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FAQs Fermented Foodie fermented foods

How To Tell If Fermented Food Has Gone Bad

When you are new to fermenting foods the first time you see the fermentation process it can look a little strange and iffy. Each batch you make will behave and ferment differently than the batch before, so it is possible that your fermentation will always look different.

Some people will throw out a perfectly good batch of sauerkraut or kimchi thinking it has gone bad when it has not. In this post, I will answer the questions “How do I know my fermented food is bad ?” and “Is my fermented food safe to eat?”

First, let’s talk about what fermentation looks like. During fermentation you will see bubbles bouncing around in the jar, this is a good sign that the fermentation process is working. Depending on the batch that you are producing you may get a very high level of bubbles or a lower level. Some ferments might now show any bubbles at all, and that is okay.

It all depends on what you are fermenting, the ingredients you are using, temperature, and so on. One way to always check for healthy fermentation is to check it every 2-3 days. If the color, smell, and brine levels are good, then you are good to go. Just remember that all fermentations will not look the same.

Before you start fermenting your food, do you know how to tell if fermented food is bad? Knowing how to spot if fermented food is toxic can save you a trip to the emergency room.

Below are several key ways to identify healthy or spoiled ferment at home. Most of the tips require you to be a little observant when opening the jar of fermented vegetables.
Fermented food from the market is always edible because manufacturers check the quality before distribution. The tips below are for people who are making homemade fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, jalapenos, carrots, and so on.

Signs That Your Fermented Food is Bad

There are simple signs that signal your fermented food isn’t fit for human consumption. You can note when the food is bad when you are aware of the apparent signs of identifying toxic food. Some signs are so evident that no one will have to tell you that you need to throw a batch out.

Foul Smell

Harmful bacteria will produce a foul smell that you won’t withstand, let alone put in your mouth. Beware that once you open a jar, there may be a foul smell as it releases gases. Don’t eat the food if the smell persists after the jar sits open after a while. The nose test is a simple way to identify inedible fermented food fast.

A Tip: Buy fermented foods from the grocery store to get used to the smells, colors, and textures of a successful ferment. Then when you make your own, you will have a strong base for knowing what a healthy ferment looks and tastes like.

Mold

It is important to check whether there is mold on the lid of the jar or on the top of the food. If the mold is brownish, pinkish, black, or any colors other than white, the batch is wasted. Mold development is a sign of contamination of the food during fermentation.

Mold is a sign your fermented food has gone bad.

Keep in mind that mold only grows on the surface and will not penetrate the brine itself. Mold cannot survive in a salt brine.

If you spot a white and fuzzy substance, it is not mold, it is a type of yeast called Kahm. Kahm yeast is an aerobic yeast that forms when the sugar is used up and the PH of the ferment drops because of the lactic acid formation.

Kahm is easily mistaken for mold. Kahm yeast tends to show up on the surface of many fermented vegetables like pickles and sauerkraut in the warmer summer months.

Even though Kahm yeast has an odd unpleasant smell and looks weird, it is totally harmless. It is easily removed from a jar by scraping it off the surface of the vegetables.

Check the batch every day because it will return. If you think your ferment is ready then place it in the fringe, the colder temperature will stop the yeast from coming back.

Kahm yeast on fermented jalapenos can be scraped off.

Color

Pay attention to the color of the vegetables you are fermenting. If you notice that the color is way off, such as bright green cabbage has turned gray, black, or brown, you shouldn’t eat it.

Discoloration signifies that the food became toxic during fermentation. Healthy fermented food maintains color throughout the process.

You can tell this batch of sauerkraut is bad because of its dull gray color.
The color of this sauerkraut is bright and looks close to raw cabbage.

How To Prevent Your Fermented Food From Spoiling

Use The Best Quality Ingredients

As a rule of thumb, always start with fresh good quality vegetables. Sometimes, you can find that only a small portion of a fruit or vegetable is bad. It is highly tempting to cut out the bad part and use the remainder for fermentation. However, it is possible to spread the spores from the bad parts. The spores will then grow during fermentation and spoil the whole batch.

The best results of fermentation happen when you use the best ingredients from the start. Be highly selective of the food you use at the beginning. Select the best and healthiest vegetables from the market or your garden and use those for fermentation.

Most fresh foods contain preservatives to increase shelf life due to companies spraying chlorine on vegetables to kill bacteria and maintain the freshness of the produce. The food preservatives contaminate the contents of your jars and can lead to spoilage.

Washing the vegetable with filtered or well water before fermenting is an important step you do not want to leave out. Preservatives interfere with the development of good bacteria when you are fermenting produce.

Here is a great article that goes into detail about sprayed produce.

Use Chlorine-Free Water

Treated water contains chlorine and other chemicals that may be harmful to the good bacteria you are trying to cultivate during fermentation.

Chlorine kills a large percentage of bacteria in water, whether good or bad. Therefore, using treated water can kill any useful bacteria that you need in the fermentation process.

Unfortunately, treated water also contains hardy bacteria that can withstand chlorine treatment. The hardy bacteria can outnumber the good bacteria and lead to spoilage of fermented food.

Your best bet is to use well water or filtered water to remove any traces of chemicals and chlorine. Pure water is the best starter for a fermentation process. It allows you to create high-quality brine that will preserve the product during the whole process.

Another bad habit is washing produce with treated water or vegetable washing detergent as it strips the vegetable of all the healthy bacteria. A neutral liquid-like filtered or well water will remove any preservatives while maintaining the healthy bacteria. You can opt to shop at the farmers market and look for fresh, organic produce free of any chemicals.

Ferment In The Right Temperature

The optimal temperature for fermenting most vegetables is between 65-72 degrees Fahrenheit (17-22 Celsius). Beware that extremely low temperatures can kill some of the good bacteria and higher temperatures will speed up the process and turn the food into mush.

During the summer it can be hard to keep a temperature of 70 75 degrees. Look around the house for a cooler place to store the jars or crocks, think basement, a low cabinet in the kitchen, or near an air conditioner or fan.

Since higher temperatures can cause bacteria to be more active it is important to check the jar regularly and beware that it can be done a few days before expected. Often, recipes that normally call for 7 days can be ready in just 5 days.

Brine Strength

Weak salt brine can result in spoilage during the fermentation process.
It is wise to start with a good amount of salt brine concentration to improve the chances of success.

Most fermented vegetable recipes recommend a 2.0-2.5% salt brine in relation to the weight of the vegetable mixture.

However, there is much documentation that shows a lower level of 1.5% salinity will still make a successful batch. Take a look at my post Why sauerkraut gets too salty and how to fix it, to learn more about the levels of salt brine in fermenting.

Keeping the vegetables submerged below the salt concentration also plays a part in a successful fermentation. Check out my post Fermentation weights: how to keep veggies submerged for some easy tips.

