Fermenting your own vegetables is not rocket science and is packed with health benefits.
It’s very easy and safe to make your own lacto-fermentation (another name for vegetable fermentation!) but sometimes it doesn’t work so well.
Therefore, these five easy tips will help you succeed with your fermented vegetable recipes!
If you follow these tips, you’ll be successful with your vegetable fermentation every time!
1. Ferment for Only One Week
Five days at room temperature is the time needed for a lacto-fermentation to be ready.
By ready, we mean that the lactic acid bacteria are well under way. This is when lacto-fermentation tastes great and is healthy!
However, for flavour purposes, some recipes suggest longer than 5 days. We’re talking about 2 to 3 weeks of fermentation, or more than a year.
After the first 5 days, the fermentation process slows down, and the flavours become more complex.
The longer you wait, however, the more likely your vegetables will be too soft. And if by accident oxygen gets into the container, there is a risk of surface mould.
One week of fermentation is the ideal length of time for it to work every time. The texture of the vegetables will be perfectly crisp, and there will be no risk of mould.
When you follow this rule, you avoid a lot of food waste and maximize your pleasure, especially when you are a beginner!
2. Keeping Vegetables Submerged at All Times
In lacto-fermentation, the vegetables must remain under water throughout the process.
Contact with air will affect the fermentation process, as well as promoting the growth of moulds. Obviously, this is not what we want!
For this reason, we make sure that the vegetables are always covered with liquid.
To do this, we use a glass weight or a counterweight, which will keep the vegetables well under the brine throughout the fermentation process.
See our selection of fermentation containers and accessories to make it happen!
3. Let the Pressure Out
As you can see, the challenge is to prevent air from entering during your vegetable fermentation.
However, as CO2 is produced by the microorganisms, you also have to let the pressure out.
There are plenty of techniques to do this, like not tightening the lid too much. However, they are not foolproof.
The best technique is to use an airlock!
Airlocks, or fermentation bungs, are designed to let CO2 out without letting air and ambient particles in.
They are easy to use, simply fill with a little liquid (water or alcohol) and attach to the lid. The carbon dioxide will pass into the liquid as bubbles, but nothing will enter the jar!
4. Add the Right Amount of Salt
Salt is essential in vegetable fermentation. However, adding salt randomly never gives a good result!
There will either not be enough and you risk failing your fermentation, or there will be too much, and it will be inedible.
The winning formula for finding out how much salt to add is by adding 2% of the total weight of the ingredients.
If you need to add brine (for whole or chunky vegetables), use the volume of the jar to calculate the quantity, as this will be equivalent to the weight of the vegetables and water combined.
If some fermented vegetable recipes require more salt, then follow the recipe!
For more information on salt, see our ultimate guide to salt and brine in lacto-fermentation.
5. Use Small Containers
When fermenting vegetables, it is better to fill four small containers than a very large one.
For the simple fact that if one of them is not doing well, you won’t have to compost the entire recipe!
The ideal size to start is 250ml (one cup). This limits the risk of errors and makes it easier to have fun by testing different techniques and fermentation times.
Bonus: Put It in the Fridge as Soon as You Open It
The temptation is strong to open your jars to smell and taste!
There is no harm in doing so, but be aware that opening the lid breaks the fermentation process by letting in oxygen.
So place your jar in the fridge as soon as you open it, and you’ll have no problem! The jar will keep for several months in a cool place.