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Fermentools Blog

  • Lacto-Fermented Garlic Scapes

    Posted by Andrea

    What are garlic scapes? Once you've seen them, you'll never forget them. Dramatic and curling, with delicate white buds at the tips, scapes are the flower of the garlic plant, typically appearing in the garden in mid-June.

    Lacto-Fermented Garlic Scapes | Fermentools.com

    If you grow hard-neck varieties of garlic (soft-neck varieties do not produce scapes), you will want to cut the scapes off the plant so it will dedicate energy into making a larger bulb below the soil. Once you've cut all your scapes, you'll end up with a beautiful pile of spirals, resembling curled-up green onions. These scapes are a delicious harvest on their own—a milder and sweeter version of the bulbs that will follow later in the season. They can be used in many dishes just like you'd use garlic: in soups, stir-fries, roasted with olive oil, even grilled. You can preserve scapes by chopping and freezing them for later use, or you can preserve a batch by fermenting them.

    A quart jar filled with fermented garlic scapes is an impressive sight. The curls lay nicely inside the jar with the white buds peeking through some of horizontal, symmetric lines. It's truly a work of art on your counter, and in the end, you'll wind up with delicious scape pickles. Munch on them plain, or chop them up and use them as you would fresh scapes—but try not to heat them up too much, as you'll lose probiotics that way. I like chopping a pickled scape and putting it into a salad or on top of a warm bowl of potato soup.

    Lacto Fermented Garlic Scapes

    • 1 wide-mouth quart jar

    • 20-24 garlic scapes

    • 2 1/2 c. filtered water (or leave tap water out overnight to evaporate the chlorine)

    • 1 T. Himalayan Powder Salt

    1. Harvest your scapes by cutting the stems where they meet the top leaves of the garlic plant. They are ready to harvest when they have become curled up and spiraled with white buds at the tips.

    2. Bring scapes inside and trim the bottoms to remove the tough part. You can usually tell where the stem has become tough because it will be a lighter green or a yellow color. Or, you can test the stem like you would an asparagus stem; lightly bend it and where it bends naturally toward the bottom, trim. Leave everything else intact, especially the buds!

    3. This is the fun part. Make sure your hands and all equipment are clean (sterilizing not necessary). One at a time, take the opposite ends of each scape and curl them together so they fit into the quart jar. Start stacking them, pressing them down occasionally. There is something very satisfying to see the jar filling with beautiful scapes—it's like creating art!

    4. In a separate spouted measuring cup, combine the water and salt until completely dissolved to make a brine. Pour the brine over the scapes, and place a weight over the top to keep the scapes submerged. There should be an inch of space between the top of the brine and the top of the jar. If you stacked the jar full of scapes, there should be enough brine (with a bit extra), but if you run short of brine, mix up another ½ c. water with 1/2 t. salt.

    5. Place a lid on the jar, and an airlock if you have one. Place the jar of scapes out of direct sunlight, avoiding extreme temperatures. This is one ferment you'll want to leave in plain sight—right on the counter—so that you can show it off!

    6. Start testing the scapes after a week. The longer they ferment, the more sour bite they will get. Once they have reached a flavor you like, put the jar in the fridge, covered, removing the airlock if you used one. Enjoy your delicious scape pickles for up to six months--however, they may not even last until it's time to harvest your garlic bulbs!

    Andrea gardens, forages, cooks and ferments on a little plot in the city. She loves spreading the word about age-old practices and making them new, exciting and feasible for everyone. Find her at LittleBigHarvest.com.
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  • Book Review: Water Kefir Handbook

    At Fermentools, we believe in education. Learning all you can about fermentation, whether its the food you're interested in eating or not, whether its your culture or not, will help you to understand the entire process. Enjoy this review of a book on water kefir.
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  • 4 Tips for Fermenting Fruit Successfully

    Posted by Carol

     

    One of my first attempts at fermenting foods was a salad that included fruit—diced apples and oranges with cranberries. It sounded delicious. It tasted like it could make me drunk. I had no idea what went wrong.

    Tip for Fermenting Fruit | Fermentools.com

    Since then, I’ve learned quite a bit about fermenting fruits and vegetables. There is an abundance of information published online and in books about vegetables. But, when I try to find information about successful fruit ferments, I come up empty handed. I think this lack of information is because fermenting fruit is a little trickier than fermenting vegetables.

    Another reason for the lack of fruit how-to’s could be that fermented fruit does not keep very long. So, while a person might ferment their cabbage as sauerkraut to keep it through the winter, fermenting fruit as a long term storage method makes no sense. Therefore, fermented fruit products need to be eaten within a few weeks of production.

    But don’t let these facts stop you. Fermented fruit is delightful and well worth the trouble. You just have to keep an eye on what you are doing.

    Since that first fruit salad I tried to make, I have successfully fermented lemons. They have an interesting flavor. You can read how to ferment lemons here and here.

    I also have added berries to the second ferment of my kombucha. You can read about fermenting kombucha here.

