Cabbage Leaves Blackening?

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Hi.

I am making sour cabbage leaves for cabbage rolls and using old Baba recipe which is very loosely-goose as to amount of salt and water. Smells like they are fermenting but outer leaves appear to be blackening!  Yikes!  Why? And are they still salvageable? 

Thanks, Kathy

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HI Kathy,


These look okay to me, I don’t see they “blackening” but I do see the deep color I think you are referring to, this is just the color that the greener outer leaves get. Think of the color of an olive or dill pickle. Green turns that army style green. 

I think as long as you keep them submerged until they are fully fermented they will be fine. 

I hope that helps,


Kirsten

Different Color in Pickles?

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Hi there,

Wondering what’s up with the color difference on my lacto ferment pickles. Same batch, one has a light green band around the outside, and the other is fully dark green all the way to the skin. 

Thanks for your help!
Ted

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Hi Ted,
Thanks for reaching out about the cucumbers. I am sorry but we have been traveling for the last 2 weeks and I don’t know if Christopher got back to you. I apologize for the late reply. 
The discoloring you see is just the way the fermentation works. The white parts are not fully fermented, called half-sours to some. This is okay as it will continue to ferment in the fridge. How it works is that when you sink the cucumber into salt water the saline of the salt water and the base water in the pickle exchange in an osmosis process because the water is looking to balance itself—meanwhile the lactobacillus are acidifying the whole affair. This is why you see variation in the coloring—different speeds of that exchange. 
I hope that helps and you enjoy your pickles.
Cheers,
Kirsten

Mold on Beet Kvass

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Hello Kirsten!

I’m taking my first crack at making Beet Kavass and have just a little bit of experience with fermenting. I made three jars like this with slight variations (w/lemon, without lemon; variations on the salt) and this one looks like the seal was letting in some air. They have been fermenting for about a week. The other two jars had some scum but overall seem to be a success. This one makes me pause a bit... the mold does not look good and I’m wondering if the location was a little bit too warm in addition to the questionable seal. However, the beets and liquid below still have their lovely pink color, so I’m hoping you can help. Important to note that there are mint leaves floating at the top, which may distort the color a bit. Thoughts? 

Thanks! 
Maureen 

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Hi Maureen,
I am glad to hear your other two turned out well. I can’t imagine your variations have anything to do with the mold, more likely the seal, as you suspect. Also the mint floating on top could have given the mold a place to land, but not caused it. A few things that you can do to prevent that in the future is to fill the water line a little higher in the jar. Less airspace means that there is less oxygen for the CO2 to push out (whether you are burping the jar or using these one way lids). 
As far as this kvass goes. It looks like a pretty big bloom of mold and the ferment hasn’t been going very long so I can’t say with confidence that is as acidic as it should be. My guess is that if you carefully remove it, make sure that you got it and a little of the kvass underneath, and make sure the jar sides are clean, that it may still taste off or moldy. But that is what you would do in order to tell, if what looks good is good or not. In this case my instinct would be to compost it and start over. 
I hope that helps,
Kirsten

Ferment is not sour. It doesn't seem to be progressing.

Ferment not sour enough

Hi Kirsten,

I am new to the ferment world. As someone who loves to cook, enjoys quality food and always trying to become healthier, fermenting has become like a wonderful new friend.

My second batch of kraut is now over three months old and is still not at a sour or tenderness level that I am satisfied with.  According to pH strips, the acidity level is somewhere between 4-5, the brine is cloudy and I am no longer seeing any bubbles when I press the contents. 

Will the kraut ferment any more? Did I use too much salt? Is the batch at risk of developing any adverse characteristics if I continue to leave at room temperature?

From reading up on some of your previous responses, I am surmising that I need to cut the cabbage more finely and/or massage, perhaps even beat it more in the future?

Any insights you can offer would be appreciated! 

Best, 

Tim

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Hi Tim,

Welcome to wonderful world of yummy ferments.

