Simple Lacto-fermentation Tips For Nearly Anything

Lacto-fermentation made easy with 6 simple steps


Don’t let the name “lacto fermentation” fool you into thinking there’s milk in it, there is no milk involved. It is actually the process of making dill pickles, kimchi or real sauerkraut and all you need is water, salt and your choice of veggies. 

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The lactic stands for lactic acid, and more specifically, lactobacillus. They are the same bacteria responsible for yogurt, sourdough, bread and cheese. So if you like cheese, thank your lactobacillus. 

It also helps to preserve and flavor stuff up. All it does is metabolize glucose into lactic acid, and it can be as fast as 10 minutes of active process. It’s as simple as it can get: dip your veggies in brine, and you’re done. The amount of salt will depend on the kind of vegetables you’re fermenting

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The standard salt percentage is 2%. But if the vegetable is prone to mold like cucumbers, peppers or asparagus, you will need to go for 3%. 

Steps to follow:

1. To get it right, you will need a kitchen scale. This is important to protect yourself from botulism, so get a scale if you don’t have one. Don’t make it “by eye”. Zero out the weight of the jar you’re using and fill it with your veggies, like asparagus, and pour enough water to cover the vegetables.

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2. You will then need to record the total weight in grams for both the vegetable and the water, then multiply that total by anything between point zero two and point zero three. This way you’ll get the amount of salt you need to add in that water in grams. So if you have 1500 grams, you’ll need about 30 grams of salt.

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3. Pour the water out of the container and into a bowl, add the salt and dissolve it completely. Fine sea salt is the best one, kosher is a little hard to dissolve. Then, pour the brine again over the vegetables and you’re done! This way nothing is wasted as you have the exact amount that you need.

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4. To make sure the vegetables stay submerged, you can buy fermentation weights online if you want to be fancy, or use small, non metallic pinch bowls. Maybe a small Ziploc bag filled with water, or if the veggies are not floating up too bad, a little bit of plastic wrap will adhere to the surface of the liquid and do the trick. Place a lid and close it lightly.

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5. Don’t close it too tight because there will be gases, and they need to go out or it might explode right in your kitchen. Leave them at room temperature as long as you want, the more they stay inside the mix, the more salt they’ll absorb and that is entirely up to your taste.

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6. Keep an eye out for mold; if you notice it, throw the whole thing away, do not eat that! Anything between three days and two weeks is great. However, sometimes the mixture will develop kham yeast, that is not mold. They are very different: while mold is fuzzy and patchy, kham yeast looks like a web. Kham yeast is totally safe, but if you aren’t comfortable with that you can get rid of it.

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That’s it! You’re all done. Just leave everything in the brine and once you’re satisfied with the fermenting, just place it in the refrigerator so that it will last for a great amount of time. Use them as you would use any pickles: blend into a sauce, chop them up and add to a salad or a sandwich… they are very versatile and yummy!

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