How to Ferment Foods? The Joy of Fermentation

Fermenting food happens to be a special and ancient practice of preserving food. Besides preservation, fermented food comes with several benefits. Fermentation transforms a food type to a different but richer one. For instance, the fermentation of cabbage produces the classic European condiment called sauerkraut.

Fermented foods are usually more nutritious than their unfermented counterparts. Various foods that are enjoyed globally passed through the process of fermentation.

This include, coffee, vinegar, chocolate, cheese, soy sauce, olives and so on. For those who think of fermentation as a complicated process will find this post interesting.

In this post, we shall explain vividly the fermentation process. We shall also highlight the benefits of fermented food and present some fermentation tools.

Finally, we shall teach you how to ferment different vegetables and fruits. These and more shall be elucidated in this post, why not read on.

Table of Contents:

What Is Fermentation of Food?

Fermentation of food refers to an irreversible chemical process of converting carbohydrates (starchy food) to organic acids (alcohol) with the aid of micro-organisms (e.g. bacteria or yeast). Fermentation refers to the transformation of sugars and other carbohydrates into alcohol or preservative organic acids and carbon dioxide. [1]

Benefits of Fermented Foods

Before we get down to the business of fermentation, let us consider its benefits. These benefits include:

  1. Diet Enrichment: Fermentation produces different flavors, aromas, and textures in food substances. With such diversity, your food is enriched and more nourishing. Instead of consuming cabbage, you are eating an enriched cabbage – sauerkraut.
  2. Food Preservation: Fermentation produces lactic and acetic acid together with alcohol or alkaline which are preservatives that keep food from rotting.
  3. Reduction of Cooking time/gas: Fermented food doesn’t need prolonged cooking like raw food. Hence, you can reduce cooking time and cooking gas.

Health Benefits of Fermented Food

Without considering the health benefits of fermented food, our job here stays half-done. Fermented foods are rich in beneficial probiotics which aids better digestion and stronger immunity. The following include the health benefits of consuming fermented food:

  1. Improved Digestive Health: The chemicals (i.e. probiotics) generated at fermentation process help restore the balance of the bacteria in the digestive system. Many digestive issues and bowel syndrome are reduced and eliminated when you consume fermented food.
  2. Immune System Boosting: Fermented food boosts the immune system and reduces the risk of infections e.g. common cold etc. To stay healthy, embrace fermented food.
  3. Aid Food Digestion: Fermented food makes digestion easier and faster by breaking down nutrients in food. Unfermented food takes a little longer to digest. The presence of antinutrient in food inhibits digestion and nutrient absorption. Antinutrients include seeds, nuts, grains etc. and these can be broken down seamlessly by fermented food.
  4. Other health benefits: With all the research ongoing, a lot is still being discovered about the usefulness of fermented food. Scientists have linked them to promote mental health, help in weight management and improves heart health.

Fermentation Process of Food

Fermentation of food is not rocket science. It’s a simple process that needs regular materials and ingredients. For the ingredients, you will need water, salt and of course vegetables or fruits. Now for the utensils, mason jars or plastic mayonnaise container or any jar available will do the magic.

We are going to explain fermenting different vegetables and fruits later. However, generally speaking, you have to soak the vegetable in water and add salt. You then set the jar aside for a while, the process can take days or weeks.

Once the job is done, you can pack the fermented food into a jar and refrigerate it. The taste determines if you will allow the process to continue or not. While some folks like strongly flavored food others prefer mildly-flavored ones.

Keeping the fermented food refrigerated stops the process. The cold temperature makes the microbial activities to be dormant. Importantly, during fermentation, gases are released and exposing the material to air will help those gases escape. Also exposing the material to air limits the fermentation process. The process of releasing the gases is called burping.

Fermentation as simple as it sounds can be time-consuming and frustrating without the right tools. The special jars sold for the process features specials lids that allow the escape of gases, hence reducing the air exposure of the product. The jars are built to last and strong enough for multiple uses. You can read more about these kits in the next section. [2]

Best Fermentation Kits for The Money:

If you want to ferment your food in your home and looking for the best kit to do the job, look no further. We have for you the best fermentation kits, which we carefully reviewed for your reading pleasure.

Easy Fermenter Wide Mouth Lid Kit: Simplified Fermenting In Jars Not Crock Pots! Make Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Pickles or Any Fermented Probiotic Foods. 3 Lids (jars not inside), Extractor Pump & Recipes

Made of firm, sturdy plastic with a thick, leak-proof gasket, the Easy Fermenter comes with features for an ultimate fermentation experience.

The Easy Fermenter jars are compatible with various wide-mouthed mason jars. The kit also comes with built-in date tracker (adjustable date wheel) for accurate timing.

After fermentation, most jars become difficult to open, but the Easy Fermenter comes with an easy release tab. The tab makes it seamless to open the jar after fermentation.

The kit comes with 3 easy fermenter lids, 1 extractor pump and fermenting club access to rub minds with other fermenters.

