Get Started Making Ferments

The process of fermentation involves creating an environment where good bacteria—the probiotics—can flourish. When we ferment certain foods, such as vegetables, we increase their nutrition and make the nutrients they have to offer more absorbable by our digestive system. And scientists tell us that a healthy digestive system, rich in probiotics, makes for a healthy person.

But the fermentation process is not limited to vegetables. Ferments include fruits too, plus you can even make your own fermented raw vinegars! Culturing dairy and making a sourdough starter are also forms of fermentation, but we’ll cover those in separate categories.

Scientists are closely studying the connection between our digestive system—often referred to as our gut—and our heart and brain. They discovered that the stronger our gut health is, the stronger we are to resisting a whole host of diseases and illnesses. So learning how to make fermented foods and include them as part of our traditional foods diet is more important than ever!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is My Ferment so Salty?

This is probably the most common comment I receive from home cooks who are new to making vegetable ferments. For example, when you shred cabbage and mix it with salt and water, then allow it to ferment for a certain period, you will make sauerkraut. When you taste your sauerkraut before refrigerating it, you may find it tastes salty. You did not do anything wrong!

Salt is an essential part of the fermentation process, so you do not want to cut back on the amounts I instruct you to add or, worse, leave it out! The proper amount of salt contributes to the fermentation process by tamping down on the development of bad bacteria while at the same time allowing the good bacteria—the probiotics—to proliferate. But don’t worry. After a bit of refrigeration, your sauerkraut or another vegetable ferment will taste perfect.

During refrigeration, the fermentation process slows while the vegetables absorb more of the salty brine. They become tastier as they absorb the brine, and the remaining brine clinging to the vegetables becomes less salty.

Tip: Check Your Temperature

Finding the “sweet spot” for the fermentation process will be key to your success. Vegetable ferments generally like to ferment at temperatures between 68°F to 72°F (20°C to 22°C) and out of direct sunlight. A little bit cooler and a little bit warmer won’t necessarily be a problem, but you want to avoid getting any cooler than 65°F (18°C) or warmer than 75°F (24°C). Temperature extremes will create unwanted problems for your ferment, including no fermentation activity, to the development of bad bacteria and mold leading to spoilage.

New to Making Ferments? Start Here!

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