Tips & Troubleshooting for Fermentation Success

Tips for fermentation success:

1) Use the freshest organic produce you can possibly get your hands on.

2) Use the highest quality sea salt

Not commercial table salt with additives.

3) Use only filtered, non-chlorinated water.

4) Keep all vegetables submerged under the brine

At all times and top off with supplementary brine as needed*.

5) Limit oxygen exposure

By using a homemade or store-bought airlock system. Leave only 1-2” air space, at most, above vegetables in the fermentation vessel.

6) Take notes,

Keep a fermentation journal or label ferments with date, method and recipe.

7) Ferment vegetables around 64º-74ºF,

not on the sun, and where you can keep an eye on them. 

8) Finished ferments should have a pH reading of 4.5 or lower.

Use pH test strips or a digital pH meter to test your ferments.


Fermentation Troubleshooting:

  • Brine becomes cloudy: This is normal. It is the beneficial bacteria doing their job creating lactic acid.
  • White film forms on the surface of the brine: It is called kahm yeast and it will not hurt you but it will make your pickles yeasty tasting and soft. Just skim it off. Usually means too much oxygen is present. Top off with supplementary brine*, if necessary.
  • Slimy, mushy vegetables: possibly fermented at too high a temperature, not enough salt or the produce was not fresh enough.
  • Mold. A tiny bit is not a problem, just scrape off and discard any vegetable matter it was touching. Top ferment off with supplementary brine. Usually means vegetables are not under the brine, and/or exposed to oxygen.
  • Nothing happens: Too cold or too much salt.
  • When in doubt, throw it out! Fermented vegetable should have a pleasant, if sour, aroma. Never consume anything you are not sure about. 
  • *Supplementary brine:
    1 tsp sea salt dissolved in 1 cup of non-chlorinated water

Over to You

It’s part of our mission here at Mountain Feed to help you make delicious, sustainable, homemade food more often. Stop by and say hello on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. Or, as always, you can do it the old fashioned way and come by the store to speak with one of our in-house experts.