The Magic of fermentation

Always In Season Farmstead

The Effervescence of Fermentation with Donna Maltz

Basic Fermentation Rules:

Keep it Salty!  Create a 2% brine. The correct ratio is 1 3/4 pound vegetables for 1 tablespoon salt OR 5 pounds’ vegetables for 3 tablespoons salt. If you are worried about your salt intake you can substitute some of the salt with lemon, lime or celery juice. Dr. Mercola uses only celery juice

Keep it Under the Brine! Especially during the first 7-10 days when the microbial climate of your jar is getting established. Put on a lid to keep out the air, but NOT too tight!  You want Zero Oxygen. Fermenting is an anaerobic process.

Keep it Clean! You don’t need to sterilize equipment or use bleach, just make sure your tools, fermentation vessels and weights are thoroughly washed and well rinsed.

While you are waiting for ferments to reach peak potency: be-sure to keep the lids on loosely. Set jars on a plate and keep in a dark area. Check to-be-sure your ferments are submerged in the brine. If you need more liquid, then add a salt water brine. If it is sauerkraut, push down if needed.

What you are looking for:

Bubbly Brine -This is a good sign! Gasses being released by the bacteria (Leuconostoc mesenteroides) need to push their way up and out. They also cause the brine to leak out of your sealed jar. These bacteria are most active during the first 3 days of fermentation. After they have done their work, you’ll see fewer bubbles and the brine will settle back down into the jar.

When is it ready? The 5-Senses See- Smell- Touch- Hear-  Taste? Or I like to say; The 4 T’s- Timing Temperature, Texture, Taste

After fermenting for approximately 4-7 days at room temperature, screw the lids on tighter and put in a refrigerator. At this point, they are at the peak of the conversion process (converting the sugars and starches in the vegetables to lactic and acetic acids). In other words, these healthful micro-organisms have been having a “real party!” They are reproducing, growing, and converting the naturally present sugars and starches in the vegetables. This process continues when the fermenting vegetables are refrigerated, but at a much slower rate and, if they are kept just above freezing, they are barely fermenting at all. When you bring the cultured vegetables back up to room temperature, the whole process continues. Therefore, when you put these fermented vegetables that are at room temperature on food that you’re eating, the conversion process, which is similar to human digestion, is happening as you put the vegetables in your mouth and chew them. Because digestion is initiated sooner, the flavors of all the foods are released earlier and in a more complete and healthful way (a “live zing” taste sensation).

What is ok:

Cloudy brine is perfectly normal – it is loaded with B-vitamins. If you wait long enough, it should settle to the bottom of the jar where it looks like white scum.

White Layer on the Surface- A whitish velvety or powdery layer floating off the top is not mold, but rather a layer of yeast called Kahm yeast. It can look scary and unpleasant and even smell a little strong, but it is not a harmful thing. Although harmless, Kahm yeast is something you don’t want to let overgrow since it affects the flavor of what you are fermenting. Remove as much Kahm yeast as you can from your ferment.

Slimy Brine – Beets, Carrots and other vegetables with a high natural sugar content recipe may invite in unwanted microorganisms that prefer the high sugar vegetables. Keep the quantity of high-sugar vegetables and fruits (beets, carrots, apples) to a minimum. I recommend 2-3 regular carrots or 1-2 medium beets or 1 apple per quart (liter) jar of fermented sauerkraut.

What is NOT OK:

Do not panic, as far as I know; there has never been a documented case of food-borne illness from fermented vegetables.

Rotten, smelly sauerkraut gets dumped. Toss it in the compost. Sharing it with the worms in your compost pile is fine. This happens when the fermentation did not proceed as it should due to an imbalance in microbes or too much air in your fermentation container. The bad microorganisms (molds and yeasts) took hold, chasing out the good bacteria. The temperature of the room where you kept the sauerkraut during fermentation could have been too warm, more than 75 degrees. Your sauerkraut won’t have that nice tang and delicious crunch we aim for. Eating it could be risky. Let your nose and instinct be your guide and error on the side of caution. Troubleshoot, learn from it and try again! Toss if mold is growing other than white, pink splotches – A pungent whiff of god-awful smell.

