My dear readers, things have gotten rather complicated…
You see, there is a bad case of “us” versus “them” as it relates to the proper way in which to ferment food. It is unsettling and confusing. I know a lot of you are just about ready to give up on fermenting food. I could have easily been right there with all of you and for good reason.
So of course, I had to throw out my two cents in an attempt to shed some light on this complex issue.
I have given this post a lot of thought. I needed to approach this topic in a way that resonated with everyone. I wanted to find a way to really help you understand the importance of fermenting properly. Lucky for you, I came up with a comparison that ought to grab your attention. Ready for it?
Frivolous fermentation practices are basically the equivalent of casual sex. And from where I sit, there are a whole lot of fermentation floozies on the loose!(And I can say that. I was one at one time!)
Yep – I went there.
Before I get into the dangers of casual sex, er, casual fermentation, I want to make it perfectly clear (and what has me so concerned about the great fermentation debate) is that my health and your health are nothing to mess around with. When there is a lot of conflicting information being published in blog posts, in eCourses, in books, and in forums and/or on social media threads, it makes it very difficult for the lay person to know who and what to believe. Choose the wrong door and your health is at risk.
This post isn't going to get into the nitty gritty science of proper fermentation. I'll get to that next week. Today I simply want to wake you up to some of the ways in which you may have been led astray by all the fermentation experts of the world. Some of these experts are people who are less interested in YOUR health and more interested in THEIR financial gain. Others are friends who are simply passing along what they know about fermentation. It isn't until relatively recently that better information has come to light about best fermentation practices.
As I said before, if you are a fermentation floozy you are by definition having the equivalent of casual sex. I am sure you are dying to know why. Well, you asked, I answered. Here we go!
1. Selecting a fermentation vessel is just as important as selecting a partner. Sure, random jars and random partners might be easy and fun for a while, but you really just never know what you are going to end up with in the end. A trustworthy vessel, with predictable, safe results should be your priority. In the case of fermentation, a vessel that has been proven to create a 100% anaerobic environment is your best choice.
2. Everyone else is doing it! Ok, I get that all your friends are gallivanting around, getting it on with whomever buys them a drink at the bar. Nothing bad has happened to them….yet. The same can be said for following the “in-crowd” of mason jar fermenters. These folks will swear up, down, and sideways that is perfectly safe and nothing bad will happen. Well, you really do not have any solid proof that nothing bad is going on inside their guts. Sometimes issues creep up on you. There could be a lot more than meets the eye. Don't succumb to peer pressure. Respect your body enough to ferment safely.
3. Throw a tablespoon or two of salt into your jar then cover the veggies with water and you've got brine! Sound familiar? Without proper salinity, your ferments can be worthless or possibly dangerous. The same can be said when using a prophylactic. If you don't take the time to research how to properly use one, you could certainly be putting yourself in danger if and when it fails. Just because you can't “see” an STD doesn't mean one isn't present. The same concept applies to fermentation in non-anaerobic environments. If oxygen gets into your ferment, there is a high likelihood that mold or other nasties will develop. Just because you can't see something doesn't mean it isn't there.
4. Plop some olive oil on the top of your ferment and you have created an anaerobic environment right? Wrong! What you have potentially done is created an environment ripe for botulism to take over. As much as I love coconut oil, it would be unwise to select it as your only prophylactic when hooking up with some random person one night. Coconut oil isn't going to stop STDs or super sperm in their tracks. While it might make a great lubricant, it certainly will not offer a safe sexual encounter. Same with olive oil on a ferment. It simply has more potential to do harm than good.
5. If your partner is male, so long as he wears a condom, you are completely protected right? Uh, no. There is still a chance that you were exposed to something before the condom went on and of course there is the chance that it will break. The same can be said with the idea that so long as the veggies are completely submerged under the brine, they are in an anaerobic environment.
6. Brine alone does not keep the nasties out. It does not prevent mold and other dangerous microbes was creeping in. Brine used in conjunction with the proper lid and airlock system for example, will be effective. Just like a condom in conjunction with another prophylactic.
7. And finally, while random, reckless sex might be fun for a while and might prove very satisfying, it actually pales in comparison to finding a long-term partner to share intimate moments with. The same can be said for making the switch from inferior fermenting vessels to 100% anaerobic vessels. Once you taste the difference in your final products and feel the incredible benefits a properly fermented food has in your body, you will never go back to your frivolous ways again.
And this my dear readers is all I have to say about casual fermentation. Until next week when I get all scientific on you! (Admit it, you loved this post, even if you were completely offended by it!)