Lately, there’s been some controversy surrounding at-home fermentation and whether it’s safe. I’m not going to comment on that here, other than to say millennia of fermentation experience by everyday people suggests home fermenting is Just Fine.
While the fancy-schmancy Harsch crocks are wonderful, not everyone can afford to spend $125+ on them, and that’s ok. Unless you’re trying to heal a seriously damaged gut, or unless you have extreme allergies to mold or yeast, fermenting in plastic pails, Mason jars, et cetera, will work great.
I’ve been fermenting various things for a few years, which is by no means a comprehensive experience, but during that time I’ve learned some important lessons.
Two Important Fermentation Lessons
The tidbits which spring most immediately to mind are these:
1.) Temperature is key to effective fermentation.
2.) Metal coming into contact with mother cultures causes damage to them.
The first issue is easily resolved by a.) finding a spot with the appropriate temperature in your house, varying by season, (top of the fridge, in the basement/root cellar, over a heating duct,) or b.) using a device to actively or passively modify the temperature (germination mat, cooler with warm or cold water.)
The second requires the correct equipment. For months, I strained my dairy kefir grains through a metal strainer. The grains created kefir, to be sure, but they did not proliferate. They never grew, never created new, baby grains.
This changed abruptly when I switched to a nylon mesh strainer. Within weeks of switching to a non-metallic strainer, my grains became fat and happy. They got fat and happy, created many new kefir mother grains, and began fermenting quarts of kefir faster than I could consume them. Who knew a few seconds being rubbed against a metal strainer could make such a difference?
Well, now I do.
In the slider below, I share some of the best fermentation equipment I have found thus far. You can work through the slides by clicking on the light blue suede panels.