View Full Version : Fermentation

11-03-2010, 12:36 PM
Any of you folks mess with fermenting foods as a means of preservation or transformation?

I got started last year, by making vinegar from the awful plonk my friend would always leave at my house. I ended up with quite few bottles, most of which I gave away for Christmas.


I've also baked with sourdough starter:


Which I really need to revive. :blush:

Made kimchee and sauerkraut:


Prickly pear, and stone fruit wine



And most recently, olives and pickles



Just curious to see what others are doing or have done.

11-03-2010, 02:08 PM
Sadly, food doesn't last long enough around here to ferment. Although there is that stuff in the fridge that keeps moving around on its own. I'm not sure what it is but it sure is funky.


11-03-2010, 02:31 PM
Zombie food! :ohmy:

11-05-2010, 01:36 AM
These are some of the things I don't do, but should learn how to.

11-05-2010, 09:36 AM
Enlightening as always grrl. Can you elaborate on the vinegar process? I was going to ask about this a while back, but didn't get around to it. I believe urea was used to whiten smoked buckskin, and I'm under the impression that fermented urine has very similar properties to vinegar. At any rate, I'm wanting to try it on some scraps, BUT I want to use vinegar I make myself. (I like doing everything the hard way, in case you didn't notice).
Any links or references you can pass my way would be great.

Excellent thread and info, as always. Gotta spread the love, but definately worthy of rep!! Thanks for all you share with us!

11-05-2010, 09:42 AM
Yup, I'd be interested in the vinegar making process too.

11-05-2010, 09:45 AM
can i copy pasta it for future reference and to share?

11-05-2010, 10:10 AM
certainly, just be sure to give credit where credit is due ;)

11-05-2010, 01:42 PM
No prob!

Let's see, it's been a while since I've done it. But I'll try and remember, as best I can. It is pretty easy.

First, start with your wine, or fruit juice, cider, or fruit scraps, what have you. So far, I've made wine vinegar and I've made pomegranate vinegar.


I have some apple peels and cores in the freezer I was going to use to make pectin. Instead, I think I'll make fruit scrap vinegar.

I think the fruit ones takes longer than the wine ones, because it has to be converted to alcohol first, and then vinegar.

Add a little water, to dilute it just a bit. I think I have forgotten this step before, and it still worked just fine.

To it, you need to add the "mother" of another vinegar. If you don't know someone who has some, you can use Bragg's vinegar (pictured in my first post), as it has some mother in it -- that debris at the bottom.

Vinegar mother is a combo of cellulose and acetic acid bacteria. The bacteria, with oxygen, digests the alcohol, and produces acetic acid -- vinegar. It doesn't take much to start the process.

Add the mother to the diluted wine or juice, in a large mouthed container (not metal), and cover it loosely with cheesecloth, to keep out dust and vinegar flies. Store it in warm dark spot, and wait.

After a while, you'll notice a scum layer forming on the top:


This is the new mother forming. The old mother will fall to the bottom.

As it digests the alcohol, it gets thicker.

Red wine mother:

White wine mother:

It's very weird. It's very tough, and organ-like. You can take it out and give it away, or cut it up, and start other projects, or just throw it away. I have seen one guy who tans kombucha mother (very similar thing) to make a leather-like substance.

Some folks say to keep red wine and white wine vinegar mothers separate. But I have used them interchangeably, and noticed no difference in taste.

Taste the vinegar along the process. If it tastes boozy or sweet, it's not ready.

If it seems to have stalled, you can feed the mother a little diluted wine, juice, or sugar.

When it has that sharp vinegary tang, it's ready. If it's too sharp, you can add a little water.

At this point, you can either leave it be, and just remove new mothers as they form. You can ladle some out to use, and keep the rest in the jar, adding any extra wine or juice you have, to keep it going.

Or you can pasteurize it and bottle it.

If you like a more refined, mellow vinegar, you can let it soak in some wood chips, to gather the debris, and then run it through several coffee filters.


You can also add any flavorings you like. I made some tarragon white wine vinegar that is very tasty.

