If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve been experimenting with various ferments over the past several months. While I’ve been making simple cultured dairy products and sourdoughs for quite some time now, vegetable and fruit fermentation is relatively new to me.
I had been working only with mason jars and their regular lids. While most of my ferments were relatively successful, I was considering purchasing a few airlocks for a more foolproof approach. I was delighted when I had the opportunity to receive a free six-piece fermentation starter kit from Fermentools in exchange for my honest review.
The fermenting process is fairly simple: You want to grow good bacteria that will preserve your food, while eliminating oxygen and bad bacteria that will spoil your food. You can use a salt brine, cultured whey, or a purchased culture starter to get your fermentation going. Once your food begins to ferment, it will release lactic acid (hence the term “lacto-fermented”) and carbon dioxide.
You don’t necessarily need special equipment to ferment, but there are a few things you need to ensure during the process: 1) The food must stay under your fermenting liquid, so that none of it spoils. 2) The gases put off during fermentation must be released so they don’t build up inside the jar.
Previously, I had been putting sliced carrots on top of all my ferments to weigh down the other vegetables under the liquid- which mostly worked, except that sometimes a stray veggie would pop up anyway! Once I tried not weighing the food at all, and it molded. Yup, there’s a reason they tell you to do that.
To take care of the gases, I would simply “burp” my jars once or twice a day by unscrewing the ring and releasing the pressure- and this would work pretty well. I would occasionally forget a burping, but thankfully, I never exploded my jars. 😉 My main concern was that I would expose my food to oxygen or introduce some bad bacteria while burping.
Enter the Fermentools starter kit. The six-piece kit includes enough glass weights, stainless steel lids, silicone gaskets, stoppers, and airlocks to ferment in six wide-mouth mason jars at a time. The glass weights keep the food under the brine, and the airlock allows the carbon dioxide to escape without allowing exposing the food to oxygen or bad bacteria. Perfect!
I was a little bit apprehensive because I had never used an airlock before. I wondered if the system would be complicated to figure out, or hard to clean. Happily, neither was the case!
I tried this recipe for lacto-fermented cranberry-apple relish from Learning and Yearning for my first trial with Fermentools. First, I prepared the recipe and packed it into a wide-mouth quart jar. (I used this Himalayan salt in the recipe.) I put the glass weight on top of the food, making sure that all ingredients were submerged in the liquid. I left about 1″ of head space to allow for expansion while the gases were released.
Next, I wiped the jar rim clean and placed the gasket on top.
Then, I added the stainless steel lid and secured it with the original mason jar ring.
Next, I placed my airlock in the stopper with the hole:
I was quite happy to come home and discover slightly bubbly, pleasantly tangy, perfectly un-molded cranberry-apple relish. We stuck it in the fridge and have been enjoying it as a treat ever since then!
Here are some things I really like about Fermentools in particular:
- They are simple to use.
- They eliminate some of the guesswork that comes with fermenting without equipment (which is very nice for a beginner like me).
- Since the system is designed to work with a wide-mouth mason jar, I don’t need to buy special jars only for fermenting. Also, this gives me the option of fermenting in pint, quart, or half-gallon jars. As long as its wide-mouth, it will fit!
- The lid is food-grade stainless steel, so you don’t have the breakage, staining, or smell-holding that comes with plastic lids. Dishwasher-safe and long-lasting, these lids are a great long-term investment.
- The gaskets are silicone, so they should last longer than rubber gaskets.
- They include both stoppers with holes (to be used with the airlock) and solid stoppers (to temporarily seal the jar lid once you remove the airlock). How convenient!
- The glass weights work much better for me than sliced carrots. 😉
- I looked up similar products on Amazon, and the starter kit is actually a very good value. Most kits don’t include everything you need in large quantities, and buying separately definitely adds up. Plus, I couldn’t find any others with stainless steel lids! Fermentools provides long-lasting bang for your buck.
I had a very positive experience with Fermentools. They are easy to use for the beginner, but are also a high-quality product for the more experienced fermenter. I would definitely recommend them to anyone looking to purchase a fermenting system!
To find out more or to buy your own, visit the Fermentools website.
I received a free six-piece starter kit in exchange for my honest review. All opinions contained in this blog post are 100% mine.