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Fermenting is a science, and a bit of an art. It requires care in a few specific things, but doing it right is not particularly complicated. We provide instructions that are accurate to the best of our knowledge, and which are based on the methods we successfully practice ourselves. There are no guarantees of success or safety with fermented foods. While properly fermented foods are not only safe, but healthy to eat, it is up to you to follow instructions to ensure safety, and to trust your eyes and nose, and don't eat things that do not look or smell like food. We offer no guarantees of success with our product. We do warrant that it is as described, and will do what we say it will, but how you use it is your choice.

Even when you use a closed pickling or curing system, sometimes molds invade.

The first sign you have is that the delightful pickly smell we watch for fails to develop, or it develops only a day or two and then diverts to something else.

That something is first just odd, then unpleasant, and then it smells like something left in the fridge too long. This develops over many days, or sometimes weeks, and it can be difficult to tell right away. Eventually though, you KNOW, and the brine begins to cloud, and then it grays and things in it turn slimy.

We aren’t talking about some fuzz on the top which can be removed to expose good food underneath. We are talking about the stuff that goes all the way through, and that clouds the brine, and grays all the food.

It is not always technically mold, sometimes it is bacteria.

There are a few things that can cause molds in pickles.

1. Vegetables that are starting to break down can do this. Use fresh vegetables that are not showing any signs of decay.

2. Old water filters. If you use a water filter for an extended time, it can develop mold inside the filter. It is not enough to make you ill, but it CAN be enough to start some real nasties in a curing environment where it can get a good foothold. The solution here is to either use the water unfiltered (it will have some chlorine, but our pickles have been successful anyway), OR boil the water and let it cool to room temp, and then start the cure. Do not use the water hot or very warm, it tends to encourage the wrong things.

3. Too little salt. Use full salt ratios to avoid the growth of molds throughout the food.

These foods were made in a non-sterile environment for thousands of years. This is how they were developed, so failure to sterilize things is pretty much never the cause of a pickling failure. It has to be something with a fairly large amount of bacteria or fungus added.

It is terribly disappointing to put the effort into starting the production of a good food, only to have it spoiled and inedible. The loss of the investment in the food is also a thing we feel.

If your ancestors could create these things in a crock in a dirt floored root cellar, though, we should be able to create them reliably in a good jar under better controlled conditions.

Unless they are fermented with sugar, and contain alcohol, pretty much!

We are concerned with TWO kinds of pickles.

  1. Fresh brined pickles. Those oh-so-good crunchy complexly flavored tart and tangy pickled things that we fork out of the crock too soon because we can’t bear to wait any longer. Those things are the BEST and most healthy pickles. They have not just acids and enzymes, they have LIVE bacteria and fungus, of so many kinds we can’t enumerate them all, which help with digestion and metabolics.
  2. Canned pickles. Maybe brined that have been canned. Maybe just plain old vinegar pickles, canned up using the Ball Blue Book. Whatever. Those things are just pickles. And we want to know if they are just as good, even though we know they aren’t.

So canned pickles lack probiotics COMPLETELY. But they DO still have some very worthwhile benefits.

They have the same benefits that other condiments have.

They contain fruit acids, and acetic acid that help you break down and digest certain foods – most importantly, MEATS.

They also contain some enzymes which help with digestion, and they contain metabolic agents that help your body reform molecules, complete various necessary elements in your body, and which help you METABOLIZE some food better, again, most importantly, MEATS.

So back to condiments. This is one of the things that has made life much more comfortable for me. I’ll give you a few examples:

  1. Eggs, and ketchup – or Salsa. I don’t digest eggs well, but ketchup gets rid of the indigestion, sulphur burps, and diarrhea.
  2. Peanut butter needs either Jelly or Chocolate for many people. No more peanut butter heartburn, no more peanut buttery burps 4 hours later on a sullen stomach. Are you a chocolate and peanut butter sort of person, or do you go in for PB&J as your thing?
  3. Tunafish and Relish is another miracle combination. Mustard can also help. Put in a lot if you like a lot. Gets rid of that crampy stomach ache that some people get after eating tuna, and helps stop the diarrhea. Dill relish and sweet relish work the same. You can throw in bread and butter pickles if you like, and we’ve even chopped fresh kraut to stir into the tuna, and that’s REALLY good.
  4. Beans and Tomato, plus meat. So the magic with beans is tomato, and that’s not always condiment. But if you can’t digest beans even when you make the chili with about 1/3 beans, 1/2 meat, and the rest other ingredients, there’s one more thing you can do. Add 2-3 TBSP of Chutney. It is a super powerhouse where digestion is concerned.
  5. Hotdogs and ketchup or mustard. Some people like one, some people like the other.
  6. Shrimp and Cocktail sauce. There’s magic here too.
  7. Fish and Tartar sauce. The pickles in the tartar sauce help digest the fish, and help with metabolization of the proteins.
  8. Milk with Chocolate – also not exactly a condiment, but a companion. Many people who cannot digest milk can do so with chocolate in it.
  9. Chicken or Pork, and BBQ or Sweet and Sour Sauce. Again, the sauce doesn’t just TASTE good, it helps break down the food so you can use it better.
  10. Salad Dressing on Vegetables is another thing that aids in digesting foods that are kind of hard to move through the digestive tract for many people. Get the right kind. Don’t settle for less!

There’s just one key to this.

Eat your food in the way your body likes best. If it tastes THAT GOOD, with THAT SAUCE, then by all means, use that sauce.

Many things our stomachs rebel at, will be edible if we combine them with the right thing. Everything but tripe. Tripe doesn’t taste good with anything.

It has sugar, or honey in it, and it is fermented, ergo it IS alcoholic. End of story.

If you drink it made FRESH in the blender or on stovetop and then strained, then it is not Moonshine.

If you add sugar (honey is just a form of sugar, after all), and ferment it, it is UNQUESTONABLY Moonshine. It has an alcohol content that IS intoxicating, the amount depends on the length of fermentation. Average is about 15% alcohol after the honey has been in it for 1 month.

