Frequently Asked Questions
Some amount of “cloudy” brine is normal, created by the lactic acid bacteria during fermentation, especially during the first few weeks of a new batch, but it will eventually settle, turning clear.
There are other factors that may turn a brine cloudy and they should be eliminated:
- Possible spoilage – Spoilage in a bail-wire system is extremely unusual. If you’ve moved your pickles or fermented food into another type of container – wide-mouth canning jars with screw-on lids – spoilage is possible as they do not offer a good enough seal to keep oxidizing oxygen or mold spores out.
- Anticaking agents in salts – Kosher salt, unrefined sea salt, or pickling salt is recommended. Read salt labels as they will list “anticaking agents” on the ingredients.
- Hard water minerals – If soft water is not available, boil the hard water for 15-minutes, cover and allow to sit for 24-hours. Remove any surface scum, and avoid using any sediment that collects on the bottom.
- Spices must be whole – Powdered spices, spices that are out-of-date or not fresh or whole spices left in a brine during storage all cause cloudy brines. Whole spices should be placed in the ferments in an organic, unbleached spice bag, muslin, cheesecloth, or natural-fiber unbleached tea bag. Remove the whole spices when the ferment is complete, as spices will continue to break down in the fermentation liquid during storage.
Did you know...
Hops and honey was originally used in the making of mead (or, Sima which is the Finnish version), a lightly-fermented, slightly-alcoholic season beverage. As honey became more expensive, white and brown sugars were substituted. Using hops and honey is worth every effort, creating a taste of tradition.
—Traditional Fermented Honey Mead
“When living in Bulgaria, I never understood why our Bulgarian friends loved the brine from their fermented cabbage. Now I do, after reading the information at your site! Whenever they felt ill, grandma would just go scoop out a cup of the brine and the sick person would drink a cup every 8 hours, until they felt better! Thank you!”
—Linda C. - Ohio