What You DON"T Want to See on Your Ferments! A Bit About Mold....And How to Prevent!
We all have the best intentions...but sometimes it's just easier to take a shortcut...like I did recently in one of my jars of fermented tomatoes. If you've been fermenting anything for awhile, then you know that you must keep the vegetables beneath the surface of the brine (liquid). Otherwise you do take the chance that mold may form. I've successfully been able to avoid this up til now. I've gotten pretty creative with ways to weigh down my ferments, but once in awhile some vegetable matter will pop up slightly above the surface. It's been no biggie...up til now!
SCARY MUSIC PLAYS:
That ugly monster you see in the picture above is a combination of black and white molds. You just DON'T want to see any kind of mold on the surface of your ferments. Black, white, green....doesn't matter. It's all bad. Some hard core fermenters say to just scrape it off and go ahead and use it. I say....Don't take the chance. Especially if you are feeding children or the elderly or those with compromised immune systems....it's better to just dump the batch into the compost pile, and start fresh. I have no idea if this is true, but I have read that the mold spores can even be found at the bottom of the liquid....so this mama is NOT taking the chance.
I got lucky with all those half-gallon jars of fermented tomatoes happily bubbling and frothing away on my counter....except for this one. That tomato you see there bobbed its way to just above the surface...and WHAM! POW! BOP! The mold got it!
How Do You Weigh Down Your Ferments? What Do You Use?
Well, I've gotten pretty creative with some of my ferments. I've used boiled rocks.....
The rocks are actually some of my favorite things to use. You just find good size rocks that will fit inside the jar top, press them down until they are forcing the vegetables under the liquid...and that's it! Plus, they are FREE!
The other weights I like to use are the ceramic or glass discs. Some have a little hole, and some don't. It doesn't matter either way. They fit perfectly inside a wide-mouth Mason Jar and press down the veggies. The problem is if you are using a wider-mouth jar, you may need two or even three of them! They are not expensive, either. You can find these ferment weights here.
Finally, you can use a smaller glass jar that fits inside the mouth of the larger jar. Just push it down and let some of the liquid into it. There is NO way that baby veggie is going to be coming up for some air! This is also free (except for the cost of the smaller jars). I use the tiny Mason sauce jars.
That's all there is to it. There is a blessing in every fail, right? That one jar of ferment I didn't weigh down....BAM. Mold. I thought I wouldn't need to do it just this one time. (I ran out of tiny jars and weights, and rocks....lol) So it was a good learning experience.
Always weigh down your ferments, People!
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Also, please feel free to leave a comment or two! The mold issue is one I have struggled with a couple of times, and if you have other ideas, I would sure love to hear them!
Hugs & Self-Reliance!
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