Select Nova Scotia Incredible Picnic: We came, we ate, we pickled

Sunday, August 19 was the Select Nova Scotia Incredible Picnic at the Halifax Seaport Market. The day started out a little rainy, but by the afternoon, the sunshine and the crowds were out in full force.  Thanks to everyone who stopped by the booth to chat about pickles, lactofermentation and root cellars!

We made a batch of mixed pickles, using the lactofermented dilly bean recipe described in this post.  We also started a batch of sauerkraut using this recipe.

Because most people who attend our workshops or demonstrations only see the very beginning of the process or the very end (as a tasty sample), I wanted to show you the in between stage, which is where the pickles are at today.  They are 5 days into the fermentation stage and some white scum has formed on the top of the mixture.  This is completely normal!  It’s the yeast that forms in the fermentation process.  Just check on your ferments every few days and skim off the scum that forms with a spoon.

See the white stuff on the surface of the brine? That’s scum!

Depending on the temperature, the mixed pickles should be done in about a week.  When they are sufficiently sour for your taste, you can put them in the fridge to slow the fermentation down.  They should last a couple months.

Linda Ziedrich’s ‘The Joy of Pickling’ (Harvard Common Press, 2009) offers the following troubleshooting tips for sauerkraut, which also apply to other lacto-ferments:

Problem: White scum on top
Possible Causes: Yeast – the plate or brine bag did not exclude all air during fermentation. Skim off scum daily.

Problem: Sliminess
Possible Causes: The temperature was too high during fermentation or the salt content was too low. Dump this batch.

Problem: Dark colour at top
Possible Causes: Oxidation – the salting was uneven, fermentation temperatures were too high, or the kraut (or other lacto-ferments) was stored for too long or at too high a temperature. Discard the darkened kraut.

Problem: Soft texture
Possible Causes: Too little salt was used, the salting was uneven, fermentation temperatures were too high, or the kraut wasn’t firmly packed in the crock.

Problem: Mold on top
Possible Causes: The fermentation temperature was too high, and the kraut wasn’t well covered. Remove moldy pieces promptly.

Problem: Pink colour on top
Possible Causes: Yeast – too much salt was used, the salting was uneven, or the kraut wasn’t well covered or weighted during fermentation.  Skim off pink kraut.

Want to know more about lactofermentation? Alison & Mhari will be at the Bridgewater Sustainability Festival on Saturday.  Stop by and say hi!

Yours in food,


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