Proper Cleaning And Sanitizing The Equipment

If you have canned, pickled, or made beer before you are probably used to sterilizing your jars beforehand. But when it comes to vegetable fermentation, it’s a little less stringent. You just need the fermentation crock or jars to be free of chlorine, iodine/iodide, and any particles of food.

How to clean equipment for fermentation?

Simply clean them with really hot water, dish soap, and a brush to remove any debris. Or run them through the dishwasher. That’s It!

If you want to take a step further, you can add a couple of tablespoons of bleach to the sink when you wash them out and let them soak for a few minutes. Bleach kills everything. Just be sure to rinse them very well.

Signs Your Fermented Food Is Safe To Eat

There are signs that you can look out for to know whether your fermented food is safe to eat or not. The characteristics do not require you to have any special equipment to analyze the edibility of the food.

Smell

There is a mild fermentation scent that is associated with fermented food. If you have ever bought sauerkraut or kimchi, you can relate to that smell. It should not under any circumstances have an overpowering smell that makes you feel like gagging.

Over time as you gain experience in making fermented food, you will be able to identify the good fermentation smell right away. Therefore, you need to smell your fermented food jars before eating it.

Texture

Fermentation does slightly break down the food, but it should still have a little crunch to it. For example, if your batch of fermented carrots is soft and mushy then it has gone bad.

All fermented vegetables should have a good texture. Be on the lookout for any that seem to have a hint of slime. Slime in food is a result of harmful bacteria, and you need to throw out.

Think about the vegetables you are using in the fermentation recipe and how crunchy they are naturally. The rib of napa cabbage has a good crunch to it and so does daikon radish, carrots, apples, and garlic. So if you are testing a batch of kimchi to see if it is done and the daikon radish is mushy, then that is a clear sign the batch is bad and you should through it out.

Has a Healthy Color

The fermentation process should not affect the color of the food or the liquid inside. Healthy fermented foods maintain their color throughout the process. Therefore, your cabbage should have a healthy green and white color when done. If the cabbage turns brown or gray, it is safe to assume that the food is not good for human consumption.

How To Tell If Sauerkraut Is Bad?

Because sauerkraut is one of the most popular fermented foods out there, I’ll take a minute to go over: how to tell if your sauerkraut is bad?

There are two main ways of identifying whether your sauerkraut has gone bad or not.

First, you can check whether your sauerkraut has a strong, pungent smell. A healthy version will have a sour odor that is kind of pleasing. Bad sauerkraut will produce a scent that will curl your toes and make you want to run out of the kitchen.

The second method is to check whether the lid has mold. If you notice a fuzzy growth of any color other than white, it is safe to assume that your sauerkraut is bad. It would be best to dispose of it.

Last Word On How To Tell Fermented Food Has Gone Bad?

Learning the craft of fermenting vegetables at home can be so rewarding. Being able to provide gut-healthy food for your family and friends is empowering too. However, at the beginning of trying a new way to prepare food, it is important to trust your instincts and take a few extra steps to prevent getting sick from eating any fermented food that has spoiled.

Not sure what to ferment first? Try our simple homemade sauerkraut recipe or browse through our extensive selection of cultured vegetable recipes and enjoy your journey into fermenting.

best_fermentation_crock_guide
FAQs Fermentation Tools Fermented Foodie

Best Fermentation Crock [Buyers Guide]

For all the fermentation tools a person can choose from today, one of the most essential items for every fermenter’s kitchen remains a good quality crock. If you do any fermenting at all, a high-quality fermentation crock will do a lot to make the job go smoother.

If you’re considering purchasing a fermentation crock, our buyers’ guide is your one-stop-shop for everything you need to know during the buying process. We review water-sealed crocks, open crocks, pots for bulk fermentation, best-value fermentation crocks, multi-purpose crocks, fermentation crocks made for kombucha, and fermentation crock kits all for the fermented food lover. Let’s get started!

Factors to Consider When Buying a Crock for Fermenting Vegetables

A few things to consider before making a buying decision on a new fermentation crock include:

Different Types of Fermentation Crocks

Water-Sealed Crock

The water-seal crock process is so simple: you fill-up the moat with water and it creates an airtight seal that keeps out contaminants, such as dust and bugs, keeping your foods fermenting without a problem. Also, there is little chance of mold or surface yeasts growing on your ferment.

Water-seal Crock

You do need to keep an eye on the water-seal crocks, to make sure that the moat stays full of water. If the water in the moat evaporates, oxygen, particles, and bacteria can get into your brine solution.

Open Crock

Most open crocks don’t come with a lid or weight to keep the vegetables held down below the brine making it a cheaper purchase. This could be considered a positive because it saves you money.

However, it is up to you to find a suitable weight and cover. You can read the post, Fermentations Weights: How to Keep Veggies Submerged for some clever ideas.

The one open crock I do recommend does come with weights and a lid and they produce outstanding results.

If you are using a cloth or paper towel as a lid, then be sure to closely monitor the batch to prevent Kahm yeast and mold from developing. Both can appear when the vegetables are exposed to the air.

Stoneware Pickling Crock Complete Kit

There are some great benefits of using an open crock. The wide mouth makes it easy to place several whole cabbages or other giant vegetables, such as cucks in the vessel.

So if you are preparing to ferment in bulk, this crock will be perfect for you.

Depending on their size, open crocks are quite easy to clean, since their bases and openings are the same diameters.

Furthermore, open crocks can also be used as a storeroom or kitchen container.

It is important to note that open crocks work better during colder periods of the year, i.e., in lower temperatures because molds or Kahm yeast do not form as quickly in lower temperatures.

Whichever style crock you choose to buy you will still have to check the batch of fermenting food to ensure the brine levels are not dropping.

Crock Size:

Fermentation crocks come in a wide variety of sizes. If you are looking for a larger size crock, I recommend the Boleslawiec 15 L Polish Fermenting Crock which is almost 4 gallons in capacity. This baby can hold 10 heads of cabbage.  Just beware of the weight; this crock weighs in at 34 lbs when empty.

Crazy Korean Kitchen has a 5.8-gallon crock which is both lighter in weight and on your budget. It is great for mass production. But you’ll want to make sure you have the room to store it. CKK crocks are plastic and come with an ingenious inner seal that makes it quite versatile because you can easily push down the seal to ferment a smaller batch in any of their container sizes.

There’s typically no harm in leaving some extra headspace in the crock, but if you usually make smaller personal batches, you’ll likely be perfectly fine with one of the smaller crocks on the market.

Inner seal of Crazy Korean Kitchen 5.8-gallon Crock

Value:

The price range for fermentation crocks on the market is vast, and because of that, it can make your initial search feel intimidating, but it just means you have a lot of room to choose one that fits your fermentation needs and budget.

Advantages of Fermenting Crocks

When I started out making my own ferments, I took the cheap and easy route by just using glass jars. Like most people taking on a new hobby, I didn’t want to invest in a lot of expensive equipment if I wasn’t sure I was going to stick with it.