If you make it WITH SUGAR (or Honey), and put it in the fridge, it WILL ferment there, and you WILL have alcohol. Takes about 2 months.

If you make it and strain it and add the sugar (or honey) LATER, and then store it on the counter, or even in the fridge, it will STILL FERMENT, and it will still be ALCOHOLIC!

If you make it ALCOHOLIC, and then BOIL your single serving for 10 minutes, then this will EVAPORATE the alcohol, and it is no longer potentially intoxicating. This renders it SAFE for medicinal use, even for Children and Pregnant Women.

Now, we know the rules. Sugar, fermented, equals ALCOHOL! And sugar INCLUDES Honey, Agave, Fruit Juice, Starchy Vegetables, Grains, and ALL other forms of SIMPLE CARBS.

We also know, if it has a carbonation fizz, or fine burn (anywhere from soda pop to wine or vodka) that it IS ALCOHOLIC. The fizz hits the brew at about the same place as the ability to get intoxicated from it. If it has bubbles AT ALL, it is above the legal definition for an ALCOHOLIC (potentially intoxicating) BEVERAGE.

But we know all this. People who MAKE THE STUFF, already know this. People who claim it is not moonshine ALREADY KNOW THIS! They just lie about it. It’s a maxim… Alcoholics always lie, it is part of the diagnostic criteria of the condition.

Now, suppose you leave out the sugar… Let’s see.

Ginger has sugars that turn alcoholic. About the same amount as tomatoes, and the amount of ginger in Fire Cider is so much, the sugars are really active.

Lemon has sugars that ferment into alcohol. Lemon has a surprising amount of natural sugar in it.

Turmeric also does, but likely not enough to produce a buzz on its own (on the tongue, or in the brain).

If you include these or other ingredients with sugars, IT IS STILL enough to produce SIGNIFICANT alcohol. It averages about 2-3% alcohol WITHOUT fermenting it with sugar or honey, people.

So stop arguing about science, folks. It does not lie. But ALCOHOLICS do.

They also LIKE to make alcoholics of their own children. Normal people don’t do that. So they’ll tell you that it is safe for children. It is not… Nor is it safe for Pregnant women.

If you think that Fire Cider is safe for children, then you may as well just bring out the whiskey and give it to them by the Tablespoon and be honest about what you are trying to do.

Now, you may say, “It is only 1-2 tablespoons, and it is only medicinal.”.

But Fire Cider is not just recommended as a TREATMENT for illness, it is recommended as a DAILY PREVENTIVE (which it is not).

So that is 1-2 tablespoons PER DAY, and THAT is enough to get someone addicted and KEEP them addicted.

During an illness, it is commonly taken multiple times a day. And that is enough to keep a light buzz going as long as you can keep the excuse going.

There are those who insist they cannot taste alcohol in their sugary ferments, or in their “homemade soda”. Either they lie, or they’ve killed their sense of taste.

My brother, a former alcoholic, says, “If you cannot TASTE alcohol, or feel the fizz or burn, then YOU ARE AN ALCOHOLIC!” Because Normal People can taste it, and they can FEEL the difference between Cayenne Pepper and Alcohol.


If you want a medicinal for colds, flus, and stomach upset, this alternative can be helpful.

The amounts are less, because the amounts in most Fire Cider recipes are too irritating to the gut, and are NOT HEALTHY. So this is adjusted for medicinal effect, and measured to be gut healthy.


Flaming Vinegar

  • 1 Whole Small Onion, chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, chopped (careful, it is a blood thinner)
  • 1″ Piece of Horseradish, Shredded
  • 1″ Piece Ginger, Shredded (not enough to produce intoxicating alcohol)
  • 1 Tsp Grated Lemon, Lime, Or Orange Peel
  • 1 TBSP Lemon Juice (Not MORE)
  • 1 TBSP dried (or 2 TBSP fresh) Resinous Rosemary
  • 1 TBSP dried Calendula Flower
  • 1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 Tsp Cayenne Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp Cinnamon (careful, it is a mild blood thinner)
  • 1/4 Tsp Turmeric
  • 1/4 Tsp Clove
  • 1/4 Tsp Allspice
  • 1/4 Tsp dried Oregano
  • 2 Cups Vinegar (Distilled, Apple Cider, or Blend)
  • 2 Cups Water

Place in small Crock Pot, on high heat for 4 hours. It should simmer for about 2 hours if you do it on stovetop.

We boil this to extract the maximum amount of medicinal value from the ingredients. Cold extraction is far less efficient, and you don’t gain enough to compensate for the losses.

Strain well, and bottle in small jars. We recommend about a 4 oz jar.

Water bath for 10 minutes to seal.

To use:

Use 1-2 Tablespoons in about a cup of water. Heat it and add sugar or honey to sweeten to taste. Chug that nasty stuff down, and hope for the best.

NOTE: This keeps fairly well, since it is a vinegar, but it does not keep forever. You know how illness is. You need a bunch for months, and then you don’t need it again for years. So we need to be able to store this and keep full potency for an extended time.

You CAN use 100% vinegar instead of vinegar and water. If you do, it gets really heavy flavored. This is the lighter version, but go ahead and change it up so you can stand it, or so it fits your needs better.

Just DO NOT EVER add Sugar or Honey (or any of the other alcohol producing sweeteners) and let it sit.


It has recently come to my attention that there are a HUGE amount of people out there who just want alcohol, no matter the excuse. They’ll even drink something THIS vile to have an excuse.

What really shocked me is when Kombucha and Fire Cider moved into the Mormon Mainstream, and became trendy. I had friends who were deceived by this for a time, but who stopped.

There are others though, who will not stop. They have an agenda, and it is to mainstream alcohol, marijuana, and other intoxicants. They push it for teatotalers, for former alcoholics, and even for pregnancy and for babies and children. They will use any lie to do so.

They don’t just want to excuse themselves, they want to persuade YOU to do it too.

I will not.

