Episode-930- Lacto Fermentation and Other Ways to Use Excess Production — 54 Comments

  1. Well Jack, given our summer up here, I need a way to preserve lettuce. I am weeks away from squash, beans and jalapenos, so I will gladly take those excess jalapenos. I will post pics on the Facebook page in…uhhhh…late August of my peppers….

    Alas, I will go ahead and listen to this episode now with envy…

  2. I just lactofermented a batch of (store bought) chayote. They came out great – nice and crunchy. If we don’t get another crazy chayote killing ice storm this October, I’m hoping to ferment my *own* chayote here in NJ.

  3. Great topic. I just started on Friday my first batch of fermented veggies. I put some zuchinni, serranos and garlic in a small jar. I salted the zuch well first and covered w/water. I didn’t really measure the salt, just eye balled the whole thing to see what happens.

    It’s starting to look murky now a few days in.

    One thought:

    If you wanted to hit a particular solution, it would be better to weight the salt. Also kosher might be a less expensive alternative to sea salt. Pickling salt also would work but all these are different size grains so a tablespoon of each will have a different amount of salt (so, again, ideally use weight not volume).

  4. Must be fermentation day. I go to Facebook and a friend created a new product for lids for mason jars, etc and then to here and I see a whole podcast of fermentation.
    My husband loves bread and butter pickles, but his mom brought him some jalepeno’s done much the same way. His new favorite, esp. with meat dishes.
    My daughter and daughter-in-law both have Kefir now. I can get a start, but remodeling a bathroom before learning new thing. Much to learn.

    • @txmom, tell that friend of yours to fill out a guest form and I will have them on. I would also love to get some of their product for review. Very cool but on the cloth caps I might have to see one to really understand them, they could use more photos, some youtube vids etc.

  5. I’ve been meaning to make a post on the forum about the Kraut and other ferments I’ve played around with. Mainly to post about some huge time-savers…

    I had been looking for months on Ebay/Flea-markets/Amazon/etc.. for a cheap Kraut cutter and could only find “Antique” cutters which were often rusty and $100+… Then I happened to spot a company name on a rather new looking “Antique”. Tracked them down and bought one of these:

    With one I can process in 10mins what would take almost an hour with a chef’s knife. They hold up well, though try to resist pushing down hard if moving back-and-forth as you can bend the blades down… The metal blades are thin, though VERY sharp and if careful the product seems like it will last… I did have to replace my first one, though it was due to bending the blades, not rust… thankfully, these are also cheap to replace even if you do bend it up… The time saved allows me to enjoy making Kraut rather than viewing it as a chore… And I can put-up a ton of cabbage when it goes on sale.

  6. I have several ideas on this subject.

    I’ve used air-locks from brewing and huge corks in small mouth mason jars. I know you mentioned a company that makes jars with airlocks, but this is a DIY alternative.

    Going to thrift stores and buying crocks (people donate them when the crock-pot element fails) for vessels is a good buy. You can usually find a plate that will fit inside of it and you can use a gallon water jug as your weight (not totally ideal because it’s plastic, but it is better than not fermenting).

    I just opened my last jar of lacto-fermented dill pickled beets from July 25, 2009 (yes almost 3 years in a fridge). They are awesome. I just sliced them up and put them in a brine with seasonings to taste (dill and garlic and peppercorns). I’m making a crock-full today.

    Kombucha that has gone too long will make excellent “active” vinegar. I like to use this to add to recipes as you suggested adding vinegar to add life to them.

    Pickling eggs in kombucha is wonderful too. A half-gallon jar of boiled eggs, gloves of garlic, dried hot peppers (cayenne) if you like it spicy, and any other seasonings you’d like, then fill it with kombucha and leave it on the counter with a tight lid for a few days then into the fridge for a couple of weeks. YUMMY!

    I’ve found that using whey causes my vegetables to become mushy. I have access to high quality whey (with all the dairy products I produce) and I have just had better luck without it. Also, if using buttermilk as a starter, make sure it is an active culture buttermilk. A lot of the buttermilk sold in the store has been pasteurized.

