July 19, 2020
Thank you to all those who attended "Let's Get in a Real Pickle" LIVE webinar.
Here are answers to questions that came in during the event.
And hey, these pickles (image), is from the actual batch that I demo'd on July 9th.
Dang! They are so deleeeeciosooooo! Just the right amount of tangy-ness combined with a crunchy brightness. Tears of gustatory gratitude are dancing down my cheeks.
OK, let's get to those Q & As...
1. How long do fermented cucumbers and even sauerkraut last once opened?
Once properly fermented, pickles and sauerkraut can be stored in the refrigerator for months, even years if not exposed to oxygen. Having said that, there is no reason to keep them stored for such a long time, because they should be consumed on a regular (daily) basis, in small amounts with each meal to boost digestion.
I typically have about 1/3 cup of homemade, lacto-fermented goody with each meal.
(The oldest ferment I have in my fridge right now is a jar of plums, which I have not opened for 3 years...and thanks to your question, I just tasted a plum, and it was briny, crunchy and energizing!) Thanks for reminding me that I had this squirreled in the back of my fridge! : )
2. Can you use 1/2 gallon jar with Kraut Source?
Yes. Kraut Source fits onto any wide-mouth mason jar with a diameter of 86mm.
3. Can you use herbal teas for tannin?
I have not used an herbal tea, but it's worth a try if you know that the herbal subject contains tannin. You may need to experiment with how much to use, in relationship to the quantity of cucumbers.
4. If I use horseradish leaf for my tannin, do I leave it whole or cut up?
Either way is fine.
5. How cold does storage place need to be? Will a cool basement or root cellar work, even if not 40 degrees F like in a refrigerator?
Lucky you if you do have a root cellar. If the area, whether a basement or root cellar is around 40 F, it is fine to store ferments, provided that the jars are kept air tight. Once a jar is opened, you should place it in the refrigerator.
6. I have used grape leaves and left to ferment for 14 days, they came out soft. did I let them ferment too long before refrigerating?
Do you cut off the blossom end to remove the pectin-splitting enzyme (mentioned in the webinar). If so, it could also be that you did not use enough grape leaves, or were the leaves sprayed with pesticide? Also, if the ambient temperature during fermentation was too high (more than 72 degrees F), 14 days may have been too long.
7. If loose tea leaves get on the pickle, will it hurt to eat them?
No. Tea leaves are okay to eat, especially as they are fermented.
In fact, a classic Burmese dish, laphet thoke, use fermented tea leaves as an integral part of its distinctive character.
8. Are cut up cucumbers still okay to ferment this way? Will they still taste good?
Yes, but I would not cut them too thin. About one inch thick or more is great.
9. For the pickle brine, do you just drink the brine you make the pickles in?
Yup! Straight from the jar.
Do you need just a sip to help with the muscle cramps and to restore electrolytes?
2 - 3 oz. are good. You can also thin it out with a little water if the flavor is
too strong. And then also replenish with water to re-hydrate if your work out was
10. What is in the jar on the counter behind you?
Hey, good eyes! Fermenting lemon cucumbers in a Le Parfait jar AND with a
new version of Kraut Source! It is ChouAmi.
ChouAmi is designed to fit exclusively onto Le Parfait FW jars
which are more widely available in Europe, Asia, and Canada so that we can
invite more people to ferment from around the world using the Kraut Source
design concept. (ChouAmi was also funded on Kickstarter.)
11. Will you show us what you did with the lemon cukes?
Please see image above.
I added in dill, a few slices of lemon, tea leaves, bay leaf, and purple onions
in a brine of 1 Tablespoon sea salt to one cup filtered water.
12. Did you ever try to ferment pickles or suaerkraut using kombucha? Could that be a good idea?
Kombucha needs a SCOBY, acronym for: symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (or "mother culture") to ferment and it is aerobic, while lacto-fermentation is anaerobic, so I don't think that the two processes would combine well.
13. Should we scrub our cucumbers clean before using them? Or do you want to leave some native bacteria on them?
If they are from your garden or the farmers' market, then just a light rinse will do.
But if they are sprayed with pesticide, then definitely a good scrub!
Really best not to use conventionlly grown cucumbers that are contaminated with pesticide!
They are on the EWG's list of vegetables that rank high on pesticides.
14. Sometimes I don't quite fill the jar enough for the Kraut Source "weight" to reach the produce being fermented. Is that okay?
It is best not to leave too much of a head space in which oxygen can remain.
Use a pint jar if you don't have enough to fill a quart jar.
15. Do you poke holes in your pickles to help the brine penetrate?
It is not necessary.
16. I was not successful making beet kvass in the Kraut Source. What did I do wrong? Should the weight have been touching the liquid?
It's really hard to determine what went wrong with your beet kvass...
what was the recipe? For how many days did you ferment? did you use whey?
Feel free to email me directly if you want to discuss further.
17. Why vegetables and/or fruits are not suitable for fermentation?
Fruits that have high sugar content, and vegetables that are high in sulfur, such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, or certain types of radishes.
You can still ferment with these vegetables, but mix with other ingredients to balance the sulfur. Good additions would be carrots, onions, and cabbage.
Watch my webinar on Ferment Fruits without Fear for more fun tips.
18.Can you pickle carrots this way? Green beans? Zucchini?
Yes. Carrots and green beans do really well.
Mini zucchinis are great when kept whole, and fermented for about 5 - 6 days.
19. Can you re-use brine from one batch to another or best to make a new batch each time?
Technically, it is okay to add a tablespoon or so of the old, fermented brine to a new batch, but that doesn't give the best results for your next batch.
I have found that it is best to start from scratch each time and allow the fermentation to go through all the stages of microbial transformation.
The only exception is when I make tomato salsa, or other recipes that call for a short fermentation time of 3 - 4 days. In those instances, adding in whey or brine from a previously fermented batch will help to ensure that probiotics are formed.
20. What do you do to sterilize the jars before using?
Unlike canning, it is not necessary to sterilize the jars with boiling water.
Do clean with hot soapy water, rinse well, and dry before using the jar to ferment with.
21. Are the bay leaves high in tannin?
You would need to use quite a few bay leaves to get enough tannin, in comparison to tea leaves. And too many bay leaves may cause the fermented brine to taste too strong, but you could experiment with it. I usually use one bay leave plus one tablespoon of organic oolong tea for my Real Pickles.
22. What about filtered soft water?
Soft water has no magnesium or calcium. Basically, for lacto-fermentation, the criteria is that the water does not contain chloride or chloramine, and ideally, no fluoride. So using soft water should be fine, especially if you use a mineral salt such as Celtic Sea Salt or similar to replenish the minerals.
Great pickles and fermentation questions everyone! Hope my answers are useful and encouraging.
Just keep fermenting!
Chief Fermentation Officer
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December 09, 2020