“I will not put a thief in my mouth to steal my brains.” (True Grit)


Alternate Recipe – More Healing, Less Preventive, for Acute Illness

Twister Vinegar

  • 1 Whole Small Onion, chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, chopped (careful, it is a blood thinner)
  • 1″ Piece Ginger, Shredded (not enough to produce intoxicating alcohol)
  • 1 TBSP Grated Lemon, Lime, Or Orange Peel
  • 1 TBSP dried (or 2 TBSP fresh) Resinous Rosemary OR Oregano
  • 2 TBSP dried Calendula Flower
  • 1/4 Tsp Cinnamon (careful, it is a mild blood thinner)
  • 1/4 Tsp Turmeric OR 1 TBSP Daylily Blossom
  • 2 TBSP Red Rooibos (do not use green!)
  • 1 TBSP crushed Juniper Berry
  • 2 TBSP Rose Petal
  • 1 1/2 TBSP Sunflower Leaf
  • 1 TBSP Elder Flower
  • 1 TBSP Mahonia, Mate, or Holly Leaf
  • 1 TBSP Pumpkin Or Squash Leaf
  • 1 tsp Sage
  • 1 tsp Apricot Leaf, or Linden Leaf, Mulberry Leaf, or Elm Leaf
  • 2 TBSP Pansy Leaf
  • 1 TBSP Hyssop Leaf (or 1 tsp powder)
  • 1 tsp Scullcap
  • 1 TBSP Petunia Leaf OR Impatiens Leaf
  • 1 tsp ground Thyme
  • 1 TBSP Ground Hawthorne Berry
  • 1 TBSP Apple, Pear, Peach, or Pomegranate Leaf
  • 2 Cups Vinegar (Distilled, Apple Cider, or Blend)
  • 2 Cups Water


Mud Vinegar

A simpler recipe, makes up faster, and is not quite as hard to get down. Use for persistent illness. Not recommended for every cold or sneeze, but is recommended for pneumonia or bronchitis, and these herbs were traditionally used for polio, tuberculosis, pertussis, diptheria, measles, mumps, and even chicken pox.  This can help reduce the progression of strep until you can get something stronger, but it is NOT strong enough to treat it alone.

  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp powdered hyssop, elm, or mullien leaf
  • 1 1/2 tsp oregano or sage powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp rosemary powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp thyme powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp dill or fennel seed, OR 1 tsp dill weed or dried fennel leaf
  • 3 cups full strength apple cider or balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/3 to 2/3 Cup honey or 1 to 1 1/2 cup of sugar

You can make this in a crock pot and let it steep for an hour or two, for strongest strength, or you can make it in a pot on the stove, and boil for 15 minutes, then cool and SETTLE it. It can be strained through a coffee filter but it does clog some. We just settle it and pour off the clearer tea on the top, and discard the sludge on the bottom.

WARNING – this has Sugars in it, and should NOT be stored long term without sealing it through canning it. It will keep several weeks after opening, but be careful or you’ll end up with alcohol in it if it is stored long.

To serve, use 2 TBSP and add water to 1 or 1 1/2 cup, and it tastes better warm. This should be WATER BATH CANNED for long term storage. Boil or steam can for 15 minutes for half pints.

Homemade soda as made by some people claiming that it is a “healthy” alternative to commercial sodas, contains sufficient alcohol to be regulated by the Federal Government, and to be unlawful in the US to give to children.

In fact, sodas made today by fermentation are made by the same processes as wines, hard lemonade, hard cider, and hard rootbeer, and they are made from the SAME KINDS OF INGREDIENTS. A sugary liquid, fermented, with or without the addition of cultured yeasts. It isn’t the cultured yeasts that do it, folks! It is the SUGAR (refined sugar, molasses, agave syrup, honey, fruit sugars from juices, etc) that creates the alcohol.

WATER KEFIR “sodas” are the SAME THING. They are simply fermented sugary foods.

Sugary liquids, fermented, create alcohol. This is irrefutable science here, people. We all know this. Just because you really WANT it to be healthy does not exempt your ferments from the laws of science!

The more sugar, and the longer the ferment, the higher the alcohol content. And there is a reason why modern sodas are carbonated with the addition of pressurized carbon dioxide.

Now, we know, from the great Kombucha debacle of 2010, that if an alcohol containing beverage has carbonation caused by fermentation, and has NOT had pressurized carbon dioxide added, that it is OVER the limit for classification as an alcoholic beverage, and it is therefore illegal to give it to children in the US, and not advised for use by pregnant women, or those with conditions or medications that interact poorly with alcohol.

Let me repeat part of that – If a fermented beverage has carbonation (and you did not add carbon dioxide manually), IT IS ALCOHOLIC, and capable of intoxicating a child, and potentially damaging a child in utero, and it is NOT RECOMMENDED for healing the body!

Normally, carbon dioxide does NOT suspend in a liquid. It bubbles out. It bubbles out of kraut and pickles, because there is no significant alcohol volume to suspend it. As the alcohol content rises, carbon dioxide begins to stay suspended in it (dissolved in it), and does not bubble out as easily.

We also know that Beet Kvass is brewed to an average alcohol content of 11%, often more, and no, I did not misplace a decimal, that is ELEVEN percent. It is done the same way homemade soda is done, and the same way water kefir, and kombucha is done. The more fizzy, the higher the alcohol content. The finer the bubbles, the higher the alcohol content.

Kombucha in the great Kombucha debacle had alcohol levels of 3% and higher (often MUCH higher), and was pulled from the shelves and replaced with artificially carbonated versions. The levels found ranged from enough to cause intoxication in children, to enough to intoxicate an adult, and all had enough to damage intestinal bacteria and intestinal wall cells.

So what are some things you can give your kids, and that you can drink, without fear?

Not all of these are beverages. They address the need for probiotics, a treat, hydration, or a combination or portion of those needs.