There are a lot of possibilities here. First let me say three months is a long time for such a small batch. It definitely won’t ferment any more. There is no need to leave it out. If left out it will eventually have no more “food” for the bacteria and they will die off. This won’t be bad, as in make you sick, it just won’t be probiotic or as tasty. My guess is the lack of pizzazz and sour is likely from the cabbage itself. Depending on the cultivar and time of year cabbages can have very little sugar and starch to break down. It is the sugar that turns into that lovely sour. There is a winter cabbage that has been bred from cold storage and can last for months because it is bred not to break down—which is exactly what we are asking it to do with fermentation.

Cutting finely and massaging are always good. No need to beat it up—you may end up with a mushy kraut.

I would say just try again. In a month or two the juicy summer cabbages will be at the markets and you will likely get a wonderful kraut. Last, if you are someone that likes extra sour you can do what some Asian ferments do which is add a little sugar that will be fermented into more acid. 

Hope that helps!

Kirsten

My Ferment isn't Producing CO2

Hey Kirsten!

I have just started fermenting - this is my third little project - and I'm loving this whole new culinary world I've just discovered :-) My first 2 jars have been great (dilly carrots and sauerkraut, both plain salt ferments) fizzing away happily and needing regular burping. My last baby however isn't apparently doing anything...There's no CO2 that I can see or hear.

In the jar are 3 peeled aubergines, I think 1 tbsp of salt, chilli flakes, dried oregano and 2 cloves of garlic. I peeled the skins off, then peeled the flesh into thin strips, massaged it all together to release the juices, put it all in a clean jar and stuck a smaller jar inside to press it all down. That was almost a week ago. It all smells fine and there's no mould or anything nasty growing...any ideas?

Ps thanks for the help section and all your advise! It's become my nightly reading these past few evenings before bed ;-)

Best wishes

Carley

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Hey Carley,

Nice to hear from you! And so glad you are enjoying all the fun and new flavors you are discovering. A warning, it can be addicting but you might already know that given you’ve been reading our troubleshooting posts as bedtime reading. :-)

Your ferment looks great. Here is the thing with the bubbles—some ferments work just fine with never a visible bubble. The CO2 is produced when the bacteria consume the carbohydrates —the sugar. Some vegetables just don’t have as much sugar—your aubergines being one of them. So it is likely fermenting just fine with very little CO2 activity. It should starting smelling and tasting pickling at some point over the next week. 

Cheers,

Kirsten

Pink floating bits on top of brine

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Onions garlic dill bay leaf and asparagus getting bubbles and red pink floating bits looks like mold 

See pic attached thanks

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Hi there,

That does look like some kind of unwelcome pink microbial growth. The good news is that you have a great deal of brine and your veggies are anaerobic and safe under the weights. 

Skim off the top layer catching all of these bits. 

I wouldn’t get into the ferment until it smells good and pickle-y. When it is time make sure that none of this has grown back. If it has skim it off again. 

Once you get into your ferment if it smells and looks good it then it is. If it smells off then it is likely off and you will want to send it to the compost. 

I hope that helps,

Kirsten

Mold on Beet Kvass

Hello Kristen!

I’m taking my first crack at making Beet Kvass and have just a little bit of experience with fermenting. I made three jars like this with slight variations (w/lemon, without lemon; variations on the salt) and this one looks like the seal was letting in some air. They have been fermenting for about a week. The other two jars had some scum but overall seem to be a success. This one makes me pause a bit... the mold does not look good and I’m wondering if the location was a little bit too warm in addition to the questionable seal. However, the beets and liquid below still have their lovely pink color, so I’m hoping you can help. Important to note that there are mint leaves floating at the top, which may distort the color a bit. Thoughts? 

Thanks! 
Maureen

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Hi Maureen,

I am glad to hear your other two turned out well. I can’t imagine your variations have anything to do with the mold, more likely the seal, as you suspect. Also the mint floating on top could have given the mold a place to land, but not caused it. 

A few things that you can do to prevent that in the future is to fill the water line a little higher in the jar. Less airspace means that there is less oxygen for the CO2 to push out (whether you are burping the jar or using these one way lids). 

