit 10-20 minutes, taste for salt, and then proceed.  Carrots may need extra brine to cover, since they don't have nearly as much excess water in them.  But the rest is the same. 


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#5 of 22 Old 02-27-2012, 11:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok. I'll have to try it this week! I have to go buy mason jars. 

 

for clarification, carrots and daikon you just salt and THEN add more brine (if needed)?

 

I think I'll practice with cabbage. Seems to be the simplest =)

 

 


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#6 of 22 Old 02-27-2012, 03:08 PM
 
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Carrots you salt and then add brine to cover after you pack it in the jar. 

Daikon you salt and usually don't need brine, since they have a ton of water in them.  Pack them in the jar, and judge if you need it or not. 


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#7 of 22 Old 02-28-2012, 03:37 AM
 
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I like to ferment in glass jars with wide mouths, either quarts, 1/2 gallons, or gallon jars.  I stopped fermenting that was done with a cloth cover because I was not getting as consistent results.  Now, I put a lid on the jar and it has worked very well for me.  I pack the lightly salted veggies into the jar and if it is shredded finely enough, a brine will form right away.  As I push down to pack it well, the brine rises up to cover the veggies.  Next I place a couple of cabbage leaves on the top, making sure the jar is only 3/4 full.  Then I place a smaller glass jar, such as a baby food jar on top of the cabbage leaves to hold them down and screw the lid on.  This acts like a weight, but it is not heavy.  It is held in place by the pressure from the lid being on the jar, and keeps pressure on the vegetables so that they are always submerged in the brine.  Then I sit it on my countertop and watch it ferment for 2-4 weeks, depending on the temperature.  I never get a mold issue or any weird ferments doing it this way.  I hope this helps.

 

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#8 of 22 Old 02-28-2012, 10:51 AM
 
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Does anyone have any advice on fermenting pickles? Mine turn out mushy. I use whey and salt for the fermentation process.

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#9 of 22 Old 03-02-2012, 10:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Great advice! Some questions

1 what doesvthe brine solution consist of?
2 are there recipes for different veggies?
3 does the type of salt you use make a difference?

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#10 of 22 Old 03-03-2012, 12:30 PM
 
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Brine= salty water

 

There are lots and lots of recipes.  You can find many online, and Sandor Katz even has some videos on youtube.  I use taste as my measurement now for sauerkraut, though.  It's less fussy than you might think and I believe this would work for other veggies too.

 

My understanding is don't use iodized salt.  I use kosher salt.  I have seen recipes using sea salt, but have also seen recommendations not to use it as well.  It must work though :) since plenty do use it.

 

 


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#11 of 22 Old 03-03-2012, 02:33 PM
 
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About the pickles - here's what I saw on the wildfermentation website: "One quality prized in a good pickle is crunchiness. Fresh tannin-rich grape leaves placed in the crock are effective at keeping pickles crunchy. I recommend using them if you have access to grape vines. I’ve also seen references in various brine pickle recipes to using sour cherry leaves, oak leaves, and horseradish leaves to keep pickles crunchy."

 

I think that using the last three types of leaves together gives the best results (that's how it's been done in our family, for generations.) Tannins keep the crunch. The website recipe is fine, but I'd add black currant leaves, too - they add to the flavor.

 

Another fine point - for sauerkraut, don't use iodized salt. Iodine is a desinfectant and the fermenting bacteria does not like it. I'd be hesitant about using sea salt, for the same reason.

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#12 of 22 Old 03-05-2012, 10:54 PM
 
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Now I'm confused.  I am just getting in to fermenting my own veggies and I'm very excited about it.  But, I am following this video's instructions  http://rawfoodswitch.com/raw-food-recipes/fermenting-vegetable-recipe/   Which seem to be pretty different than what everyone here is saying.  What do you think?  I have a jar on my counter that has been sitting there with this recipe in it for 24hrs and nothing at all is happening.  How can you tell if it is "working"? 

And how do you get a brine without adding water?  I dont understand what you mean by pounding the veggies.  Sorry, I am a step by step, lay it all out plainly, I want to know exactly what I'm doing, type of person :)   If someone would not mind spelling it out for me, maybe offering some more tips or links to specific videos of it being done Right, recipes, etc I would REALLY appreciate it!

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#13 of 22 Old 03-06-2012, 09:27 PM
 
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It's not much different.  With cabbage, the juices from the leaves come out and make more than enough to cover it in the jar, usually.  With some vegetables you need to add water.  The only reason not to add water to cabbage is that the water is already there.  If you have a mix of other veggies adding water makes sense. 

 

1) I finely slice my cabbage, put in bowl, then I add salt mixing it with my fingers and wait a little while before squishing it more firmly around with my hands.  You can pound it also.  The salt pulls juice out, the pounding/squishing pushes even more juice out.  I think pounding is optional, but helps you get more liquid more quickly.  As the juice comes out it makes a brine in the bowl. 