Humble House SAUERKROCK Fermentation Crock with Glazed Weights – 2 Liter (0.5 Gallon) German-Style Water Jar in Heirloom Red for Fermenting Sauerkaut, Kimchi, Pickles and More

From the stable of Humble House comes this high-quality thick-walled ceramic fermentation crock. The design was inspired by the traditional European fermenting crock.

This jar can be used to make diverse probiotic-rich recipes including pickled vegetables, kimchi, sauerkraut, yoghurt, condiments and so much more.

The kit features a 2 liter/0.5 Gallon capacity jar, two heavy ceramic full-coverage weights and water channel that seals foods from contaminants.

Its food-safe glaze comes free of lead and cadmium and easy to clean. The jar comes with a thick ceramic wall which is strong enough for everyday use and light enough for easy carrying.

4 Pack – 1 Gallon Glass Jar with Plastic Airtight Lid, Muslin Cloth, Rubber Band – Wide Mouth Easy Clean – BPA Free & Dishwasher Safe – Kombucha, Kefir, Canning, Sun Tea, Fermentation Food Storage

This kit comes with four packs of 1-Gallon food-safe glass jars. The jars’ wide mouth design makes for hassle-free cleaning.

It also comes with four plastic airtight and leakproof lids. To keep contaminants and bugs out, the kits come equipped with four sheets of 8″ x 8″ muslin cloth which are breathable and allows air into the fermentation solution.

In addition to that four 7-inch rubber bands comes with the kit to help keep the muslin cloth at bay.

The 1-gallon jar can be used not only for fermentation but also for canning and storing.

Crazy Korean Cooking Premium Kimchi, Sauerkraut Fermentation and Storage Container with Inner Vacuum Lid, Sandy Brown, 0.9-gallon (3.4L)

Crazy Korean is the perfect fermentation and storage container that combines the ancient Korean Onggi principle with today’s easy-to-use technology. Their containers are made from high-quality polypropylene plastic mixed with 7-10% natural clay for optimal permeability.

Every component of the Crazy Korean container is made with FDA approved materials and free of such dangerous compounds like lead, DEHP and BPA.

The product comes with an anaerobic environment which boosts the activity and survival of beneficial bacteria. Its adjustable inner vacuum help maximizes the air inside the component to protect the food surface.

This product can be used to ferment different vegetables and useful in the storage of food.

Fermentation Kit for Wide Mouth Jars – 4 Airlocks, 8 Silicone Grommets, 4 Stainless Steel Wide mouth Mason Jar Fermenting Lids with Silicone Rings (4 Set, Jars not included)

This fermentation kit 4 BPA free water airlocks, 4 Stainless (18/8) Wide Mouth lids with silicone rings, 8 Silicone Grommets. The jars in the kit can be used with any brand of wide mouth mason jar and come in pint, quart or half-gallon.

The easy to use jars comes with a 14mm hole rather than 13mm hole to make it easy to insert airlock in the lid without damaging the silicone grommet. You can use the jar for Bernardin, Kerr and Ball.

6-Pack Easy Fermentation Glass Weights with Handles for Keeping Vegetables Submerged During Fermentation and Pickling, Fits for Any Wide Mouth Mason Jars, FDA-Approved Food Grade Materials

These 6-Pack fermentation glass weights make it easy to keep vegetables submerged during fermentation. This ensures the vegetables are kept under the brine hence prevents mold and oxidation.

The glass comes from a food-grade glass just like a mason jar, the glass circumvents the breeding and residual smell.

The design of the weight makes it easy to grasp and remove from the mason jar without tools.

With a diameter of 2.7 inches, the weight can fit perfectly into any wide mouth mason jar.

Twin Bubble Airlock and Carboy Bung (Pack of 2)

This specially designed bung works perfectly with your fermentation tools. When you fill it with water, it allows carbon (IV) oxide gas to bubble out hence preventing air from getting in. It enclosed design makes for slower evaporation from airlock bubble.

A complete kit comes with two twin bubble airlocks and two universal carboy bungs which easily fits 3, 5, 6 and 6.5-gallon glass carboys.

Fermenting Various Food Types

Now that we have dealt with the tools for fermenting, let us now consider some fermentation recipes of some common vegetables and fruits. You can try your hands on them to satisfy your curiosity.

KIMCHI

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cabbage (2 pounds in weight)
  • ¼ cup of sea salt or kosher salt
  • Water
  • 1 teaspoon of grated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 8 oz of Korean radish
  • Sliced scallions to taste

Process:

  1. With a separate bowl from other ingredients, grate the cabbage rather than slice. Grating makes it easy to have more surface area exposed then slicing.
  2. Add salt to the grated cabbage and massage it vigorously until it softens and generates heavy juice.
  3. Add water to the cabbage, just enough to cover it up then place a cloth over the bowl and set it aside for about 2 hours
  4. After two hours, rinse the cabbage three times and set it aside
  5. Mix the grated garlic, ginger, and sugar in a bowl, then add water to the mixture stir to make it into a paste.
  6. Add the cabbage and vegetable paste together then drain off any excess juice
  7. Add red pepper to the condiment
  8. Pour the pasty kimchi into jars and allow it to ferment for days
  9. Use airlock cap or burp the solution as needed.
  10. After a while, taste the kimchi to see if it’s strong enough to your taste. If the taste meets your desire change the cap and place the jar into the refrigerator.

