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


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.




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,



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!


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


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.




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. 


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?



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,


Ginger and Turmeric Kvass Ferment has Floating Veggies

Ginger turmeric kvass

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



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!



The scum looks funky, is it okay?

Fermenting red cabbage scum in crock


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,



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. :)



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,



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.



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!



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,


* Thanks to Dr. Art Ayers for explaining this to me. (

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

oxidation on fermented pepper mash


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!



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...


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


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.


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.



Salt and Fermentation

Salt and Fermentation

Why? How much? What kind? of salt do I need for fermentation?

Salt seems to cause a lot of consternation for the new fermentista so I thought I would add a salt post to troubleshooting fermentation.

Salt doesn't preserve

First the salt doesn’t preserve the veggies the acidification of the process does so if you are worried about "killing yourself" more salt doesn't make it safer. (Keeping it under the brine does.) What the salt does is give the good bacteria (#lactobacillus) the upper hand to get started and once these guys get going they quickly overwhelm any "bad" bacteria with their acidic output.

Crispy and Tasty

Salt also hardens the pectins (that’s your crisp) and slows down the fermentation a bit, which can be important in hot climates or if you are storing without refrigeration. Salt also makes your ferment taste better, remember salt is a flavor enhancer. Of course too much salt and it is no longer tasty. Choose a mineralized salt you love, taste your ferment for saltiness—should be salty like a chip not briny like a mouthful of seawater. Most importantly — It should be tasty!

What kind of salt?

What kind of salt is personal preference though I don’t use processed industrialized salts, like pickling salt, etc.

How much salt?

This is where things get confusing. The truth is I never measure my own ferments, for me it feel but I do measure and now even weigh the veggies and salt when I am developing a recipe for others. I try to stick to a 1.5 % ratio by vegetable weight. This is enough to do what salt needs to do. Many recipes go as high as 5% and for me that is way too salty and doesn’t make the ferment any safer. So there is a lot of variability!

If you read older recipes you will see things like "packed in salt" or amounts that are crazy high. This is because they had to keep their ferment working a little slower because it stayed in a cool spot like a basement all winter and never was slowed down by a refrigerator. They also did not have as much salt in their regular diet as we do now so it wasn't a problem in many cases the ferment contained the salt that was added to an otherwise bland, starch-based meal. 

I have over-salted, does the salt go away?

Somewhere the myth that the salt in a ferment goes away is out there alive and well. Sorry to report it has no where to go--too much salt continues to be too much salt. (In fact if anything a long ferment could evaporate slightly thereby concentrating the salt.)

Thick Sticky Beet Brine

syrupy fermented beet brine

Hello Kirsten.
The brine on my beets is very thick and slimy.
They did not bubble very much for the three days I had them fermenting.
I wonder if I packed them too much?
And if they are safe to eat.
They are crispy and do taste OK but I'm worried. This is my first attempt at fermenting.
My thanks for this help.


Hi Merilyn,

Beet brine is very thick and viscous because beets have so much sugar. The other thing is that 3 days isn’t very long for a ferment like this and sometimes there is a thick slimy phase in fermentation that will work itself out. The picture I am sending is a ferment that is fine but went through this slimy phase. It happens sometimes.

I think you are fine and that they are very safe. The important thing to remember is that if they are bad (as in unsafe) they will be awful smelling and tasting too.

I would let them ferment a little longer and realize beets are also just like that to a point. I hope that helps.



This sauerkraut was fine, it smelled good and had no scum. The problem was the viscous brine. It was quite unappealing. This happened because the ferment had been fermenting very slowly at temperatures in the low 50° F range. We advised the maker of this kraut to move it into a warmer space and ferment it longer and Violá it worked! The kraut was perfect in a few days.

This sauerkraut was fine, it smelled good and had no scum. The problem was the viscous brine. It was quite unappealing. This happened because the ferment had been fermenting very slowly at temperatures in the low 50° F range. We advised the maker of this kraut to move it into a warmer space and ferment it longer and Violá it worked! The kraut was perfect in a few days.

Cloudy Lacto Fermented Garlic Brine

garlic brine

Dear Kirsten and Christopher,

Thank you so much for all the resources you offer on your website.

I started fermenting recently, and would probably have given up right at the start if it wasn't for all the invaluable information, reassurance, and support that lovely people like you provide.

My latest attempt was to ferment garlic cloves and I'm not sure if it's working as it should:

They went in 12 days ago, on July 13th, and a couple of days ago, little white particles started appearing in the water. There is a lot of it now and some of the cloves are a darker yellow on one of the ends.

I'm worried about the floating white bits. Are they normal?

I don't know if this information is useful, but I used Himalayan pink salt (and there were little bits of pink here and there on the first couple of days, which are no longer visible).

