Tips for Successful and Healthy Lacto-Fermentation


Tips for Successful and Healthy Lacto-Fermentation

  • The hotter the environment, the more salt you need in your initial brine.
  • In warm environments, the food can spoil before the beneficial bacteria have a chance to establish a good ferment.
  • This is why it is easier to ferment foods in cool weather, and one of the reasons why ferments are often made with cool-weather crops such as cabbage and root vegetables.
  • Salt-free ferments can be especially tricky in hot weather.
  • If you’re hoping to make crisp fermented pickles in the warmest weeks of summer, it’s wise to add a little extra salt to the brine.
  • Use vegetables and fruits that are in excellent condition.
  • You can’t expect crunch from your fermented cucumbers if they were limp to begin with.

Remember to always use filtered or non-chlorinated

  • Once you start eating out of one of your jars or crocks of Lacto-fermented food, be prepared to do a little maintenance work.
  • Anytime a container gets down to two-thirds or less of its Lacto-fermented contents, it is a good idea to transfer the remaining goods to a smaller jar or container.
  • Fermented food sitting in a container with a lot of air space above it tends to lift out of the liquid that is preserving it and discolor it unattractively.

Use glass, ceramic, or stainless-steel containers for your ferments.

  • Not only can plastic give the food an off flavor, but certain types of plastic can leach harmful compounds into the food as well.
  • Eat your ferments young if you prefer a lighter flavor; let them age for a few months if you want a more mouth-puckeringly sour taste.
  • The food will be safe for a year or longer, but even the crunchiest fermented vegetables and fruits start to soften after about 6 months.
  • Store ferments you expect to eat within a few weeks on the comparatively warm shelves of the door of your refrigerator.
  • If you want the ferment to last for months, keep a good texture, and not develop an overly strong sour taste, store it on the top shelf of the main body of the refrigerator, which is the coldest area.
  • Save the leftover brine after you finish eating the food it was preserving.
  • Use it in salad dressings, or sprinkle it on lentil or bean soups.
  • You can also use a splash of brine from a previous ferment as a starter culture to kick-start your next one.
  • Canning Lacto-fermented food in a boiling water bath or pressure canner is a lousy
  • It’s not that you couldn’t:
  • It would be perfectly safe, and you would end up with a product closer to the canned sauerkraut at the store (although that was probably made as a vinegar-based recipe, not by traditional fermentation).
  • What’s wrong with that?
  • The heat of the canning process will destroy all of the good-for-you probiotic bacteria in your fermented product.
  • It will still be edible.
  • It may even still be somewhat tasty.
  • But you will have wiped out one of the major advantages of eating fermented foods, which is their health benefits.


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