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As with mold, if you have fermented vegetables for a number of years, you’ve probably had a batch or two of mushy vegetable ferments. Sometimes this just happens, but there are some factors that can help to prevent it.

Most people prefer vegetable ferments to be crisp and crunchy. I know I do. So when a batch of pickles or kraut comes out limp, it’s a bit disappointing. You can definitely still use those mushy ferments, either eaten as is or chopped fine to form a relish, but you may also want to look into what’s causing the problem in the first place.

That’s where we come in today.

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There are a number of factors to consider if you want to prevent mushy vegetable ferments. Here are a few:

Salt.

It is possible to ferment vegetables without salt, but salt does help to improve the overall flavor of the ferment while keeping it crisp. If you’re not using salt, you might want to consider it.

Temperature.

Pectin-digesting enzymes tend to come in high numbers when we ferment at high temperatures. This can cause the vegetables to break down and become mushy.

Tannins.

Tannins help to firm up the vegetables with their astringency. Use grape, oak, horseradish, or black tea leaves with your ferments to prevent mushiness caused by factors other than the two listed above.