Lactofermentation, for those of you not familiar with the term, is a method of food preservation that involves “pickling” vegetables using lactobacillis bacteria in an anarobic (oxygen free) environment. The basic process involves submerging vegetables in a salt solution to prevent the growth of competing bacteria until lactobacillis can take over and dominate the environment. The end result is a bubbly, tangy, shelf stable fermented vegetable.’ Kimchi and sauerkraut are the most popular eastern and western examples, but just about any vegetable can be lactofermented.
I’ve made many low tech lactofermented vegetables in the past, but always using the “throw on salt, mash vegetables until they’re under the water line” method. It’s often hit or miss with the occasional surface mold or just “off” batch.
I was excited when Fermentools sent me a sample starter fermentation kit to review. Using a truly anarobic environment and a weight to keep everything below the water line should result in a much more consistent ferment and a more dependible process.
The kit includes a cutom made stainless steel lid, two rubber plugs, a water lock, rubber gasket and a glass weight, or as they say “everything you need to get started fermenting.” It also includes very finely ground himalayan salt, with instructions on creating the correct brine solution using weights with any salt to help you get consistent salinity levels.
They also include a handy recipe booklet that gets you going right away. Getting started fermenting, just like canning, you worry about the safety of your products. Is this really shelf stable? Did I use enough salt? Using a tested recipe and following salinity guidelines helps get you going with confidence.
Initially from the web images on the Fermentools site, I assumed the lid was a basic mason jar lid with a hole drilled into it with a gasket. I was skeptical about the durability, especially in a high acid/salt environment. Wont it just rust? When it arrived I realized it’s actually a high grade commecial stainless steel. This thing looks like it could live at the bottom of the sea for a decade and still be usable.
All in all, especially given the quality of the stainless steal lid, I think it’s a great value at $21.49. The inclusion of a full pound of himalayan salt (which currently retails for about $8) means that the durable goods (water lock, gasket, rubber bungs, glass weight and stainless steel lid) come make up only $13.49 of the total price.
My first batch of brussel sprout kimchi is in process at the moment, and I cant wait to try it!
Full disclosure: Fermentools provided this kit to me at no cost in exchange for my unbiased review.