    If you want to add berries, mangos, or citrus to your ferments, here are a few tips to help you on your way to success:

    4 Tips for Fermenting Fruit

    • Always keep your fruit submerged in the brine, by using weights, to eliminate the formation of mold. Fruit will float more than vegetables so you may need to use more than one weight in a jar.

    • Fruit requires a shorter fermentation period than vegetables. This is because the higher sugar content causes it to turn to alcohol quickly. Therefore, start tasting your ferment after a few days. When your fruit tastes slightly tart and faintly effervescent, move the jar to the refrigerator.

    • Mixing your fruit with vegetables will lower the sugar content in your recipe. This will slow the fermentation time and keep it from turning to alcohol too quickly. Think salad or chutney, here. Cabbage and carrots and cranberries, oh my!

    • To encourage the formation of lactic acid, rather than alcohol, cut back on the salt and use whey in your brine.

    What fruits have you included in your ferments? I’d love for you to share your ideas with us in the comments.

     

     

     

     

     

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  • How to Make Kombucha

    Kombucha is a staple in our home. We drink it plain, we drink it flavored. No matter how you like it, you can make it at home easily and affordably.
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  • How to Ferment in Hot Weather

    Posted by Carol

    I was in Florida recently visiting with family and the topic of home-fermented sauerkraut came up. I suggested someone try it for her health when another person contradicted me.

    "You cannot ferment in Florida. She's got to buy it at the store."

    Ferment in hot weather | Fermentools

    Warmer temperatures speed up the fermentation process. Some folks report a greater incidence of mold developing in the summer. And, warmer temperatures produce a softer (or mushier) end product. But, I know friends in Georgia, Texas, Arizona, and Oklahoma who ferment their foods with great success, so I knew that even if it were different, there is a way to ferment in hot weather.

    Here are the tips I've gathered:

    • Use a colder storage location. Areas such as a garage, basement, or root cellar are more conducive to fermenting than the kitchen counter in the hot summertime.

    • If you don't have any cold storage locations, keep your air conditioning turned down to at least 68 degrees.

    • Fermenting that takes weeks in the winter could only take days in the summer. Therefore, start tasting your food on the second day. Once the flavor is perfect, immediately place it in the refrigerator.

    • Play with your recipe. Adding additional salt can help to prevent the development of mold. But too much salt could stop the good-guy bacteria from forming, too. It's a trial and error method.

    • Place your jars in a cooler of cold water. Or, if it's real hot outside, pack some ice around the jars.

    • Do you have two refrigerators? You can always place the jars in your extra refrigerator. The fermentation will take a longer period of time, but it will eventually happen. If you are a serious fermentor, you could purchase a small dorm-sized refrigerator just for fermenting and keep the temperature turned up higher than a regular refrigerator.

    • Finally, remember to keep all your food submerged beneath the level of the brine by using a weight. Mold will not grow on food that is submerged.

    Now it's your turn. Who ferments in the warmer climates? Please share your secrets to success in the comment section.

     

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  • Fermenting Broccoli--Zesty Broccoli Stem Pickles

    I don't know about you, but I love pickles. And for me, pickles do not have to be made from cucumbers. They just have to have a kick. So, imagine my delight to read this recipe by Andrea.
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  • Tips for Preventing Mold in your Ferments

     

    Posted by Andrea

    Fermentation is a fantastic tool for preserving food while adding health benefits at the same time. The process is very simple, and once you try it, you will find it's quite addicting. Using tools like the airlocks and lids and weights that come with fermentools can make it even less intimidating to get started.

    Preventing Mold in Ferments | Fermentools

    Although fermenting is simple, there are times when the dreaded mold happens. Mold can appear on the surface of your ferment for a variety of reasons. The tips I've gathered here will help ensure that the mold stays away. In my own experience, any time I get mold (which is actually pretty rare, so don't be scared!), it's because I didn't follow one or more of these tips.

     Tips for Preventing Mold in your Ferments

    • Always use clean equipment. It's not necessary to sterilize your jars, weights or lids, but they must be clean. Wash with soap and water and rinse thoroughly.

    • Make sure your hands and tools are clean, too. Wash hands, knives, cutting boards and any other items you will be using.

    • Use the proper brine. While some experienced fermenters experiment without salt, I personally would not even attempt it. Whenever I ferment veggies, I prepare a brine; typically using 1 to 2 tablespoons unrefined sea salt per quart of water. Click here for more details about salt and fermentation.

    • Use the right airspace. When the brine and weight have been added and you are ready to put a lid on your ferment, there should be about an inch of space between the surface of the brine and the rim of the jar. If the brine rises as the veggies ferment and release liquid, you can spoon some out, or if the brine level lowers you can add a bit more to the top. Just try to maintain that inch of space; any more and bad bacteria has more room to invade.

    • If using spices and herbs in your ferment, the small pieces can be hard to keep under the brine/weight. You can put the small bits in a tea bag so it will stay beneath the weight.

    • Use the freshest vegetables you can find. The older the vegetables are, the more time bad bacteria has had to grow on the surface.

    • If tasting your veggies mid-ferment, make sure to use a clean fork, and don't double-dip.

    • Consider using tools. Airlocks are very helpful at keeping oxygen (which mold loves) out of your jar., and weights are crucial for keeping veggies under your brine.

