White Film on Cultured Vegetables: It May Not Be Mold!


Almost anyone who has cultured vegetables has encountered a white film on top of the ferment after a few days. Often this is mistaken for mold, and the entire ferment is discarded. However, it may be entirely benign, and is no cause for alarm.

Kahm yeast is a type of film that can readily be found in cultured and fermented foods. It is not harmful, although it may be unattractive or even smell a little odd. It should be removed from the ferment so it doesn’t impart a bad odor, but a little bit left in the jar won’t hurt the vegetables, and won’t hurt you.

Kahm yeast is likely to develop if a fermentation solution is insufficiently acid, especially when you start it, or if there is not enough salt in the brine. Kahm can also develop if the culturing temperature is too warm, or if the brew is over-exposed to oxygen. Poor hygiene can be another cause.

If kahm yeast develops in your ferment, skim it off the surface of the liquid. Discard any solid matter that has it. As usual, your senses are the test:  if it smells and tastes okay, it probably is.

kahm yeast


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