    • I forgot to mention that I make fabulous lacto-fermented roasted hot and sweet peppers. I prefer Hatch chile, but any large hot pepper will do for the hot ones, and for the sweet any meaty sweet pepper will work. It looks prettier if you have all different colors mixed in. I just roast the peppers in my oven, then peel, then pack into a jar with 2 teaspoons salt per quart of peppers. If there isn’t enough juice, then add some water, and then pop an air-lock cork in the jar and let them go for 1-2 weeks (depending on the heat of the house). The sweet ones are great on salads, on pizza (don’t eat that anymore, but…), on slices of cheese. The hot ones are are awesome on just about anything.

    • I’d love to make kombucha! I don’t know how, as in, I don’t have a recipe, but this is something I’ve been looking into and researching- 🙂 Any help appreciated! Newbie fermentier(I think this is a made up word) here!

      • Sorry it took me so long to get back here. Butchered and packaged 4 hogs last week and that kept me busy!

        I use Assam tea, I buy it in bulk from Frontier Herbs and Spices. I’ve tried other kinds, but that gives me the best flavor. it is 1/4 cup of tea per gallon of water and 1-1/3 cup of white sugar. I use the 2.5 gallon crocks, but only use around 2 gallons of water. I boil a pan full of water and put the tea and sugar in the crock and pour the water over the top and stir. Then I cover with a tea towel (flour sac towel) and leave for 24 hours. After 24 hours, I pull the tea bag out (I use squares of tea towel and use a twist tie or string to make a tea bag) and fill the crock with cold water. I then add the scobi (kombucha culture) and cover the top with the tea towel again usually folded in half. Then I wait a week to 10 days. You’ll start to smell it and once you smell it, taste it and see how you like it. The longer you leave it the tarter it will become.

        To get a scobi, you need to see if anyone on Craig’s list is advertising them. You can go buy a bottle of kombucha from your local health food store and pour the contents in a bowl and put a towel over it and leave it on the counter for about a week. A scobi should form from that.

        Good luck. Let me know if you have any other questions.

        • I also do different flavors buy adding things to the tea, i.e. orange zest, lemon zest, mint leaves, or chopped ginger. This will give it a very subtle flavor.

  7. No fair…..


    In have heard the disclaimers with chef kei snow “please eat before this podcast”, yet nothingon this one. I made the mistake of listening on my way to work in the morning…. I was starving by the time I arrived. Future food podcasts need to start with a disclaimer!!!

    Nice show. Per previous comment, I have fermented my second batch of kombucha. I am now going to purchase another container to ferment a second batch, as my current container only lasts about 1 week and I like a two week ferment, so need to alternate in order to habe a new batch each week. It is good stuff… Would highly recommend it!!

    • John,
      I use the ceramic crocks that they sell for the 5 gallon water bottles (you know, you turn the water bottle upside down and there is a spigot on the crock). That way I can bottle the kombucha and use the crock right away and I don’t get the spillage that I got from using a bowl or a jar when trying to bottle. It keeps it fresher, if you are only using pints at a time. And, those hold 2.5 gallons of water, so you make a lot more at a time, lasting longer.

    • That is cheaper, but did you see the +$25 additional “special packaging” shipping charge? Yikes! Eats up the savings. I guess make sure it is superior to the one on Amazon first.

  8. Hey Jack,
    I use a plastic bucket for as a fermentation vessel for brewing beer….Is there any reason you can’t use a plastic bucket with an airloc as a Lacto fermentation vessel? Of course you would follow proper sanitation methods…



    • Main reason behind a crock is even temperature. That is harder to do with a jar or bucket.
      We are getting ready to harvest elderberries for wine. Can’t wait!

  9. The best cheap airlock method I’ve found for making sauerkraut is using a ziplock bag filled with brine solution on top of the cabbage in a gallon jar. I have an old school crock but I have had mold growing on top of the batch more than I would like to deal with. I keep the lid screwed on loosely and haven’t had mold yet. All the kraut juice usually stays under the brine bag and the bubbles percolate around the edges.

    There is a good demo here of what it looks like:

  10. Loved this episode….take it from someone with twenty years of food manufacturing experience, Jack was spot on…all the things he said that related to food safety or how foods react to time, temperature, acidity etc. were all correct. I was also impressed by Jack’s knowledge of food…pretty cool. I am excited to try make some’s been 15 years or so since I made any lacto-fermented items. A bunch of sweet peppers with onion, a coriander seed lactoed is amazing…also If you know people with stomach problems, asking them to try this technique is much cheaper and easier then going on Prilosec of similar….I am hurt with the fact that these crocks are over $100 bones…but as Jack says…try to amortize the cost in your mind for say 10 years and now you have a $10 per year cost of ownership…not bad at all….I think we should all go into the crock business….not sure what it costs to make one…but somebody is getting rich!!

