Tip of the Week: Floaters
Sometimes keeping floaters down under the brine can be tricky. Floaters are those small bits of veggies that sneak past anything you use to hold them down. I’ve seen a few different ideas for holding down floaters, some of which I will share with you and let you know my thoughts on.
Before you get too hung up on keeping all the little bits and pieces under the brine, one of the beauties of using an anaerobic vessel like a Pickl-it is that you really don’t need a dunker. Floaties are fine. Any bits that aren’t held under the brine will simply not ferment as well as the rest of the batch but they should not mold. I try to keep as much under the brine as I can mostly to make sure everything gets fermented evenly but if something floats up, I’m not going to lose my mind trying to keep everything under.
First, I’ve seen people cut a plastic mesh screen to hold floaters down which I think looks like a brilliant idea. But, most of you know I have a bit of a beef with using plastic in my ferments. All those gases and acids eat away a plastic and can leach yuckiness into your ferment. No thank you. Now if I could find a silicone mesh screen or maybe stainless steel…
Second, cabbage leaves. When I use a cabbage leaf to hold down floaters, I’ll either cut them into strips and layer them or I’ll poke a few holes so the fermentation gases can escape. Place the dunker on top and push down. Simple.
Third, carrot peels. Peel a carrot and use the peels to form a wheel over the top of your ferment. Place the dunker on top and push down. I like this method except for the fact that adding carrot peels to my ferments seems to thicken the brine which can be somewhat off-putting. This doesn’t happen to everyone but it does to me a lot.
Fourth, my favorite, a thick slice of onion. Cut a slice of onion about 1/4″-1/2″ thick. Since onions are round, one side will be wider than the other. Place the narrow end down so that when you place the dunker on top of it, the onion piece will stay together when you push down. This seems to work particularly well with peppers that like to float. Obviously, you’ll want to only use this on ferments that you want an onion flavor in.
This Week in Fermentation
KerryAnn of Cookingtf.com shares why she won’t ferment without an airlock in this post: Why I Won’t Ferment Without a Separate Airlock Part1. She answers a lot of questions I had in my post from last week: Fermenting in a Fido?