But that all changed when I tried a batch of kimchi made in a water-seal style fermenting crock. The kimchi was so much better; I was blown away.
It wasn’t just a matter of the recipe or expertise; ferments come out better in a crock for two main reasons:

  • Ceramic Materials: The thick walls of a crock are made with ceramic clay. The thick clay provides natural insulation and helps keep the brine temperature stable, allowing the bacteria to grow effectively.
  • Naturally Blocks Light Out: Have you noticed that practically every fermentation recipe you come across recommends placing the jars in a cupboard or pantry away from the light? That is because UV light kills the healthy bacteria in the brine. The thick ceramic walls block out the light and help with a successful end product.

Buying Fermentation Weights

TIP: Most of the fermentation crock kits here come with non-glazed ceramic porous weights used to keep the vegetable below the brine. Unglazed porous weights can absorb bacteria present in your ferment and cause mold to grow. It also can be difficult to remove smells and stains from a non-glazed fermentation weight.

I highly recommend you purchase these lead-free glass weights by Stone Creek Trading. The 6.5 ” Luna Glass Crock Weight weights 2.6 lbs. This is almost double the weight of most standard glass weights on the market today. This is great because I often hear people complain that the glass weights they bought are not heavy enough to actually keep the veggies below the brine.

It is important to pay attention to the size of the weight, as their smallest size 6.5” will not fit into smaller 2-liter crocks listed in this article.

Fermentation Crock Buying Guide

Best Traditional Style Water-Sealed Crock

CrockWhy We Love ItPrice
K&K Keramik German Made Fermenting Crock 5-lThick walls, beautiful, easy to move$129.00
Ohio Stoneware Pickling Crock 1-gallonAmerican Made, durable, classic design, can buy replacement pieces$114.49
Boleslawiec Polish Fermenting Crock 15 L High-quality, well made, sturdy, perfect for large capacity fermenting. $200.00

Best Value

CrockWhy We Love ItPrice
Humble House SAUERKROCK Fermentation Crock 2-lQuality made, Great beginner crock$40.95
Mortier Pilon Glass Fermentation Crock 5-lEasy to use, sleek modern design$59.95

Best Multi-Purpose Crock

CrockWhy We Love ItPrice
Crazy Korean Kitchen CrocksQuality made, many sizes to choose from, can use as a food storage container$44.90
Ohio Stoneware 2-gWide mouth for larger vegetables, can use as a kitchen utensil container$148.00

Humble House Crock

Sauerkrock by Humble House

Price: $40.95
Capacity: 2-liter

The Humble House Crock is a great buy because of the price point and the quality of the product.

The Humble House Crock is available in three sizes, 2 Liter, 5 liters, and the 10-liter option. It’s perfect for fermenting sauerkraut, pickles, and kimchi. It comes with a jar, lid, and weights. It is made of thick ceramic and finished with a lead and cadmium-free glaze.

This crock relies on the traditional method of fermentation, which is water sealing.

Two-liter Crock

The 2-liter crock measures 6 inches wide and 8 inches tall, this smaller size crock will make about four mason jars worth of pickles, kimchi, or sauerkraut. That is enough to feed 3-4 people. This size crock is perfect for those who don’t have much storage space in their kitchen.

Beware that some people say the mouth of the 2-liter crock is so small they cannot fit their hand in it to give it a good scrub.


Five-liter Crock

If that isn’t big enough for you, then the 5-liter crock can surely do the job. At 10 inches wide and 12 inches tall, this medium size crock makes up to 10 standard size mason jars per batch.


Ten-liter Crock

Thinking of mass producing your fall harvest of vegetables? The 10 liter Humble House Crock is the right crock for the job.

It measures 11 inches wide and 13 inches tall and makes up to 20 standard size mason jars per batch.

The Humble House Crocks are easy to clean by hand. The manufacturer does not recommend using a dishwasher or detergents. Just use soap and warm water to clean the pot.

Vinegar and water are great if you need extra cleaning power. Since the weights are unglazed, using warm water and vinegar is the preferred method. If necessary, you can boil them for deeper cleaning.

The crocks can be used to brew kombucha or grow a sourdough starter by simply replacing the lid for a clean cloth.

Whatever your favorite fermentation recipe is, or the frequency with which you ferment, the SAUERKROCK is the perfect fermentation crock for all of your home fermentation needs.

PROS CONS
Three sizes to choose from: 2l, 5l, and 10l. Handwash Only
Easy method of fermenting
Lead and cadmium-free glaze
Tough ceramic

2-Gallon Ohio Stoneware Pickling Crock Complete Kit

Price: $114.49
Capacity: 2 Gallon

If you are looking for a Made in the U.S.A product, then the Ohio Stoneware 2 gallon starter kit is perfect for you.

It comes with everything you need to get started on your fermenting adventures. The kit includes the crock, weight, and a lid. This crock comes with a water trough an airlock system that allows carbon dioxide and other gases to escape while keeping out air.

The natural stoneware with classic blue stripes and the lead-free, food-safe glaze will not retain food flavors and makes for easy cleanup.


The weights are two split pieces that make it easy to remove from the crock. Ohio Stoneware weights are considered one of the heaviest of fermentation weights, which is great because they easily keep the vegetables below the brine.


With this style of crock, you can make beer, kombucha, and any fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and pickles.


The 2-Gallon overall height with the lid is 14-3/8 inches and weighs 28.5 pounds. So this is a rather heavy item to pick up, something to take into consideration if you are not that strong.

Ohio Stoneware also sells the lids, weights, and crocks separately on Amazon in case you break or misplace a piece.

PROS CONS
The weights are two pieces, which makes it easy to remove from the crock and they are very heavy, heavier than most. Heavy
Beautiful classic style with the ceramic Bristol and striking Navy Stripe. Thin walls, which may cause problems
Has handles to make it easy to pick up and move
Lead-free
Dishwasher, oven, and microwave safe
Pieces are sold separately, easy to replace

Crazy Koren Cooking Premium Fermentation and Storage Container

Price: $44.90
Capacity: 5.8 Gallon

Crazy Koren Cooking hits it out of the ballpark with this masterfully made fermentation crock. There are five different sizes to choose from, 0.9 gallons up to a whopping 11.8 gallons.

The smaller containers can fit in any standard size refrigerator.

Although they might not look very pretty, they are made of high-quality polypropylene plastic mixed with 7-10% natural clay. This combo makes for optimal porosity and all components are FDA approved materials, free of BPA, DEHP and lead.

Warning: The inner seal has a little nozzle, which you need to open for a second or so every day or two depending on what you are fermenting.

If you don’t do this, the gases gradually push the inner seal upwards, and oxygen may enter.

Multiple sizes to choose from.

This container can also be used for storing non-fermented foods, think coffee, bread, seaweed, cereal, and so on.