  • Homemade lemonade. Can it, dress it up, alternative sweeteners, meyer lemons.
  • Orangeade from sour oranges.
  • Limeade
  • Soda stream
  • Soda water plus juice concentrate
  • Infused water (if you have to… this is a gimmick, you know!)
  • Herbal tea – what you lose in probiotics you gain in nutritional or medicinal benefits.
  • Smoothies for all the goodness in the world. Can it, thicken with applesauce, pears, peaches, or other fruits that can well. Drop in a spoonful of yogurt when you open it.
  • Can add raw milk or raw egg for a real kickin’ probiotic punch.
  • Add yogurt or milk kefir to juice – just enough to whiten the juice.
  • Coconut milk, pineapple juice, vanilla yogurt, with a crushed strawberry.
  • Warm protein drink – Jello, pineapple juice.
  • Broth – this one is especially good when you want it for a sick child.
  • Jello and hot chocolate
  • Raw eggnog.
  • Snow ice cream (the kind with raw egg).

Probiotics in fresh fruits and veggies – Fresh fruits and vegetables contain a wide variety of microbes for health. When you lacto-ferment vegetables, it is the probiotics in them that grow in the brine, creating an acid environment.

Probiotics in raw honey. Raw honey is also full of lovely friendly microbes, and a range of other benefits.

Probiotics in yogurt and kefir. We all know that these two foods are loaded with friendly bacteria and yeasts. So is buttermilk and sour cream, and many cheeses.

Sugar in homemade soda. Homemade soda still has a fairly high amount of sugar, or other simple carbohydrate. Fermentation only reduces it somewhat, but does not eliminate it.

Other alcoholic home ferments. The rules for sugary ferments hold for any food with simple carbohydrates, including fruits, fruit juices, potatoes, squash, sweet potatoes, and other starchy vegetables.

Early Effects of Alcohol Consumption in Children

Not all of these are drinks. All work on the presumption that the goal is two-fold, that of providing an herbal benefit, and a probiotic benefit, without the harmful alcohol in traditional and herbal kombucha.

Now, we know, from the great Kombucha debacle of 2010, that if an alcohol containing beverage has carbonation caused by fermentation, and has NOT had pressurized carbon dioxide added, that it is OVER the limit for classification as an alcoholic beverage, and it is therefore illegal to give it to children in the US, and not advised for use by pregnant women, or those with conditions or medications that interact poorly with alcohol.

Let me repeat part of that – If a fermented beverage has carbonation (and you did not add carbon dioxide manually), IT IS ALCOHOLIC, and capable of intoxicating a child, and potentially damaging a child in utero, and it is NOT RECOMMENDED for healing the body!

Normally, carbon dioxide does NOT suspend in a liquid. It bubbles out. It bubbles out of kraut and pickles, because there is no significant alcohol volume to suspend it. As the alcohol content rises, carbon dioxide begins to stay suspended in it (dissolved in it), and does not bubble out as easily.

We also know that Beet Kvass is brewed to an average alcohol content of 11%, often more, and no, I did not misplace a decimal, that is ELEVEN percent. It is done the same way homemade soda is done, and the same way water kefir, and kombucha is done. The more fizzy, the higher the alcohol content. The finer the bubbles, the higher the alcohol content.

Kombucha in the great Kombucha debacle had alcohol levels of 3% and higher. Often MUCH higher. Enough to cause intoxication in children, and enough to damage intestinal bacteria and intestinal wall cells.

So what do you do? Do you give up Kombucha entirely? Do you try to make it safe by making it another way? Or do you go for alternatives?

You can try making your kombucha safe. To do that, you have two choices:

1. You can push it through the alcoholic phase, and into a vinegar stage, just like ACV. You just sweeten it again before you drink it, and have a sweet and sour flavor.

2. You can put it into an open container (wide is better than tall), and shake it every time you go by to evaporate out the alcohol. I recommend a cloth cover, because fruit flies love this, and while it makes a great fruit fly trap, that isn’t really the intention here! When it is FLAT (no bubbles), it is safe to drink.

Other options exist also, that are NOT kombucha.

Pickled herb drink. Salt cure chopped herbs, in the same manner as pickles, in a brine with a slightly low salt percentage. Keep in the fridge. Use a tablespoonful or two of the brine, combined with water, and lightly sweetened.

Apple cider vinegar drink. Honey, ACV, and water, either hot or cold. (Some people react really well to this, some people do not, so please don’t force this on your children, if they do not like it, chances are they cannot tolerate it.)

Freshly squeezed lemonade, or limeade. Yes, there are probiotics in fresh lemons, and if you add other fresh fruit, you get even more.

Infused waters. Ok, I think these are kinda dumb, and a gimmick. But you do get a wee bit of herbal benefit, and you do get a bit of probiotics if you use fresh fruits or herbs or veggies. If you add very thin pieces of fruit or veggies, to a cooled brewed tea, you’ll get both.

Yogurt or milk kefir, added to fruit flavored teas.

Raw eggnog. 1 raw egg, 1 cup raw milk, sweetener to taste, splash of vanilla, and shake of nutmeg, whir in a blender until smooth. Extra delicious with raw cream!

Fresh fruit and veggie smoothies. You get more nutrition from whole foods than from tea anyway. If you really need a strong probiotic, I add yogurt or raw milk, and a raw egg.

Juice from fresh kraut or fresh brined pickles. Use this in your meals, or serve as a refreshing drink the same way you do with ACV, with some raw honey to power pack it.


These things are not drinks, but are foods with a high probiotic and nutritional content, that do not have the alcohol backlash.

Salt rising bread. Really. It contains healthy bacteria that are not killed in the cooking process, and which can colonize your intestinal tract. Making it is a skill.

Dry cured meats. LOADED with meat tenderizing bacteria, if you use them raw like prosciutto (this is safe to do, and you only need a thin slice).


Probiotics in fresh fruits and veggies – Fresh fruits and vegetables contain a wide variety of microbes for health. When you lacto-ferment vegetables, it is the probiotics in them that grow in the brine, creating an acid environment.

Probiotics in raw honey. Raw honey is also full of lovely friendly microbes, and a range of other benefits.

Probiotics in yogurt and kefir. We all know that these two foods are loaded with friendly bacteria and yeasts. So is buttermilk and sour cream, and many cheeses.

Sugar in homemade soda. Homemade soda still has a fairly high amount of sugar, or other simple carbohydrate. Fermentation only reduces it somewhat, but does not eliminate it.

