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I haven’t worked with a lot of starter cultures for fermented vegetables. In fact, I’ve written extensively on the Cultures for Health site and elsewhere about how to ferment vegetables simply with salt and water. I just really dig natural, wild fermentation.

But I’m always open to trying different things and seeing how they match up with what I’m used to. The Cutting Edge Culture is fairly new to the market and claims to rapidly kickoff the culturing process, dropping the pH of the ferment faster than other methods. I’m always interested in improving my methods, especially when it comes to fermenting or preserving food, so I decided to try it out on one of our favorite vegetable ferments – garlic-spiked carrot sticks.

First up I prepared five pounds of organic carrots by cutting them into sticks of various sizes. I like to do this because it helps to have various sizes for filling gaps in the jars between larger carrot sticks.

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I then packed these five pounds of carrot sticks in with some garlic from our garden. Fitting all of the carrot sticks tightly into the jars is really the most difficult part of a pretty easy process which is why I like making this ferment so much – it’s quick and simple.

Then I mixed up the culture and some water. I knew, looking at the label, that the water and salt were not going to be sufficient for the two half-gallon jars and one quart jar I had packed with carrots and garlic. Instead of following the instructions I did what I normally would when making a brined ferment. I used about 1.5 Tablespoons of salt per quart since it’s warming up here and then I mixed the powdered culture amongst some water and divided it evenly amongst the carrots. Finally, I topped the jars up with water, leaving at least 1″ of head space. Then I left them to ferment on my counter.

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That was Sunday.

Within 24 hours the carrots began to bubble. By Tuesday afternoon they were cloudy and giving off a lot of carbonation so I burped them frequently. I tasted them on Wednesday and they seemed tangier at this stage than the carrots we usually ferment without using a starter culture.

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All-in-all I was impressed and I think there are good reasons that some people really prefer to ferment vegetables with a starter culture. When it is warmer and you need a little insurance or if you are very sensitive or need to be careful for health reasons then something like the Cutting Edge Culture is probably a good idea. It also introduces specific bacteria to the culture, which some prefer over wild fermentation.