Why should I eat fermented foods?
Fermented foods, especially lacto-fermented foods, contain lactobacilli cultures that are the original probiotics. Our ancestors lived on such foods until the onset of sterilization/pasteurization. The lactobacilli strains keep our digestion and immune systems healthy. We need the good bacteria to play a part in our immuno-defense against harmful pathogens. We recommend eating ⅓ cup of fermented foods with each meal.
Is it safe to ferment with metal?
Only with stainless steel. Kraut Source is made from this material and the grade is 316. Wine makers and commercial live-cultured kraut makers do use stainless steel vats for fermentation.
What kind of water should I use?
The purest and freshest water is optimal. Municipal water which contains fluoride, chloride, or chloramine, is not good for fermentation. If your local water system contains these chemicals, then it’s important to get a good filtration system that can remove them. We recommend Radiant Life for a selection of quality water filtration systems.
What kind of salt should I use?
Our preference is Celtic Sea Salt, but any high quality sea salt is good to use. Stay away from table salt because it’s devoid of minerals and contains additives. Besides, table salt simply tastes salty without the subtle, complex flavors of sea salt. Sea salt also provides trace minerals, which helps to balance the sodium/potassium osmotic gradient of our cells.
How much salt and water do I use for the brine?
You can get very technical here and look at ratios in percentage, but we encourage the simple method of using about 1 teaspoon (5 ml) sea salt to 1 cup (240 ml) filtered water. Salt dissolves more evenly in hot water. Let cool before using
What’s the best temperature for fermenting?
Preferably between 70-75 degrees F (21-24 degrees C); below 50 degrees F (10 degrees C) is too cold for the cultures to develop. Keep your ferments out of direct sunlight. Transfer the jar to the refrigerator when it’s done.
What kind of mason jar can I use with Kraut Source?
Kraut Source works with wide-mouth mason jars of any size. It doesn’t work with a regular-mouth jar. It can be used with American-made Ball or Kerr jar, both available to purchase on this website or your local hardware store and major retailers like Beth, Bath and Beyond and Target. You can also use the Italian-made Quattro Stagioni jar by Bormioli Roco. If using the latter, you’ll need to obtain a ring elsewhere to secure the system (or you can consider purchasing the Fermentation Kit on our website that includes a qualified mason jar).
How long do I need to ferment vegetables?
That depends on what you’re fermenting. Minimum should be 6 days. We recommend at least 7 days for cabbage-based ferments. Traditionally, cabbage was left to ferment in big crocks for weeks, even months; however, a small batch requires less time. Your ferments can be left to develop for as long as 4 weeks or longer. Although the longer fermentation period doesn’t necessarily confer more beneficial bacteria, it does help the foods develop a deeper flavor.
Sample fermentation time:
Sauerkraut: 10-12 days
Kimchi: 10-12 days
Real pickles: 7-10 days
Cauliflower-based: 10-12 days
Salsa: 5-6 days
Fruit-based: 5-6 days
Please be aware that even after the ferments have been transferred to the refrigerator, the flavor will continue to slowly change and develop.
How do I know when my ferment is done?
Your ferment is typically done anywhere between 6 to 10 days. After this point, it’s a matter of personal taste. To taste your ferment, follow these steps:
1) Unfasten the ring and remove the cap and moat
2) Lift up the press/spring
3) Use a clean fork or chopsticks to remove a small portion, and taste
4) If you’re satisfied with the taste, replace with a standard mason jar lid and ring, and transfer to the refrigerator
5) If you want a deeper flavor, put the press/spring back in the jar, secure the moat, ring, and cap, and continue fermenting at room temperature
The brine is overflowing into the moat and making a mess on my kitchen counter. What should I do?
This usually happens with vegetables that contain a lot of water, such as fresh cabbage. Simply remove Kraut Source, pour off any excess brine, and replace the unit again. Rinse the moat and fill with water (not brine). To help catch excess brine, we recommend putting the jar on a shallow dish or plate before fermenting.
To prevent overflow:
When making sauerkraut, massage salt into the shredded cabbage, and pack into the mason jar with other ingredients such as spices. Allow the mixture to ferment for 24 hours without adding any brine. If there is enough liquid released by the salted cabbage to cover the top of the vegetables by 1 inch (2.5 cm) after 24 hours, then no additional brine is necessary.
Note on kimchi:
As Napa cabbage releases a lot of water, keep an eye on your kimchi during the first 24 – 48 hours. There should be about one inch (2.5 cm) of liquid above the top of the vegetables, so pour off excess if it looks like it will over flow.
There is no water in the moat. What do I do?
The water in your moat will evaporate over time. Always make sure to fill the moat 2/3 of the way up and top off every couple of days as needed. If your moat is completely empty, it’s possible that some water have been sucked into the cap. Tilt the cap gently to release the water.
My brine looks murky. Is something wrong?
It’s ok if your brine looks murky. It doesn’t mean something is wrong. Brine will turn murky as a natural result of fermentation and from minerals in the sea salt. Some ferments such as pickles and cauliflower tend to produce a murky brine.
What if I see mold? Is it unsafe to eat?
If you see that the top of the brine has developed a fuzzy or lumpy matter that’s green, pink, or grey, something has gone wrong with your ferment. Compost the contents and start over. If the jar smells rotten or sulfuric, leave it open for 10 minutes; it might clear itself up. If it doesn’t, compost the contents and start over.
I see rust on the moat and ring. What should I do?
Rust can occur when brine (salt + water) or acid comes into contact with the standard mason jar ring (which is made of mixed metals), and can be easily removed with a scrub pad and soap. It isn’t occurring from the stainless steel parts of which Kraut Source is made. For your next batch, use a clean, dry, non-rusty ring, and make sure the silicone gasket provided with your unit is wrapped all the way around the edge of the moat. Remove the gasket occasionally and clean the edge of the moat to prevent reside buildup.
You might also consider our own Lid and Ring that’s made of 304 stainless steel and fit on wide-mouth mason jars all all sizes. You can purchase them separately on our website, and they’re also available in sets of three.
I want to open my jar but it’s stuck. Help!
This may be because the ring was fastened on too tightly on the jar. Wrap a soft kitchen towel around the ring for more leverage, and rotate the ring and the jar in opposing directions. For your next batch, fasten the ring on the jar only until when you lift the ring, the whole unit stays in place. A rubber oven mitt can be helpful with extra tight ring.