- Vessel: Glass or ceramic containers, ranging anywhere from pint-sized mason jars, to gallon-glass jars or 2-3 gallon or larger ceramic or glass crocks. Food-grade plastic is okay, too (Some are concerned about plastic leaching into the food).
- Weight: Find a heavy, waterproof object (like a lid or plate) that fits inside the opening of the container. This weight will keep the food safe under the brine. Objects like sanitized rocks, glass jars filled with water, or zip-top bags filled with water work well. It’s Fine Under the Brine!
- Take Cover: Tea towels or swatches of cloth and rubber bands and/or twist ties should be used to secure your ferments. Avoid cheesecloth, as flying insects can penetrate the loose weave and infest the goods beneath.
- Small Batch Fermentation Kits: If you’re ready to step up your game, there are some pro-tools out there to make fermenting almost hassle-free! They typically provide a weight and some way to cover the fermenting vessel. Here’s a video review series we did comparing some of these small batch tools.
- Sea salt or kosher salt. Most unrefined salts like Celtic, “Real” salt, Himalayan, etc. work well. Avoid iodized table salt– it contains iodine and/or anti-caking agents, both which can inhibit fermentation.
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- Storage (post-fermentation): Mason jars, glass jars and bottles with lids of all shapes and sizes (pint- and quart-sized mason jars are the most versatile). Save all your glass food jars!
- Clean, filtered water– as high quality as you can source.
Whenever possible, find ingredients that are:
- Seasonal- In-season produce is cheaper and more abundant, and it’s in keeping with traditional food-making wisdom
- Organic- tastes better and studies have shown that it contains more nutrients; pesticides (which are more commonly found on conventionally grown produce) can inhibit the growth of good bacteria and yeasts
- Local- locally grown ingredients taste better, and are picked closer to their most ripe; it also helps the wild bacteria and yeasts get a leg up (since they’re already used to the local conditions)
Recipes for Beginners
If you’re brand-spanking new to the whole fermenting thing, congratulations, and welcome to the club! Here are some simple “wild fermented” recipes to get you going. They don’t require a starter culture.
ONLINE COURSES (Fermenters Club Academy)
We are now offering online courses which take you through how to make various fermented foods. The catalog is growing all the time!
There has been an explosion in the number of fermentation books being published the past few years. If you’re a beginner, we recommend:
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Wild Fermentation and the James Beard-award winning The Art of Fermentation are written by our friend Sandor Katz. The first is a great entry-level book. The second is wonderful, too– it is more narrative and goes more in depth on cultural fermentation traditions as opposed to a straight-up recipe book.
We also like Branden Byers’ The Everyday Fermentation Handbook as a good starting point.