Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fido Jar Fermenting Basics

 Carrot Slaw on left, Carrots with Fresh Ginger on right

This is just an introduction to lacto-fermenting in jars; there is much more to know about lacto-fermentation and I'll post some of it as time goes on. After trying several types of containers for lacto-fermenting with only slightly differing methods, I have decided the safest for me is using Fido Jars. Here's why:

There is no reason to open the jars prematurely. Using a clear jar, I can see what's going on inside without the temptation to open the jars or crock. Because of the rubber seal which has a slight 'give' to it, the fermenting gases (CO2) can push their way out but O2 cannot push it's way in. Using a canning jar with a 2 piece lid is similar, but most people who use that method have problems with the lids working loose and losing the top portion of the contents, or sometimes the whole jar.

There is also no rim with water to keep filled as on a Harsch crock. I'd forget to check it almost as soon as I stuck it in a dark closet!

The first regular canning jar I fermented something in gave me a problem with keeping the contents submerged. I used a glass sugar bowl lid but it wasn't heavy enough. I even went so far as to look online for 1/2" thick glass 'rounds' that would fit inside the neck and keep the food submerged. Once I switched to Fido jars, that is no longer a problem. I fill the jars with about 80% capacity with food, and then brine up to about half an inch to an inch from the top; yes, some things will float... However, as soon as the lactic acid process begins on Day 1 or 2, any air space inside the jar fills with CO2, so anything floating will not spoil.

See the ferment bubbles at the top of the liquid? (Beets with garlic and onions)

Basically, I do this: Fill the jars. Snap down the lid. Place the jar in a catch-pan because it may overflow a bit of liquid in the first days of fermenting. Cover with a dark towel. (Ferments are best done in the dark; light diminishes nutrients.) Leave on the counter in a warm spot and visually check it daily. When the bubbling stops, move it to a cool place (45-50ºF) like a basement closet. If you don't have a cool spot, refrigerate the jars. After a couple of months, you may want to sample the contents. If you do open the jar, you must then keep the jar in the refrigerator to avoid spoilage.

I know folks who don't touch their ferments for 6 months to a year, or more. Once the active fermenting (bubbling) stops, you are still a long way from good ferments. As they age, more vitamins and enzymes are formed, and the taste mellows or 'matures' much like a fine wine.

Most ferments will keep in a cool, dark spot for 1-3 years. Fruits are the exception. I haven't fermented any fruits so far, but everything I read says they spoil rather quickly, like in a couple of months. If I do ferment any, they will go into the fridge as soon as the active fermenting stops.

18 comments:

  1. Hi good day ! nice post you have . It's very nice , I have plan to setting up my garden can you give me an idea or steps on how to make it beautiful. i have heard some garden accessories such as garden spinner , wind chimes , wind spinners and many more . I want to try this things in my garden but i don't know how to get the right accessories . I hope you can help me . thank you .

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  2. Sorry... I can do many things but garden design is not one of them.

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  3. Thank you I found this very helpful to me.

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  4. Thanks, Jamie. I've been nibbling some of my ferments all winter, nice to know they are so healthy!

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  5. I had trouble with an improvised mason/air lock with its rust. I will ferment sauerkraut next time with my large fido jar (a mix of sauerkraut, apples, and juniper berries.)

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    1. Terry, when I use mason jars, I use the food grade plastic lids, so no rust. (Not suitable for actual canning.) http://www.amazon.com/36010-Mason-Canning-Plastic-Storage/dp/B001ASXI8C

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  6. This is helpful. Im trying a fido right now for fermenting pickles. Ive used mason jars but they ar tricky in getting everything to stay under the water. I cant wait to try the pickles. Do you think these would work for making kombucha tea?

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    1. Sinc3e I've not made Kombucha, I'm NO help. Sorry.

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    2. Hi,

      Just want to comment that these seem air tight, but kombucha needs air to ferment. You'll also want something that is wider than it is deep to have good results with it.

      Thanks for the tip about Fido jars!

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    3. ALL lacto-ferments need air to ferment, not air-tight jars. I only tighten the lids after fermentation has ceased.

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  8. Hello, Thank you for your very lovely blog! My questions is about jars with gaskets...are they all created equal? I have several gasket style jars of different origins, some from France, Italy, Le Parfait and some miscellaneous. Would they be considered interchangeable say with a Fido or Pickl-it gasket jar? I am especially interested in your thoughts about, if you have any, about making kefir in this type of jar. Your response is much appreciated. ~Sally

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    1. In general, they are all equal and interchangeable. I make kefir in quart mason jars, and save my gasketed jars for ferments that I store in the root cellar.

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  9. Excellent info on fido, thanks. You add brine up to 1/2 inch of top and seal jar. Just want to make sure that you don't add anything on top of cabbage like a leaf or small cap to keep floaters down. Do I have that right?

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    1. Pretty much, although I do sometimes add a weight if there are lots of floaters.

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    2. One more question. What is largest fido jar that you have used to ferment with. I was going to buy a couple 3 liter. Don't know if the gas could outflow quick enough or not. What's a good engineer such as yourself think?

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    3. Half gallon is the largest I use since there's just me to eat the ferments. I haven't even used my 7.5L Harsch crock in several years because it makes too much.

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    4. Thanks. I grow about 30 pounds of cabbage that I ferment and refrigerate. It usually lasts season to season. I am thinking that using 3 ltr jars cuts out couple of processing steps and conserves space in refrigerator. As an aside, there's just me too.

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