Do you ever experience thick, slimy, viscous brine in your ferments? It happens more with carrots than any other vegetable but it has happened with every vegetable at different times for me. Not every batch of carrot sticks produces a thick brine but most do. Not all of my sauerkraut has a watery brine. Occasionally I get a thick brine. Same with my cucumber pickles. Heck, I’ve even had my water kefir end up thick and viscous which was very weird. Sometimes the brine is thick, sometimes it’s not. Thickened brine has baffled me for years.
While researching something entirely different, I came across this little sentence, “Certain species of Leuconostoc have been found to produce dextran slime or mucilaginous substances in wine.” A light bulb went off. I believe this might be the answer to my question. http://www.extension.iastate.edu/wine/lactic-acid-bacteria-and-wine-spoilage
According to Wikipedia (Yes, I’m citing Wikipedia. It’s concise and easy to read. Look at the sources there if you want the scientific mumbo jumbo), Leuconostoc produce dextran and are “generally slime-forming.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leuconostoc
There are a other strains of bacteria that create this dextran slime like Lactobacillus brevis which is found in many fermented foods. Water kefir and milk kefir grains are comprised mostly of dextran. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dextran and http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirpage.html
So is it pectic, is it dextran slime, or both? Without expensive lab tests, I have no clue. I do believe it’s perfectly safe, as long as it smells like a ferment should and there is no mold. I’ve been eating pickles and kraut with thickened brine with no ill effect for years now.
Like I said earlier, I never know when I’m going to end up with a thick brine. I haven’t found a pattern but I do know it’s fairly common in my neck of the woods. I hear reports of thick brine often. Maybe it’s controlled by temp, maybe we just have more of these dextran producing bacteria here than elsewhere. I have no idea.
Do you experience thick brine too?
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