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...
Pickles were brought to the New World by Christopher Columbus, who is known to have grown them on the island of Haiti.
—Columbus, Haiti & Cucumbers
Thank you so much for teaching me everything I know about lactic-acid fermentation. Without your help and advice, I would have continued to make unhealthy, moldy, mason-jar "ferments". I appreciate everything you have done for me.
—Linda Cox - North Canton OH