Sadly, my one remaining vinegar mother got dried out and moldy, so I had to toss it. Time to get a new bottle of Bragg's.

11-05-2010, 01:57 PM
Oh and here are some sites that I had used:





11-05-2010, 04:06 PM
Most excellent. And since I'll be looking for a particular pH, I suppose I just let it go until I get that pH or add a little water if I get too high?
What is the proper pH for using it for pickling? pickled beets, cukes, zukes, okra, maters...mmmm.. I'm gettin hungry!
This has a LOT of practical uses. Thanks so much for the info!

11-05-2010, 05:18 PM
What YCC said. Most interesting. Thanks GRS!

11-05-2010, 05:59 PM
Grrl. This is one outstanding post. Full of good info. Rep sent. About the only thing that we have done along this line here is sauerkraut and wine but this post makes one think there is a whole new world out there to try. (or old world) Thanks for the push.


11-05-2010, 06:03 PM
Thanks, guys!

YCC, I'm not sure how to manipulate the pH. Adding more "food" might just do it. Worth a try I guess.

I believe the proper pH for canning is 4.6 or lower.


I haven't used any of my vinegar for canning, since I don't have an accurate means of assessing the acidity. I mostly use it for salad dressing and cooking.

11-05-2010, 06:46 PM
Wife was looking at this post and said we're going to try to make some vinegar out of some of our frozen plum juice. (Pulp included) We were saving it for jelly but have two 2 Gal bags so can spare some. Will let you know how it works.


11-05-2010, 06:52 PM
Cool - good luck!

Be sure to read that second link I posted:

There are additional steps needed to make the fruit vinegars.

As I suspected, two fermentations are needed.

Sugar > Alcohol
Alcohol > Vinegar

You'll need a sort of airlock set up for that first fermentation.

11-05-2010, 06:56 PM
Read that site and already have the lock system from making wine so intend to use that. Sounds like it will work. Have taken Countryside for years. Tuff thing about finding info is going thru all the boxes to find it. lol Never throw out a diy magazine.


11-05-2010, 08:59 PM
Excellent pictorial, thanks!

11-05-2010, 09:30 PM
Very informative post, thank you.

11-17-2010, 12:37 PM
This morning, I took the pickles out of the crock, and put them in jars in the fridge.


They still weren't as sour and salty as I would like. So I ended up pouring out some of the brine, and replacing it with a vinegar based brine.


I tried a little piece this morning, as a test. If I don't die - it worked!

11-17-2010, 03:31 PM
those mothers of vinegar are probably the cleanest cultures i've seen outside of a laboratory setting.

great thread.

11-17-2010, 05:09 PM
how do you made the pectin, like you mentioned earlyer?

11-17-2010, 05:24 PM
large amounts of pectin are present in the skins and other fibrous parts of most fruit.

to prepare it, i believe it can be extracted from dried, powdered pomace or citrus peels by rehydrating in lemon/lime juice and heating to near simmer, covered for a couple of hours, removing from heat, filtering out the solids and then adding to the liquid an equal part everclear, or two parts vodka.

the precipitate should be pectins suitable as a gelling agent.

11-17-2010, 05:29 PM
can other citrus juices be substituted for the lemon/lime juice

11-17-2010, 05:37 PM
This is the method I was planning on using:


I've always heard that green apples were used. I did not know that you could use citrus peels.

11-17-2010, 05:41 PM
as long as they are acidic enough. i recall a ph lower than 3.5 being recommended, and pure lemon and lime juice ranged from around 2 to 2.6 when i googled it. the bottom line is that hot, acidic water causes the formation of soluble pectins, and the ethanol causes it to go out of solution.

11-17-2010, 05:43 PM
dried citrus peels are 30% pectins/protopectins by weight, which i think is substantially higher than dried apple pomace.

the peels of some citrus might necessitate further refinement, due to the amount of essential oils.

it's almost senseless to use the whole fruit, and while so many fruits are considered to be low in pectin, their pomace is not, as it ultimately consists only of the fibrous and waxy parts (there's just less volume from a given amount of fresh fruit).

