Best Fermentation Kits

Updated August 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best fermentation kits

Last Updated August 2019

Fermentation is a food preservation method that’s been used since ancient times. Without refrigeration or other modern techniques, it was one of the few ways to keep food from spoiling. Now, when refrigeration is ubiquitous, what’s the purpose of using this process? For gardeners attempting to preserve their harvest of cucumbers or cabbage, fermentation is one way to avoid spoilage. Fermentation helps reduce waste, and fermented foods are a healthy and delicious way to enjoy homegrown produce.

Home cooks may also be interested in using fermentation as a way to experiment with flavors. Plenty of people find fermentation to be an enjoyable hobby. The process, which requires time and patience, is a fun and unique way to engage with the food you eat. Health-conscious individuals may also want to include homemade fermented foods in their diet to help with digestion and gut health.

While fermenting food sounds like a challenging, complicated process, the truth is that home fermentation is rather simple. A fermentation kit includes everything you need to create delicious umami-flavored concoctions right in your own kitchen, and our buying guide has the information you need, including recommended products, to get started.

Look online for some fermentation inspiration. You’ll find plenty of cool tips and visuals.

Key considerations

What is fermentation?

Most fermentation kits are designed to ferment food via lacto-fermentation. Lacto? Sounds like something to do with milk! It actually stands for lactobacillus, common bacteria that are critical for the proper digestion of food and for fermenting foods. Lactobacillus helps turn food into delicious fermented goodness while avoiding a rotting mess. The bacteria are also an essential flavoring agent and the reason fermented foods have such a distinct taste. The delicious world of fermented food includes sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kombucha, yogurt, and tempeh.

How does fermentation work?

Fermentation involves a few critical elements other than lactobacillus. Salt is an essential ingredient in the fermentation process because it helps kill harmful bacteria in foods. What else do you need to ferment food? The right temperature — food won’t ferment if it’s left sitting in a cold fridge — and a bit of patience to let the process occur.

EXPERT TIP

Fermentation requires patience. It’s not an overnight process. If you’re not interested in the waiting game, try quick pickling instead.


Staff  | BestReviews

Fermentation kit features

A fermentation kit is helpful because it includes everything you need to get started. Here’s what you’ll likely find in a typical fermentation kit:

Jar or vessel: This is where you’ll put all those fresh goodies as they begin their fermentation journey. A clear jar is ideal so you can keep an eye on your food. Wide-mouth jars are best because it’s simply easier to get those carrots or beets into a wider opening. Some kits include multiple jars so you can have different vegetables fermenting at once. Start small if you’re new to fermenting. And know that not all kits include jars; some kits just have lids that fit standard mason jars. If you have plenty of mason jars on hand, pick a kit with lids and weights only. Crock-style fermentation vessels are ideal for those who don’t want to sacrifice counter space to a series of see-through jars. They require a bit of expertise to use, though, since you can’t see what’s going on in the crock as the food ferments.

Funnel: Often used in canning, a funnel is a helpful tool for fermenting, too. Pour the ingredients like chopped vegetables or brine into the jars without making a mess.

Tamper: A tamper helps you pack the food tightly inside the vessel before you put the weight and lid on to prevent exposure to air and bacteria.

Weights: It’s critical that the food not be exposed to air when fermenting or mold can form. The weights help keep the food submerged in the salty brine.

Special lid: A fermentation jar lid lets air escape without allowing any back in.

Recipe book: Sticking to a recipe is a surefire way to ferment food successfully, especially for those new to the process.

Expect to experience a bit of bloating and flatulence after eating large quantities of fermented foods, especially if you’re new to eating these types of foods.

Fermentation kit prices

Most fermentation kits cost less than $50. The price depends mainly on the number of items included in the kit. Kits that only include airtight lids designed to fit on mason jars are the cheapest and cost less than $10. Lids with weights are a little bit pricier and cost up to $15. You’ll pay more for a kit that includes a vessel, and a premium if there are multiple jars.

Tips

  • Use the right amount of salt. Using more salt means the fermentation process will take longer. Keep this in mind as you decide on how much salt to use. Opt for kosher salt when fermenting food, and only choose high-quality salt. You don’t need any other unique ingredients.
  • Use recipes. If you’re a beginner, it’s best to follow recipes to make sure you’re getting the right ratio of ingredients. Use a kitchen scale to measure things out. Pick a fermentation kit that includes a recipe book if you’re totally new to the process.
  • Clean your new equipment first. Note that since you’re not canning food, there’s no need to sterilize the jars and supplies.
  • Protect the fermenting food. Keep air out of the jars at all costs! Resist the temptation to peek. Oxygen reduces the number of good bacteria required for fermentation and increases the risk of mold growth. Avoid exposing the jars to sunlight because this can kill off beneficial bacteria.
  • Test the acidity. Still worried about whether your fermented foods are safe to eat? Test the acidity with pH strips to ease your mind. A pH that’s lower than 4.0 means that the mixture is acidic enough to have killed off any harmful bacteria.
DID YOU KNOW?

While beer is a fermented food, it isn’t produced using lacto-fermentation but involves a process called alcoholic fermentation.

Other products we considered

If none of our picks at the top of this page seem to fit your needs, here are two additional products to consider. The Siliware Airlock Fermentation Lids includes six colorful lids designed to fit right onto mason jars that you already have on hand. This option is ideal if you’re already an experienced fermenter or you’re keen to start and have a limited budget. The Kraut Source Fermentation Lid is another simple option, albeit with a higher price tag. The quality lid fits right onto mason jars you already have and works as an all-in-one weight and airtight seal. The gasket that creates the seal is made of food-grade silicone.

Don’t just stick to traditionally fermented foods. Try fermenting a variety of vegetables like cauliflower, radishes, and even green beans!

FAQ

Q. Is fermenting foods safe?
A.
Done correctly, it’s a safe way to preserve foods. It’s imperative that proper equipment is used to keep out unwanted bacteria and prevent contamination. Wash your equipment and use the appropriate ratio of ingredients (such as the right amount of salt) to encourage and support the lacto-fermentation process. Be extra careful when fermenting during the summer months because there’s evidence that fermenting foods at higher temperatures has a higher risk of spoilage. Properly fermented foods are safe to eat but may cause gastrointestinal distress in certain people.

Q. Are fermented foods healthful?
A.
Absolutely! While they do have a high salt content, fermented foods also contain loads of beneficial bacteria. Yogurt, for instance, is a fermented food that’s commonly touted for its ability to improve digestion and gut health. There’s also evidence that the probiotics in fermented foods help boost your immune system and may potentially reduce blood pressure and bad cholesterol.

Q. Is pickling the same as fermentation?
A.
While it’s possible to make pickles using the fermentation process, not all pickles are lacto-fermented, hence the confusion! Pickling typically involves pouring a salt-and-vinegar-based brine over cucumbers or other vegetables. In the case of lacto-fermented pickles, the brine does not contain vinegar but does contain salt, and pickles are not immediately transferred to the fridge since the fermentation process takes time. Pickling refers to a general method of preservation that utilizes acidity to preserve foods. Unlike vinegar-brined pickling, fermentation involves the conversion of sugars into lactic acid. Fermented pickled products do not get their sour taste from vinegar but instead via the lacto-fermentation process.

Q. How long will my fermented foods keep?
A
. Properly stored in the fridge, the fermentation process ceases, and your food should stay good for several weeks.

The team that worked on this review
  • Andrew
    Andrew
    Writer
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    Editor
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Steph
    Steph
    Writer

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