As far as this kvass goes. It looks like a pretty big bloom of mold and the ferment hasn’t been going very long so I can’t say with confidence that is as acidic as it should be. My guess is that if you carefully remove it, make sure that you got it and a little of the kvass underneath, and make sure the jar sides are clean, that it may still taste off or moldy. But that is what you would do in order to tell, if what looks good is good or not. In this case my instinct would be to compost it and start over.

I hope that helps,

Kirsten

Gelantinous, thick, milky, fermented garlic brine

Strangely enough both of these letters came within a day of each other sharing the same question regarding a thick fermented garlic brine.

While they look all wrong both these ferments are fine. It happens sometimes with garlic. We don't know the reason behind it but these ferments. It is not mold and we haven't found that it happens from a process error. More likely it has something to do with the variety of garlic. I have done a lot of variety testing and found some varieties do this while others do not. While this brine unsightly, are perfectly safe and taste good as well.

 

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Hello!  

What a helpful resource your site as been!  Thank you for offering to give us individualized advice. 

I’ve had a garlic ferment in my cabinet for about 2 weeks.  I’ve checked it every other day.  The garlic is completely submerged below 3 clean rocks.  I’ve checked the ferment every other day, letting out the air.  Today when I checked I noticed this milky white stuff floating at the top ¼ of the jar, more around the rocks, less the garlic.  I’m attaching 3 pictures and my attempts to draw lines to what your eyes should focus on. 

Is this the start of mold growing? Or is it something else?  The ferment has appeared healthy to date, a lot of bubbling every day, and a few cloves have started to turn blue. 

Thank you,

Sherry  

Thick brined garlic ferment.jpg

Hi Kirsten,

I started a batch of fermented garlic and it just hit the 4 week mark. It had been doing great and was bubbling lots, but a few days ago (maybe a week) I noticed that the bubbling had mostly stopped and the brine turned kind of gelatinous. You can see small solid chunks throughout the brine. The smell and color still seem fine, there’s no mold, and I think it’s ok, but am unsure since this is my first long-term brine. Is this safe to eat?

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We've consolidated the answers to both of these into the text above.

 

 

Help - what is growing in my kimchi?

help what is on my kimchi

Hello - I started kimchi in my crock a week ago. There is an unidentified cloud of growth within the brine - above the weights but below the air surface. Can you help identify what this is? Is the kimchi below still safe to eat? 

Thanks!!

Katie

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Hi Katie,

Your unidentified cloud of growth is normal, it is sediment, very normal! This sediment always forms and is just more obvious given that it has the weights that it settles on. Think of the cloudy brine in fermented pickles in Bubbies—it is white in those ferments and red in kimchi because of the spices.  I am happy to report that your kimchi looks perfect and delicious!

Yes, you can eat it!

Cheers,

Kirsten

 

Dark grey sediment in my ferments?

Good morning Ms. Kirsten,

I found your site through a Google search and can't thank you enough for providing the help section! This is our first attempt at fermented vegetables. They have been bubbling, the lids swelled a little and became hard, and they have been seeping (all of which I'm guessing is normal). What wasn't mentioned in the recipe is that the brine developed these grey, sediment-like particles that began floating throughout each jar but mostly settled to the bottoms (looks darker in person than in picture). Each of the 9 jars also developed a dark grey/black ring around the bottom. Is this a normal/safe ferment? When I opened one this morning (day 8) it was hard to open and fizzed, bubbled and sizzled as if it's been fermenting fine and there does not appear to be any discoloration on the cabbage leaves I used to hold the veggies under water. Thank you so much in advance for your time! 


Kind regards, Elizabeth

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Dear Elizabeth,

We are glad to hear that our site is helpful. You are right all that “action” is quite normal. The sediment is also quite normal—in fact when I see cloudy brine and sediment I know that the process is working well. The black bits of sediment are not normal in and of themselves but I am guessing that they are from a grey Celtic style salt or that they are a spice or herb that your recipe may have called for that has also settled along with the sediment. If you don’t feel that is the case, let me know what was in the recipe and we can look a bit further into it.

