Fermentation Success – Cold House

I hadn’t been able to do ferments for several months, because my home is always too cold and drafty. (I like it like that, but the ferments don’t.)

I decided to try it in my Excalibur dehydrator and had fantastic results!

Fed up with all the conflicting rules and regs, and with the blessings of my dear online support group, here’s what I did:

  • Push veggies (a whole cabbage; several carrots; garlic cloves; ginger; onion) through my Omega 8005 homogenizer.
  • Juice a couple of carrots to top its liquid up.
  • Add sea salt and crushed peppercorns.
  • Mix this up a bit and stuffed it into the jar.
  • Press the batch down, to get all the air pockets out.
  • Press some whole cabbage leaves on top.
  • With at least 2″ of space between the veggies and lid, close the jar tightly.
  • Put the jar of veggies + salt, and a thermometer, into my Excalibur dehydrator. Set the machine to it’s lowest temperature point, ie. just barely ‘on’. (It ran 18-24 Celsius, but mostly 20/21, which is perfect.)

Sure enough, at the end of Day 6, I opened the jar and it was a’ sizzling and a’ hopping. Pretty happy ferment, there.

Always chicken to try my newest batch, I put it in the fridge for three more days. Well, shiver me timbers, this was the most fantastic kraut I have ever had! It is tangy, zesty, flavourful –it sparkles in my mouth!! Oh, I love it so! The only challenge now will be going ‘low and slow‘ with it.

(This just in: My Eastern European Taste-Tester pronounced it “excellent” and has requested the recipe.)

Next batch I’m foraying into the world of curried krauts, as outlined in the book Vibrant Living.

I’m very happy about having one machine that can do my nut dehydration, crackers, SCD yogurt, and veggie ferments –even in a cold house. I didn’t love the sound of the machine for six straight days and nights, but it was certainly livable. Note: Those with a warmer house can simply set their jar anywhere. Others might use a simple heating pad, or wrap the jar in warm towels and set into an insulated bag, etc.

11 thoughts on “Fermentation Success – Cold House

  1. Hiya!

    I had some kraut that flopped. It was my first attempt. My house is pretty chilly, too. In the lo 60’s at night where the cabbage was. Perhaps I could set it on my yogurt maker with a layer of insulation like a towel so not too warm.

    By homogenizer, would that mean a machine that gives you the pulped vegetable with the juice still in it? I think my Champion juicer might work for that if I used the “juicer blank” instead of the juicer screen. The former gives you the wet pulped veggies. And I can juice some carrots, no problem.

    Finally, I also used salt (no whey) and as I expected, the result seemed very briny. How much salt (approx) went into the formula you shared?

    I would love your feedback. Hated shelling out $$ for the organic cabbage that I had to toss.

  2. Hi Karen,

    Yeah, that’s where I have my house –62 all night and much of the day (and then only 66-68 at its warmest).

    Right now, I have yogurt taking up my dehydrator, so no room for the new kraut, but the dehydrator is keeping the room warmer. In this case I can have the kraut simply nearby to maintain 21 C. (On top was a bit too warm at 24.) Anyway, yes, just experiment with ways to warm it. Someone on our list uses a reptile heating pad, with a piece of glass between the kraut jar and the pad.

    Yes, the homogenizer just mashes stuff, so you get the pulp and the liquid. (I used to grate then knead by hand to get the juices out. I love that this does both steps in one.) The Champion and the Omega 8005 are quite similar, and yes, I use the blank vs the juicer cone.

    I put very little salt in –maybe a teaspoon, for that entire batch. I always do random salting.

    My favourite book for learning ferments has been Vibrant Living (just now included the link in the post). I have it from the library. It says you don’t even need salt. (Bee Wilder says the same, at least for when you’re using cabbage.) I like a bit in there as rumour has it the salt keeps unwanted bacterias at bay.

