Home Fermentation

Mod: split from the Trader Joe's Yea/Nay/Meh 2017 discussion

I have an irrational fear of home fermentation! No problem making my own refrigerator pickles but somehow the "leave the kimchi on the counter " part of the recipe makes hesitant… (i live alone! Who call 911 if i poison myself?!)

Gonna keep poking around at recipes, maybe try a small batch that does a long slow fermentation in the fridge…


Not so irrational if you’ve ever been slapped in the face by a rogue sourdough starter. I’m experimenting with kefir right now – I purchased the grains off Craigslist – and I completely understand your fear.

That is not reassuring…!! (And of course kinda funny since it didnt happen to me ;))

Here’s a good kimchi recipe from a trusted source, Colorado State University Extension. They have two options for fermentation, one is in the fridge. But I have found that you still need 1-2 days at cool room temp. 60-75F, to get it started.

Sauerkraut directions


Or you can get these nifty lids and not worry about contamination.


Here is my kimchee.

I’ve also made sauerkraut and picked daikon radish.


Fillmore Container also sells a valve for fermentation. However, it’s really not possible to poison yourself via lactic fermentation. The lactobacillus kills off all the nasty stuff. If not, the whole human race would have been poisoned off long since.


Crappy, overpriced lids, don’t stop contamination. Sanitizing and food prep hygiene does.

Okay, then.

I think I meant to reply to @Trockwood

That is my understanding: the lactobacillus actually does away with anything nasty.

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A couple other bits of advice. Be careful what salt you use. It has to be pure salt - NO ADDITIVES. Additives like Iodine will prevent the fermentation. I usually use kosher salt or sometimes canning & pickling salt if I have surplus. Also - my kraut seems to ferment faster than the recipes say. Most recipes I read say 4-6 weeks. Mine’s done in 2 & 3 weeks is stretching it. If you let it go to long the cabbage gets soft & mucky. I ferment kraut in the kitchen (no - It doesn’t stink) at average room temp.

What temp is your kitchen? I bet it’s too warm. That’s why it is fermenting fast, and why it gets soft and mucky.

I ferment in my basement where it never gets above 72F in Summer, and never below 64F in Winter. I do a slow, low temp ferment, and don’t do much fermenting during the Summer. When I do, for things like hot sauces and kimchi, I do it in a section of the basement which houses my office and I have AC running so it is 68-71F. For the kimchi I do it at that room temp for a day or two, then finish it off in the fridge. For fermenting 62-72F results in better quality product. Whether it’s pickles, kraut, sauces, beer, wine, hard cider, etc.

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To be more specific the lactobacillus doesn’t do anything to kill off bad bacteria. It’s the lactic acid they produce that does. Most bad organisms can’t survive in an acidic environment.

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My first attempt at dill pickles.


Those look exactly like pickles Book. I see garlic, mustard seed, dill, maybe a bay leaf? They’re going to be tasty.

Speaking of home fermentation, (warning - possible thread hijack), I had some cayenne peppers fermenting in a gallon jug with a plastic lid & airlock valve. I actually had two jugs going but one got a little excited & expanded to the point that it backed up into the valve. Now the valve has a stem which goes through a plastic cap that screws onto the jug. As is my usual procedure I pulled the valve out of the cap before removing the cap. Old Faithful in cayenne pepper. I swear it hit the kitchen ceiling. So I quick put my thumb on the hole which diverted the spray onto the kitchen counter. At which point Jul walks in from walking the dog.

Home fermentation can be very exciting sometimes.


This is not technically a ferment, but I actually messed up my preserved lemons somehow. I’m sad because it was the last of the Meyers for the season.

That really sucks…Do you think it was the recipe? Or did the lemon rise above the liquid?

I always use a jar with “shoulders” - that helps keep the lemons from being exposed to air. I also add the juice of 2 extra lemons as insurance.

So which batch turned out better, the 5% or the 3.5% ?

I liked the 5%, it was a bit crisper and and more “pickley”, but both were good! My friends were impressed I made pickles. :slight_smile: I was surprised how non-labor intensive the procedure was.

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I’m not sure. I’ve made them before with no issues. I’m pretty sure they were below the liquid, I used a weight. The only thing I can think of is that I didn’t get all the air out, and we had a heat wave for the two days I had them out, although I kept them in a dark cupboard.

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