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It’s Frickin’ Freezing!

Fermenting in the Winter

It’s winter here. And when I say winter, I mean it’s cold. Like frickin’ freezing. Like negative frickin’ freezing. We get actual temps of -20F on a fairly regular basis and sometimes as low as -40F. And then it can be windy which drives the “feels like” temp down to -50 to -70F.

Do you know what -70F feels like? Neither do I. I refuse to leave the house when it’s that cold. Ask my husband. He’s made it a tradition to sleep outside on the coldest nights of the year. Don’t worry, he’s a survival expert and is just fine (though some may question his sanity).

Our house heat can usually keep up with the cold when it’s not windy. When it’s windy, it struggles. I’ve woken up to it being below 50 in the kitchen. Even on an average winter day here, it’s still pretty chilly. It’s on the north side of the house so it doesn’t get good sunlight and it’s just colder than other areas of the house. But it’s also the best place for me to keep my ferments so I’ve had to improvise.

Even in cold temps like that, ferments will continue to do their thing, it just takes a lot longer depending on how cold it is. My water kefir can take up to a week, sometimes longer.

When I am impatient, I use seedling mats to keep my ferments happy. One wrapped around the back and a towel on the front to keep the heat in.

Fermenting in the Cold

Left to right: Spiced Cranberries in honey (recipe coming), milk kefir, water kefir, spiced elderberries in honey (recipe also coming).

Fermenting in the Cold

Happy ferments = happy me!

A cabinet would be ideal and if you have the space, it would help keep the heat in very nicely.

Another option that works great is to use a cooler and pack hot water bottles around your ferments. Use a thermometer to keep track of the temp. You don’t want it to get too hot. 68-72F is ideal.

Happy winter fermenting!


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5 comments to It’s Frickin’ Freezing!

  • nanook of the north

    well we have something called the polar bear plunge and on new years day people put their swim suits on and run into the lake why dont know other then alcohol has something to do with it but every year plenty of people go down to the lake and jump in as far as ferments go i also have a cold spot that i refer to as my root cellar when in truth its my walk in closet but its great for keeping thing at about 55-60 give or take and works well for my sauerkraut which during the summer i keep in front of the air conditioner to keep it at the right temp all you need is a little imagination and the need to keep your ferments going i have alot of people ask me what iam making but sadly i dont share much more then a taste i find iam making bigger ferments all the time and seeing i dont like following recipes its a whole new experience every time iam make a new larger batch

  • Marcia

    Although it’s not as cold here as what you describe (thank god!) I keep my house at 59 degrees during the day and 55 at night. This has made fermenting my milkd kefir a challenge. Recently, I had been getting a series of bad batches– cheesy and off smell/tasting and still mostly liquid with no thickening. I hac to dump several batches (which with goat’s milk can get pretty expensive). I found a heated hand-warmner with a small heating pad ekement it it enclosed in a fleece puuch. I only have one quart going at a tine, so this warmer managed to raise the temp to 65-70degress, and now my kefir is doing just fine again. I think what happens when it’s really cold, is that the wrong microorganisms take over and make it funky.

  • take trip over to Ace hardware and enquire about `Heat Tape` which can be cut to size by the purchaser .

  • It’s sometimes in the low 40s in my kitchen overnight in the winter. My milk kefir grows like crazy and I don’t know why! The teaspoon of grains turned into 2 cups of grains in about 2 months.

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