Thank you so much for any feedback you could give me, and once again, for all the wonderful resources you offer us.

Have a lovely week,



Dear Camila,

I am so glad to hear that the information we provide is helping you become a confident fermenter! Thank you for letting us know.

I know those bits do have a concerning look about them and I wish I could tell you exactly what they are in a science-y sort of way but I don’t know exactly what is happening. What I do know is that they are normal and we get them in some of our brined garlic as well. Smaller sediment floaters in other vegetable brine ferments are very, very normal, so normal that in fact they can be a sign all is well, soI do think that these are just garlic’s version. As our experience has shown this happens in the same way. I have wondered if it has to do with the sticky nature of the garlic.

The darker portions are also normal. Last year I did a test of 18 garlic ferments simultaneously and all the pickles developed that to some degree and they are all great and delicious.
Hope that helps,



Fermented Garlic Turned Blue

Fermented garlic turned blue

Hi there!  
Firstly, I want to say that I love this book!  I have been fermenting every vegetable I can get! Force-feeding everyone around me, too. :)

I have a question about garlic. I started the jar a week ago, and it has been bubbling away. For the last day I notice some of the cloves (I put in whole cloves) are turning a strange blue or green color. I'm totally paranoid because of all the press about Chinese garlic!  Is turning colors a sign that it's tainted? Is it normal??  
Thanks again for writing the amazing book!  I'm so happy to have learned something new!



Hey Sarah,

Anyone force-feeding fermented veggies to the ones they love has our heart. :)

I think every fermentista remembers their first blue garlic.  The good news is that our research and experience is that its harmless. If you turn to page 182 in the book you will see the little Fermentista’s Tip on it. The timing of your message is great because Kirsten has a batch of fiery ferments going for the new cookbook and one of them did the blue-green thing on us. We also fermented about 30 lbs of garlic with a farmer friend a week or more ago and all of those are beautiful little creamy orbs like they are supposed to be.

So its okay, it will taste fine and be a conversation starter for sure. Lastly, we have noticed over time in the fridge many times (though not always) this blue fades.

Let us know how all of your creations turn out Sarah and if you have any more questions.

Christopher & Kirsten

White Ring on the Bottom of a Ferment Jar

Hello Kirsten,

I've recently made a bottle of spinach kraut by following one of your recipes. And when it was done, I put it into the fridge. Only after a few days, I saw a "white ring" at the bottom of the bottle. I've attached a picture here to explain better. Do you know why that happened? And is it still safe to eat?



Hi Tracy,

The white ring at the bottom of your ferment it fine and a normal part of fermentation. It is similar to the sediment at the bottom of pickles (like Bubbies brand or home fermented pickles). I am happy to report it is very normal and harmless. I believe you are seeing it because the spinach ferment is darker in color than most. If you look carefully at other ferments you will likely see a similar ring.




Herbs on Brine—Mold or Yeast?

herbs on pickle brine

I’m fermenting some cucumbers and carrots using a simple garlic and dill recipe. As you can see, all of the vegetables are safely below the brine (I’m using glass weights to keep them down), but the dill has floated to the top. I’m worried that this will cause mold to grow but am not sure if mold will grow from an herb like dill or if it only grows when the vegetables themselves are exposed to air. It’s been fermenting for 5 days and so far no mold but there’s a very thin white film on the top of the brine (hard to see in the picture), and it looks like some whitish coloring is forming around some of the pieces of dill. I don’t have an airlock system so I keep the jar covered but not airtight to allow the gasses to escape. What do you think?

Hi Justin,

Yeah those pesky small herbs always sneak past the weights.

Your ferment looks fine, it looks like you are developing a small bit of Kahm yeast (the white) not a big deal and very normal. I wouldn’t touch it until you are ready to taste and eat at which point you will scoop off the yeast with a spoon and discard (along with the dill bits that are floating in it.) Generally, once you refrigerate the yeast doesn’t return but if it does just scoop off as it is harmless—just can taste a little yeasty and will soften any veggies that get up above the brine and into this yeast. That won’t be a problem though with your weights.

I have made pickles without air-locks for years and still do — its all good!





Beautiful kraut below a dirty brown brine

Hi! I've made a kraut from beats, turnip and cabbage. I made 3 batches and this one mysteriously turned brown on top. This happened within the first week. I left it 28 days. It smells sweet. It looks dirty, like brown specs in the brine. And brown on the cabbage on top . It's not slimy... and I havnt tasted it. The bottom half is a beautiful fusia. 

I also made a batch of carrots that had white blotches like dried fat on top. Strange since I used an airlock.

I so appreciate any help!! I'm kinda new to this!!  


Hi Katharyn,

For some reason your kraut oxidized on top…not sure why or how with the airlock.