Other alcoholic home ferments. The rules for sugary ferments hold for any food with simple carbohydrates, including fruits, fruit juices, potatoes, squash, sweet potatoes, and other starchy vegetables.

Early Effects of Alcohol Consumption in Children

I recently undertook the study of alcohol consumption in various parts of the world, and related statistics. Some interesting things come out, and there is no doubt that giving children alcohol young has negative affects on their health, their life, and society as a whole.

High alcohol consumption tends to run hand in hand with poverty. It runs both ways – frequent use of intoxicants tends to lower incomes, and low incomes tend to provide a motivation to escape reality through the use of intoxicants.

Countries that track statistical averages count things differently – and this is important, because how you count something makes all the difference in accuracy. Statistics that analyze this do NOT make adjustments for the method of counting.

Countries with the highest per capita purchased alcohol consumption tend to count alcoholism differently. Their rates are HIGHER than in the US, and they only count dysfunctional drunks. The US counts functional alcoholics.

Countries with the highest per capita purchased alcohol consumption count what is “alcohol” differently. The US counts anything over .5% as being “alcohol”, including light beers and hard ciders, wine coolers and spritzers, and wines. Other countries count differently, with lower limits of 1.1%, 1.2%, and unstated. This is for purposes of labeling and taxation, which are different than those of enforcement of limits for other legal issues.

Countries with highest per capita purchased alcohol consumption count what “alcohol consumption” is differently also. Bootleg alcohol (which can be the majority of what is consumed in a few nations), is not counted effectively if at all. Legally purchased alcohol may be counted, or only partially counted, depending on their classification for it. Bootleg alcohol is a relatively minor factor in the US, but may be 80% or more of the alcohol consumed in some areas outside the US, with beer and wine being the most often homemade.

Countries with higher per capita alcohol consumption have a different definition of what it means to give alcohol to children. Some permit the purchase of alcohol for children over the age of 4 years, for consumption in the home, and allow consumption for teens in a pub if accompanied by a parent. So often, surveys regarding alcohol focus more on what is illegal, or on hard spirits, rather than on all alcohol consumption, as is the case in the US.

Statistics show very clearly, two important things:

First, the younger a person is introduced to alcohol, the more likely they are to become alcohol dependent.

Second, the higher the alcohol consumption in a nation, the younger they are likely to be introduced to drinking alcohol.

Alcohol consumption rates correlate directly with average age of death, and this is after other factors are accounted for. Lower death ages are very much in line with higher rates of alcohol related disease in those countries.

Binge drinking statistics prove the opposite of what they suggest at first.

The statistics show that binge drinking occurs in 50% of occasions with alcohol for US teens, but only 10% of occasions with alcohol served for teens in several countries with very high per capita alcohol consumption.

What this proves is, that when alcohol is served rarely, kids will drink to obvious intoxication half the time.

That when alcohol is served daily, they will drink to obvious intoxication 10% of the time.

American teens MAY party once a week with alcohol – usually far less often, perhaps once a month or once every few months. They drink to intoxication (one definition of binge drinking) in the ABSENCE of parents, and they tend to do it in rebellion.

Teens in nations where parents serve them alcohol on a daily basis will drink to obvious intoxication about every 10th day. They may do it WITH their parents, or in rebellion, either one.

Conclusion is that while the statistics were carefully stated to imply that teens drinking with their parents daily was a good thing, the actual numbers show that it is not, and that they engage in far MORE binge drinking, not far less.

Now, we also know, from the great Kombucha debacle of 2010, that if an alcohol containing beverage has carbonation caused by fermentation, and has NOT had pressurized carbon dioxide added, that it is OVER the limit for classification as an alcoholic beverage, and it is therefore illegal to give it to children in the US, and not advised for use by pregnant women, or those with conditions or medications that interact poorly with alcohol.

Let me repeat part of that – If a fermented beverage has carbonation (and you did not add carbon dioxide manually), IT IS ALCOHOLIC, and capable of intoxicating a child, and potentially damaging a child in utero, and it is NOT RECOMMENDED for healing the body!

Normally, carbon dioxide does NOT suspend in a liquid. It bubbles out. It bubbles out of kraut and pickles, because there is no significant alcohol volume to suspend it. As the alcohol content rises, carbon dioxide begins to stay suspended in it (dissolved in it), and does not bubble out as easily.

We also know that Beet Kvass is brewed to an average alcohol content of 11%, often more, and no, I did not misplace a decimal, that is ELEVEN percent. It is done the same way homemade soda is done, and the same way water kefir, and kombucha is done. The more fizzy, the higher the alcohol content. The finer the bubbles, the higher the alcohol content.

Alcohol has a NEGATIVE effect on the body, especially for children, and especially the digestive system, for six reasons:

1. It kills microbes. It is used as a disinfectant to KILL living cells. It does not care whether these are inside or outside the body.

2. It kills surface cells lining the digestive tract. These are fast growing cells, and are more vulnerable to chemical damage than slower growing cells. Anyone who has ever had chemo knows this, and alcohol damages in the same way chemo does.

3. It gets into the bloodstream and damages cells throughout the body, particularly the brain, liver, endocrine glands, and kidneys.

4. It damages the mitochondrial DNA in the body, and this damage IS inherited. This is one reason the tendency to become addicted to alcohol is familial. This also causes widespread mitochondrial dysfunction and metabolic dysfunction within the body. This passes from the mother AND the father.

5. It causes genetic damage to eggs and sperm, passing genetic damage and dysfunction to infants in utero. This type of damage passes to a child from BOTH the mother and the father.

6. The effects on a developing body are catastrophic, since the body fails to develop normally, and the harm to normal growth and maturation is permanent. Harm is not minimized, it is compounded.

So, knowing this, we understand that if we are fermenting ANYTHING that creates significant alcohol in a food we are consuming for health reasons, that we are engaging in counterproductive efforts, and harming the body rather than healing it. We also understand that the effects are compounded when we give these substances to children, whose bodies are still developing.

The statistics were pretty compelling. One day I’ll find more and add them in, but this is all I have for today.