  11. Jack,
    I just wanted to say thank you for this episode! I have never heard the pickling process so simplified before! I can’t wait to try it! Thanks again for all you do!
    — Red

  12. Can someone help me? I want to pickle some radishes, but every recipe I find online calls for me to cook a concoction of vinegar, water, sugar, a tiny bit of salt and spices. It says it’s ready in hours and they say they only last 5 days. I want to use the brine I made and do the slow pickling method. Is that possible? Will it last longer that way? Can you not pickle radishes that way?

    • from what I’ve read about pickling veggies, you would simply make a brine, add any spices you want, cover the radishes and wait (make sure they’re submerged- so it might require a plate or something to hold them under liquid). I read a post on the wildfermentation website about it

  13. Opps. Never mind. I kept typing Pickled Radishes. This time I tried “Lacto Fermented radishes” and I found a good recipe!

  14. Just finished filling our crock with sliced cucumbers, a couple of cayenne peppers, 2 flowering tops of fresh dill, a few grape leaves, peppercorns, and a little pickling spice, can’t wait to see how these turn out. As I am writing this I am enjoying a tall glass of iced kombucha tea, apple/raspberry flavored. Thanks for the great work that you do Jack!

    • with slicing the cukes, did you have to add brine? Or did the salt pull out enough juice? Just curious- I’d love to make pickles next, but will be slicing them (not leaving them whole)

  15. Thanks for mentioning about the mold being okay. I had tried to ferment before and thought I’d done something wrong when there was mold. Made my first batch of pickles, using a Boston Baked Bean Crock I had and ziplock bag of water to weight down cukes. Awesome! Tasted like deli pickles I used to get at my favorite pastrami place when I was a kid.
    Also think I can use the inside of an old crock pot that has a broken leg on the outside metal part. A dinner plate should fit in there perfect. Now I can have two things going at once.
    Thanks for all the great info, Jack.

  16. Just a tip on cheesecloth. That gauzy stuff that they sell as cheesecloth is terrible. You need several layers and it’s pretty much disposable, so it costs a ton. A really good substitute for commercial cheesecloth is flour sack towels. Target sells a four pack for $5.

    As for making yogurt cheese, I use a salad spinner bowl. My colander fits perfectly inside it. That way I can let it drain in the refrigerator instead of on the counter.

    Here’s a link to my method of making large yogurt batches (2 quarts+) and my favorite yogurt cheese recipe.

    • @Pat that is really funny I was just at Wally World and needed to make some cheese. I actually bought flour sack towels and you are correct they work just awesome.

  17. Red Foot- Here are some lacto fermented radish recipes from my neighbor, Kathleen, who sells all glass & wire fermentation jars. She cured her son’s autism through fermented foods. The funny thing is I found her via Bryan Davis after his interview on TSP last year.

    I am going to try Nepalese Gundruk with all the radish tops, too-bitter greens, mustards, outer leaves of brassicas and various weeds. Also, check out her Dosa recipe. It’s not Paleo, but a wonderful way to use all the rice and legumes we have stored. I buy bulk spices at Indian stores to keep my preps interesting.

    Doug- Thanks for the link. I stumbled upon that very same podcast on GAPS a couple years ago and it is an eye-opener. It put all the pieces together for me. Worth listening to even if you don’t know anyone with autism, auto-immune or digestive disorders. I love Underground Wellness! Sean Croxton should be a guest on TSP! I don’t know him or I would ask him to fill out the interview form. Are you going to attend his free virtual Real Foods Summit starting tomorrow?

  18. Thanks for the info Agorculture! I can’t wait to try some of the recipes! I ended up putting banana peppers and radishes together and spicing them with black peppercorns, coriander and powdered mustard seed. It came out very nice, but could have used more seasoning I think.

  19. I’m looking at making some of the air lock lids myself. A local brewing store has air locks for $1.99/ea (these are the “upper end” models) and grommets for $0.30/ea. Add in a box of wide mouth plastic screw on lids and I figure for less than $3 each I can make a wide mouth jar fermenting lid (plus cost of the jar). I started to order them from the outfit listed in the show notes, but $15 plus $4.50 for S&H was too salty (no pun intended). I’ll try and remember to follow up with how these work out. We are planning to get a stone crock as well in time.