11-17-2010, 08:37 PM
What a great thread! Thanks Grrl and Canid. Headed for the rep thingy!!!

12-08-2010, 01:53 PM
um, i just started sourdough starter with juniper berrys, is it suposeter have a crust on the top?

12-08-2010, 02:18 PM
Uh... hmm. I dunno. I never made a starter from scratch. I got mine in a trade.

It should be bubbly. I don't think there's a crust.

But then again, I didn't know you could use juniper berries.

12-08-2010, 02:27 PM
I was just thinking the same GS. There may be 2 reasons for it to have a crust, 1) have you got it covered? 2) is it in a warm place, if so it may have dried the top out.

12-10-2010, 01:22 PM
Started the fermented hot sauce this morning...



12-10-2010, 03:13 PM
That looks good, and hot!!

Looks like your supervisor approves.

That a Hemingway Cat?

12-10-2010, 04:31 PM
Oh yeah... it's gonna be hot, for sure! :yes: :scared: :crying: :dead:

I was lucky to have only one supervisor this time. They usually come in pairs. :glare:


Naw, he's normal. Well, his toes are. The rest, I dunno. :stuart:

12-10-2010, 04:45 PM
I guess I just noticed this thread, but do find it interesting.
Just a comment on my experience.
After a visit to Old World Wisconsin, in SE WI, a series of "settlements" of various origins, English, Norwegian, and a few others, building are original, taken down and moved to the site.

Living history re-enactments are going on all the time, at least on weekends, people are making soap, candles, butter, tanning hides, plowing with horses (in season and any number of stuff going on.

I was watching a batch of vinegar being started with apple scraps, peels, etc, in a croak.
Was left outside and was going to be vinegar.
This was relater to me by the person that was the "servent" in the English Village, intrusted with her "show'.

Soooo, of course I had to try it, used a clean 5 gal plastic bucket, some of my croaks have "egg shell cracks, or spider web cracks in the glaze, so don't trust them any longer.

Cut up my apples, drying slices/chips....and added scraps to bucket, added water (not city chlorinated water) and covered with cheese cloth, and left out side.

Watched water level and did have a "mother" starting, started tasting like vinegar, but after a rain it stopped and got nasty.

So I'm thinking that something in the air or rain killed it off.
Anyway went into compost bin.

That's all I know about it,...... haven't gotten around to another batch.

12-10-2010, 06:34 PM
I was just thinking the same GS. There may be 2 reasons for it to have a crust, 1) have you got it covered? 2) is it in a warm place, if so it may have dried the top out.

its on the back of the stove, in a butterbowl. so far its day 5 and ive yet to see a bubble, but it kinda smells.

12-10-2010, 08:39 PM
Those cats look like nothing but trouble and that hot sauce looks mighty good.

12-10-2010, 09:10 PM
Cats........pickled peppers...........no, no way, I not gonna do it, I'll be nice.......

12-10-2010, 09:11 PM
I was thinking the same thing but let it go. Until you came along.

12-10-2010, 10:28 PM
i know a guy on the anarchistcookbook.net called "catsoup" and he went by "catcooker" on another site.
on canning things, is it posible to can canolopes? im looking at seeds and such and i got curious

12-11-2010, 05:57 AM
Neither drying nor canning are recommended for cantaloupe.


12-13-2010, 11:09 AM
You can can it if you pickle it. I made some melon pickles last year.


If you're interested, I'll try and dig up the recipe.

Hardest part is actually using the stuff. I still have some from last year, and I gave away quite a bit. Best use I have found is as a base for BBQ sauce.

12-13-2010, 11:13 AM
Oh! And an update on the hot sauce. It's bubbling away. In fact, I have to open it up daily to release the pressure.

I meant to do that this morning, and grab a pic, but I forgot. Hope I don't come home to a pantry full of chile guts and glass shards!:stupid:

12-14-2010, 11:12 AM
Shwew! No explosion.

