As summertime approaches, it adds a new list of concerns to any ferment or culturing process.
Here are some techniques designed to help keep any fermenting or culturing project cool enough to properly change and develop in the sultry summer months.
How to Keep Starter Cultures Cool
- Shorter fermenting times can greatly increase chances of success when it comes to kombucha, kefir, sourdough, and fermenting vegetables.
- Use a cooler or insulated container with a lid to hold jars of yogurt, vegetable ferments, milk kefir, water kefir, sourdough starter or kombucha. Add one ice pack or a jar of ice water next to, but not directly touching, the culturing container.
- With large crocks or jars, placing them in a sink of cool water will cool by evaporative action.
- A jar of water kefir, milk kefir, kombucha, sourdough starter, yogurt or veggie ferment set in a large bowl of cool waterwill keep cool in the same way.
- Marble works really well to cool anything set upon it; a marble countertop is really the best place to set a ferment of any kind.
- A basement, cellar, or pantry is an ideal location for any ferment in warm weather. Any room that stays cooler (except a bathroom) is fine to use for culturing.
- A low cupboard, especially if it doesn't back onto an outside wall, is often cooler than other locations.
- Keeping fermenting and culturing foods away from sunlightand from heat-producing appliances is a general and very helpful rule, as well. A running refrigerator puts out a lot of heat, as does a pilot-run gas stove.
- Milk kefir: If making small batches of milk kefir in warmer temperatures, the culturing time will be quite fast. Increase the amount of milk used to 1 quart per batch, to slow things down.
- Cultured Vegetables: Heat can affect the texture of culturing vegetables. If unable to keep vegetables cool, ferment for 1-2 days at room temperature, then transfer the jars to the refrigerator eariler than usual. Vegetables will continue to ferment slowly even in the refrigerator and often develop a better flavor when fermented much more slowly.
- Sourdough: Increasing the frequency of feedings may be necessary during warmer weather. Always keep some starter in the refrigerator as a back-up.