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Ferment It!
Science Soup
Posted: November 01, 2022
  • 1 fermentation
    Kimchi is made from fermented vegetables. It is a dish from Korea. (123RF)
  • 2 fermentation
    To make pickles, you will need brine. That is salt plus water. (Krieg Barrie)
  • 3 fermentation
    Cut up the cucumbers. (Krieg Barrie)
  • 4 fermentation
    Put the cucumbers and brine into a jar. (Krieg Barrie)
  • 5 fermentation
    Wait for the pickles to ferment. (Krieg Barrie)
  • 1 fermentation
  • 2 fermentation
  • 3 fermentation
  • 4 fermentation
  • 5 fermentation


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Milk from a mare contains more sugar than milk from a cow. All the better to ferment with, my dear!

Fermentation changes food using microbes. You can see microbes only with a microscope. They’re teeny. They’re alive. And they exist in the air, ready to go to work. Added to food, they turn carbohydrates into ethanol and lactic acids. In other words: They break sugar down into smaller pieces. They add flavor too—usually a strong, sour flavor.

You don’t have to have a bucket of horse milk to ferment. Use fermentation to turn cow or goat milk into yogurt or kefir (kuh-FEAR, drinkable yogurt). Turn cabbage into sauerkraut or kimchi (KIM-chee, a spicy dish from Korea). Turn cucumbers into pickles. Turn flour into sourdough bread.

Fermentation preserves food. Kimchi lasts longer than cabbage. Pickles last longer than cukes. Before refrigeration, fermentation gave people food to survive long winters. What a good gift from God!

Plus, those microbes are healthy for you. They use up sugar, making some foods more nutritious. And once you eat fermented food, those little microbes go to live in your gut. They fight off bad bacteria that might invade.

Make Your Own Fermented Pickles

  • about 10 baby cucumbers (the short, stubby ones)
  • a quart of clean water
  • 8 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • optional: add-ins like fresh dill, peppercorns, garlic, mustard seed, or bay leaves
  • quart jar
  • coffee filter
  • rubber band

1. Wash cucumbers.

2. Mix salt and water. Let salt dissolve all the way.

3. With help, slice cucumbers into spear shapes. Cut off “tail” where cucumber attached to plant.

4. Pack spears into jar tightly. Salt makes things float! Filling your jar well will help your cucumbers stay under water. If using add-ins, put those in the jar now too.

5. Add brine (salty water). Make sure it covers everything in the jar. Anything left uncovered may grow bad bacteria instead of good.

6. Secure coffee filter to the top of jar with rubber band. This “hat” lets air in . . . but not dust and bugs.

7. Wait, wait, wait. You can check your brine for flavor anytime. But it may take a couple weeks for your pickles to become truly sour.

Note: If your cucumbers float so that any come part comes out of the brine, they will spoil. Some people use weights in the jars to keep all the food submerged. You can buy “pickle weights,” or use a smooth, very clean stone that’s just the right size to get into and out of your jar.