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.
WHAT IS IT?
The Starter Kit from Fermentools provides all the tools you need to get started in preparing your own fermented foods at home! It includes a storage bag, a rubber ring, a stainless steel lid with a special hole in the center, a glass fermentation weight (like a tamper), an “air lock” that inserts through the lid for “burping” your foods during the fermentation process, 2 rubber stoppers (one with a hole for inserting the air lock), a whole pound of Himalayan powdered salt to preserve your foods while they are doing their magic, and a basic instruction guide with a basic sauerkraut recipe! All you need is the food for the recipe of your choice and a clean, wide-mouthed mason jar with a metal ring!
The Starter Kit provides enough salt for you to prepare a number of fermented food projects one at a time. If you want to prepare multiple jars simultaneously, then you would need additional tools. The Starter Kit is available for just $21.49 and can be used over and over again!
I felt slightly intimidated when my starter kit arrived, mostly because I’ve never attempted to can or preserve any foods in my whole life! I’ve always been leery of canned foods, worried about contamination and making myself or someone else sick. But after doing much research, reading the included pamphlet, and perusing the many additional recipe options provided on the Fermentools blog, I decided to proceed with the basic sauerkraut recipe.
I’ve always loved a good Reuben…it’s my favorite type of sandwich. So I decided to make the sauerkraut to go on homemade Reubens at some point. Now my whole family is not crazy about sauerkraut…I’m definitely the biggest fan. But after reading that a batch of fermented sauerkraut can keep for an extended period of time in the fridge, I decided it was worth it to make some! I was also inspired by reading that a batch of fermented sauerkraut has as much probiotics as a whole bottle of probiotic supplements! I’m all about natural foods and improving digestion naturally, so I was actually excited to give this a try!
I had read that it was important to make sure your cabbage is finely shredded and fairly consistent in size, so I decided to spend a little extra money and start with the pre-bagged, pre-shredded angel hair cabbage from the grocery store. That way, not only would I be spared the mess of shredding it myself (and perhaps taking off the skin of my knuckle in the process), but I would also have the benefit of knowing the weight of what I was using. I used about two and a half 10-oz. bags since my desired amount was 2.5 lbs. of shredded cabbage. To that, I added 1.5 Tbsp. of the Himalayan powdered salt in a very large bowl and began mashing and squeezing it with my hands. (Please note that the website provides a chart for calculating the amount of salt needed for your brine). I was amazed at how quickly the water was released from the cabbage, and what had seemed like way more than would fit in a quart jar shrank down to about half a jar full! It also produced enough liquid to pour over the top and cover the cabbage I had tamped down with the included glass weight. Now I later discovered that I’d made a mistake here…I failed to leave the weight in the jar. I removed it. But you see at the end that all’s well that ends well.
After ensuring that all of the cabbage was covered by the brine, I added the rubber seal and the metal lid with the hole in it, screwed it down with my metal ring, inserted the cork with the hole in it, and inserted the air lock. Voila!
Now after the fact, I again realized another mistake I’d made, which I only found out after reading a comment from a more experienced fermenter. I never put water in the air lock up to the line to seal the food. Turns out that the burping happens through the water that you put in the air lock. Woopsie! I didn’t do that, but I guess we must have clean air in the house, because my sauerkraut did not mold, even without the complete seal! Call it beginner’s luck if you must.
In any case, I stuck my jar in a dark hall closet and let it be for 7 days. The website recommends 7-10 days, but I just couldn’t wait any longer. So after a full 7 days, I removed the jar and was thrilled to find no mold or discoloration! The instructions had suggested that a little white residue on top is normal from the growth of healthy bacteria, but I didn’t even see that! I removed the lid and gave it a whiff…no odd smell! It smelled just a bit yeasty and a big sour, just like it was supposed to! And I was thrilled to see that the sauerkraut had expanded to fill up the jar, just as it was supposed to do! So I put my plastic screw-on lid onto the jar and stuck it in the fridge to keep for a later date when said Reubens have been slated for the dinner menu. Yum! Now I’m a little suspicious that without the glass tamper inside, the top bit of sauerkraut was no longer submerged in the brine, so for safety’s sake, I may just scoop out the top bit and toss it. But it honestly looks really good, just like store-bought sauerkraut.
I’m calling it a success, and next time around, I’ll remember the two lessons I learned about leaving the glass tamper inside and adding water to the air lock. There’s plenty of salt in the bag to do this project many times over!
So if you have ever wanted to try making your own fermented foods, you might want to give this starter kit a try! There are so many types of recipes on the blog, and I see some pickles and perhaps some sourdough bread in my future, for sure!
Check out what other Crew members have to say about the Fermentools Starter Kit by clicking the banner below.
If you think you’re ready to give it a try, here’s a discount code for 15% off your order through June 30th just for you! CODE: CREW2020