Frequently Asked Questions
Our senses come in handy when determining the condition of lacto-fermented foods. Slimy, soft, smelly = spoiled. Each of these undesirable attributes can be seen, smelled, or felt.
Your nose will tell you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, whether your lacto-fermented foods are still healthy.
Instead of having a saliva-response, a signal your body recognizes healthy food, you’ll have quite the opposite – feeling repulsed and probably taking a step or two away from the container, when its opened. You’ll know it when you smell it.
Slimy pickles are usually soft, discolored pickles. It’s rare to have soft, slimy pickles without the “smell”, so use your senses to help you decide.
Wise friends suggested I should intentionally leave a small container of ferment-of-my-choice sitting out at room temperature (in the middle of summer, no less!) and take an occasional sniff of it over the next few months. It was good training, fast-tracking in my question to reclaim lacto-fermenting skills.
Here are two helpful sources offering more ideas about common pickle problems including soft spots, “off”-smell, soft texture or hollow areas:
Did you know...
Dill pickles are simply fermented cucumbers. Streptococci starts the process of fermentation, but as the pH level falls, leuconostoc and pediococcus species, and Lactobacillus plantarum continue the process.
—Microbes & Cucumbers = Dill Pickles
You know you talk about fermenting too much when…
Your three-year-old is observed pushing his bath toys under the water while saying, “You must go under the brine to ferment. Then I will have sauerkraut toys.”
—- Holly G., Ohio