Things that can happen and how to fix:

If too much salt gets mixed into our ferment or you don’t ferment for a long enough period, resulting in overly salty sauerkraut. Or, if you have been restricting your salt intake, the sauerkraut may seem too salty to you. Some sources say to rinse the sauerkraut. Doing so, however, rinses off all the beneficial probiotics, defeating the purpose of eating sauerkraut. Dilute the brine by adding a little water to the sauerkraut and mixing well. You can also add lettuce or other greens to your salty sauerkraut to “dilute” the saltiness.  You can reduce the amount of salt by using celery, lemon or lime juice. Remember, Good bacteria is Salt tolerant, yet the Salt also kills off pathogens.

Soft Texture-If you prefer sauerkraut with a nice crunch, ferment at a cooler temperature for a shorter period. You can also add more salt. It is optimal to Ferment below 72 degrees, the warmer it is the softer the texture. More salt make ferments crunchier.

Sauerkraut Too Dry, Not Much Brine Created. Select cabbages that seem heavy for their size and show tightly packed leaves when sliced open.

There are two times of the year cabbage is grown: spring and fall. In the spring, cabbage is ripening during longer, warmer days, which dries it out. In the fall, cabbage is ripening during shorter, cooler days which makes for sweet, densely packed heads.

How to use your ferments:

Start out with a small amount to be sure you do not react. The ferments are working to kill off bad bacteria, and you might react at first due to the die off of those bad guys. Build up to, 1-4 TB at every meal, add to salads or in a wrap or on a sandwich, use as an ingredient in dressing, sauces and salsas, add to smoothies.  Use the juice to flavor soups and sauces (add after they cool). Your beautiful jarred creations also make a thoughtful gift.

Use leftover powerful fermented brines to inoculate your next batch. This will speed up the process. You can also use this potent brine to clean up your septic, as a Pickle Polish to clean tuff grim off pots and pans.  And of course, add to your compost pile. Never waste a drop.

Other Info:

What is fermentation: Chemical Transformation-Thriving Community- good germs – Good guys! An Anaerobic respiration– the acid produces an alkaline condition. Food or beverage is fermented by adding a healthy bacteria, yeast or fungi. Foods which ferment well contain sugar as bacteria will break sugar either into lactic acid (sauerkraut) or yeasts will break sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide (wine).

Yeast performs fermentation to obtain energy by converting sugar into alcohol.  carbon dioxide (wine) or an acid.

Bacteria perform fermentation, converting carbohydrates into lactic acid in vegetables

The difference in flavor between a cucumber and its fermented counterpart the pickle. Or the difference between cabbage and sauerkraut. Culturing/Fermenting Vegetables is NOT the same as pickling. Many commercial fermented products are now pasteurized, heated till the beneficial bacteria is destroyed.

Raw Cultured Vegetables are unheated, cultured (which refers to the fermentation process) vegetables that have been either cut, ground, or shredded and left in a sanitary container for about a 4-7-day period at a temperature maintained in the range of 59º to 71º. This process allows for the proliferation of lactobacilli (beneficial micro-flora that are naturally present in vegetables and in our digestive tract), which break down the sugars and starches found in the vegetables, aiding the pancreas and intestines in proper digestion.

Raw Cultured Vegetables are a flavorful self-sustaining culture of these essential enzymes and lactobacillus cultures that do not dissipate like some probiotics and acidophilus powders.

Raw Cultured Vegetables do almost the same thing as our digestive tracts. An interesting phenomenon is that in our digestive tracts, a similar situation occurs as occurs during the fermentation of vegetables, i.e., our digestive tracts have lactobacilli and other healthful micro-organisms converting foods including sugars and starches to lactic, acetic and other acids. In this environment, human digestive tracts normally do not let unhealthful micro-organisms such as candida (a yeast) proliferate. This exemplifies how natural the consumption of Raw Cultured Vegetables are.