    • I did this in small-mouth mason quart and half gallon jars with the big corks that were also sold at the brewing store. I drilled a hole in them and and wedged the airlock in the hole. The corks then wedged into the small-mouth mason jars

      However you accomplish the airlocks, you need to leave twice as much head-space as normal, or the contents of your fermentation will bubble up and out of the airlock, (ask me how I know).

      Good luck!

    • Just a follow up, this design seems to be working pretty well. I will say that if you drill plastic wide mouth lids, pre-drill a small hole and then follow up with a spade bit. A regular bit simply cracks the lid. Be sure to drill against a piece of wood.

      I’ve had some cucs with salt brine (1 quart jar) and 1 clove of garlic under cap for 2.5 days and they taste great, but we decided to give them some more time. I also have some cucs with a hot pepper going. After getting the first taste of a pickle today we are amped up about doing more, and my mind is running rampant with options and deviations. Looking at picking up some half gallon mason jars at the farm store so we can do some whole pickles!

  20. Alright Jack, you got this city boys curiosity piqued. I took some of the cukes from the garden I started (1st time in my 40yo life I’ve grown food) and set out to lactoferment some of them. Thank you for this show, it explained how extremely simple it can be to start something like this. I’ll let you know how it goes, I just put the batch together today.

  21. I ordered the Schmitt crock from Harvest Essentials for cheaper than amazon. It arrived cracked. Not due to shipping, they pack it to withstand being dropped off of a rooftop, but due to bad craftsmanship.

    Harvest Essentials was awesome and sent me a new one right away after I sent them some pics of the damages.

    I just got my replacement and it wasn’t glazed all the way on the inside bottom of the crock. That porousness will lead to fermenting or long term crock use problems, I think.

    Maybe these things are “cheap” for a reason?

    I’m considering asking for a refund and going with a higher end brand, or fermenting in jars.

  22. A quick follow up; I cheated, I used a 5 qt crock pot. It’s stone and glazed, figured it would do the trick. It did! I speared and sliced about 7-10 cucumbers from my garden. I added brine, mustard seed, peppercorns and dill, then let it ferment for about 4 days. I made sure to skim off any film up top. Wheewwwwweee did it smell at first! As soon as the top gases were gone, it was all good. After 4 days I took the fermented cukes (kinda pickled now) and put them in quart sizedmason jars in the fridge. I’ve been partaking of some of that deliciousness every day since I put them in there. Tasty goodness! Thanks for that podcast Jack!!!

  23. I followed your salt to water ratio for sauerkraut. It has been seven days and it tastes extremely salty. Should I add more distilled water? Can I rinse kraut with distilled water before refrigeration without loosing the health benefits of the probiotics? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • @Haydn, kraut isn’t made with salt water like say peppers or pickles. You are just supposed to put salt on the cabbage and only add water if the salt doesn’t draw enough water out of the cabbage to cover it. And then only enough to make sure it is fully covered.

  24. Quick question: Once I’m done fermenting on the counter in my ball jar/airlock system (basically as I understand it, I like where the flavor is at) I use a normal lid and pop these in the fridge. Does that stop the fermentation process? Or do I need to provide a loose lid to let gases escape? And how long will some fermented cucs last in the fridge like this?

    I might have missed this in the show, so I apologize if asking about something that has already been clarified.

    • I just put a tight metal lid (flat and ring) on the jar and put it in the fridge. They continue somewhat to ferment, but not too much that you’d need to let gas escape. If you do fruit chutney’s they do absolutely continue to ferment and will foam up and spray out when you open them even from a fridge, so be careful with that.

  25. Been on the fence about ordering a crock just been using canning jars. Listening to your success w/ the crock encouraged me to order one yesterday. Can’t wait to try it.

  26. Jack, I took your challenge and I’m so excited! My hubby loves pickled anything and when I went to the store, they had local organic beets by the bucketload, so I decided to start there. I also took your advice and read over a bunch of different recipies and made up my own based on what I usually like with beets just cooked normally. I’m usually a month or two behind listening to episodes, so yep, per your request, I’ve tried my first pickling experience the same week I listened to this episode. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

  27. What if we keep our house at 78° through the warm months here in central TX? (Nothing to do with Obama, we’ve just always liked it that way and it saves us money). Is it better to not try fermentation until the winter, when we keep the house at 65°?