 

2) Fill a jar, use hands to firmly push the cabbage down below the liquid.  (This is when you can see if you have plenty of brine.  If not you can add a little salted water.  If the cabbage is covered it is enough.)

 

3) Cover but not airtight!  I set a lid on the jar but do not screw it on fully so air and juice can easily escape.  This is different from the video--you simply don't need a sealed jar which is nice because this means pressure can't build up and break it.  But as she says, yes, you should set it the jar on a plate or bowl because some leaking is normal.

 

4) I have heard that a temperature of around 70 degrees is ideal.  If it is cold, the ferment may not get going or will be slow.  In winter I set the jar in a warm place, on a heat register or in front of our fireplace and it works great.  (Is temperature your problem?)

 

5) I open and press the cabbage down again about every other day so that it is mostly staying below the liquid's surface.  I wash my hands and use bare hands to press it down.  I always smell it when I do this.  The kraut smell probably does take more than 24 hours usually but not much longer--maybe 48 hours. 

 

 

That is everything I do.  It usually takes a few days before the kraut is good and then I put it in the fridge.  The flavor seems to keep improving while in the refrigerator.  I think your ferment should turn out okay.  The only differences with your video are that she is making a brine first with water--which is best for veggies that don't release juice--and she seals the jar unnecessarily.  I don't know what she said in the video about preparing the veggies, but pounding and squeezing out juice would only be okay for some things.  It would ruin cucumbers for instance by turning them to mush!   I hope this helps!


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#14 of 22 Old 03-06-2012, 09:40 PM
 
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Thank you so much!!  I am going to print that lol.  What other veggies do you ferment?  Do you always have to have either cabbage or cucumber in there, (in the video she says they have the "right" kind of bacteria?) or can you do whatever type of veggie you want?  What are your favorites?

How can you tell if its "working" or if it is successful?

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I have only done sauerkraut, sometimes with a little carrot added.  I am not an expert at all!  A lot of people do different veggies.  You do not have to include cabbage/cucumber AFAIK but you might sometimes need something added to get the ferment started(?) 

 

If it works it will smell like sauerkraut and taste good.  If it doesn't work it would be way different and way gross IME.  Mine once got disgusting in summer and I think it was just too warm but it may have been something else.  It was so easy to tell it was yucky.  And that is what I have always heard is the kind of things that go wrong are easy to tell.  When it works, it's delicious.  You can tell by smell when it's only partly done too before you even taste it. 


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I just checked on mine, (I had the lid screwed on really tight), and when I opened it, a bunch of air was released and it was all bubbly!  I am so excited!  It smelled pretty good too, although I am sure its no where near done:)

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#17 of 22 Old 03-18-2012, 12:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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finally starting mine today... cabbage! wish me luck

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#18 of 22 Old 03-22-2012, 09:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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UH OH! 

Too salty.. is there a way to fix this? Its been three days since i made the batch.  just put water??


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#19 of 22 Old 03-23-2012, 07:12 PM
 
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Quote:
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UH OH! 

Too salty.. is there a way to fix this? Its been three days since i made the batch.  just put water??



 

Too salty meaning inedible, or too salty just unpleasant?  Has fermentation started yet? 

 

Unless it's so salty that it's hindering fermentation, I wouldn't do anything right now.  But if it's still too salty when it's "ready", then I'd just rinse it before eating. 

 

The way I learned to make kraut was to get it "too salty" and then when it was done it was "just right". 


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#20 of 22 Old 03-23-2012, 07:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Too salty meaning inedible, or too salty just unpleasant?  Has fermentation started yet? 

 

Unless it's so salty that it's hindering fermentation, I wouldn't do anything right now.  But if it's still too salty when it's "ready", then I'd just rinse it before eating. 

 

The way I learned to make kraut was to get it "too salty" and then when it was done it was "just right". 


No not indelible, just "too salty for my taste" although my mom seems to think its just right.

How do u know if fermentation has started? So you mean it'll be less salty as it sits (in the fridge,?) I moved it after day four.

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#21 of 22 Old 03-23-2012, 08:40 PM
 
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Last time I made it I just tasted it for saltiness before fermenting and it came out great.  Another thing worth knowing is that right when it is done, it's good, but you put it in the fridge and it tastes batter and better.  I don't know if the flavors "settle in" or what but it certainly gets tastier.

 

Feed it to mom/ rinse for you, and make more with a bit less salt?

 

I can tell mine is fermenting by smell, it starts to smell like kraut.


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#22 of 22 Old 03-25-2012, 08:07 AM
 
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Don't put it in the fridge until it's fermented.  It won't happen in the fridge.  And yes, it will be less salty after it's fermented than it was when it was raw. 

 

If you were doing this while the mercury was in the 70s, 4 days may have been enough, but if it was while we were in these rainstorms/cold, 4 days probably wasn't long enough.  I've had to leave it out for upwards of a week when it's cold/wet out for fermentation to happen. 


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