New to cultivating vegetables and need help...

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New to cultivating vegetables and need help...

Postby Pam on Wed Jan 18, 2012 6:52 am

As the title says I am new to all this, but I’m very enthusiastic and have started my first culture with white cabbage in a glass jar, and I’m on my fourth day. My question is how will I know when the cabbage is ready to eat and also I am concerned that if there is dangerous bacteria on the surface of the water and I ingest this it will make me ill won’t it? I ask this question because in Sandor's video he says that a film of bacteria on the top is quite common.

The water on the surface looks nice and clean with no problems, but if there is a small amount of bacteria there that I can’t see then obviously when I am taking the cabbage out of the neck of the jar it will most likely touch it and contaminate the cabbage so how can I avoid this?

Also do people drink the juice that the vegetables have been fermenting in – is it ok to do this or should it be thrown away? All advice gratefully received :)
Last edited by Pam on Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New to cultivating vegetables and need help!!

Postby Christopher Weeks on Wed Jan 18, 2012 2:35 pm

There are bacteria all over everything. When you eat an apple, you might rinse it, right? But you don't scrub it with bleach (I hope). There are bacteria. Some of them are harmful under certain circumstances. Usually your body just kills them and you're fine. If you're immune-compromised, it's different, but most of us aren't.

That said, fermenting in brine causes a natural cycle of bacteria that aren't dangerous. They're either neutral, beneficial or quite scarce. If there's a greater than usual bloom of something on the surface, I'll skim it off before serving. If it's obviously mold (fuzzy and textural --usually it isn't), then I'll scoop it out and maybe wipe the inside of the jar (above the brine line) down with vinegar to impede further molding. I've never gotten sick from any of this stuff by taking these simple precautions.

So basically, there are almost certainly not dangerous microbes in your cabbage.

How will you know when it's ready to eat? Taste it? Especially a few years ago when I started this stuff, I'd taste my vegetable ferments every day to follow development. When you like it, it's done! I usually leave stuff out for 2-4 weeks before popping it in the fridge.

In Wild Fermentation, Sandor talks about drinking the brine of some things as digestive tonic. I can't stomach that much salt, so I don't do that.
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