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How Do I Ferment with an Airlock? — 13 Comments

  1. Hey Ted, thanks so much for this input, I had an entire batch of peach chutney go moldy this summer and I will give air locks a try next year to see if I can avoid the problem. I’ve just been using mason jars and burping the lids daily, but I am not always around to burp so this will help immensely.

    I’m going to try a delicata squash ferment. These little squashes are sweet and I have to guess will be delectable fermented. Not sure which spices I’ll use but likely will do several different combos and see which is best.

    I LOVE this fermenting game, big fun and so nutritious/healthy.

    Keep ‘m smiling…

    Tom

  2. I’m new to fermenting. Has anybody ever experimented with a french press to keep the contents submerged during the process? Seems to me it would be ideal for small batches, but one would need to make sure the press plate and plunger didn’t contribute harmfulbacteria instead.

  3. Hi Ted,
    I just found your site recently. I’ve been experimenting with fermenting for about 10 years now, more or less, and I’m really getting more deeply interested all the time. I love using airlocks or Fido jars; I haven’t tried PIckl-Its yet. I have gathered my own salt from our Mendocino coast; are you in Mendo?

  4. I’ve gotten a juicer for my wife for Christmas and have a lot of vegetable/fruit pulp in the freezer. Can I ferment this? Does anyone have a recipe suggestion? I’m thinking of salting the pulp, leaving it set for a few hours, just to see if it will create any more juice. If not, then I’ll add brine, and ferment for 8 weeks in a fermenting crock.

    • I like the idea. Perhaps there may not be as much natural sugar remaining to feed the fermentation, but it’s definitely worth a shot. Please write back once you’ve given it a try and let us know what you’ve learned.

  5. Thanks for the info. I’m confused about how much head space to leave in a jar when using an airlock. Also, is it necessary to use a follower? I’m going to try the Jalapeno Pepper Sauce recipe which looks Great!

    • No head space is necessary when using an airlock, but you can freely have head space too. The downside to having oxygen in the jar while using an airlock is that there may be some mold spores potentially in the air within the jar.

  6. I have been fermenting without an airlock for years. Just a glass jar with the metal lid. My ferments always come out great. However, it is a pain to babysit the jars and have to loosen the lid at least once a day to let out the gasses. So I decided to purchase some lids with airlocks. Thankfully I decided to test them out making just 2 jars using the airlock and 2 jars without, using my old method of loosening the top daily. The vegetables in the jars without the airlock looked like usual, nice and healthy, nice color, still having a little bubbling action too. The vegetables in the airlock jar looked gray and dead. Normally I let the process go for longer. But I decided to open the airlock jars. Only to find mold growing on top and a terrible odor. This is the first time I have ever had to throw out a batch of vegetables. Needless to say, I will go back to using a jar and a regular lid.

  7. This was first time for airlock use and using “Fermented Salsa” recipe. Three days into ferment process and I see spots of white mold on top of some of the ingredients. I had large Kerr jar filled 3/4 full, air room remaining 1/4 space, ingredients not submerged. What is wrong?

    • The airlock prevents molds from entering the container once it is on. I imagine you had some mold on your ingredients prior to placing the lid on the container. Having your ingredients submerged would likely have prevented the mold from taking hold as well as mold generally needs a food source and oxygen. Good luck.

      • My 2nd batch taste great, thanks for the help. Questions with this batch it is not fizzy or bubbles but taste great. Lots of tomato juice at bottom, can I drain off and thicken with cornstarch, adding back to salsa without harming ferment? Also, my airlock has a white cap with tiny holes. Is that white cap supposed to be on the airlock at the beginning of ferment process? I used a coffee filter held on with rubber band. Would love to produce a batch with a fizzy kick, maybe next batch!

        • There are different airlocks on the market so I can’t exactly picture yours. the idea of an airlock is to let gasses escape (generally through water) while preventing oxygen to return. It the cap has holes in it to breathe, perhaps it’s fine to leave it on. Assuming you’ve added water in the airlock, then the cap is likely not necessary.

          As far as cornstarch, I’m not quite sure as I’ve never tried it before, but since cornstarch is used in food, I imagine it is fairly inert and wouldn’t kill the microbes. Cornstarch does have a higher ph level ((4.0-7.0) than a well fermented kraut for example (3.4 – 3.6) so it’s possible that if the cornstarch alters the ph level too much that the lactobacilli might die off.

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