You can find these statistics very easily, they are gathered and published by the World Health Organization, who cannot quite make up their minds whether alcohol is evil, or good. They’ve settled on presenting that alcohol is good, but the effects of it on health and longevity and societal functionality are bad. So sometimes you have to pay attention to what they are really SAYING, not what they want you to THINK they are saying.

It started something like this: Someone started testing things in a test tube. The results were different than what they expected, because it was happening outside the complex environment of the digestive system – without the digestive acids and enzymes that are normally present, and outside the combinations of other nutrients present in the digestive tract. Test tube results are NEVER the same as those in the body, because test tube tests are run in isolation, without the presence of other naturally occurring elements.

The results were published – “This substance may cause harm, because it does this horrid thing. We don’t know for sure, because we only tested it in a test tube (in-vitro), and we have no idea whether the same thing happens in the body or not.”. It was enough for the food bloggers! Off they went! A good harmful substance, after all, is never to be wasted, especially if it is one that is found in a lot of food that we commonly consume! And especially if it fits their agenda!

So now we have people running around wringing their hands, and worrying over three things: Phytates, Oxalates, and Anti-Nutrients.

Guess what, people? You don’t have to worry about ANY OF THEM! Seriously!

Ok, so if you are vegan, you may have more of a TENDENCY to have a higher amount of improperly processed phytates. Even then, it is doubtful that it would ever cause a problem, because if it did, societies that have a high consumption of grains (almost all that have lower meat consumption) would have illnesses related to high phytates. Nope. Doesn’t happen.

If you have serious kidney disease, you MIGHT have a tendency for build-up of oxalates in the form of kidney stones. Then again, you might not. The fact is that even on a low oxalate diet, kidney stones develop (I have seen this personally). And they usually do NOT in the presence of a high oxalate diet. Generally when kidney stones develop, it is due to specific medical issues, not due to the presence or absence of oxalates in your diet.

Oxalates bind to heavy metals and other similar toxins, and are used in some chelation therapies to remove harmful substances from the body. There are, in fact, NO CREDIBLE SOURCES that recommend reduction of oxalates for anyone other than people with serious kidney disease. (For the uninformed, I do NOT consider WAPF to be a credible source, there is too much evidence to suggest that they make it up as they go, and their conclusions indicate that they rarely study the actual facts behind the issue – the only valid info they have is what they took from someone else – often INCONSISTENT with the works of Dr. Price, their own lab tests have been shown to be flawed by many other sources and are not respected within the scientific community.)

Anti-nutrients are also a myth. Pure fallacy. There are one or two plants, sometimes used as food in emergency situations (as in, we got lost in the Peruvian Jungle and had to survive on whatever did not kill our taste tester within an hour or two), which, if consumed in VERY LARGE (unnaturally massive) quantities, can interfere with the absorption of a nutrient or two. But really, people, they are NOT foods you find on your grocery store shelves! They are not foods you CAN eat much of on a daily basis, you just won’t be able to gag them down when your body has had enough of them. And they are not things that will sneak up on you unawares. Nutrients do not cancel out other nutrients. That does not happen in the human body in any way that is actually significant or meaningful, if it did, the human race would have been doomed long since! Anti-nutrients are a NON-ISSUE!

So what are phytates? Another word for phytic acid. They are found in common foods, which have been staples of ALL societies and cultural diets from time immemorial. (That should give us a clue, especially to those who CLAIM to have respect for traditional diets!) In the body, they break down, and become a vital source of phosphorus. Know what happens when you don’t have phosphorus? Here’s a list of symptoms that indicate low phosphorus:

  • changes in your mental state (e.g. anxiety, irritability, or confusion)
  • bone issues, such as pain, fragility, and poor development (in children)
  • irregular breathing.
  • fatigue.
  • loss of appetite.
  • muscle weakness.
  • weight gain or loss.

Pretty significant. In cases of malabsorption due to digestive tract issues, it may also be combined with low niacin (take niacinamide, or flush free if you supplement), low D (mostly D3, but not exclusively), and low Folic Acid. The combination of deficiencies in these, and sometimes magnesium, can lead to a schizophrenic type reaction, involving psychotic symptoms, and insomnia.

There is ABSOLUTELY NO evidence that lacto-fermentation reduces the presence of, or converts, phytic acid. There are many CLAIMS that it does so, but no actual studies to support those claims.

What about oxalates? Anything else we need to know?


Oxalates are SOUR. When you have them in high concentrations in a food, you CANNOT eat much of it! It makes your tongue sore! When it is in high enough concentrations to actually harm you, the effect they have on your body will prompt you to stop eating it! Very high oxalates (such as in water lettuce) will burn your tongue. You won’t keep eating it!

Oh, and heat neutralizes them. Breaks oxalates down, makes them no longer harmful. Again, NO evidence that fermentation affects them in any significant way whatsoever, the tests have not been done. It is all speculation.

In small amounts, they work in the body like many other substances that are a positive thing in small amounts, a negative thing in large amounts (true of most nutrients, by the way, if that were not the case, there would be no such thing as a vitamin or mineral overdose). You may crave those foods. If you do, eat them. Your body needs them. If you don’t feel like eating them, don’t. Your body doesn’t need them!

Remember, food bloggers make their money on problems, not on telling you there is NOT a problem. And heaven knows I have no motive to put this out there! If I wanted to profit from it, I’d be telling you the dangers, and I’d be quoting the unsubstantiated sources to persuade you that lacto-fermentation is the answer to the mythical ills! I don’t feel there is a need to make a tempest in a teapot over ordinary everyday foods that have been consumed for thousands of years. Those are, after all, the tried and tested things upon which traditional diets rely.

Enjoy your bread. Love your veggies. Eat those fruits! Savor the meat and dairy.

I am always shocked when someone orders a dozen lids from our company. After three years of selling these products, I am still surprised. I have the same sense of surprise when a customer whose name I recognize places another order, or when I see they have been ordering a few at a time, over several orders.

I use a few in my home. I don’t use a dozen. This is because I am using fermented foods very much as my own ancestors did.

