Fermenting Food in the Winter – It’s all about Temperature

We preserve food 12 months a year.  The busiest time tends to be the summer and fall of course but there’s all sorts of things we ferment at other times of year.

In the fall we tend to do a lot of canning, pressure canning and freezing.  In the winter we often turn to dehydrating and fermenting.  And I know we’re not the only ones – we tend to get a lot of questions about fermenting through the winter and canning in the fall.

When it comes to fermenting vegetables (such as sauerkraut, hot sauce, kimchi or even mustard) there are 3 keys to success:

  1. Using water that is free of chlorine or chloromine
  2. Using the right amount of salt (you don’t need a lot – my common measure is 1-2 tablespoons per quart).
  3. Letting it rest at the right temperature

The warmer the environment is, the quicker things will ferment – to a point.  The ideal temperature to ferment vegetables is often seen as somewhere between 65-72 degrees Fahrenheit (17-22 Celsius).  Here’s a few things to keep in mind when it comes to temperature:

  1. The warmer the environment, the faster things will ferment (as long as it’s not too hot).
  2. A fast ferment isn’t always best – I actually prefer most slow ferments (and thus love to ferment in the winter)
  3. I often leave my crock next to a radiator where it will stay warm in the winter.

Do you ferment?  What do you enjoy fermenting in the winter?

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  1. I have not but plan to try in soon. I plan on using dry morita chilies which I have bought and ground to a powder. I plans to mix the chili powder with water and a little salt the inoculate with yogurt whey. Not sure how it will turn out. Does anyone have any suggestions?