I will admit that I’m a bit of a speed freak. I tend to move fast and Dana will gladly tell you that I generally have two speeds – FAST and SLEEP.
I’m also conscious that it’s important to slow down and enjoy life. This is especially true of preserving; it’s not a race and a measured pace can lead to a lot of enjoyment. And, in the case of fermenting, it’s arguable that a longer approach can yield better tasting (and perhaps even more nutritious results). I’m a fan of slowing down but sometimes you need results fast.
Note: slow ferments are often crunchier, richer in flavor, will last longer and some argue that they produce more probiotics. There is a trade-off for speed but it’s good to have options!
Lactofermentation vegetables (like sauerkraut or pickles) is easy but can take weeks. There are ways to speed up the process; you can use these tips to slow down a ferment by doing the opposite (i.e. using more salt instead of less in tip 1).
HOW TO FERMENT FOOD FASTER
- Use less salt. Salt will slow fermentation; less salt will speed it up.
- Add other bacteria (such as brine from another active ferment or whey).
- Keep the ferment in a warm spot (be careful not to be too warm; temperatures in the high 70s can slow and eventually prevent fermentation).
- Peel hard vegetables (like carrots or pickles). This allows water to be pulled from the vegetables faster.
- Crunch the vegetables thoroughly (like cabbage). As you crunch them it helps break down their structure and helps water escape faster.
- Cut the vegetables as thin as possible (increasing the exposed surface area and allowing water to escape faster).
- Cut the vegetables the same width (using a grater or a mandoline). Inconsistent width will lead to inconsistent fermenting times.
- Allow the vegetables to sit in salt for 8-10 hours before covering with water. I can’t prove that this speeds up the process but I am confident it speeds the fermenting process as the salt isn’t diluted at the start and the increased percentage of salt will draw liquid rapidly from the vegetables (often eliminating the need to add much water at all the next day).
The first 3 tips can be done to any ferment while the last 5 will only work if you use them when you’re making your ferment!