But the stuff had already reached the underside of the lid!



12-21-2010, 01:05 PM
I finished off the hot sauce over the weekend. I ran it through the blender, and then the food milll, to get the solids out.


But then I decided that I did want some texture to it, so I added some back in. I ended up with two bottles this size:


I kept one, and sent one to my uncle, who is a freak for hot sauces.

The only thing is, it tends to separate. But it's nothing a little shaking can't sure.

12-21-2010, 06:18 PM
you fermented the peppers to make their own vinegar? I bet that is some good stuff! :drool:

12-23-2010, 10:42 AM
I'd really be interested to hear more about the fermented peppers.

12-29-2010, 12:12 PM
Oh, I thought I had posted the fermented hot sauce recipe. But I guess I didn't!

Here you go:

I just used Thai Dragons instead of habaneros. The only thing was the thai dragons were a bit drier than the habs. So I did have to add a little water.

Also, the recipe calls for some sort of starter, like yogurt whey. I just used a couple cloves of garlic from my fermented pickles.

However, other people said that they didn't use any sort of starter, and it worked just fine.

ycc -- sort of. It's not vinegar proper, but it is a sour liquid. I believe this is the same process they use to make Tabasco.

12-29-2010, 09:10 PM
Thank you!!!

04-12-2011, 12:13 PM
7 months lates, the olives are finally done!


I rinsed them, removed any mushy ones, and put them in their final brine, with rosemary, garlic, and lemons, and topped with olive oil.

04-12-2011, 01:33 PM
Mmm, looks good, worth the wait I suppose.

04-12-2011, 01:36 PM
I really should get more into pickling...my PLAN is to have much more veggies in the garden that are pickle-able. (YES!! That is a word! In fact, it's in my dictionary. ;) )

I'll have to tap you for some advice like I did with Winnie and her amazing drying method!! :)

06-07-2012, 07:05 PM
Just thought I would update this thread with my ginger beer project, mentioned in another thread (http://www.wilderness-survival.net/forums/showthread.php?19005-wine-and-mead-making-question&p=347773#post347773).

Here is the recipe I used:


Notes: In my warm kitchen, it only took about 2 days for the ginger bug to get going.


In step 2, I used about 6" of ginger. I like it really spicy. Also during the boil, I added some allspice. I'm not sure how much flavor it added, whole. Next time I would crack them first. Cardamom would probably be a nice addition as well.

It was super easy, super cheap, and I got two two liter bottles out of the deal:


Both are delicious! Good and spicy, with a nice fizz. I'm working my way through the second bottle now, and will probably start another batch when I finish with it.


Bonus: it makes a fine addition to a Moscow Mule.


06-08-2012, 05:30 PM
Excellent thread Grrlscout! Thanks for sharing all this good stuff. Have you ever experimented with lacto-fermentation? I have an abundance of whey available to me and have been told it could be used for canning but haven't tried it yet.

06-11-2012, 02:29 PM
Thanks, and I have! I believe I started the pepper sauce with a little whey, poured off a tub of yogurt.

07-24-2012, 11:53 AM
We bought way too much of that bagged cole slaw mix for a Fourth of July pool party. The solution: ferment it to make sauerkraut!


03-18-2013, 04:02 PM
That batch of kraut turned out pretty nice! The next one was icky.

My current experiment:

This time, kale, some sort of Asian green, daikon radish, carrots, garlic greens, celery leaves, nasturtium leaves, and thyme. I'm going for a crunchy, salty, garlicky, peppery slaw-like salad that I can eat as a side dish. No idea how it will turn out.



03-20-2013, 12:18 PM
Hello, I'm fairly new here but have been lurking for some time. If you enjoy making your own vinegar you might want to try your hand at making kombucha which is a fermented tea, it's quite easy to make and very tasty . The final taste can be taylored to your likes with the addition of sweeteners , be it sugar , splenda, honey, fruit juice etc etc.
You will need a mother to start with of course the standard run of the mill equipment for making vinegar, just google Kombucha for a recipe to get started.