By using these five simple tips to care for and store fermented vegetables, you will reduce mold issues and enjoy your delicious lacto-fermented foods longer.
You’ve made your first big batch of sauerkraut, successfully turning many heads of cabbage into a delicious and nutritious food that you will enjoy for months. Now what?
What is the best way to store and care for your sauerkraut to keep it tasting great and to avoid mold issues? What about half-finished jars? Is there anything special you need to do to your ferments?
Fermentation doesn’t have to be fussy, but if you’re looking to store your homemade ferments for a long period of time – for example, storing your homegrown cabbage as sauerkraut all winter long – you’ll achieve better results by investing a bit of effort into management.
Even smaller batches of fermented vegetables that will get eaten up more quickly are worth a bit of thought.
How to store and care for vegetable ferments:
1) Store ferments in a cool place
When a ferment is “done,” which means that it tastes sour enough for you, move it into cool storage. A refrigerator, the basement, a root cellar, or even the coolest corner of your kitchen will work.
If a ferment is not placed into cool storage, the food will continue to ferment, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but it may become too sour or too soft for your liking.
Knowing that the fermentation process will slow down, but continue in cool storage, I like to move my fermented vegetables into the root cellar before they are at my ideal level of sour.
2) Watch brine levels!
As in the initial fermenting stage, it is equally important to maintain brine levels in your finished ferments. Sometimes, all that’s needed is an occasional pressing down on the fermented vegetable.
Other times, more brine must be added. You can use newly made salt brine or you can use some brine from another ferment for topping up when you’ve finished them. Or combine half-finished jars (see below) so that brine levels remain high.
3) Reduce air space/Eat out of smaller jars
We’ve found consistently that the more air space in a jar, the more likely it is to develop mold growth. So we always repack ferments into smaller containers as we eat them.
For example, as we eat into a gallon jar of kraut, we might soon decide to repack some of it into a half-gallon jar and the rest into a quart jar and eat out of that.
Then once we dig into the half-gallon, we might soon repack that into two-quart jars and eat only from one at a time. Since finished ferments are usually less bubbly and active, tighten the lids, top off the brine, and put the jars back into cool storage.
4) Combine Ferments
Many times we end up with an assortment of small quart batches of finished fermented vegetables, and we sometimes decide to combine them into “blends” so we could store them in larger gallon jars. Who knows, maybe we’ll end up with a flavor combination that’s even better than what we started with!
5) Use a Stronger Brine for Long-Term Ferments
If you know you will be storing a ferment for a longer time through the winter, you can use a bit more salt to create a stronger brine. Sandor Katz’s excellent books The Art of Fermentation and Wild Fermentation both talk about the varied brine strengths and how to get to those salt percentages.
By using these five simple tips to store and care for your vegetable ferments, you will reduce mold issues and enjoy your delicious lacto-fermented foods longer.
Ready to start fermenting?
Try one of these easy recipes:
“Did you find this article on how to care for and store fermented vegetables useful? Share it with a friend or Pin it!”