Fermentation is entirely dependent on the bacteria that grows on the vegetables, which is vital not only for the functioning of the human body, but for every ecosystem and living thing on the planet. Interested yet? The goal is to mix salt and vegetables and submerge them in brine. Here are a few variables to keep in mind when you have decided to ferment from home:
Basics: How to Make Your Ferment
Wash and process the vegetables, rinsing the skins of the vegetables very thoroughly, then chop them into strips or chunks. Then place them in a bowl and use a meat tenderizer or kraut pounder to release the juices. If you wish to leave the vegetables mostly intact, you may not squeeze all of the juice out but you will still need to press them in some way in order to break down the cell walls.
No Air Exposure
When you ferment vegetables, it’s ideal to completely submerge them in brine to protect them from molding. If your ferments contain a lot of floating matter, be sure to stir regularly to discourage mold growth.
Keep Temperatures Stable
When temperatures rise, the biological process speeds up. For the first few days of your fermentation process, it’s ideal to keep your subject in room temperature areas. Then at cellar temperature for the remainder of the time. Refrigeration slows all processes down significantly. We recommend that temperatures remain stable.
Take Your Time
Nutrition, flavor and texture will all change and often will improve with time. At room temperature, most ferments will need about one week to develop the acidity required for preservation. So be patient, it’s well worth the wait.
We recommend that you always use high-quality salts for fermenting. What is considered ‘high-quality’ salts? Choose salts that have not been leached of their vital minerals or compromised with chemical conditioners or flowing agents. The amount of salt you use will greatly affect the outcome of your ferments. Higher salt proportions will keep vegetables crunchier, while lower salt proportions will leave you with softer ferments. Too much salt will inhibit fermentation. Salting is not an exact science; just make it a little bit saltier than you would want to eat raw.
Just Add Water
All water used must be non-chlorinated—whether it’s being used to wash vegetables or make the brine. Chlorine kills bacteria and will prevent your project from fermenting.
Photograph by Trinette Reed & Chris Gramly