There are many bloggers in the real foods arena who recommend daily consumption of pickled foods. Some are so enthusiastic they will ferment anything, regardless of cultural origin, alcohol content, or flavor (ok, some fermented foods are kind of nasty). They do this with the belief that if it is fermented, it must be healthy, and that more is better.

Some do this with the belief that our ancestors collectively used more fermented foods than we do. They call them “traditional foods” and have imbued them with mystical powers of healing and health, far beyond what any evidence can show. Many distorted accounts of “traditional” consumption have been put forward, mostly with the goal of selling product to support the adoption of these foods to an unrealistic degree.

The historical and traditional use of these foods was far simpler than some people make this. There are people who believe that if they do not always have six or a dozen jars of various concoctions brewing in dark corners and taking over their fridge, that they are behind the game, and will never be able to heal their bodies. The reality of historical pickling practices is quite different.

  1. For many cultures, pickling was ONLY done seasonally, and only consumed seasonally. Pickling was NOT done to create a particular food type. That was not the goal. The goal was, Food Preservation. When food was plentiful, it was preserved through fermentation. It was then consumed through winter months, because it stored well when temperatures were cool, and because it was NOT NEEDED through summer months.
  2. Some cultures consumed pickled foods at the end of a meal. This was NOT COMMON to many cultures! It was most prevalent through a few northern cultures, where temperatures were fairly low year-round, and pickled foods lasted much longer. They were STILL consumed less through summer months.
  3. Alcoholic beverage production was the ONLY thing referred to as “fermentation”. Pickling of vegetables was only called pickling, meats were cured (they are still NOT properly referred to as fermented, because there are no fermentation elements present in curing of meats), and dairy was aged or cultured. Each of these preservation types has its own rules, and involves different processes, and were historically referred to by different process names.
  4. The most commonly consumed fermented foods were dairy foods, in that fermented dairy foods were used year round in virtually every climate and culture. This is because milk simply does not store well at room temperature, or even very long in a root cellar. So milk products were usually consumed in a cultured form – buttermilk is simply milk that has soured after never having been refrigerated (it was soured, then the cream was skimmed, because souring the milk made the cream sort of semi-solidify on the top of the milk). Kefir was simply milk that was stored in animal skin bags, where it aged and soured, and eventually formed kefir grains. Yogurt is also nothing more than soured milk – it just soured with a particular bacterial complement, encouraged by keeping it very warm (an accident of summer milk production). Processes developed from the fact that milk soured, and if it soured one way, it had a little different flavor than if it soured another way.
  5. Probiotics are not unique to fermented foods. In fact, all fresh foods contain them, in significant quantities, provided they have not been exterminated by use of preservatives and chlorine. Raw eggs are another excellent source of healthy microbes. Raw milk is another excellent source, even without further culturing.
  6. Pickled and cultured foods, and raw and fresh foods, are all healthy forms of probiotics. While alcoholic beverages are classed by many as “traditional” foods, they were not universally consumed in any culture. There have always been segments of each society that decried the evils of strong drink, due to the harmful actions of many intoxicated people, and due to the affects of alcoholism. Non-alcoholic fermented foods are not addictive. Alcoholic foods (not just beverages) are addictive, and destructive to the liver, heart, brain, and digestive system. The higher the alcohol content of a food or beverage, the lower the microbial content (only certain kinds can survive in alcohol, and only in very low alcohol amounts – indeed, alcohol is used for sterilization because it kills microbes so well). Many lacto-fermentation “experts” strive to group ALL ferments together under one “healthy” umbrella, but in fact no society has ever done that historically. They have always been viewed as separate processes, with separate outcomes. It is only accepted now because people now are so separated both from the traditional practices, AND from a knowledge of their own cultural history. It is easier for myths to go viral and perpetuate across a large body of people now.
  7. The practice of buying out of season produce, and keeping new batches of pickling going throughout the year, and storing those foods in the fridge, is of recent invention. The practice of keeping milk going in yogurts, kefirs, buttermilk, and of using soured raw milk in baking and in soups and sauces IS a traditional and culturally prevalent practice. This does not mean you should not make ferments unless the produce is in season, it only means that this is NOT how people stayed healthy historically. They used foods in season (which provided healthy sources of microbes), and they used preserved living foods (pickled, brined, cured, cultured, etc), and dried foods, stored winter foods (potatoes, apples, cabbage, squash, turnips, carrots, parsnips, and other root cellared crops) to last through until spring when the fresh food began to be available again.

So are all those jar lids necessary? For many people, it will not matter whether they make these foods on an ongoing basis, or whether they simply store up a bunch in the fall to last through the winter. If the airlock lid makes it easy and convenient for them to produce consistent results (and our customers assure us that it does!), then they need as many as they require to preserve as much as they need to preserve at one time. For many people, that IS a dozen or two.

For the record, we love our repeat customers, and pretty much always recognize their names. These are the people who keep us going, and they hold a special place in our esteem.

The short answer is “No”. You also cannot “ferment” Cod Livers. And you cannot extract Cod Liver Oil by “fermentation”. But the long answer is more complicated, and fairly muddled by conversations to which we sort of have to refer, which may lose people who are not following the controversies.

Sigh… yeah. Another one of those!

When did we let go of common sense? When did we stop trusting what we KNOW, in favor of what experts tell us?

In the fermentation world, there is a phrase that goes around, that I have learned to depend on, to know when something fermented is spoiled or not.

If it smells like food, it is good. If it does NOT smell like food, it is NOT good.

In the natural food world, we also know that the BEST nutrients come from FOOD, in its natural state, and NOT from processed “supplements”. But there is so much money in supplements, and they have that promise of easy cures, so those who advise about nutrition can’t quite give up the profit potential, and those who take the advice can’t quite resist the lure of something easier than preparing food from scratch! We want some kind of insurance policy on our health.

That maxim though, holds for everything we do with food. And it goes further.

If it tastes like food, it is better for you than if it does not taste like food!

If it makes your body feel healthy, it is better for you than things that do not make your body feel healthy!

