As anyone who knows us well could tell you, we are avid fermenters, and we always have a least a few things fermenting at any given time (at this moment, we have kombucha, vinegar, sourdough, and sauerkraut). Needless to say, we love this awesomely-designed process of food enhancement and preservation, and we are always looking for new tools to help us do it better. So read on to read about our experience using the Fermentools Starter Kit (find it here).
What's Inside the Kit?
This starter kit includes almost everything you need in order to get started with a small batch of fermentation. The only things not included with this set are a wide-mouth mason jar and the metal ring for the lid.
As seen in the picture on the left, this set includes:
(clockwise from left)
1) a pound of pink Himalayan salt
2) red rubber gasket
3) two stoppers (one with a hole in the middle)
4) a plastic airlock
5) instruction booklet (which includes a couple recipes)
6) glass weight
7) stainless steel lid with hole in the middle
Using the Tools
Fermentation is not a difficult thing to do once you learn to trust the process, and thankfully, this kit doesn't overly complicate things. It keeps it simple, which is something we really like at Simple Life Homestead.
There are many different things that you can choose to ferment, but one of the easiest is cabbage (to make sauerkraut). And even sauerkraut can range from simple (just cabbage) to complicated (with all sorts of other veggies and spices mixed in). For the maiden voyage of these tools, we choose to keep it simple: straight up sauerkraut with no additions.
First thing is to find a suitable mason jar. As mentioned before, you need a wide-mouth jar as the stainless steel lid is made to fit on that. We chose a pint jar as we didn't have any wide-mouth quart jars.
Next, find a suitable head of cabbage and cut it up into small slivers (some people have a fancy cabbage shredder, but all you really need is a good knife). As you cut it, put it in the mason jar so that you can ensure that you have the correct amount of cabbage. Once it reaches the top of the jar (uncompressed), take it out of the jar and put the cut up cabbage in a mixing bowl. It should look something like the picture at the right.
Once your cabbage is nicely shredded, it is time to add the salt. Follow the instructions in the booklet on how much salt to add (it is based on the weight of the cabbage, so a kitchen scale is really helpful).
Now comes the fun part. After you put the salt on the cabbage, mix it with your hands. As you mix, squeeze the cabbage in your hand. The mixing in of the salt and the squeezing will help breakdown the cells and release the liquid.
After the mixing is accomplished, put the cabbage back in the mason jar and press it down. You want a good inch of space above the cabbage as it WILL expand as it ferments. You should notice that as you push it down, a layer of liquid appears above the cabbage. This is good, and you want this. The liquid layer keeps the fermenting cabbage safe from molds and other undesireable things. Use the included glass weight to help you push the cabbage down and then leave the weight on top of the cabbage (the liquid should cover the glass). Here is the progression of what it looks like:
Now, you will use the rest of the Fermentools. Put the rubber gasket on top of the mason jar lip. Then, put the included metal lid on the gasket and seal it with a metal ring (one that you provide). Put the stopper (the one with the hole in it) in the hole in the metal lid. Then, put the airlock in that stopper. Finally, put some water in the airlock to help seal the environment (while still allowing the gases to escape). The final setup should look like the picture to the right.
The only thing left to do is put the whole thing in a dark place and wait. The time it takes to ferment really depends upon the temperature. Warmer temperatures will cause it to ferment faster while cooler temperatures will cause a slower ferment.
Check it periodically to make sure the water in the jar covers the glass and that the water in the airlock is up to the appropriate level.
Two weeks later, our first batch of kraut turned out great. We put it on some roast beef sandwiches with mustard and onion, and we had some as a side with some caraway seeds sprinkled on top. Fresh and delicious kraut with just the right acidity and crunchiness.
Now the only question is: what to ferment next?
In my opinion, this is the perfect set for two different types of people: those of you who are unsure about fermentation and are just getting your feet wet; and those of you who don't need tons of a certain type of fermented product at once.
We are already sold on the idea of fermentation, so we are in the second group. It is useful because it makes just one jar at a time. We have made big batches of sauerkraut before in big ol' crocks. That produces a LOT of sauerkraut. This starter kit, on the other hand, only makes a jar's worth. The way we look at it, after one jar is completed, put an actual lid on it and place it in the fridge. Then, use the Fermentools to immediately start a second batch. By the time you finish the first batch, your second batch will be good to go! That way you always have freshly fermented kraut (or whatever else).
Great product. Period.
We are a husband and wife who are trying to live simply. We are learning much as we transition from life in the city to life in the country. Come along with us, and maybe you can also learn a thing or two as well.
We love writing for these fine folks as well!
|Simple Life Homestead||
Simple Life Homestead