What is Fermenting?
Pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi. You may think these foods are all made with vinegar, and yes, it is true that this is the quick, modern way of making them.
BUT the old fashioned way of making these, along with other pickled foods, is lacto-fermenting. Raw foods are submerged in a salt water brine and allowed to sit to naturally create that vinegar taste. The salt kills bad bacteria and good bacteria thrives. You know how people eat yogurt for its “good tummy bacteria”? Fermented foods has that bacteria, as well.
The jist: lacto-fermentation is a microbial process using beneficial bacteria that thrive in an anarobic (no oxygen) fermenting environment. This includes Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium spp. and other lactic acid bacteria (commonly known as probiotics).
Can I Can Fermented Foods?
Technically speaking, yes, you can can fermented foods. HOWEVER, heat will kill all those good bacteria we discussed above. You might as well go with the quick vinegar recipes if you are going to end up canning your pickled foods.
What do I Need to get Started?
- A fermenting jar (or glass canning jar, crock, or food grade bucket)
- Pickling/canning salt (or any salt that is not iodized and contains no anti-caking agent))
- Distilled water (for some recipes)
- Plate with a lip (or tray or baking sheet)
That’s it! Really. That’s it!
Helpful Tips & Tricks
- Place fermenting jar on a plate or similar object with a lip. As the food ferments it will release gasses that will cause the liquid to overflow. This is completely normal and part of the fermenting process.
- Keep your fermenting jar in a cool place out of sunlight while fermenting.
- Check your food often for any growth or scum on top and just skim it off if you see any (I have never had this happen with a fermenting jar, but I know people who have this when using a mason jar or food grade bucket)
- Make sure your foods are always weighted down so they are submerged completely in the brine.
- Put in an airtight jar when fermentation is complete and in the fridge. How long it keeps depends on a number of factors, but it will usually keep for at least several months.
- Mix and match different foods and spices for different flavorings.