PROS CONS
FDA approved materials, free of BPA, DEHP and lead Made of Polypropylene Plastic
Can be used as storage container Not Pretty
Very Affordable
Dishwasher safe
Light Weight

K&K Keramik German Fermenting Crock Pot

5-Liter K&K Keramik German Made Fermenting Crock

Price: $129
Capacity: 5 liter

Crocks that originated in Germany have a distinct style and are known as the water-sealed crock. The water gutter in which the lid sits in are shaped in a ‘u’ or ‘v’-shape. The gutter is filled with water and creates an airtight seal that only allows gases to escape, but no air to enter.

The Keramik German Made Fermenting Crock is known for its impeccable design and high-quality products. The kit comes complete with a pot, lid, weighing stones, and a recipe book.

The body is created in a single piece with walls that are 0.6 inches in thickness.
The FORM 1 seen here has a deep gully that allows the expelling of gas and prevents the entry of dust and air.

There is also a Form 2, which has slightly narrower physic.

Both have the water seal lid that works by filling the built-in channel with water to guarantee a perfect seal against the lid. The carbon dioxide that forms during fermentation can easily escape while the odor is trapped inside. The seal blocks contaminated air, mold, and insects from entering the crock.

This ceramic crock is lead-free and cadmium-free, making it a healthy option. It is a 5-liter crock with handles on each side to simplify lifting and transporting.

PROS CONS
Deep gully 5-liter Small Handles
Handmade German ceramic free of lead and cadmium Heavy at approximately 30 pounds
Comes with weighing stones Fragile
Dishwasher safe

Open Crock

The Ohio Stoneware wide-mouth crock is microwave, broiler, stove, and even dishwasher safe. Ohio Stoneware presses these crocks in a metal mold with a hydraulic press, resulting in a sturdy and hardy crock.

The open crock I recommend is the Ohio Stoneware 2 gallon three-piece kit because the kit includes weights and a lid.

Ohio Stoneware 2 gallon three-piece kit

PROS CONS
Mcrowave, broiler, stove, and even dishwasher safe Heavy when full
Great for Bulk Fermentation Ferment prone to developing mold and/or Kahm yeast
Lead and cadmium-free glaze Versatile

Continuous brewing crock for kombucha and other fermented drinks

Humble House SAUERKROCK TAP Kombucha Crock with Stainless Steel Spigot

Lastly, this continuous brewing crock for kombucha and other fermented drinks made by Sauerkrock is perfect if you want to keep a crock just for fermented drinks.

Sauerkrock by Humble House Kombucha Crock

Price: $49.95
Capacity: 5-liter

Humble House makes this beautiful sleek crock just for Kombucha lovers. Their kombucha crock comes in black and white as well as two sizes, a 5 liter and a 10 liter. Don’t stop at kombucha; the Humble House Kombucha crock can also be used to make jun tea, kefir, vinegar, and more.

The spigot is made from 304 stainless steel and comes with a BPA-free silicone washer. You should tighten the spigot before your first use to ensure a good seal. The 5-liter crock easily makes up to ten mason jars worth of kombucha in a single batch. This is enough kombucha for families of 2-4 who drink kombucha every day.

When filled with liquid, the crock will be quite heavy, so plan ahead as to where it is going to sit in your kitchen — moving it around when full could be difficult.

It is designed with continuous brewing in mind, as the spigot makes it easy to fill up bottles and transfer to the refrigerator.

The glaze is food-safe and lead and cadmium-free.

This crock has thick walls and is sturdy enough for regular use. It is still possible to use a thermostat strip to monitor the temperature of your liquid though.

The kombucha crock does not come with a lid. You must use a paper towel or piece of cloth secured with a rubber band to cover it and allow it to breathe. This is normal when fermenting kombucha.

Additionally, you must clean the spigot by hand with warm water and vinegar. Do not use a dishwasher.

PROS CONS
Beautifully made with thick ceramic, perfect for regular use Heavy when full
Easy to clean with a water/vinegar Handwash Only
Lead and cadmium-free glaze
Stainless Steel Spigot

How do you clean a ceramic fermentation crock and stone weights?

Fermentation crocks should be cleaned with warm water and mild dish soap. You can also use a water/vinegar solution.

To remove strong smells, apply soap for at least 15 to 20 minutes before washing it: rinse and air dry.

Clean the equipment right after you remove the fermented food. Do not let it sit for a long time with food particles.

If you are storing the crock for a while, then fill it up with a scrunched up newspaper. Also, wrap the lid and stones in newspaper to protect the ceramic pieces and ensure they stay dry.

To prevent mold growth in a crock or on the weight

  • Always dry the stones/crock thoroughly in a warm oven or the sun
  • Never put the crock or weights away wet
  • Never store your crock and weights in a damp room, such as a cellar or basement

If you notice the crock or weights, do have a little mold on them. They can still be saved by quickly cleaning them off before the next use.

How to remove mold

Sometimes, mold happens, here are some tips on how to clean them

  • Scrub the mold off as best you can
  • Soak the weights overnight in a pot with a few tablespoons of vinegar and hot water (not boiling), or fill the crock with vinegar and hot water.
  • Rinse thoroughly
  • Lastly, place the weights or crock in the oven at a low temperature until completely dried

Final Thoughts

As with any product, it is important to buy quality so that way you only have to buy once. That couldn’t be truer than when it comes to the purchase of a fermentation crock.


If you settle on a cheaper fermentation crock, you are going to be facing a short lifespan, along with wasting your time and vegetables. Nobody wants that, especially if you have been waiting all summer for harvest time.


I hope our Guide to Buying a Fermentation Crock serves you well. Happy Fermenting!

Related Topics:

Tannins sources for Crunchy Fermented Pickles
FAQs Fermentation Tools Fermented Foodie

11 Natural Sources of Tannins for Crunchy Fermented Pickles

You have spent the entire summer growing your garden vegetables. Now, the season has finally arrived to begin fermenting them for all your fall recipes. Fermented vegetables are getting more popular every year due to their health benefits! Some of the most popular ones are sauerkraut, beets, kimchi and naturally preserved probiotic-rich crunchy dill pickles.

 

Tannin-rich grape leaves give the fermented pickle it amazing crunch.
Tannin-rich grape leaves give the fermented pickle it amazing crunch.

 

By now, you’ve probably read all the articles about the not-so-secret secret ingredient: tannin-rich grape leaves that give the fermented pickle it amazing crunch.

But what happens when you can’t get your hands-on grape leaves? They can be quite hard to find at a supermarket or even your local farmer’s market.

Luckily, there is an easy-to-find grape leaf alternative: bay leaves. Now you have the most essential ingredient for your Fermented Pickled Recipe. You will need to use 2 – 4 bay leaves per quart to achieve the crunchiness you like. Another great substitute is green or black tea. Add 1 – 2 bags of tea in your Lacto-fermented pickle recipe.

 

bay leaves have tannins which are key to a crunchy pickle
Bay leaves have tannins which are key to a crunchy pickle.

