Fermenting has been a necessary form of food preservation for a very, very, very long time. Before there were measuring utensils, before there were crocks, before temperature controlling, there was STILL fermentation. I subscribe to that method of fermentation. What feels right? What tastes right? What smells edible? This article will discuss how fermentation is meant to be primal, and not precise.
I ferment constantly in my own home. Right now I have 2 jars of halved grape tomatoes with basil fermenting with assistance from whey and salt, I have 2 jars of dill sauerkraut fermenting in my kitchen cabinet with no assistance but from salt and purified water, and kombucha in a forever ferment on my counter. In my fridge is yet more sauerkraut (I love sauerkraut), homemade fermented ketchup, and yogurt cheese. Living, loving buggies are my best friends, and I love cultivating them. But I don’t use measurements. In all of my jars, are a handful of this, a dash of that, a splash of whatsits. I figure that if our ancestors relied on this method for maintaining life, then I can roll in that same fashion.
Keeping check on your foods is the biggest key to the food safety, making sure your ferments are submerged in clean water at all times, checking for the presence of mold, doing sniff checks for rotting, all of these methods have always kept my foods safe. If the foods fermenting are exposed to air, bad bacteria start to form, and mold can start growing. Early stages of mold are very light in color and density and can be simply removed, then you either press the foods below the water line or add more water, but in both instances I suggest adding a weight. Once the mold starts becoming dark; a brown, black, or grey, then it is widely advised to dispose of the whole ferment. Hence why I check in on my ferments often, catching this early can save your batch. I also smell for tartness versus spoilage. A good ferment will be tart and tangy, make you wrinkle your nose without gasping. A bad ferment will make your stomach churn, you brow crease, and if the ferment is somewhere in the middle, my unprofessional opinion is to toss it. That’s a risk I don’t encourage taking.
Food fermentation can be intimidating, but once you gain exposure and confidence, you can reap the benefits of fermenting.