I came across your page while worrying about my first ever batch of lacto fermented hot sauce. I've never fermented anything before, so i'd rather be on the safe than sorry side of foodborne illness. When starting, the ferment had tiny bubbles during the first week. The directions I followed stated to massage the peppers after a week, so I opened it up to do so. Other than that, I haven't touched it in 5 weeks. That 1 week mark was also the time, however, that it stopped producing bubbles. Do you mind just letting me know if it looks okay? No bad smell, just a lot of sediment/debris and no bubbles. These are red and green jalapenos along with onions and then spices.
Thanks for contacting us and sending photos. We have never heard of the massage at the 1 week technique and can’t think of why that would be suggested. Maybe the author had an issue with whole peppers not getting the brine inside them so they thought they should me massaged? Don’t know but I would suggest leaving that off your next batch process, you really should not need nor want to handle the ferments while they are fermenting. Opening the lid also releases the protective CO2 layer that should be captured under the lid and water in your air lock. Is there water in your air lock on top of the lid?
On to good news - they look fine. That sediment you see is normal. I would suggest spooning some out and tasting. If you like then you might think about spooning all the vegetables into your blender and adding ¼ of the brine you think you will use and blend. Check the consistency and keep adding brine until you get to the sauciness you are imagining.
Let us know how it goes Casey.
Three weeks ago I jumped into fermenting with both feet. I fermented 10 jars of various vegetables. 3 weeks into it they are getting tasty. Three jars were peppers from my garden. About a week in I noticed two of the jars of peppers have this milky sediment on the bottom. I used the same brine and added only garlic to all three. All three still smell and taste great so I suspect that it’s safe but it looks nasty. Do you have any idea what’s going on here?
Thanks for your help.
Nice to hear from you and that you have thrown yourself into fermentation.
The good news is this is perfectly normal, in fact all ferments have this sediment! It is actually a sign that everything has gone well. If you are curious look under the jars of Bubbies pickles in the grocery store and you will see the same sediment and the cloudy brine.
Keep on fermenting!
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.
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,
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.