In fact, there are quite a few tannin alternatives to Grape leaves:

Blackberry leaves

Indian almond leaves

Cherry leaves

Horseradish leaves or Horseradish root – grated or chopped

Raspberry leaves

Mesquite leaves

Black Currant leaves

Sour Cherry leaves

Oak Leaves (Contain the highest amount of tannins)

* Use fresh leaves over dried. As for the tea, a tea bag or loose leaf is fine.

 

That’s not all, there are a few more steps beyond just adding tannins to a recipe to help your fermented pickles get their crunch. Here are a few more suggestions on how to make crispy crunchy fermented cucumber pickles.

 

8 Bonus Tips to Keep Your Pickles Crunchy During Fermentation

 

1. Use a Saltier Brine

The salt in the brine actually prevents harmful bacteria from growing. Then, the healthy lactic bacteria can produce lactic acid to preserve the cucumbers. The healthiest choices are natural sea salt and Himalayan pink sea salt.

We recommend using a salt brine mixture of 4-5% opposed to a 2-3% or lower. This will bring out the taste and crunchiness.

My family prefers a 4% salt brine, it’s not too salty, and it provides a satisfying crunch factor.

*A 4% salt brine converts to 2 tablespoons of salt for every 4 cups of water.

While a 5% salt brine is 2.5 tablespoons of salt for every 4 cups of water. This was a little too salty for my taste, but it could be perfect for you.

By using a higher percentage of salt brine, you will preserve the crispiness of the pickles. Beware though, you don’t want to overdo it because if they are too salty, you might end up throwing them out.

 

a saltier brine will make a crunchier pickle
A saltier brine will help fermented pickles turn out crunchier.

 

2. Use Small Whole Cucumbers

Small cucumbers tend to keep their crunch better than larger cucumbers. When buying cucumbers, choose the Persian cucumbers over Kirby’s. Kirby’s are already quite crunchy and better suited for a quick pickling process. They don’t hold up as well through the longer fermentation process. Traditional Kirby cucumbers tend to get mushy on the outside during fermentation.

If you are using larger cucumbers, do not cut them into small pieces because they tend to become soft. It’s best to choose a little cucumber and divide it into large spears. This will ensure the best-tasting pickles for your recipe.

 

3. Use Fresh Cucumbers

Fresh is best when it comes to fermenting pickles. If you notice your cucumbers are wilting, throw them out. Grocery stores always put the freshest produce in the back and the oldest in the front. Fresh cucumbers have the most amount of nutrients and health benefits, so take the time to find the best ones!

The cucumbers should have no soft spots and should not look wrinkly. If they have either, then they are on the way out. Fresh picked cucumbers from your garden or the farmers’ market work best. I find that using small, Persian cucumbers make the crispiest and crunchiest pickles.

 

4. Remove the Blossom End

The end of a cucumber contains enzymes that soften pickles. Cut a thin slice from the end, to preserve the firm texture. This will keep the enzyme from softening the cucumber before it’s fermented.

 

5. Puncture the Skin

Cucumbers that get harvested a bit late in the season or have been on the vine longer will develop a thicker skin. A great way to improve their taste and texture it to simply prick a hole in each cucumber with a knife or skew. This will allow the brine to penetrate faster and the cucumbers will culture better.

 

6. Chill Cucumbers in an Ice Bath

Chilling cucumbers in an ice bath for four to five hours before starting to process them will help improve the crispiness of the pickle. Use a large, food-safe container and fill it halfway with ice before pouring in water. Replace the ice as needed to keep the cucumbers cool.

 

7. Ferment at the Coldest Temperature You Can

The ideal temperature for fermenting pickles is between 60-70°. Anything much warmer than that will result in mushy pickles. Stay in this range for best results.
However, if the temperature is over 70 degrees, then shorten the fermentation time. Do a taste test after three days to determine their level of crunch. If they taste great and have the crunch you desire, then they are ready.

 

8 Pay Attention to the Color

The color of the cucumber is another indication of readiness. When the cucumber changes from bright green to an olive or yellow-green color and the inside is translucent the batch is ready to eat.

 

Final Word

 

By now you should be well on your way to being an expert in pickle Lacto-fermentation. If you follow these steps, you will keep your cucumbers from turning mushy while reaping all the benefits.

Once you’re done with fermentation, make sure to store your pickles in a cool, dry place. A refrigerator or root cellar is the best options and will increase its shelf life.

Fermenting is actually a simple process. Once you learn it, you’ll be able to ferment all kinds of vegetables. One secret is you can use your fermented pickle juice to make a delicious salad dressing.

You will be able to include these fermented pickles in recipes your friends and family will love. There are many vegetables you can ferment, but a crispy, crunchy pickle is the tastiest of them all!

If you like this, try my Homemade Sauerkraut recipe and Sweet Kimchi recipe.

 

Kitchen Tools:

 

Note: Most of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means I receive a small commission if you purchase something after clicking the link. It doesn’t cost you any extra, and it helps to support the fermenters kitchen, which I appreciate so very much!

does store bought sauerkraut have probiotics
FAQs Fermented Foodie

Does store bought sauerkraut have probiotics?

Part of eating a nutritious diet includes making sure that you eat plenty of probiotics. While you often think of food items like yogurt for your probiotic intake, that is far from the only food from which you can get probiotics. Sauerkraut can be an excellent source, but you should know that not all store-bought sauerkraut have the probiotics that you are looking for.

Store-bought sauerkraut in a can or jar has been pasteurized, which kills off the good bacteria. It is best to buy fresh sauerkraut (made without vinegar) to reap all the health benefits. To get the probiotics that you are looking for, stick to the refrigerated options. You should specifically look for selections that say “probiotic” or “raw” on the package.

Raw, fermented sauerkraut is full of probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria that provide many powerful benefits for your body and brain. They help strengthen the immune system so it can fight off colds and illnesses. The gut-healthy bacteria also help promote overall digestive health, reduce depression, and promote heart health. 

 

Does Canned or Jarred Sauerkraut Have Probiotics?

can sauerkraut does not have probiotics

Canned and jarred sauerkraut often do not contain probiotics, due to the pasteurization and canning/jarring process. The high heat is used to not only kill the bacteria, but it is also used to make sure that the cans and jars do not explode while they are being stored. The problem is that the high heat kills off the probiotics. Another problem is that due to the nature of the canning and jarring process, there are a lot more preservatives used to keep the sauerkraut longer, which can have negative effects on your health.

The same principle applies to any fermented foods that you buy, including kimchi. Stick to the fermented foods found in the refrigerated aisle and make sure that you read the label to make sure you are purchasing the healthiest product.

 

Does Cooking Sauerkraut Kill the Probiotics?

Yes, cooking sauerkraut can kill probiotics, which is one reason why some sauerkraut in the stores lack the probiotics that you want. For instance, much store-bought sauerkraut is pasteurized. The heat used during the pasteurization kills off the probiotics. As you cook sauerkraut to kill the harmful bacteria, you are also killing the good beneficial bacteria. Your best bet is not to cook it to get the most nutritional benefit of the sauerkraut.

 

Does Rinsing Sauerkraut Reduce Probiotics?

The answer here is both yes and no. When you rinse the sauerkraut, you are losing some of the probiotics, but there will still be probiotics contained in the sauerkraut after being rinsed. There are a few reasons why people rinse their sauerkraut. Some people find the smell and flavor to be too pungent for them, so they rinse the sauerkraut to make it more palatable for them. Others rinse the sauerkraut to reduce the sodium intake from consuming this product. If you want to get the full benefit of the probiotics in sauerkraut, it’s best to leave it as is since the brine can be just as beneficial as the cabbage.

Where Can I Buy Probiotic-Rich Sauerkraut?

The first thing that you should know is how to choose the right probiotics. Sauerkraut needs to be kept at a stable and cooler temperature to keep the probiotics alive. Keeping this probiotic-rich food at a steady and cooler temperature means that the most nutritious sauerkraut will be found in the refrigerated section of the store. Sauerkraut is live, which is why it needs the cool temperatures of the refrigerator. Sauerkraut that you see in the regular aisles are dead and lack the probiotics that you need. In many cases, you will notice that the best quality and most nutritious sauerkraut is in pouches rather than cans or jars.

You should also pay attention to the ingredients. Read the label and make sure that cabbage is the first ingredient listed. Other components to look for are other vegetables, spices, and salt. However, you will want to avoid any sauerkraut that contains vinegar, Sodium Benzoate/Sodium Bisulfate, any other scientific words, and sugar. Vinegar is a preservative, which means that the product has been pasteurized rather than allowing for the natural fermentation process. The ingredients should be natural and straightforward. Otherwise, the product is not as healthy as you think it is.

Fortunately, there are some great store-bought options that you can trust to have the probiotics you want. Here are my top picks for the best store-bought sauerkraut full of the gut-healthy probiotics we desire.

Bubbies Sauerkraut:

Bubbies is famous for its pickles but they also make amazing sauerkraut. Bubbies sauerkraut is Gluten-Free, abundant with live cultures, and absolutely delicious! Their line of products includes Kosher Dill Relish, Bread and Butter Pickles, Horseradish, and Pickled Herring Fillets. You can buy them on Amazon here.

Farmhouse Culture Kraut:

One of the great features of this brand of sauerkraut is the fact that you have several flavors of kraut from which to choose. From the packaging, you can see that it says “Probiotics” so you know that this is a product that will give you the nutritional benefit you need. Try their Classic Sauerkraut with caraway and Garlic Dill Pickle flavored kraut.

Farmhouse Culture also makes a delicious  Ginger Beet Gut Shot and a line of Kraut Crisps which are chips packed full of probiotics, 1 billion to be exact.

Gold Mine Sauerkraut:

Raw, organic, and full of probiotics, Gold Mine’s sauerkraut is a nutritious sauerkraut option. This organic sauerkraut is not pasteurized and is full of the living microorganisms that are essential to great probiotics. It’s carefully packaged, hand-crafted in small batches with sea salt and aged in ceramic crocks to maximize the fermentation process. According to testing, this particular sauerkraut has about 468 million CFUs of live Lactobacillus and bifid bacterium species per ¼ serving. Order it online through Amazon and they will ship it refrigerated. Gold Mine Sauerkraut at Amazon.

Conclusion

Sauerkraut is an excellent food to add to your diet to make sure that you get the probiotics that your body needs to thrive. Probiotics may seem like a buzzword, but these live microorganisms are incredibly helpful in ensuring that your digestive tract is working as it’s supposed to. Many problems are associated with a lack of essential probiotics in the body, which can leave you feeling sluggish and uncomfortable. To choose the right sauerkraut, make sure you only select options that are raw, non-pasteurized, and found in the refrigerated aisle.

 

Related Topics:

Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe

Is Sauerkraut Keto-Friendly?

Can You Freeze Sauerkraut?

Why Sauerkraut Gets Salty & How To Fix It

10 Delightful Ways to Eat Sauerkraut

FAQs Fermented Foodie

What is a good substitute for salted shrimp?

Best Substitutes for Salted Shrimp in Kimchi Recipe

If you have made kimchi before, then you know there are literally thousands of ways to make it and just as many ingredient variations. This may be a slight exaggeration, but maybe there is some truth in it too.

Some of those ingredients can be a little unique and depending on where you live; it can be challenging to get your hands on them. I ran into this same situation, and that is why I decided to do a little research, and this is what I came up with for the best substitutions for one ingredient, in particular, salted shrimp.

What is a good substitute for salted shrimp when making kimchi
What is a good substitute for salted shrimp when making kimchi?

The first time I made kimchi I followed “The Best Korean Kimchi Recipe” which I found on Cici li’s website. You can read about my experience https://fermenterskitchen.com/first-time-making-korean-kimchi-recipe/.

This incredibly delicious and out of this world kimchi recipe called for multiple shrimp/fish ingredients starting with:

3 oz of Korean dried cod

1/4 cup of salted shrimp (saewoo juht)

1/4 cup of anchovy fish sauce

1/4 cup of lance fish sauce

So, in this instance, I think if you omitted the salted shrimp all together, the other fish ingredients would have provided plenty of the desired umami flavor.

However, you might have a similar recipe that only calls for salted shrimp, so here are my best substitutes for salted shrimp that you must try.

Shrimp Paste

The most similar substitute for salted shrimp is a shrimp paste, and this is what I used as my substitute ingredient. Shrimp paste is basically the same thing as salted shrimp; it’s just in a paste form. It is a ground-up salted shrimp that has been fermented. Here is a great brand of shrimp paste.

Now, if you can’t find shrimp paste, you might consider using anchovy paste.

* 2 teaspoons of shrimp paste may be substituted for the salted shrimp.

Fish Sauce

Although in a side by side comparison salted shrimp and fish sauce might taste pretty different from each other, the fish sauce does provide the desired umami flavor as well as the necessary saltiness. Because of this, along with the fact that it is sold in pretty much every mainstream grocery store in the country, it is probably the most popular substitute for salted shrimp.

*Consider anchovy fish sauce and lance fish sauce as well.

The fish sauce can be substituted just shy of 1:1 and the kimchi will still turn out great.

Dried Shrimp

Another great substitute is dried shrimp. Dried shrimp are shrimp that have been sun-dried and shrunk to thumbnail size and provide a delicious umami taste. Here is a dried ground shrimp made in Lousiana, USA.

*An equal amount of dried shrimp may be substituted for the salted shrimp.

what is a good substitute for salted shrimp?

Red Miso

If you are allergic to seafood or avoiding shrimp because you are vegan or vegetarian than red miso is an excellent substitution for salted shrimp. Red miso is made with fermented soybeans and barley, and other grains; its color ranges from dark brown to red making it perfect for kimchi.

Furthermore, red miso paste is full of glutamic acid, the same element responsible for the savory, umami flavor. It is salty and pungent, and you’ll only need a little bit to add some serious umami to your kimchi. Here is a great Red Miso that is made of 100% Organic Rice & Soybeans and is additive-free.

Miso paste can be tricky to find in the local grocery store. Find out where to buy miso paste.

Seaweed

To expand on the umami flavor, take it one step further and combine the miso with dried seaweed or kelp powder. The seaweed would give it the fishy taste, and the miso which is salted and fermented soybean paste would give you the funky salty part.

All in all, there are quite a few salted shrimp substitutes. Don’t forget you can always use them for experimenting with making your own kimchi recipes.

Some fermented food ingredients are hard to find, grape leaves in particular. Check out my post on 11 Natural Sources of Tannins for Crunchy Fermented Pickles.

More Ingredient Substitutes

Miso Past Substitute

kombucha-recipe-one-gallon-fermenters-kitchen
Fermented Drink Recipes Fermented Foodie

Kombucha Recipe 1 Gallon

How To Make Kombucha For A One-Gallon Jar

Anybody can learn how to make kombucha at home. Follow this easy step-by-step kombucha tea recipe designed for anyone who wants to brew up to a gallon in their first batch.

The gist of it is: make sweet tea, add the kombucha culture, wait.

Homemade kombucha is the best kombucha!

How to make a one-gallon jar of Kombucha Tea

Brewing Homemade Kombucha Supply List:


To make kombucha tea you will need a few specific supplies:

-Black Tea
-SCOBY
-Large one-gallon size glass jar or ceramic container
-Cheesecloth
-Flip-top fermentation bottles
-Kombucha starter kit
(optional)

Black Tea:

Black tea is by far the best option when it comes to brewing your own kombucha. Not only is it sure to provide a delicious base flavor for your kombucha tea, but it ferments easily and will keep your SCOBY very happy!

SCOBY & Starter Tea:

The SCOBY, short for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast” does all the work when it comes to making your delicious kombucha! While kombucha starts out as nothing but a sugary tea, the SCOBY feeds on the sugars, fermenting the tea and creating a deliciously fizzy, probiotic-filled beverage for you to enjoy!

If you don’t already have the starter tea or a SCOBY, you can order one from Amazon (see my recommended products below). The culture will play a significant role in the flavor of your finished kombucha so you may want to experiment with cultures from various sources and see what you like the best.

The starter tea can be either 1 cup of liquid from a previous batch of kombucha for each gallon of sweetened tea or store-bought bottled kombucha (unpasteurized, neutral-flavored).

Large glass or ceramic container:

You can’t have kombucha if you don’t have a jar! You’ll need a large, food-safe glass or ceramic container to keep your kombucha in during the fermentation process. It is best if it is able to contain least one gallon of liquid, has a spigot, and a wide mouth. Just add in your black tea and other ingredients, then sit back, relax, and let the SCOBY do all of the work for you!

Cover for the Crock:


In order to ferment properly, the kombucha needs a breathable covering; A few layers of a piece of cloth, coffee filters, or paper towels will do the trick.

Flip-top fermentation bottles:


These bottles are great for storing all of the incredibly delicious kombucha that you’ve brewed! Their tight-seal tops are absolutely perfect for keeping your beverage fresh and flavorful until you’re ready to enjoy it!

Kombucha starter kit:

Kombucha starter kits are a great way to begin brewing your very own kombucha from home, especially if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by the process! No need to stress- there are many kombucha starter kits available that have most everything you need to get started immediately, without any hassle! Most are incredibly affordable, so they’re a great option even if you think you have everything you need but are still feeling a bit uncertain!

Shop Amazon for the following recommended kombucha brewing supplies:

How to Make Raw Kombucha:

To start the kombucha recipe you will need a starter kombucha, a SCOBY, plain black tea or green tea, sugar and a pot to boil water in; as well as a one-gallon or larger container to ferment in with a cloth and rubber band to cover it.

Begin by brewing a gallon of sweet tea. I use 1 cup of sugar for one-gallon (16 cups ) of tea and eight tea bags or 2 tablespoons of loose-leaf black tea (or green tea).

Once your tea is brewed, remove the tea bags and let it cool to room temperature. When it is thoroughly cooled,  add the SCOBY and starter tea. It’s essential to ensure the liquid is completely cooled when you add the SCOBY. You don’t want to accidentally cook the SCOBY and kill it.

The SCOBY may sink or float but it doesn’t matter, it will begin fermenting the tea regardless.

Cover the jar with a piece of cloth, coffee filters, or paper towels and secure with a rubber band.

Ferment for 7 to 10 days: Store the jar in a cupboard or pantry, out of direct sunlight at room temperature.

You will notice that the SCOBY tends to move around during this period. It is normal to find it at the top, bottom, or even sideways during fermentation.

Within a few days, a new layer of SCOBY will start forming on the surface of the kombucha. It might attach to the old SCOBY, or be separate. These are all normal and signs of healthy fermentation.

Next is the hard part: waiting.

Taste and Bottle

It should take roughly a week to 10 days to finish fermenting, but this, like pretty much every other aspect of brewing kombucha, is up to your personal preference. The longer you allow the tea to ferment, the more acidic and less sweet the final product will be.

Conversely, shorter fermentations leave more sugar unconverted and are less acidic. You want to find a happy medium. Test your kombucha every few days to see how it tastes and decide when you’re satisfied with it.

If you are following a keto diet, then check out my post on how to make kombucha keto-friendly. I share some great tips on how you can still enjoy kombucha while on a keto diet.

Avoid metal utensils when testing the kombucha, since metal can react with fermenting kombucha and create off-flavors among other problems. Use a clean glass utensil to check the taste.

The kombucha is ready when it loses its sweetness, has a tangy taste, and fizzes as you pour it.

Once your kombucha is finished fermenting, it is time to bottle it and store it in the refrigerator.

You can use a siphon or pour through a funnel, but make sure to leave around a cup of kombucha in the jar to use to get your next batch started.

Use glass bottles only; I recommend swing-top glass bottles specifically made for carbonated drinks, available on Amazon.

Avoid using plastic bottles because they can easily be damaged, and scratches in the plastic can harbor foreign bacteria. Plastic, even food-grade may contain undesirable chemicals that can be harmful to the kombucha SCOBY.

One thing to consider when bottling is that while the kombucha remains at room temperature, fermentation will still be occurring even if no culture is visible in the bottle.

Because of the pressure, if glass bottles are kept at room temperature long enough, they can explode!

You can avoid that danger by putting them in the fridge after a few days to dramatically slow fermentation, it won’t stop completely, and will resume once it warms up to room temperature again.

Kombucha Recipe Notes & Tips

  • Metal will react badly with kombucha so do not use it. Use plastic or glass utensils and a plastic funnel.
  • Sanitize your bottle with hot water or white vinegar. I ran mine through the dishwasher with no soap, just hot water.
  • Before you remove your SCOBY, it is best to sanitize your hands with white vinegar.  Do NOT use soap because it can kill your SCOBY.

Homemade Kombucha Tea FAQ:

What does kombucha tea taste like?

Kombucha is a fizzy, sweet, fermented tea that tastes similar to sparkling apple cider, but slightly sourer. Many describe the taste of kombucha as being somewhat “vinegary”. There are many different types of kombucha, and depending on what flavors you decide to add into your batch, it can take on more of a spicy, floral, or fruity flavor! With so many flavor options for this versatile beverage, you are certain to brew a kombucha tea that will have you craving more!

How much alcohol is in kombucha?

While kombucha does contain alcohol, commercial kombucha contains such a small amount (less than .05%) that it is considered to be a “non-alcoholic” drink. However, homebrews can often contain up to 3% alcohol. There are several factors in the fermentation process that influence the alcohol content of your kombucha brew. Fermenting your brew twice or using yeast which ferments at a higher temperature can cause higher alcohol content in your kombucha tea! Make sure to always follow the brewing instructions so you know exactly what you’re getting!

What are the side effects of kombucha?

While kombucha has many benefits, including the ability to settle an uneasy tummy, it can cause unpleasant side effects if your batch becomes contaminated! Some of these side effects include nausea, vomiting, head and neck pain, yeast infections, allergic reactions, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin). Due to the risk of contamination, kombucha is not recommended for those who have compromised immune systems. However, if you are a healthy adult, follow brewing instructions, and exercise caution, the risk of brewing a contaminated batch is incredibly low!

What are the health benefits of kombucha?

Kombucha offers many incredible health benefits. This fermented tea is rich in probiotics, a are healthy bacteria which is naturally found in the gut. Consuming probiotics may help to improve overall gut health and is even thought to assist in treating diarrhea and even IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Additionally, studies have shown that kombucha may assist in preventing or managing cancer, heart disease, infections, liver health, and Type 2 diabetes. This miracle beverage is even believed to assist with weight loss and to support good mental health!

Can you use no-calorie sugars such as Stevia and Splenda in kombucha?

Unfortunately, artificial sweeteners such as stevia and Splenda do not ferment well, so it is not a good idea to use them during the initial fermentation process. You can, however, add them during secondary fermentation, but remember- this will increase the alcohol content of your brew. If you are wanting to add a little extra sweetness to your kombucha, and prefer to use a no-calorie sugar, you can always add them in at the time of bottling!

Can you use decaffeinated tea to make kombucha?

The SCOBY, or “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast” that you will need in order to brew your very own kombucha at home requires caffeine in order to produce the kombucha; However, because of this, the caffeine level in the tea will decrease as your kombucha goes through the fermentation process. If you want to end up with a caffeine-free brew, it is recommended that you use two bags of caffeinated tea and six bags of caffeinated tea per gallon of water used to create your kombucha.

What kind of brewing vessel should I use to make kombucha? Plastic, metal, or glass?

Choosing the correct brewing vessel for your kombucha is a very important task! While there are many types of kombucha brewing vessels available, many find that the most ideal by far is a food-safe transparent glass container, preferably with a wide-mouth and a spigot, that is at least one gallon large. Traditionally, ceramic vessels were used to brew kombucha; While this method has become less popular in modern times, if you’re looking to get old school with your kombucha brewing, you can’t go wrong with a large ceramic container! No matter what, never get a container that is not “food safe”, and be sure to stay far away from containers that are made from non-stainless steel, brass, aluminum, rubber, crystal, or are homemade pottery pieces!

Should I rinse my SCOBY’s to remove yeast between batches?

If you’re new to brewing kombucha, you might be wondering if it is a good idea to rinse off your SCOBY between batches- the answer is no! When you rinse your SCOBY, you are rinsing off the microorganisms which assist in the kombucha-brewing process. Rinsing your SCOBY can actually be harmful to your brew! It is always best to transfer your SCOBY directly from one batch of kombucha to the next.

How do I store my bottles of kombucha?

Once the fermentation process is complete, you must keep your kombucha stored in the refrigerator at all times, even if you have not opened the bottle yet! Keeping your kombucha outside of the fridge can cause it to take on a foul taste and may also make you sick. This is not ideal for a beverage that is supposed to improve your health, so make sure to keep it nice and cold after bottling!

If you have decided to ferment your kombucha to get it a fizzier mouth feel, then cap bottles and store them in a warm, dark place for 2-3 days. I stored mine in the pantry.

After 2-3 days, remove your kombucha from the pantry and place it in the refrigerator. If your kombucha developed a baby SCOBY in the bottle, remove and toss and then drink.

You mustn’t leave your kombucha in the pantry past the three days. It is imperative to move it to the refrigerator to stop the fermentation process completely.

Can I reduce the amount of sugar in the finished kombucha tea?

If you’re wanting to reduce the amount of sugar in your finished kombucha tea, the best way to go about that is to dilute it in some sparkling water or juice! While juice will add its own sugars into the mix, it might just do the trick if you find you’ve over-sweetened your brew! Otherwise, go with sparkling water to cut down on the sugar. While some people will ferment their kombucha a second time in order to reduce the sugar content, this can increase the alcohol content of your beverage!

Why does my kombucha taste like vinegar?

The organic acids during the fermentation process cause kombucha to take on a vinegar-like taste. However, if the kombucha you’ve brewed comes out tasting overpoweringly like vinegar, chances are you’ve accidentally let it over-ferment! As the tea ferments, it will produce more and more organic acids; The best way to find your “sweet spot” in the future is to taste a bit of your kombucha daily.


Luckily, there is plenty that can be done with over-fermented kombucha besides throwing it out; Try blending the bitter batch in with a new batch or even use it to make salad dressing!

Why does my kombucha taste like alcohol?

If your kombucha ends up tasting like alcohol, it is probably because it contains a higher alcohol content than kombucha ideally should.

It is likely that the yeast became dominant and overpowered the bacteria. For your next batch, reserve the starter liquid from the top of the vessel only and avoid any stirring up of the yeast sediment from the bottom of the jar.

However, yeast can also congregate at the top of your brew, they look like brown strands or clumps (or a brain!) So, just avoid those pieces all together.

Warmer temperatures can also potentially cause yeast to become more dominant and reducing bacteria’s ability to acidify resulting in a kombucha tea that tastes much stronger and like alcohol than previous batches.

easy-homemade-kombucha-recipe-by-fermenters-kitchen
Kombucha Recipe ~ Learn how to make this real probiotic-rich fermented drink with this step-by-step recipe! It’s full of health benefits including liver support, detoxification, aiding digestion, and it can help maintain a healthy weight. #kombucharecipe #kombuchatea #probiotics #brewingkombucha #guthealth #healthygut #probioticdrinks #healthydrinks

Related Topics:

There are many fermented drinks beyond kombucha. Check out this article that gives you an in-depth look at fermented drinks from around the world.