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...
1772 – Cook supplied his ship, the Endeavor, with 100 pounds of sauerkraut – a good source of Vitamin C – for EACH sailor, avoiding the dreaded scurvy. – “Scurvy”, a book by Stephen R. Brown
—Sailing With Captain Cook
Don’t give up on getting children to eat more lacto-fermented veggies than pickled cucumbers! Out of the mouth of my 4 1/2-year-old, Daniel, my most avid fermented food avoider, as he was eating his lunch earlier today, “Oh, bother! I forgot to have a bite of kraut!”
… and yes, I gave him some kraut as I tried to very subtly pick my jaw up off the floor …