Fermentation Experiment #2

The second fermenation experiment compares two different brines used to ferment cucumbers. Both methods use the Easy Fermenter lid system and contained garlic, dill and spices for flavor.

In the first method, a standard brine is used containing 5.3% sea salt and water.

The second method, uses the same concentration of salt and has several “helper” ingredients. According to the book, “Real Food Fermentation” by Alex Lewin, certain ingredients can help your fermenation process along, like added insurance.

In this method, black tea and bay leaves were added as a source of tannins. Tannins inhibit the cucumbers naturally occurring pectinase and cellulase enzymes. These enzymes will digest the flesh and make the cucumbers. Grape leaves or oak leaves can also be used as a source of tannins.

Additionally, half of the brine was replaced by pre-boiled apple cider vinegar. Adding vinegar immediately increases the acidity of the brine and makes the environment ready for the lacto fermenting bacteria to get busy. Apple cider or red wine vinegar also contains tannins.

So, the verdict… The cucumbers were allowed to ferment for 2 weeks. There were some noticeable differences between them.

  • Brine Only had cloudy liquid, where the Treated Brine was clear.
  • Brine Only bubbled up over the gasket of the lid causing salt crystallization to occur.
  • Brine Only had a film on the surface of the liquid, with a small amount of mold present.
  • Brine Only – the cucumbers were softer overall and had a very soft spot in the center of each piece. Guess those tannins work!
  • Brine Only – the flavor was less vinegary, but there was a hint of moldy taste
  • Treated Only – the flavor was very vinegary, but more pleasent than the Brine Only

Conclusion: The helper ingredients definitely helped reduce mold and keep the cucumber texture crunchier. Neither recipe was to my liking and they both went into the compost!

Next time, I would use the helper ingredients and lot less vinegar (maybe half or a third). The vinegar taste in this recipe was much too overpowering for me. I might also let them go longer and see what happens.

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