Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.
When it comes to the kitchen, I love trying new things. My frugal nature of not wanting to constantly spend 3 dollars on a bottle of kombucha led to my learning how to brew my own from a scobi colony. When I was given the opportunity to review the fermentation Starter Kit from Fermentools, I immediately saw the possibilities. As someone who enjoys kimchi, sauerkraut, gochujang, kefir and other gut healthy fermented foods, I knew that I would enjoy learning how to make my own.
If you are unfamiliar with the fermentation process, it's a way of using yeast to break down sugars in foods to create a chemical change in the food in an anarobic environment. During the process, the yeast breaks down the sugars to create carbon dioxide. Because of this, you must "burp" the container you are using to ferment in or you run the risk of the container breaking due to a buildup of gas. By using an water-seal airlock style fermentation set up, you can eliminate the risk of rupture because the carbon dioxide can release thru the air lock but oxygen cannot enter.
The Fermentool Single Fermentation Kit included everything needed to get you started with your first jar of fermented food. This included 1 304 stainless steel lid that is corrosion resistant and extremely sterdy, a glass fermentation weight made to fit inside a standard widemouth Mason style jar, 1 plastic air lock that is easy to disassemble for cleaning, a pair of rubber stoppers (1 with a hole for the airlock, one solid), a rubber caning gasket to place between the lid and the mason jar to guarantee a good seal, a bag of Himalayan powdered salt, and an instruction pamphlet with instructions and a recipe for making sauerkraut to get you started.
Excited to get started, I scoured the internet looking for a recipe for Korean kimchi. Kimchi is something I really enjoy but cannot buy often because a small jar on base is nearly 6 dollars. However, using the Fermentools kit, I could easily make a large jar for a few dollars. I had most of the ingredients already in my fridge and only had to purchase a head of Napa cabbage and a diakon radish.
I found using the Fermentools system simple and easy to use. After mixing up my recipe (using the salt provided with the kit), I was able to fill a half quart jar, place the weight on top of the cabbage mixture, and set the lid with airlock in place. I used a small amount of filtered water to produce the water seal for the airlock and then put my science experiment up in a cabinet to ferment over the next five days.
Each day I would check to see how things were going. I did realize pretty quickly that I had overfilled my jar and did not leave enough headspace in my jar for expansion. Because of this, I had a bit of the brine force up into the airlock. I did clean this out and refill the airlock with filtered water after removing just a bit of the materials from the jar. Once the proper amount of headspace was available, I didn't have a problem with the airlock again.
After 5 days, we tried the kimchi and was quite pleased with the results. I do believe I'll tweak it just a bit, as it had more salt than I normally prefer, but that will be easily adjusted for my next batch.
After being satisfied with the kimchi results, I decided to try making red sauerkraut, as I had a red cabbage in my fridge that needed to be used. This was one of the recipes found on the Fermentools website under the learning section. And boy, let me tell you - there's alot of work that goes into sauerkraut before you even think about putting it in the jar. I got a really great arm work out squeezing and crushing the cabbage.
The kraut took just over a week to get the taste that I prefer. We enjoyed it a few days later on top of hot dogs and I've also added it a few times to different salads.
Following the kraut, I decided to try a recipe I found on Pinterest for Cilantro and garlic jalapenos.
This recipe required for me to use a bit of brine from a previous fermentation, so I used a bit of brine from the kimchi I had left. This fermentation actually took quite a while and I started to worry about it because it didn't start producing bubbles in the first few days like the previous two recipes. I did a bit of research that said that peppers take a significant long time because of lack of sugar. However, after a week and a half, I did start to notice bubbles forming. I did check the mixture on several occasions just to make sure everything seemed okay and all seemed well. After two weeks, we tried one of the jalapenos and found them to have a nice spicy pickled flavor. We have now enjoyed them on a large variety of meals such as with salads and mexican foods and found that we enjoy them much better than we did just supermarket bought pickled jalapenos. These will indeed be kept in stock in my fridge in the future.
|Fermented Jalapenos on Homemade Chalupas|
For the final fermentation for this review, we attempted the Ginger Bug. Unlike the previous recipes where I could just mix everything together, seal it up and jar it, this one required me to "feed" it each day, adding more sugar and ginger. This was another trial and error of learning because being in a dry warm desert, I expected the bug to start bubbling pretty quickly and it didn't. Turns out, non organic ginger in the supermarkets has been irradiated which kills off the natural yeast on it. To counter this, I simply added a small amount of champagne yeast and within a day, I saw bubbles quickly forming.
Out of all three recipes, the kimchi was probably my favorite and super easy. It's something I will definitely be using the Fermentools kit to use many times in the future. My husband has already hinted that we should go ahead and invest in the 6 pack kit that the company offers so that we can have multiple ferments going at the same time, rather than being restricted to just the one. The possibilities of what to do with the kit is endless, from fermented hot sauces and flavored vinegar to holiday meads and other beverages and all things in between.
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Fermentools has a wonderful deal going on right now until June 30th, 2020. If you use the code CREW2020 you can get 15% off your order.