As far as the cabbage leaf on top of your 8 day ferment it looks normal to me. I don’t see anything in the photo that concerns me, it does as well as the other photos, look like they are not fully fermented yet. In cooler temperatures 8 days can still be a young ferment — in hot temperatures 8 days can be over fermented. So it depends. If it is ready it should be smelling nice and acidic —pickle-y :) If it does then go ahead and reach under that leaf and taste it. If it is tasty you can put it in the fridge if it isn’t sour enough then close everything up and let it go a few more days.

Remember if a ferment is bad it will let you know—the smell alone will say don’t put me in your mouth.

I hope this helps.

Kirsten

Chili paste fermentation gone...wrong?

Hi, Kirsten,

Thanks for being willing to take a look! 

To go along with the pictures I’ll describe how it smells... not great!

Let me know if you need different photos to determine what’s a happening.

Andy

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Good Morning Andy!

You are right the top is nasty and I am sure smells — not great! It looks like a mix of bacterial, mold, and yeast growth that you don’t want. That said, the bottom is totally fine. You also have a nice layer of plastic to help you pull all that off carefully. Once you pull it off, skim the top of the paste until you are at the bright red color that I see in the photo.  Also wipe the sides of your jar down with a paper towel.  I think you will find that is great underneath. (Remember everything that is anaerobic is fine.)

Hope that helps,

Kirsten

Thanks so much! I did my best to skim first—the plastic was held down by a pair of large weights—and then remove the weights and plastic. I’m sure some of the bacterial/mold/yeast mix is still around... I’ve placed it in a smaller jar. I’m likely going to let it ferment a bit longer before putting it in the refrigerator. Will that make the ferment “stronger” in terms of fighting off bad growth, or is my understanding of fermentation that bad?

Thanks again for the help—I promise not to abuse your inbox!

Andy

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Hi Andy,

This looks great. You are fine and any bits that are left will only grow again if they have access to oxygen. 

Your ferment is strong as soon as it is acidic and nothing pathogenic can live in the anaerobic acidic environment, if you get any nasty growth is would be only on the surface. 

At this point letting it ferment longer is going to mostly be about flavor. I, of course, don’t know what the acidity is but likely it will not get much more acidic with time. Usually the bulk of the acidity develops in the first few weeks.

I hope that helps, and no worries ask away until you feel like you got it. 

Cheers,

Kirsten

Mold on top of fermented leeks

:( I started a batch of fermented leeks from the Gjelina cookbook a few weeks ago. The recipe did not say to make sure the leeks are submerged in liquid, and while I was skeptical about that, I went with it. Now, however, there’s lots of mold on top. My gut reaction was to cry and throw it away, but the I saw your website and thought I’d ask your advice. ~D

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Nice to hear from you! Sounds like you suspected to trust your gut! :)  Always submerge with fermentation, no matter what the recipe says, sometimes we writers forget to add details that are second nature to us—

I do see that solid layer of mold on top. It looks like it is the first inch or so of the ferment. Scoop that off and get to the place where the leeks are happily submerged. They should smell and look fine. No tears necessary :)

I hope this helps.

Cheers,

Kirsten

 

Mold on top of fermentation bag

Hello Kirsten,

I am making my first batch of fermented pickles. The recipe I used had me place a ziplock bag on the top to weigh down the brine. It now is covered in mold. If I remove the bag carefully will the pickles below still be okay?!

Thank you,

Adrienne  

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Hi Adrienne,

The bag is doing its job and keeping the mold off of your ferment. Everything below the brine is fine and I don’t see where the mold has even gotten past the bag. 

Just remove the mold carefully, then the bag carefully and you should be golden. 

They look great!

