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Fermented Veggie Mastery 5: Answering Your Fermented Veggie Queries

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Now that you have gotten started on your first batch of fermented veggies, you may have a few niggling questions. Below are the answers to a few of the common questions fermented veggie starters frequently have.

 

Do I need to store my fermented vegetables in the refrigerator?

Fermented vegetables were actually used as a method of food preservation before electricity and refrigerators were developed. A cool place for fermentation is all that is required. This could be a basement, a cellar, or cold pantry. Fermentation continues even under refrigeration, though very slowly. Slow fermentation often allows better flavour to develop.

 

Do I need to use whey or a starter culture to ferment my vegetables?

Salt added to vegetable ferments keeps your fermented vegetables free of harmful bacteria until the natural bacteria multiply enough to do the job. While not required, whey or starter culture is said to give the good bacteria a head start, and ensure that they proliferate over the bad. Having said that I never use whey to culture my vegetables, I find salt okay.

 

How do I know if my sauerkraut is mouldy?

Simply scrape off the top layer of your veggies, give the container a few seconds to air out, then test aroma and flavour. If it smells ok, taste a little bit. If it tastes ok, it should be fine to consume. If the vegetables smell or taste unpleasant to you, discard everything, clean the container thoroughly, and try again with a new batch.

 

What is contributing to my mouldy vegetables?

There are a few factors which will affect the mould on your veggies:

  • Quality of Vegetables For the best finished product, use only fresh produce in your ferments. Unsprayed, home-grown, or organic vegetables are best, if you have access to them. Old or heavily sprayed vegetables may not ferment well.
  • Salt Content A proper amount of salt in each batch of vegetables is important for keeping mould at bay.
  • Fermentation Temperature Vegetables ferment well in cooler temperatures, which can make preserving at the peak of the growing season difficult. Find a cool place to ferment your vegetables.
  • Vegetable Submersion For best results, it is important to weigh vegetables down under the brine securely. Push your veggies down to ensure they are submerged or add more filtered water if necessary to ensure they are covered.

 

What should I do if mould is present?

Simply scrape off the top layer, give the container a few seconds to air out, then test aroma and flavour. If it smells ok, taste a little bit. If it tastes ok, it should be fine to consume. If the vegetables smell or taste unpleasant to you, discard everything, clean the container thoroughly, and try again with a new batch.

 

There is a white film on the surface of my vegetables. Is it mould?

A white film that is not fuzzy or in round patches is kahm yeast. It is very common on vegetables and quite safe.

 

My brine is foamy, bubbly or is not changing at all. Is it ok?

Some vegetables foam more than others. It is not uncommon to see some foaming on vegetables that have higher sugar contents, such as beets or carrots. The foaming is completely harmless and generally disappears after a few days. You may also notice some bubbling in the jar as gases are formed by the fermentation process. Again, this is normal. On the other hand, some vegetables get off to a slow start and don’t bubble as much. Many variables affect fermentation. As long as the ferment smells and tastes pleasant, the culture is doing well.

 

Is cloudy brine or sediment in my jar safe?

Cloudy brine and sediment in the bottom of the jar are both signs that the vegetables are culturing well.

Can I salvage vegetables that are too salty?

In this situation, prevention is often key. Taste the ferment before fermentation is complete to check for flavour. If it is too salty, mix in more fresh vegetables or dilute the brine with additional water, leaving adequate space in the fermentation vessel. If necessary, pour off some of the salty brine before diluting. Overly salty sauerkraut is a great addition to a bland soup. Vegetables can also be soaked in fresh water for 2-3 days to draw out some salt, though some probiotics will be lost with this method.

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