An easy-to-use set that includes a small recipe book and is ideal for beginners.
Includes 4 pickle pipe airlock lids and infinity glass weights for fermenting in mason jars. Ergonomic acacia wood tamper for comfortably packing ingredients into jars. Instructions contain helpful pictures for following healthy probiotic recipes. Small, regular, and wide-sized lids available.
Doesn't include mason jars.
A simple option compatible with wide-mouth mason jars that is great quality for the price.
Comes with 3 wide-mouth mason jar lids that contain waterless airlock valves. Lids feature a date setter to easily track timing and convenient easy-release tabs. Includes weights, an oxygen extractor, and a user guide with recipes.
Reports of some faulty lids missing the date markers.
A basic choice that does much of the work for you.
Lids feature a date tracker, 1-way airlock valve, and easy-grip tabs for opening. The design is low-profile for easy storage in cupboards. Materials are BPA-free to guarantee a food-grade, mold-free experience.
Only 4 total lids.
This set offers clever features at a great price.
Boasts 6 waterless airlock lids with built-in month and day trackers as well as easy-release tabs for simple installation. Included oxygen extractor pump helps reduce the risk of mold and other contaminants in later stages. Pump can also preserve the life of other foods in the pantry.
Does not include glass weights or a wood tamper.
A 4-piece plastic or stainless steel lid set that is simple but gets the job done.
Option of plastic or stainless steel lids, which are equipped with BPA-free water airlocks and a water chamber. Low maintenance; easy to clean and use. Additional silicone grommets included. Compatible with wide-mouth mason jars.
Jars not included. Some complaints of leaky seals.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 increases the 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.