Kirsten

Pinkish Sediment on Fermenting Peppers and Irregular Color

 Hi Kirsten,

I'm new to fermenting, and as my second foray into it, I have a bunch of jars of various whole peppers fermenting, including the pictured jar of jalapenos and serrano peppers. The rest of the jars seem to be doing well, no cloudiness, no mold, etc, but the jalapeno jar's brine is cloudy, and there seems to be a fine, almost powdery looking, pinkish white sediment on the peppers as well as the bottom of the jar. I also skimmed a little mold off the top of the brine at one point - just a few little pinhead-sized floaties. It still smells alright, peppery and pickle-y and salty. Just wondering if this should be composted or if I should continue the ferment? It's been 2.5 weeks since I started it. Oh, and I used Himalayan pink sea salt to create the brine - could this be what the pinkish color is from?

Any advice you could offer would be wonderful! I can also try and take more or different photos if needed as well.

Stefanie M

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Hi Stefanie,

Welcome to the world of fermentation! Your ferments look fine. The cloudiness and sediment is a normal part of fermentation. In fact, when I see it along with the color change of the veggie I know things are progressing nicely. You did the right think to skim off the mold and that has nothing to do with the sediment you are seeing. You are probably right that the pink color has to do with the salt. We use Redmond Real salt, which also creates pink sediment.

If it smells pickley that is a good sign also. If it was head for the compost it would smell awful.

The thing that I wonder about is that some of the peppers are still quite green. Did you add a few more peppers after a couple of days in? I am guessing if not they are just slower. The ferment looks done except for those peppers. When then turn dull green it likely will be.

Cheers,

Kirsten

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Hi Kirsten,

Thank you so much for the information! Glad to hear all is normal with the ferment. All of the peppers were added at the same time, but the Serranos are still bright green as opposed to the jalapenos. Should I remove the finished jalapenos for tasting, or should I wait until the serranos are also finished? 

Additionally, the other peppers I have fermenting are yellow, red, or other colors (super hot peppers - peach scorpions, chocolate reapers, etc.). Is there a definite color change that will occur with these as well? They are still quite vibrant. 

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You are very welcome. 

No need to remove any peppers. The Serranos are just taking their time, and I do see that they are changing. I was just curious as it is a little unusual to see some that are so different in the same jar. And no you won’t see any color change in the reds and yellows, the chocolate reapers are brown right, those might change a bit. It has to do with the colors being water or oil soluble pigments. Carrots, red peppers, etc. are oil soluble and will not change or “fall out” into the brine. Water soluble colors (the pink in a radish) may color the brine and the veggie will turn dull. 

Hope that helps.

Cloudy brine and sediment in my carrot sticks

Hello Kirsten and Christopher,

I recently purchased your book and attempted to make the sauerkraut and fermented carrot sticks. I'm a bit concerned about my carrot sticks. They have a thick cloud and white sediment at the bottom, which I read is normal, but they taste a bit vinegary and are softer than I imagined. They are about 6 days in. Do they look okay and how acidic should they taste?

Thanks,
Ryan

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Hi Ryan,

Thanks for getting and using our book. It looks like you have a bit of kahm yeast, that is the white stuff on top. It is harmless but likely is the cause of the softer texture. Fermented carrots are not super acidic so it sounds like they taste fine. They look fine from the photos, apart from the yeast. Again this is harmless and it happens sometimes, I would scoop it off as much as you can and then refrigerate. It should go away or at least slow down to a point that it won’t bother you. 

 

All best,

Kirsten

Ginger and Turmeric Kvass Ferment has Floating Veggies

Ginger turmeric kvass

Hi
I have done this before and it never use to happen.  But every time I try to make this now it all floats to the top. Just before taking the photo I had burped it and noticed some of it floating back to the bottom as in the picture.  

Is it still ok or does it need to be sitting on the bottom.  It starts off like that. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. 


Thank you
 

Julie

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Hi Julie,

This looks fine. Strangely, I have never seen one that didn’t float. I think that it is the action of the CO2 that makes things float and sink.

Such a pretty color!

Best,

Kirsten

The scum looks funky, is it okay?

Fermenting red cabbage scum in crock

Hi,

We started fermenting some red cabbage in a 10L crock about two weeks ago.  Over the weekend, my husband realized that he had not checked the water seal on the lid in quite some time, and, alas, it was completely dry.  The cabbage has been under weights, but the top of the brine looked pretty funky (see photos).  Did we ruin our batch?