    Don't let mold scare you away from the wonderful world of fermenting! With just a little bit of careful preparation, and by following these tips for preventing mold in your ferments, you'll almost always have wild and tasty success.

    Andrea gardens, forages, cooks and ferments on a little plot in the city. She loves spreading the word about age-old practices and making them new, exciting and feasible for everyone. Find her at LittleBigHarvest.com.
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  • Do you have to sterilize your fermenting jars?

     

    Posted by Carol

    When I started canning my own produce, I sterilized everything. No way was I taking chances with the safety and health of my family. Plus, nothing is as disappointing as going into the pantry in December and finding a jar of home goodness with the seal popped because of the bacteria growing inside.

    Sterilize jars | Fermentools

    A couple years ago I learned that if you are pressure canning your food, there was no need to sterilize your jars. After all, if pressure canning didn’t kill what might be in them, boiling them certainly wouldn’t. Learning that sure took some of the work out of canning.

    But what about fermenting foods? Surely, you don’t want any disagreeable bacteria overtaking the friendly beasties in your ferment. How do you prevent that from happening.

    Most folks have a dishwasher. If you run your jars through the dishwasher, there is no need to worry. The bleach in the dishwasher detergent, coupled with the extra hot water, will kill anything.

    But if you do not have a dishwasher, how should you wash your jars? And what about the lids, weights, and airlocks?

    To answer this question, I first did an Internet search. Unfortunately, I came up with little. Everything I did find pertained to home brewing beer. And with that process, sterilization is crucial. But I’m not brewing beer, I’m making sauerkraut. So I then consulted several books on the topic.

    Most books didn’t even address the question. And to my dismay, one book even gave conflicting advice. When giving instructions for fermenting in crocks, the act of sterilization wasn’t mentioned. But when I turned the page for instructions on fermenting in a jar, the book said to sterilize.

    Not satisfied, I asked the expert—Matt Gross of Fermentools. “Soap and water is good enough,” he said.

    “Wonderful,” I said. “But why?” I mean, we’re not even canning this stuff. How can it be safe?

    I took that question to one more book, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. Here is how she answered it:

    Salt inhibits putrefying bacteria for several days until enough lactic acid is produced to preserve the vegetables for many months.

    But that is not all.

    Bacteria need air to grow. The key to a safe ferment is that you keep the food submerged beneath the level of the brine and then cover it with a lid. That is why we place a glass weight on top of the food and then, for added safety, add an airlock to the lid.

    So you can relax. If you think that fermenting cabbage, cucumbers, and carrots is too much trouble because you have to sterilize everything, stop. As Matt said, soap and water is enough.

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  • Recipe for Spicy Green Beans

     

    Posted by Angi

     

    We’re just beginning to harvest green beans - actually the ones we are harvesting are yellow, not green. But I’m calling them green beans just the same. It’s such a fun time after a long winter of surviving on greens.  But sometimes we have a few too many or too few for a meal.

    Spicy Green Beans | Fermentools

    Too few is easy, we just mix them in with other veggies. But too many is a little harder. No one in my family likes leftover, sauteed green beans.  And once picked, green beans tend to dry out pretty quickly in my refrigerator.

    This year I’m taking those extra handfuls and making lacto-fermented, spicy green beans.  They are so easy and good.

    To get started, you will need:

    • 2 cups water (if you have chlorinated water, you’ll want to use distilled water)

    • Green beans

    • 1 tbsp salt

    • 1 tsp red pepper flakes

    • Herbs (I used dill but you could use rosemary, garlic or basil)

    Once you've gathered your ingredients:

    • Make a 2%  brine with the salt and water.

    • Remove stems from beans and put in wide-mouth, pint size jar. It will help if you tilt the jar on its side to fill. Put peppers and herbs in jar.

    • Pour brine over beans. Put weight on top of beans and make sure everything is submerged.

    • Put Fermentools lid and band on jar and store in cool dark place for 5-7 days.  Once they are fermented to your liking, store in refrigerator.

    These spicy green beans will still be crunchy…and delicious. Enjoy!

    Angi Schneider is a minister’s wife and homeschooling mom. She is passionate about growing food for her family and living a simple life. She blogs their homesteading and homeschooling adventures at SchneiderPeeps.com and is the author of The Gardening Notebook which she wrote to help other gardeners remember all the great information they are learning.
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  • Why Home Fermented Foods are Better than Store Bought

    Many years ago, a friend told me of a book she found in the library. She enjoyed it so much, she bought her own copy. The book was Better than Store Bought by Helen Witty and Elizabeth Schneider Colchie. Reading that book was the first seed planted in my mind that I could make my own food, without relying on bottles, can, and boxes from the grocery.
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The information on this website is not intended to replace professional medical diagnosis, treatment or advice. Health claims on this website do not warranty, guarantee, or predict the outcome for others. Fermentools strongly recommends readers consult a trusted healthcare professional for any medical condition. All information and links to other resources are posted in good faith. We cannot guarantee the accuracy or validity of any information shared from other publications. Fermentools accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for the use or misuse of the information contained on this website.