So you want to learn how to ferment huh? I’ve been fermenting for many years now, and I’ve got several tips to help you get started! Before we begin to Ferment Vegetables, we need to pick up some supplies!
My suggestion is to use equipment that will allow for gas to escape, such as an airlock.
If you don’t allow gas to escape, you’ll have to burp your ferments every day to every couple of days.
- Mason Jars are widely used by most and a preferred container.
- Lids for Mason Jars – I really like these (they come with airlocks and glass weights!) Or you could try these if you like the idea of fewer parts! There’s also these…
- Wooden Tamper – Some ferments need to be squished and packed into the jar, and you must use a utensil/tool that does not negatively react with the ferment.
- Glass Weights
If you’re just starting out, you might just get a fermenting kit. It’s usually cheaper than buying everything separately. They usually don’t include mason jars though.
When I began my fermenting journey, I read a couple of books. My favorite overall is the Fermented Vegetables Book.
How Much Salt Should I Use?
Learning how to make a proper brine is super important. The amount of salt you’ll use will be different for each food item.
The best way to make sure you get the correct amount of salt is to weigh it. Also, using the same kind of salt the recipe calls for is IMPORTANT!
Did you know, Not all salt weighs the same??
I suggest using extra fine sea salt.
You’ll need a good kitchen scale to weigh your salt. They are pretty affordable though, so no worries!
Salt Brine Calculator | Ferment Vegetables
The more water you use, the more salt you’ll need!
Print the Salt Brine Calculators here.Print Both Salt Brine Calculators Print Brine Calculator With Veggies Print “Just Percentages” Brine Calculator
IMPORTANT: This salt brine calculator is calculated according to extra fine sea salt. If you use a different kind of salt these measurements may not work!Print Brine Calculator With Veggies
The next table is just a handy chart without the vegetables. When you’re more skilled you’ll probably end up memorizing what brine percentage your favorite ferments get.
IMPORTANT: This salt brine calculator is calculated according to extra fine sea salt. If you use a different kind of salt these measurements won’t work!Print “Just Percentages” Brine Calculator
Tips for Your First Ferment
- Easy Recipe – Begin with an easy recipe, such as sauerkraut, carrots, or bell peppers (one of my personal all-time favorites!)
- Failure – It’s a part of the process. There may be a slight learning curve. When you have your first successful ferment, it will be really exciting!
How to Ferment Vegetables | Tips and Tricks
- Measure Correctly – Measuring ingredients precisely is important.
Use Exact Ingredients – Not all salt is the same. If the recipe calls for EXTRA FINE sea salt, don’t substitute it for anything else.
Wash Tools – Wash your hands and the tools in warm soapy water.
- Use *Clean Water* – Fresh, filtered tap water. Or you can use fresh bottled spring water. If you have really good well water, you may be able to use that too.
- Rinse Produce – Make sure to rinse off the food before cutting into it, or using it in a ferment.
- CRISP Pickles – Keep pickles crisp, use a grape (edible), oak, cherry, or horseradish leaf.
- Taste Testing – When you ferment vegetables, you might want to taste test them. However, only use stainless steel or wood.
- Headspace – When you pour in the brine, make sure that you leave 1-2 inches of headspace. This means that from the top down 1-2 inches will be empty, no brine, no food, nada.
We leave headspace because ferments can release gasses, which cause the liquid to expand or rise. No headspace can result in cracked containers, and/or spills upon other mishaps.
Yeast, Mold, & Other Slimy Stuff
Ferments can get slimy, and have a weird, or fizzy taste, or smells. It’s best to train yourself with the knowledge of how to identify what all of these things mean.
If you spot mold, in a ferment, its best to throw the whole batch out. You can’t simply scrape the mold off the top.
Fermenting is a Product of its Environment
Temperature, time, oxygen, and even the ingredients (just to name a few) can affect the fermentation process whether negative or positive.
They all play an important role in fermenting vegetables. That’s one reason you will find many different conflicting ideas and opinions for fermenting.
There are so many variables. You could follow a recipe and it may not turn out how it was supposed to.
The temperature could have been different offsetting the whole operation.
Also, take into account that food comes in many different sizes, colors, regions, and could have totally different growing conditions.
No ferment will be exactly alike!
Be accepting that with all these variables that some batches just turn out bad. Sometimes you have to throw away a batch.
Yes, it’s a very sad hour but it sometimes happens. Learn from your mistakes, and take notes as you go!
More Fermenting Recipes
- Fermented Cherry Tomatoes
- Fermented Bell Peppers
- Fermented Carrots with Garlic
- Fermented Garlic
- Fermented Pickles
- Fermented Sauerkraut
- How to Make Water Kefir
- Water Kefir Vacation
- Water Kefir Almond Cream Soda
- Pineapple Chutney
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