Frequently Asked Questions about Fermentation for the DIY enthusiast.
Our questions include dill pickles, hot peppers, kimchi, perserved lemons, salsa, sauerkraut, scrap vinegar, tomatoes and watermelon pickle rinds.
Q: What is the difference between Pickling and Fermentation?
A: No, they are two different processes. Fermentation produces a live culture through the fermentation process, while pickling is a stable process of preserving the vegetable in vinegar and salt. Fermented vegetables are submerged in a salt-water brine, allowing the lactic acid bacteria present on the vegetables to naturally produce an acidic and vinegary flavor. The result is a probiotic and live culture.
Q: Is it possible to be poisoned by fermenting?
A: Just like with any cooking, you need to use sanitary practices. Wash your hands, vegetables and sterilize the containers which you are going to store and ferment in. If you see anything that looks wrong with you fermentation (mold, black/brown, rotten looking) then toss it out. It’s not worth the risk
Q: Do I need to be concerned about keeping the fermentation in a warm room or in a warmed container?
A: No, but if your fermentation is taking place in a cold place it will be a much slower process or the fermentation process may not happen at all. Normal room temperature (68 F) should be adequate for the process.
Q: What equipment do I need to get started?
A: You really need nothing more than a knife a bowl and a jar with a lid. There is a range of equipment intended for helping with fermenting, but none of it is really necessary.
Q: Do I have to use glass to ferment?
A: Don’t use metal or plastic for your process. Glass is really the best because the fermentation will not react or interact in a way that leaches.
Q: What kind of water should I use, when it is in a recipe?
A: If you have decent tap water, just use that. Nothing special required.
Q: Do I need special salt?
A: No, just table salt.
Q: Will the vegetables produce liquid as they ferment?
A: Yes, depending on what you’re fermenting you should see liquid accumulate from the process. Be sure to submerge everything in vinegar at the start of the process, despite the process producing natural liquid.
Q: How do I know that fermentation is taking place?
A: After a couple days you will see the process initiating. You should see the release of enzymes and culture generating, which will be visible.
Q: When will the fermentation be done?
A: It’s really a matter of personal taste and preference. Tasting your fermentation will give you a feel for the progress and when it seems done. When done to your satisfaction just refrigerate and the process will stop.