Summary of Benefits:

  • “Pennies on the dollar or dollars upon dollar”
  • Improve your immune system – rid your body of pathologies
  • Stop cravings for sugar and carbohydrates in processed foods
  • Improve your digestion-
  • Increase the ability to absorb nutrients in your foods by up to 100 times.
  • Improves the bioavailability of all your food, making them more digestible
  • including minerals. Creates B vitamins, including folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, and biotin;
  • K2Removes Toxins including heavy metals
  • Rich in probiotics – or healthy microflora (beneficial bacteria) – they lay down the foundation for a healthy inner ecosystem and are much more potent than probiotic supplements.
  • Promote the growth of more beneficial gut flora.

If you’re lactose intolerant, fermented alternatives like kefir and yogurt may be safe for you because fermentation breaks down the lactose. If wheat is an issue, try sourdough bread. It’s easier to digest because it’s made with wheat that’s been fermented.

Raw Cultured Vegetables are delicious and provide an excellent self-rejuvenating source of non-dairy lactobacilli, including acidophilus. This is important for people who are lactose intolerant, have pathologies that prevent the consumption of dairy or simply choose to avoid it.

Lactobacillus Plantarum is essential for the maintenance of healthy intestinal flora and the alleviation of digestive disorders.

What can be fermented: Just about anything including; Meat & Fish, Dairy-Yogurt, Kefir – Vegetables -Kimche, pickles, Sauerkraut – Sourdough- Beverages -Kombucha, (Scoby), Beer Wine, sodas, lemonades- Soy- Miso, Tempe, Tofu

Fermented Non-food usage: Sewage treatment. Industrial alcohol production, such as for biofuels, hydrogen gas, fertilizer-compost tea, EM, IMOs, Cleaning products, pickle polish.

Ingredients for fermented vegetables:

Organic and fresh whenever possible:  Use mineral rich sea salts, organic spices, herbs

Quick Review on How To Prepare Vegetables: Clean, Chop & Grate, Salt, Flavor, Brine or massage, Pack into jars or vessel. Wash and rinse well (no need to sterilize) equipment and containers. Minimize the amount of air in the jar, don’t pack the jar too much lower than the bottom of the shoulder of the jar. The jar should be about 75-80% full. Keep your jar in a shallow bowl to catch any brine that spills over. Add a cabbage or other green leaf on the top of the jar helps to keep the ferments submerged. You can eat or put in the compost. Watch the bubbling action and enjoy and observe how the brine falls and rises with temperature in your home.

For more info and great recipes, Google Fermented Vegetables, Watch YouTube videos.

Other References:

Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions

Sandor Katz-The Art of Fermentation

Donna Gates-Body Ecology


What is leaky gut? What is the GAPS diet?

T h e GA P S d i e t is a comprehensive healing protocol developed by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride, a neurologist and nutritionist who specializes in healing of issues like autism spectrum disorders, ADD/ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia and schizophrenia by treating the root cause of many of these disorders: compromised gut health

Gut and Psychology Syndrome(GAPS) states that “Fermented foods not only give you a wider variety of beneficial bacteria, they also give you far more of them, so it’s a much more cost effective alternative. Here’s a case in point: It’s unusual to find a probiotic supplement containing more than 10 billion colonies forming units. But when my team tested fermented vegetables produced by probiotic starter cultures, they had 10 trillion colony-forming units of bacteria. Literally, one serving of vegetables was equal to an entire bottle of a high potency probiotic! So clearly, you’re far better off using fermented foods. Abnormalities in your immune system are a common outcome of GAPS, and such immune abnormalities are at the root of virtually all degenerative diseases.”


“To ferment your own food is to lodge a small but eloquent protest – on behalf of the senses and the microbes – against the homogenization of flavors and food experiences now rolling like a great, undifferentiated lawn across the globe. It is also a declaration of independence from an economy that would much prefer we remain passive consumers of its standardized commodities, rather than creators of idiosyncratic products expressive of ourselves and of the places where we live, because your pale ale or sourdough bread or kimchi is going to taste nothing like mine or anyone else’s.” Michael Pollan

3 thoughts on “The Magic of fermentation

  1. respawnables hack ios 2017 says:

    It’s hard to locate well-informed people on this issue, but you sound
    like you understand what you’re talking
    about! Thanks

  2. Ahly News says:

    Hi there,I read your blog named “The Magic of fermentation – Soil To Soul Solutions” daily.Your humoristic style is awesome, keep it up! And you can look our website about Ahly News.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *