About Fermentation

Fast Facts: 5 Things To Know 

1. Pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi and miso paste are all examples of fermented food.

2. You can ferment any kind of vegetable; all you need is brine (water and salt).

3. During fermentation, the carbohydrates in vegetables and fruits reproduce and create lactic acid, which is responsible for the tangy taste and health benefits.

4. Fermented foods are loaded with probiotics and significantly improve gut health. 

5. Fermenting food at home has become extremely popular now that the health and cost benefits have been recognized in mainstream media and health-food experts. 

What is Fermentation?

Fermentation, specifically lacto-fermentation, is a process whereby the natural bacteria present in fresh vegetables utilize the carbohydrates to reproduce and excrete lactic acid, which preserves the vegetables and creates the characteristic tangy flavor. Sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi and miso paste are all well-known examples of fermented food, but virtually any vegetable can be fermented. 

Masontops hosted a fermentation workshop Sandor Katz, a fermentation expert and author of Wild Fermentation and the Art of Fermentation. Please see the below video for a comprehensive explanation on fermentation. 

How Do You Ferment Vegetables?

All you need to ferment vegetables is a vegetable and brine. While other types of fermentation require whey or some type of starter, vegetables host everything needed to start the ferment. This type of fermentation is called wild fermentation.

To ferment vegetables, they must be submerged below a brine until a sufficient amount of lactic acid is created. This brine can be created by mixing water with salt or by using salt to release the juices found in the vegetable. The ferment is then to be left in a cool place and properly ventilated. As food ferments, it creates CO2 which must be vented or released to prevent the hosting container from exploding. At the same time, the ferment cannot be exposed to open air because oxygen will promote mold growth (this is why we started making fermentation tools). The fermentation time varies depending on preferred taste and temperature; some ferments can take a few days, others a few weeks. The longer the ferment, the more healthy bacteria and probiotics it will contain, however, at a certain point the food will begin to soften and take on a less desirable texture.  

Why Do People Ferment Food in Mason Jars?

Mason jars are easy to clean, store and find. Most importantly, they only come in two standard mouth sizes, which is why Masontops fermentation tools fit any wide or regular mouth Mason jar. Mason jars are also the perfect size for experimenting with new ferments at home: ceramic crocks are expensive and large, so if a batch goes bad it's a waste of food and money.

Do You Need Special Tools To Ferment Vegetables?

Although no special tools are needed to ferment vegetables, they make things a lot easier. Without an airlock tool, fermenting food needs to be attended to daily to manually burp containers so the CO2 pressure doesn't cause an explosion. Ensuring the food is weighted down below the brine also becomes difficult without any tools, but there are ways through improvisation. Fermentation tools are appealing because they eliminate the guesswork for beginners and the need to babysit ferments for experienced fermenters who may have multiple batches fermenting at once. Fermenters at any experience level can enjoy the convenience of fermentation tools

Please watch the below video to learn more about Masontops Pickle Pipe Airlock Tool and see some of our other products in action.

Who Is Interested in Fermentation?

People have been fermenting for thousands of years as a way of preserving food during harsh seasons and pretty much everyone eats fermented food on a weekly, if not daily, basis. In recent years lacto-fermentation has become especially popular because of the health and cost benefits it offers. Anyone interested in healthy eating, gardening and cooking is the perfect fermentation audience. However, there are a number of people with specific health issues drawn to fermentation as well because it is known to assist with diseases including Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome and even said to help prevent cancer.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Fermented Food?

Although fermented foods are delicious (a little sour and savory), they are one of the healthiest things you can eat. Here's the long-short of why fermented foods are good for you:

  • Improved stomach health
  • Strengthened immune system
  • Keeps you regular
  • Assists with weight loss
  • Lowers cholesterol 
  • Increases nutrients absorption
  • Attributed to cancer prevention
  • Helps alleviate stomach-related diseases, including irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn's disease
  • Prevents allergic disease development in children 
  • Relieves depression (research in progress on the relationship between the stomach and mental health) 

In other words, fermented foods are amazing. They're loaded with good bacteria and probiotics that work wonders on your body if coupled with a balanced diet. If you want the full scoop on all of the health benefits of fermented food, please watch the video below. 

What Is A Fermentation Airlock Tool?

Airlock tools release the carbon dioxide pressure that builds up in vessels during the fermentation process. Masontops Pickle Pipe airlock tools look like silicone Mason jar lids with a small spout that houses a patented one-way valve. Pickle Pipes automatically release CO2 without letting in any oxygen, which can cause mold. Masontops is the only airlock tool made of one, simple piece and it doesn't require daily monitoring, unlike other airlock tools.

What Is A Fermentation Weight?

Fermenting food must be kept below a brine to prevent mold from growing. Fermentation weights are the easiest way to get the job done and Masontops has fermentation weights designed specifically for wide and regular mouth Mason jars. They're made of lime glass, the same type of glass Mason jars are made of, so they're 100% food-safe.

What Is A Tamper/Muddler?

To create a brine for some fermented dishes, like sauerkraut or other shredded veggies, their juice has to be released with salt. To get the cells to break down faster, the vegetable can be pounded with a tamper/muddler and then packed tightly into a jar. Masontops Pickle Packers are designed to pound and then pack wide and regular mouth Mason jars, with two different sized ends.