The brown flecks are leftover from some initial foaming likely. The good news is that this is fine—just get rid of all the discolored kraut everything underneath will be just fine. Enjoy!

As far as the carrots—it sounds like Kahm yeast. This is common on carrots and again just remove it is harmless. 

All best, Kirsten


Are my fermented pickles ok?

Yucky Pickles

Dear Kirsten and Christopher,

I bought a copy of your book last month and successfully preserved a bunch of farm fresh vegetables using your fermenting techniques. However, I am having some doubts about my pickling cucumber ferment. I followed the NY Deli-style pickle recipe. After 5 days I noticed Kahm yeast and removed it. Before refrigerating I noticed some slime so I added more salt to the brine. Upon doing so, I noticed white clumps formed the minute I added a bit of grey sea salt. The water itself looks cloudy and some of the pickles seem to want to float. The white clumps have since settled to the bottom of the jar. The brine itself smells great but before tossing the batch and deeming them unsafe to eat I thought I would get a second set of eyes to look at my jars of pickles. Please see the attached pictures. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks,



Hello Tina,

Thank you for the pictures, they really help. All veggies want to float in the brine and it looks from the pictures like maybe they did some floating in the jar. If any of them did slip out from the pack and float to the top that would be a conduit for develop enzymatic or yeast infections. We are guessing you may have one or both on this batch. Cloudiness is normal but the white chunk is baffling to us. Our recommendation honestly Tina is to compost this batch and try again. If you are up for that  really pack them in tight and under that shoulder of the jar - they should be in there tight enough that none can float to the top. It also helps to find a tannin rich leaf—grape, oak, horseradish to tuck over the top to keep things under the brine and crispy. We hope you still have cukes and that you have a good second batch.

Christopher & Kirsten

Brownish Brine

brown brine on asparagus pickles

Question: I just started fermenting. First I made sauerkraut - Delicious!  Now I just made your asparagus & caulikraut recipes.  The caulikraut looks great but the asparagus brine turned brown after 1 day.  Is this okay??? Thanks for your help.

Answer: The brine in this picture looks fine. It is at the beginning of the process and often at this stage the brine will take on some of the colors from the vegetables or spices. This is a normal color for asparagus. You will continue to see changes in the color of the asparagus as well as the brine. 

My vegetables are not fermenting

More than once we’ve been asked, “What is going wrong? My ferments just don’t ferment. I make them and wait and then throw every thing out and start again.” 
“How do you know? Was there mold? Slime?” 
 “No, absolutely nothing happened. Nothing. No bubbling. No mold. Nothing.”
“Did you smell and taste it?”
“Well, you might have just had an quiet ferment—always check on it before throwing it out. Likely it was perfect.”
Watching a ferment actively bubble is very satisfying and many ferments offer plenty of effervescence to please that need to know something is happening. Beets for example usually don’t disappoint, you can think of them as extroverted. They are working and they want you to know it. If you are a beer or wine or cider maker you are used to that first ferment where the yeasts are pushing all kinds of foamy sludge from the carboy. If that doesn’t happen in brewing you know there might be a problem. In vegetable ferments you may or may not see active fermentation. It depends on the usual list of variables such as sugar content or environmental conditions. 
The introverts on the other hand are quiet. Our little bacteria processors hard at work and we cannot see or hear a thing. Just like it is okay when your ferment is bubbling out of the container it is not a sign of failure if you don’t see or hear a bubble. 

This isn't always the case. Of course, there are other reasons that a ferment won't ferment—this is just a reminder to make sure it truly hasn't fermented before you throw out your ferment.


Vegetables Floating on Top of the Brine?


QUESTION :: I tried Cebollas Encurtidas per the recipe in your book. It seemed to do OK but the onions, as a bunch, seemed to keep wanting to float above the brine. The weight I used was the water in the baggie trick and it clearly wasn’t heavy enough to keep everything down.

There still appeared to be some brine above the onions, so I think they remained unexposed for the most part. But I did not expect this (see picture). Is this normal for this recipe? Do I just need a heavier weight? If I catch it doing this, do I just keep pushing it down to the bottom?

I ended up scraping the top layer of onion off and tasted the rest. It didn’t taste bad, but I have no frame of reference for this recipe so I don’t know if the taste was right.



ANSWER :: This happens, it is not recipe or onion specific. It is as you suspect—not enough weight.  The high amount of released CO2 is trapped between the onions and causing them to float above the brine. To solve this simply push the vegetables back under the brine and add more weight. It is a good rule of thumb to remember that the larger ferments require larger bags with more water.

Some ferments just need more babysitting then others. This can happen with wetter ferments such as this one or pepper pastes. Just keep pressing your floating veggies back under the brine.