FERMENTED ONIONS

Ingredients:

  • Chopped onions
  • 1 Cinnamon stick per jar
  • 1 teaspoon cloves per jar
  • 2 teaspoon peppercorns per jar
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • 1 tablespoon of salt – sea salt, kosher, or mineral salt

Process:

  1. Thoroughly mix the chopped onions and salt in a clean bowl. Then pack part of the onions into jars.
  2. In each jar add one cinnamon stick, cloves, peppercorns, thyme, and oregano. Add filtered water to the mixture enough to cover it, then use the airlock.
  3. Allow the mixture to ferment for some time.
  4. After the fermentation, replace the airlock with a good standard lid and keep in a refrigerator or a cool dry place.

FERMENTED LEMONS

Ingredients:

  • 1 Pound lemons
  • ¼ cup of salt

Process:

  1. With a sharp knife or kitchen slicer, slice the lemons into small slices – say about 12 slices per lemon. Do not peel the lemons.
  2. Add salt to the sliced lemon and vigorously stir so that all the lemon slices are thoroughly covered with salt.
  3. Carefully pack the salted lemon into a jar and cover with the juice from some of the lemons.
  4. Apply the airlock and ferment the mixture.
  5. After fermenting to your desired taste, replace the lock with a standard lid then store in a refrigerator.

FERMENTED LIMES

Ingredients:

  • 1 Pound limes
  • ¼ cup of salt

Process:

  1. Slice the limes into small slices. From each lime, endeavor to get about 12 slices of lime and do not peel them.
  2. Pour salt all over the sliced limes and thoroughly stir it until the lime slices are evenly covered with salt.
  3. Pack the salted lime slices covered with the juices from some of the limes.
  4. With the lime slices in the jar, apply airlock and ferment same.
  5. Once the lime is fermented enough to your taste, change the airlock, and apply standard lid then refrigerate.

FERMENTED GREEN TOMATOES

Ingredients:

  • Green tomatoes – enough to fill at least a jar
  • Finely chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons of salt
  • 1-quart filtered water

Process:

  1. Add the filtered water into a clean pot, add salt and boil until the salt completely dissolves. After boiling, allow the water to cool to room temperature.
  2. Take the green tomatoes and slice them into at least quarters or lower.
  3. Pack the sliced tomatoes into a fermentation jar, add the peppercorns and garlic. If you are fermenting a large quantity then, you need more jars.
  4. Pour the saltwater brine over the tomatoes and ensure it covers the sliced tomatoes.
  5. Use the airlock and allow the content to ferment to taste.
  6. Once you get your desired taste, replace the airlock with a standard lid then store the fermented tomatoes in the fridge.

FAQs:

Q: Can I Ferment My Vegetables Or Beverages In A Metal Container?

A: You cannot ferment your vegetables or beverages in a metal container because the ferment produces acid that can react with metal and corrupt the content. Hence choose from a wide range of tools presented above or just get a regular glass or ceramic jar.

Q: How Do I Submerge All My Vegetables In The Fermenting Liquid?

A: Submerging your vegetables or fruit in the liquid happens to be the gateway to successful fermenting. The bacteria responsible for the fermentation process are anaerobic which means they function properly in the absence of oxygen.

Submerging them in water remains the sure way to cut off their oxygen supply. You can use a fermenting weight or any other traditional method of keeping the vegetables or fruits underwater.

Q: Should I Use Regular Table Salt When Fermenting?

A: Any salt will do but use non-ionized sea salt because it has beneficial nutrients.

Q: When Fermenting Kimchi, I Realize That The Top Turned Brown And Soppy. Is It A Good Thing?

A: When such happens, it can only mean one thing, your vegetables were not completely submerged in the liquid. What you should do is to scrape off the soppy brown layer. The vegetables are still intact but add fermenting weight to the vegetables to get them submerged.

Conclusion

You have all the know-how and where to get the best kit to ferment your food, now you can swing into action. Why not add tang and zest to your meals today by walking on the food fermentation side of life? Adopt the information in this post and make your own fermented food today. Your heart, weight and digestive system will thank you for it.

We are dying to hear from you, why not talk to us today. We sure will get back to you as soon as possible. Finally, do share this post for others to benefit from it.

All the best with your fermenting.

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melissa

I am a homesteading enthusiast, a published writer, and director at FROMSCRATCHMAG. My experience in areas such as brand management, graphic design, and photography are valuable additions to our writing team. When I am not writing or publishing anything, I am out gardening in my small farm or cooking. I am also an herbalist, an experience I use to spread the word about sustainable living.

  1. Pearl

    I have always heard that fermented foods are out of this world when it comes to the amazing health benefits the packed. But doing it myself as been as scary as hell. So I just kept to buying the little ones I can get at the store. This post has really opened my eyes to how I can get it done with confidence and with the hope of getting a good result. Thanks for the recommended tools too. I will surely be getting one of them soon.
    Can’t wait to share my experience here!

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