    Yeah, I’d tossed a couple of organic cabbages…Once when I didn’t get around to fermenting it re: cold house, and once when a ferment was not to my liking. Painful!

    Cheers,
    Baden

  3. This is very good news, Baden. I didn’t have much luck with fermenting either. Maybe once or twice in at least 20 times… I can buy really good fermented veggies from a little shop 20 minutes from where I live, so I don’t bother anymore… but your success gives me hope!

    I love Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. As for the salt or no salt, Bee’s Cabbage rejuvelac recipe (the one you mention, without salt) produces a different kind of bacteria than sauerkraut (the one with salt). Both are beneficial and needed for the gut to heal from what I understood.

    Thanks for sharing your discoveries!

  4. Baden,
    I’m chiming in here because although I haven’t got a dehydrator yet we’ve just worked a way around the cold house problem too. It may suit someone elses situation so I thought it worth posting 🙂
    It’s Winter on my side of the world now and the space I’d cleared in the hot water cupboard for my first batch of sauerkraut was suddenly too cold!
    So my husband lined a cardboard box with polystyrene and fit the box into the cupboard over an exposed piece of copper pipe running from the hot water cylinder. The pipe runs straight up through the box at the back end and the temperature runs in there at 70 – 75 through the day and stays around 70 at night if we throw a foil insulation sheet over the box in the evening.
    (We hope to change to solar water heating sometime so I’m not sure this will be the solution for us next winter…but I’ll have my dehydrator by then anyway.)
    Anne.

  5. I used a sunbeam heating pad with three settings to make scd yogurt in a big gallon jar. With the heatin pad on high it kept the yogurt between 100* and 110* Farenheit. I suspect it would do a lovely 80-90 degrees on low, but i haven’t tried it yet. it only cost me $17. I will have to try letting my ferments sit on top of it this winter when the house is cold.
    Trish

  6. Hi Carmen,

    You don’t necessarily need to use a dehydrator to make kraut – You just need a space in your house that is 18-25 degrees Celcius. My house is usually colder than 18 in winter, so I put my jars into my dehydrator. Most people, though, have some naturally warm spot.

    Best,
    Baden

  7. Hi Baden –

    I’m having trouble with my fermented veggies and am hoping you might have a solution for me. I shredded a cabbage, head of cauliflower, some carrots and beets, and a little garlic. Mashed it down real good in my half-gallon mason jars, and topped it up with a combo of filtered water, whey and sea salt. I put the lid on, not real tight so it could outgas, then put it in my oven with the light on and door slightly open so it stays a pretty constant 71 degrees farenheit. After two days had passed I got curious so opened the oven to see how it was looking and found that the veggies had floated to the top and were molding 🙁 Determined not to lose the whole batch, I carefully removed all the moldy veggies plus another 1-inch layer of good veggies to be on the safe side, mashed it down to the bottom again, topped it off with more brine, and the veggies are floating to the top again. Is there something I can do to prevent the veggies from floating? It’s not just a few pieces, it’s all of them…there’s about one inch in the bottom of the jar that’s just liquid. As I reread your post tonight I realized that might be why you put the cabbage leaves on top, but seems that would just prevent the air from reaching the veggies…do the cabbage leaves mold? Do you do anything else to weigh them down? Any help you can give is appreciated!

    Thankfully yours,

    Merrilee

    • Hi Merrilee,

      In some methods, scum on the top is normal and common. Sandor Katz refers to this fondly as “bloom”. Simply leave it there until the batch is ready, then remove the bloom and eat the rest.

      It is also normal for the top veggies to become exposed to air -either by floating to the top or by absorbing all the liquid. (This is why some methods use a weight, to keep all the veggies submerged.)

      In the method I use, which involves closing the jar tightly, I’ve never had the issue of bloom except in one sweet (red cabbage and apples) recipe. You can read the detailed steps here: http://gapsguide.com/2009/11/10/fermented-veggie-recipes/

      All my best,
      Baden

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