FARMcurious Fermenting Set FAQs

Posted on Saturday, August 29, 2015 | By Nicole Easterday |

What kind of salt should I use?

Almost any salt if fine to use as long as there are no additives. Avoid any salt with anti-caking agents or iodine added. The natural minerals in unrefined salt are fine (and maybe even better for your health!) so feel free to use sea salt or Himalayan pink salt if you prefer.

How much salt should I use?

You’ll likely see a lot of variations on how much salt to use in difference recipes. Feel free to experiment a bit. Just don’t leave the salt out as it serves as a barrier against growth of some undesired bacteria.

Salt is best measured by weight because some grains are very small (like sea salt) and some grains are larger (like Himalayan salt). But since we realize that not everyone has a kitchen scale, you can make some adjustments depending on what salt you choose to use. Our recipe uses 1 Tbs Diamond Crystal Kosher salt (not too fine, not too coarse) to 1 cup water. If you want to use a finer salt, you can use a bit less (around 2.5 tsp) and if you want to use a coarser salt, use a bit more (around 3.5 tsp). 

You can certainly use less salt but keep in mind that the more salt you use the more your ferment is protected from outside forces and the slower it will ferment. Adjust your timing accordingly.

A thin white layer formed at the top of my ferment. What do I do?

In an airlock system this isn’t typical, but if you had a break in your seal, had too much headspace or opened the jar to see what was going on inside, you might see a thin light-colored layer form on top of your ferment. Sometimes, it stays as a light film with no flavor. This film is yeast, is not harmful and won’t change your ferment.

If the starts to thicken it’s best to remove it or even discard the ferment. To remove the film, you can try using a flat spoon to slide underneath it and pull most of it out. As long as it hasn’t changed other colors it’s not considered dangerous. Test the vegetables to see if they’ve softened underneath and remove the top layer of vegetables if they seem affected. Lower layers should not be affected as long as it wasn’t left on too long.

If you’ve opened the container and subjected the ferment to oxygen, it might be best to store it in the refrigerator to avoid further growth.

Why did mold grow on top of my fermented vegetables?

In a properly used airlock system like the FARMcurious Fermenting Set, your veggies definitely shouldn't get moldy. So let's trouble-shoot....

First of all, are you sure it's mold? Is it thick and fuzzy? If so, here are some things to consider:

  1. Was there water in the airlock? There needs to be water for the airlock to work properly.
  2. Did you have the white rubber gasket inserted tightly in the cap?
  3. Did you open it at any point during fermentation to 'peek'?
  4. Was there more than 1" of space between the top of the brine and the very top of the jar? This inch of space is very important because it's the space where oxygen is when you first put the set together, but that oxygen is eventually displaced by carbon dioxide formed during fermentation. The carbon dioxide keeps the vegetables at the top safe and mold-free. However, if you leave too much space (more than 1"), the CO2 is unable to displace all of the oxygen and mold still may grow. Double-check your headspace as it's the most frequent issue we see.

These are some things that could cause issues. If any of those things seem suspicious, make an adjustment and try again!

Don't my vegetables have to stay below the brine?

In an open system like a crock or a jar without airlock it's imperative that you keep your vegetables and spices submerged under the brine. The brine protects them from putrefying bacteria. 

However, in an airlock system, the carbon dioxide produced during fermentation displaces the oxygen in the top of the jar and keeps any protruding produce from yeast and mold. Therefore, it's okay if something is sticking up out of the brine a little. See note above about using proper headspace in the "Why did mold grow" section.

Why do you suggest weighting shredded vegetables?

Even though the FARMcurious Fermenting Set generally doesn’t require a weight for fermentation, shredded vegetables are one of the notable exceptions. Read more about it here.

How does carbon dioxide escape from the airlock?

Even though the airlock has a lid on it, carbon dioxide can still escape through tiny little perforations which circle around the top of the airlock lid. If you look very closely you may be able to see them. Lots of customers ask if they should keep the lid off the airlock during fermentation but it’s designed to stay on to keep debris out.

What type of jar does this fermenting set fit?

The lid fits onto any wide mouth mason jar (like Ball, Mason or Kerr).

If you’re outside the US and want to try to match them up with jars you have, they fit the wide mouth U.S. Mason jars which have a 3 inch (76 mm) inner [3 3⁄8 inch (86 mm) outer] diameter regardless of volume of the jar. Many European jars have lug threads instead of the continuous threads of the US Mason jars so be sure the threading on the rim is continuous (uninterrupted). It’s my understanding that you can get Ball jars in Europe.