Coming out World Series Game 6

Dear Fermentista,

I've got two questions for you, one technical and one more of a social kind of thing. First the easy one. Lucille and I have been together for a long time now and she has gotten me through a lot—lost jobs, car accident recovery and two wives. Lucille is a kegerator that I built during my college days from an old refrigerator left out on the curb. She has been with me through thick and thin. The past few years there's been a lot more of the thick. So, it was like February, when my girlfriend made me try real kraut. Man was it good! I just dove in. Now I have a couple of crocks going all the time, and I bring jars of the stuff to my buddies on the site. I love trying new things, especially anything hot or with smoked salts. Anyways, I make so much of the stuff that I need a place to keep it so I moved my keg out and started using Lucille. That was about the time the season started. What I need to know is what temperature should I keep Lucille at? Are krauts more like a Stout or a Pale Ale?

Second question: Do you have any advice for how I am going to talk about this to the guys when they come over for game 6 at my place? Most of them don't rib me anymore about eating because now that they are hooked on the stuff too but they don't know about Lucille's makeover.  I know the first time somebody tries to pull one and gets nothing and then opens that door they are going to give me some s***.

Go Mets!


Dear Michael,

As you know, a big part of pouring that perfect glass is managing the temperature of the beer because of the relationship between temperature and CO2. I suspect that is why you asked if it’s more like a pale ale than a stout because different beers absorb and hold CO2 at different temps. For your krauts and pickles you should think of them as at least a Lager but best as a Brown Ale, ie. 45° F to 40° F. Stouts at 50° F is getting too close to a temperature that allows the bacteria to wake up and start working, which means your ferments will continue to get sour and build up CO2 in your jars. 

Your second question is easy—there will be no game 6. Sorry. I should explain I was born in KC, George Brett was my hero growing up. I wore that stupid plastic batting helmet through those muggy hot summer days until my brother shattered it one day with a bat while it was still on my head. I firmly believe you will not have this problem as the Royals will take the next two games. Sorry.

Hopefully Kirsten won't see this post as she grew up in New York State and always roots for the underdog...


Dear Fermentista :: Will my mobile ferments keep me from love?

My mobile ferments at a campsite

My mobile ferments at a campsite

Dear Kirsten and Christopher,

My name is Ben and I am an addicted fermenter.  

I have an older VW Jetta diesel that has faithfully carried me down some of our country’s most wild and scenic areas.  (I named her Rachel Carson) My problem is her smell.

About a decade ago I gave up fast food and committed to eating real food while traveling.  I began making my own kombucha and fermented veggies on the road. It is so easy! Recently I discovered foraging and wow can I make some wild ferments now. There is nothing like adding a little beach mustard to my kraut…but I am getting side-tracked.

A corner of Rachel’s trunk is my fermentation station which produces tasty ferments and, well, this is my problem: odor. She smells! Especially when I am bumping along a dirt road.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the smell of kimchi and all things fermented. It still surprises me when I open the car door after a long hike in the mountains and am blasted by that steamy scent of fermenting veggies. It makes me smile. 

I am starting to think that it is going to keep me single as I have noticed when I am parked along a street people wrinkle their noses when they walk past my car. My mother is less polite. “Ben,” she says, “you are not going to find yourself a nice girl with that smell.”

I believe the right partner will love the smell. I imagine that we will meet in a busy trailhead parking area as I come hiking out of the woods with a handful of fresh sorrel. We talk and soon sample each other’s creations and spend the rest of our lives together. My friends and my mother say I am dreaming and slightly delusional from eating too many ferments at high altitudes.

Should I give up my mobile ferments for a better chance at romance?


Dear Ben,

We often find ourselves traveling with curing ferments—biohazard of the biz, we suppose. The natural gas produced by some of the particularly odoriferous ones seems like they should be able to power our vehicle, doesn’t it?

We can help you a little here with some management strategies. Ferments on the move need to be sealed—go ahead and tighten that lid. Airlocks are wonderful on a counter but in a trunk seem to burp on every bump in the road.  So set aside your water seal vessels and use canning jars. You will need to let the CO2 out of the jar every day—sometimes twice a day. Do this away from car; the parking lot, a grassy spot, some place that won’t be offended by a little brine. This burping can cause a lot of brine to want to bubble out of your jars so be ready with your clean tamper and push the ferment down quickly. You probably know that though. Once your ferments are cured and tasty you should keep them in a ferment cooler. This will be another barrier to the smell.

Meanwhile we think that you should keep on fermenting. Eating ferments could help you with the confidence you need when the right girl comes along. She will love ferments and that pickle smell will be perfume to her—besides your addiction could be a deal breaker if she doesn’t share your passion.

Good luck,

Kirsten and Christopher