Thursday, October 31, 2013

Update: Sauerkraut and Vegetable Ferments

I've just done some reading about the importance of keeping oxygen out of vegetable ferments  like sauerkraut and giving ferments more time to ferment without premature refrigeration.  Thought  would pass this information along to my class participants.

 For one thing, this time of year it is not necessary to put ferments into the refrigerator 5 days after the ferment time. With weather temperatures cooling down and most home temperatures cooling down also,  this step isn't necessary. The "experts" are concerned that home vegetable fermentors are not allowing enough time for the full fermentation process to take place when they put the jars of vegetables into refrigeration too soon.  Some are suggesting that room temperature fermenting should take at least a week or more before removing air-lock lids and securing more permanent lids and putting in storage.  They say, allowing longer ferment times at room temp. and then storing in cool dark places for up to 6 months or more produces a much better and more  nutritious sauerkraut or pickle without "failures" (mold and other bad microbe pollution).

Ferment "failures" for the most part, happen because too much oxygen gets into the jar, under or around the air-lock lid or other device, and allows bad yeasts and molds to get a hold of the food product.  Lactobacillus bacteria and the good yeasts need anaerobic (oxygen free) environment to flourish, reproduce and make lactic acid and the other enzymes that are good for us.  The bad yeasts and molds grow and thrive with oxygen.  So, whatever device you use, make sure that it can keep air out and still allow carbon dioxide to also escape.  

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