If you get on this page, it probably means you went to an introduction class of fermentation in our shop. While each of these are a bit different (depending on the fruit and vegetables of the season, or the recuperated vegetables from the market), the techniques that we show are often the same. Through this post you will get a nice overview of what fermentation is all about. Like a war tactician, it is your job to create the right environment in order to make the right bacteria prevail and create a wonderful fermented content.

We will have a look at ginger bug, the easiest of all fermented beverages, a 95% instant succes lacto-fermentation technique and you will get a link to our Kimchi workshop too. We will cover the basics and share a bit of our methodology. The most important with fermentation: try, test, think and retry! Nothing beats some good practice.

Ginger bug

A ginger bug is part of the starter family. With a starter you can activate fermentation in different ways. There are the kefir grains, kombucha scoby, sourdough starter, tempeh starter, koji culture and so much more. A starter is an enriched place for the bacteria to live in before you use them in a preparation. These environments need a certain fuel to be prolific, often sugar or salt (minerals). With Ginger bug it will be the sugar that will be the fuel for the bacteria on the peel of the gingerroot.

Here’s what you’ll need to start your ginger bug:

  • 500ml mason jar
  • Sugar of your choice (we choose unrefined cane sugar, as it is richer in taste)
  • 2 cups dechlorinated or filtered water
  • Tightly woven cloth and rubber band to cover
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons grated or chopped organic gingerPour the water into your jar. Finely chop or grate your ginger, and measure out 2 to 3 tablespoons.  Add the ginger to the water, then measure out 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar, and add to the jar. Whisk or cover and shake until thoroughly blended.

Each day (for at least 4 days), add 2 more tablespoons ginger and 2 more tablespoons sugar and whisk or stir well with a wooden or plastic (not metal) spoon. Or, add just one teaspoon of each, until the mixture is very bubbly.

When the ginger bug is bubbling away vigorously, it’s ready to use. This can take as little as three days to a week or more, depending on the temperature of the room. You will use 25% of strained starter to every 75% of water that you use. When creating a mix you add a little bit of sugar back in the bottle to give it a last activation boost

After you’ve removed your liquid, replace the water in your starter jar and add more sugar and ginger, and wait a couple of days before using your starter again.

Don’t let it ferment to long, because most ginger ale drinks are quite active. So make sure to burb it after two days, taste and choose to let it ferment a bit longer or not.

With this you have the basic of a ginger bug drink. Easy, no?

Lacto-fermenting vegetables

While it sounds quite fancy, lacto-fermentation is a century old technique that each grandmother was using to preserve the surplus of seasonal vegetables. Each country has it’s technique, but the basics are mostly the same. It’s a reaction to salt, the key is using just the right amount. When you have controle over your fermentation you can start adding spices and other stuff to create tasteful mixtures. Kimchi is the korean brother of sauerkraut and  you can find out about that technique on this post

Here is what you’ll need to start your lacto-fermentation

  • 1kg weck pot
  • Salt (we choose uniodized seasalt as it is richer and better suited for fermentation)
  • dechlorinated or filtered water
  • A scale
  • Optional: a weight (cleaned rock, glass, ballloon filled with water)

Let’s suppose you got yourself some carrots and cauliflower. The first thing to do is to shop them in small bite size bits. You will create a little pickled style snack. Best is to have access to organic vegetables, they are more likely to have good bacteria. You scrape the vegetables clean and put them in a weck pot. Important is to put the pot on a scale and weight it without the vegetables.

When you filled the pot with enough vegetables (you can press them down so it holds together you add filtered water to it till all vegetables are covered under water (this is an important step to lesser your chance in oxidation or moult formation)

Now you weight the totality and use the following formula:

(total – weck pot)*0,025 = the amount of salt you need to put in the pot.

When adding the salt you will need to mix everything again and push all the vegetable down in the now created brine (a mixture of salt and water that will take up the bacteria from the vegetables)
Now you close the weck pot and wait for at least 2 weeks. When ready you can start tasting and decide if you want to let it ferment a bit longer or not.

If there is a floury and bubbly mixture coming on top of your ferment, don’t panic. It’s your ferment telling you it hasn’t enough salt. You can scrape it off and a ad a bit salt till you are around a 3% -4% brine.

After a couple of weeks you will have your first ferment. Taste it and try out different mixtures, add spices to give it a kick or use brine from that ferment to start a new ferment. There is no waste in a ferment!