Thanks for your advice,

Amanda

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Hey Amanda,

Funky but fine!

When you are ready to eat you will skim that off as best you can, there is actually nothing harmless in that funk that you are looking at, taking the weights out carefully as you go will help you to remove all that. 

I am positive  you will see a beautiful pink kraut underneath. :)

Cheers,

Kirsten

Fermented Garlic Brine is Blue-Green

blue green fermented garlic

Hi Kirsten,

Thank you so much for your kind invitation to send in fermenting issues.

I am an eager newbie to the world of fermenting. Garlic has been my first foray into this world. Please see attached an image of my attempt.

I'm concerned about the colour the brine has turned.  It is decidedly green and there is a strong garlic smell emanating from the closed jar. Is this to be expected? I understood the cloves themselves may turn green or blue during the process but not the liquid?

I'd be grateful to know what has happened and what I can do to get a good jar of ferment. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Kind Regards,

Carol

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Hi Carol,

Ah yes, the blue-green hue. You are right it is a little different seeing it in the brine. My guess is that the brine is thick with the garlic sugars. The whole cloves we make can have a very thick brine and that the blue-green is actually on the garlic that is now in the brine. Sometimes when they sit in the fridge for awhile the blue will work itself through.

This ferment looks okay to me but you be the judge (and trust your gut). If it smells strong like garlic, that is normal, if it smells strong like bad, compost, or whatever, then I would say it is bad. It should also smell a bit pickle-y.

It doesn’t always happen so don’t be discouraged and again I think they are fine, when you are ready to taste them, you will know. Pickle-y acidic garlicky is good, any thing else is not.

Cheers,

Kirsten

Mold on Top of Fermented Cucumber Pickle Brine—Is It Safe to Scoop Off?

troubleshooting pickle mold

Hi Kirsten, 

Thanks so much for this wonderfully helpful page!

I've been fermenting these dill pickles for almost two weeks. They are fully submerged under the brine but when I opened them today, they had fuzzy mold (one a bit pinkish) growing all over the surface. I had already, earlier in the fermenting process, scraped off a white film from the top, as well as pulled out some goopy clumps floating near the top, almost like egg white, but more whitish.

I've read conflicting things. Some say just scrape the mold off and it is fine. Others say that if true mold has formed, it has thrown roots/spores all throughout the container and the whole thing is contaminated. 

I just hate the idea of composting all these pickles. But I'm also terrified of eating and feeding to my family something that might make us unwell.

Thanks so much for your help!

Deborah

____________

Good Morning Deborah,

You do have a fine case of mold. ;-)

While it definitely a concerning color, etc. the good news is I think since you have that follower in place underneath and your pickles are well under that they are likely salvageable. 

First on the mold, I have always scooped off the mold and then a little as from my research the mold hyphae are not invisible any more than yeasts are.  They are made up of large nucleated cells and so their threadlike structures are strong enough to make meshes, films or strings. And it looks like you have a mesh or mat on top of your ferment. Hyphae mats have the texture of fine leather.  This is distinct from the cloudiness of bacteria.

Most importantly molds are surface feeders.  

Here is the more information than you want part. 

They digest plant polysaccharides by secreting enzymes that hydrolyze the solid plant material into smaller fragments that are absorbed by the hyphae.  The hyphae do not release enzymes into surrounding liquids, because they would just be producing food for bacteria.  The hyphae grow onto the surface of the food and the enzymes are only released into/localized by the surrounding material.  The air-water interface is another surface that can be colonized.  The hyphae can also grow as a mat of intertwined hyphae that traps water that can be treated with enzymes.  Some of the enzymes will leach out, but that is a loss/expense for the fungi.  The point is that the hyphae can grow as a surface contaminant, but the hyphae do not extend deeply from the surface, because the fermenting environment of low pH and low oxygen prevents the growth of the hyphae.  The column of carbon dioxide trapped above the surface also limits oxygen access.*

Here is the what to do part. 

