What Is Food Fermentation?

At some point, I think all homesteaders come across the topic of fermentation. And while it can be used for food preservation, it tends to scare the crude out of some folks. No one wants to waste food or make their family ill! But what exactly is fermentation? And why would you want to use such an ancient technique to preserve your food in the modern era?

Fermentation in general terms, is the process of turning sugar to acids, gases and/or alcohol. If you like sourdough bread, nibbling on cheese or a nice glass of beer, well you have already consumed products that use fermentation! Not so scary after all, right?

But what about vegetables and fruit? Does that make you feel a little out of your comfort zone when it comes to fermented food? I’ll admit, up till recently, we had only tackled Cucumbers (aka pickles) and sauerkraut. Both of these are “beginner” foods when it comes to lacto-fermentation.

Lacto-fermantaion!?!? Whaaaa??? Basically, you are creating an anaerobic environment, getting the food away from the air by submerging it in a salt brine. The salt inhibits the growth of bad bacteria, while allowing the good bacteria to break down the sugars in the food and preserve it. And the best part, well other then getting some really yummy kick butt food you can store for an extended amount of time in your fridge, is that the food you are fermenting has that good bacteria (aka probiotics) on it when you eat it. Why is that good? Because it helps your gut bacteria! Who needs to go buy Activia now!?!?

Not this girl, because I was recently contacted by a company, Fermentools, who takes making fermented veggies to a whole new, EASY level! Gone are the days of the big old crock! Don’t get me wrong, I still love my crock, it is a beautiful old piece, but with the jars I already have for canning along with the Fermentools kit, I can crank out a lot of smaller batches of various kinds of veggies. And trust me, I have developed a little bit of a fermenting addiction. If it ain’t nailed down, I might just chop it up and stick it in a jar!

I can simply chop and prep my food, stuff it in a jar with the Fermentools kit and walk away feeling confident I am not wasting food or going to kill anyone with my food. You see the kit comes with a stainless steal lid, stoppers, glass weight, salt and an air lock. It sounds like a simple kit, but trust me, it covers all the things you will worry about. 

  • The ancient Himalayan sea salt is ground to a powder making it simple to make your brine.
  • The stainless steal lid and ring allow you to create an anaerobic environment for your food to ferment in. 
  • The glass weight gives you the ability to keep your food under the brine in that anaerobic environment. 
  • The air lock makes it so you don’t have to worry about the pressure building up in your jar. You see as the fermentation process occurs it gives off carbon dioxide and lactic acid. Since carbon dioxide is heavier then air, the air lock allows the air to be pushed out safely with out allowing more air in and avoiding any exploding jars! Now tell me that doesn’t rock!

So now that I am the owner of these new kick butt fermenting kits, and have developed fermenting addiction, I thought I would invite you all along for the adventure. Each week on Friday, I will be sharing my insight into fermenting along with recipes and tips and tricks that will help you to begin your own fermentation adventure. So check back every Friday to see what is new and along the way we will be giving away a few of these totally awesome fermenting kits from Fermentools!

See you next Friday, when I show you just how easy it is to make your own sauerkraut! 
“Pickling” food uses vinegar as the preserving agent, where as fermenting uses SALT. The salt is the kick in the butt, so to speak, to start the chemical process of breaking down the sugars in the food. Fermenting and Pickling are two different food preservation methods.

12 thoughts on “What Is Food Fermentation?

  1. I bought a similar kit from culturesforhealth.com and love it. BUT you can ferment without a kit, as I've learned. I just use 1/2 canning jars, cover with brine completely and burp every 3-4 days. Works great. I've made kale/chard/red onions, and curtido (salvadoran slaw, spicy!) . Good stuff, and very yummy…

    1. I know you can make fermented food without the kit. People have done it for thousands of years, but the kit makes it so simple to set it and forget it. No burping, etc. I am currently totally in love with radishes and carrots LOL Very good yummy stuff

  2. This is so fascinating, I might do some more research. Thanks for linking up at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

  3. So interesting!!! Thank you so much for linking up at Tasty Tuesday! Your recipe has been pinned to the Tasty Tuesday Pinterest board! Please join us again this week!

  4. So glad I stopped by from "The Yuck Stops Here" party! Thanks for the info. Carrie, A Mother's Shadow

  5. Besides pickles and the pickled salsa stuff that my FIL makes (he's El Salvadoran) I'm not really a fan of fermented food. I just can't get behind the taste. Thanks for sharing on #yuckstopshere this is good information to have.

    1. Yeah know, I have noticed that a lot of fermented food tends to use garlic and that is okay in some instances, but I have been playing with doing things without garlic and have enjoyed them much more.

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