Oh, the crunch of a good pickle!
The perfect meld of crunch, sour, and salt in homemade sauerkraut.
Or the sweet and salty tang of a carrot-raisin chutney.
Perhaps this hasn’t been your experience though…
Had trouble fermenting? Or a bit leery about trying it?
It can definitely be a challenge to feel confident about it — like you’ve got the hang of it.
If you’re having trouble, the fix is usually something very simple you can tweak or change.
So instead of throwing in the towel on fermenting and giving up forever…
Take a look at these 7 common fermenting mistakes. Are you making any of them? If so, take a step back. Breathe. Then move forward again, this time making a simple change (even in your thinking!).
Success with fermentation is just on the other side!
Which of these mistakes are you making? What common fermenting mistakes would you add to this list? Please share in the comments!
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Video from Periscope
I recorded this podcast live on Periscope last week and here’s the video from that! It’s just like the audio file above, except you can see it, too. 🙂
7 Fermenting Mistakes You Might Be Making
These are common fermenting mistakes I see over and over (and I have made them, too). What would you add? Be sure to share in the comments!
1. Thinking you don’t have what you need to get started.
To ferment, all you need is a mason jar with lid, food, and sea salt. Items you probably already have in your kitchen, right? That’s all you need…
2. Thinking it’s too scary or complicated.
It’s not complicated. Naturally abundant beneficial organisms do the work for you if you keep them a proper salty and oxygen-free environment.
Cut up or shred your veggies, mix with salt (or pour salt brine over top), put in a jar… and let the ferment take care of itself.
The abundant beneficial organisms love that salty environment at room temperature and they begin to feast on the starches and sugars in foods, producing: more of themselves (which preserves it and repels spoiling organisms plus creates a probiotic food); beneficial acids (which again preserve it); vitamins and enzymes.
Once the fermentation is over (a few days usually), move to cold storage to slow it way down…. then eat and enjoy!
3. Thinking you won’t like it.
You might! Ok, you might not like everything! But with such a range of choices, you might LOVE something.
Think about what your family enjoys — fruits? — then try some fermented fruit leather or apple chutney.
Sweeter veggies? Try a carrot chutney with raisins and nuts.
Sauerkraut? Homemade is better than store-bought and this is truly a superfood. You might find you like it, and CRAVE it. Here’s my no-pound recipe.
4. Starting out too complicated.
Need just a jar, veggies, and sea salt — how much more simple can you get?
When you’re starting out, stick with something simple, like those I mentioned before.
Save the homemade root beer or natto or tempeh for later!
5. Not interacting with it enough.
Kraut needs to be punched down if it’s not weighted on top. The fermenting gases lift the mixture in the jar and create air pockets. Push those back down! And to do so, you need to open the jar once a day…
When you’re opening it up, you’re getting a sense for how it’s developing. Is it too crunchy, not crunchy enough? How does it smell? How does it taste? All good info to make you more experienced!
6. Thinking it’s spoiled when it’s sour, or vice versa.
There’s no substitute for experience here. And believe me, even if you’ve never fermented, or not much, your nose is experienced.
If something smells repulsive, it is.
If it smells sour, it’s not spoiled.
There’s a difference and while your nose knows now, over time you will learn it even better.
Also — even though occasional ferments won’t turn out, this is not the norm. Success is much more likely!
7. Giving up too soon!
Don’t like what you made? Try a different one. Or try again. Or let your ferment age more in the fridge (it changes with age and often mellows).
Don’t give up, though
Just like a child needs to see or try a new food a dozen times before accepting it, so do we. We are often retraining our taste buds — a not-so-easy feat thanks to the Standard American Diet of salt and sugar.
Good food can be a challenge to transition to — but it’s worth it!
You might even begin craving real food after weaning off the conventional stuff.
I can’t tell you how many people told me they made sauerkraut and expected to hate it and ended up scarfing down the whole jar. Like their body was saying “I need sauerkraut!”.
- Free gift — Fermenting Formulas Cheat Sheet
- 5-Spice Apple Chutney
- No-Pound Sauerkraut
- Traditional Cooking School’s Lacto-Fermentation eCourse
- My book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods
- Traditional Cooking School’s Lacto-Fermentation eBook & Video Pkg
Additional Fermenting Articles
- Troubleshooting Your Ferments (KYF172)
- Lacto-Fermentation 101 Video Series
- Which Water is Best for Fermenting?
- Which Kind of Salt Should I Use for Fermenting?
- Do Lacto Ferments Contain Alcohol?
- Can I Use Alternative Sweeteners in Ferments?
- How to Tell if Your Kombucha is Moldy (And What to Do About It)
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Anything to Add?
I would love to hear from you! Do you have questions for me, or comments about anything shared in this episode?
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