Scoop off the mold carefully as carefully as you can without disturbing the pickles below (like I said this is where having that follower is GREAT!) Also remove as much as that top brine as you can. 

Wipe the edges of the jar with a clean cloth or paper towel. 

When you are confident that things look clean—pull out a pickle. My sense is it will be just fine. Smell it it will will smell moldy if it is. If not you can taste it. Really! If you taste mold or anything feels off than I would say compost that batch. If it is fine then you can refrigerate the pickles. You will likely have to add a fresh bit of salt brine to make sure that they are fully submerged again. 

Oh and one last thought, I personally only ferment cucumbers for 6 days. It retains the crisp and as the continue to age in the refrigerator they will still keep fermenting. This shorter time also minimizes a moldy bloom.

Hope that helps. 

All best,

Kirsten

* Thanks to Dr. Art Ayers for explaining this to me. (http://coolinginflammation.blogspot.com/)

Should I skim off oxidation on my fermented pepper mash? and other oxidized ferments...

oxidation on fermented pepper mash

Hi,

This is a tabasco pepper mash, fermented in the dark with salt for one year.  The top is brown, oxidized looking but under is nice and red as you can see. No white spots or mold. I'm ready to add vinegar and finish the sauce. Can I use the brown or should I discard it? Thanks!

D.A.

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Hi there!

Thanks for your question. While I don’t know the chemical components of an oxidized ferment I do know that eating any oxidized food isn’t good for your body.  There isn't a problem of pathogens (mold, etc.), it is more that this oxidized layer is an anti-nutrient and not good for your body.  The flavor won’t be as good either so I would skim it off, discard it, send the rest through a strainer and precede with the fun!

 Look carefully and you will see a little face peering into the kraut...

Look carefully and you will see a little face peering into the kraut...

Hi,

I'm wondering if you can help me trouble shoot? This is my first ferment, it's wongbok, beetroot, onion, turmeric & mustard seeds. The top layer has gone brown, (it's on day 4) is it safe to eat or should I throw it out and start again?

Thank you, Sarah

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Hello Sarah,

It is fine. I would scoop off the top when you are ready to eat. You have some oxidation of the beetroot and that is the color change—likely because there is so much airspace for the oxygen to hang out in the jar that you have the ferment in.

It is ready to eat after it smells and tastes acidic and pickly so likely you are just beginning to be that way at day 4. You can keep the oxidized layer on top until you are ready to get into as it will help prevent the next layer from oxidizing. When it is ready to refrigerate put it in a smaller jar and it shouldn’t happen again.

oxidized beet ferment

Hi Kirsten, Thank you for the great book. I am learning lots. I have a shredded beet ferment going and it is looking pretty unappealing, grayish brown, not sour, quite salty. The beets are not mushy. Is this going to be salvageable? This is my first beet ferment and I am pretty sure I made some mistakes in tamping and weighting them. Maybe I didn't exclude oxygen well enough. Any advice?
I have some happy pepper pastes going and successfully brined green beans and cukes so I am far from giving up.
Thanks,
Jill

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Hi Jill,

I am delighted to hear you are enjoying the book.

You’re gut instinct is correct—this guy does not look right. It looks oxidized which would be from oxygen yet there looks to be plenty of brine. If it is not sour and still salty it hasn’t fermented. It appears it hasn’t gone bad either—just hasn’t fermented. I cannot say why it would do that. If you are the experimental type I would say since there is no mold or yeast or mush—you could leave it on your counter until your sick of looking at it or something changes. It would be interesting to see if the LAB start to take over or if they are just not present. If it was winter time I would think that was perhaps it is just to cool for them to get a foot hold but that is not the case. I don’t think it was a process error (like tamping, etc.), I think for some reason the LAB aren’t taking hold. Otherwise, I would throw it out. (Even if you want to see what happens you will likely need to throw it out due to oxidation.)

I am glad to hear that you are not discouraged and I do wish I could give you a better answer. If you do decide to let it sit a little longer let me know what happens.