We know this, but we are still more willing to trust a smooth-talking “expert” than we are to trust our own gut instinct, which may tell us that a thing we WANT to believe is good, really is not.

Which brings us to the latest tempest in a teapot in the fermentation world.

Fermented Cod Liver Oil

I got drawn in by Dr. Kaayla Daniels’ report. The link to it is in this article. I detest Opt-In lists, in fact, waited 8 days after seeing the first ripples in the water on this before I had learned enough that I knew I HAD to write on this topic, and that I needed to read the report and not rely on second hand quotes. So I gave in, surrendered my email address, and downloaded it.

Now, I have never used FCLO. I have never smelled it. I have never tasted it, held it in my hand, or even looked at the ads for it. I am also not a doctor, not a nutritionist, and have no scientific credentials whatsoever.

What I am, is an intelligent being, who studies the meaning of words and phrases, and who has a great deal of background in scam busting (from nearly 20 years as a small business consultant and online business and web development professional), and who has more than a passing familiarity with scientific research and medical research due to various health issues of my own, and some serious issues with some of my children (eight children… varied issues). I also happen to sell a fermentation product ( – in case this article is copied), so I kind of have to be up on topics of lacto-fermentation.

The primary reason I have never used FCLO, is because it never sounded right to me. Oils and meats cannot be “fermented”. It is scientifically inconsistent – and that means it sends up a monstrous red flag in my mind which tells me to avoid it. So I did. I knew, listened, and stayed away!

The secondary reason is that Cod Liver Oil in any form really isn’t an appropriate daily supplement for the masses. Yeah, I know, supposedly the English used it daily during WWII, but actually, most did not take it, and the daily fight to get kids to take it just isn’t worth the hassle, so most just pulled out the bottle as a threat when kids were shirking school or work, and actually used the spoon when they insisted on being ill anyway. And sailors? They were chronically deficient in many nutrients, no matter WHAT they were forced to take, so they are not exactly specimens of health to recommend any supplement (nor is the statement that they used the darker brown oil – there is not a country in the world that gives top quality, costly supplements, to the Navy!).

CLO IS an appropriate treatment for SOME kinds of illness, and in some instances of malnutrition. And according to my mother, it is sometimes efficacious in inducing labor (you cannot persuade her that my brother would have been born before Christmas otherwise). But it is not useful for daily maintenance.

In all the scoffoffle, the thing missing most in the arguments, is common sense. Many people simply have NO idea that what they are reading regarding FCLO is NOT what they think they are reading!

The first clue that there is something wrong with FCLO is that there is no description in any of the manufacturer’s literature of anything like a probable oil extraction or fermentation process that would result in anything useful, let alone superior. It is all vague, evasive, and often, contradictory. The contradictory part is the giveaway that someone is making things up as they go, or trying to hide something. Businesses with integrity DON’T DO THAT!

There are several issues here, so many that laying it out in a logical manner is kind of difficult, so I hope you excuse my rambling.

The issues are, the nutrients, the definition of “fermentation”, the historic use of putrification, rancidity, and methods of oil extraction, and of course the issues of type of oil, and adulteration. We need to be clear… “fermentation” and “extraction” are two different issues, as putrifaction helps to extract SOME oil, but fermentation is not an extraction process. There are some other peripheral issues also, but I have insufficient information to delve into them yet.

Many sources defending the manufacturer, which are used by the manufacturer to validate their legitimacy, are classic pieces of misinformation. They use quotes from researchers which use a lot of big words, but which don’t in fact say anything other than, roughly, “nutrients are really complicated and so are these”, but they are used in an effort to persuade the reading public that something conclusive WAS said, but we are just too simple minded to understand the complexities.

An example regarding the accuracy of testing for rancidity may be found here:

This is Dr. Grootveld’s opinion on the TBARS test, which he described as “analytical garbage.”

”It should be noted that the TBARS test commonly employed for determinations of lipid oxidation product (LOP) aldehydes in foods, and culinary or health-promoting oil products (and accordingly not just MDA), are completely unreliable and serve little or no value for the estimation of these species. Indeed, we are, of course, already aware of the induction of the lipid peroxidation process at standard frying temperatures, and since this test requires the heating of biofluids or tissue sample extracts with TBA for periods of ca. 15 min., this is more than sufficient to induce the peroxidation of PUFAs therein, and hence all results derivable from this heat-dependent test system represent nothing more than artifactual data. Indeed, our H1 NMR experiments have clearly proven the thermally-induced oxidation of PUFAs in commercial oil formulations to CHPDs and aldehydic LOPs at Pasteurisation temperature (72oC), in addition to 95oC, the latter for only a 15 minute period.  If, however, this method involves a prolonged equilibration at ambient temperature (or 25oC), and the TBA-MDA (and other) chromophores are then allowed to develop slowly (perhaps for 72 hr. or more), then this test system does have the potential to monitor aldehydic LOPs, but not exclusively MDA since a wide range of aldehydes (including á,â-unsaturated ones) react with TBA to generate the same chromophores, or similar interfering adducts. Moreover, further caution should always be employed since it is known that a series of further biomolecules, especially reducing sugars (if present in food matrices for analysis), also react with TBA to form chromophores which also absorb at 532 nm.”.

This statement is made with no prior context, no information which would make the statements relevant to anything pertaining to the previous paragraphs in the article, and the first sentence is in no way proven in the rest of the rather rambling technical sentences which have no value even to smart people. Of course, the previous paragraphs ARE talking about testing, but not in any way that is useful, and not in any way that is relevant to that entire rambling pseudo-explanation.

Much of the information on that page is based on wishful thinking, and not on actual valid data, but you have to read it carefully to sift out what is REALLY STATED, as opposed to what the author WANTS YOU TO THINK she is saying. Perhaps the most valuable information on the page are the comments at the bottom by Steve Tallent.

It seems fairly clear to me, based on information provided by Dr. Daniels, and on the numerous consumer comments across the net, that the oil IS rancid, well beyond its primary useful life. Since the company’s butter oil also tested as very rancid, it is probable that the issue is one of improper handling, or one of in-shop processes which is inherent to the extraction methods used.

The FCLO manufacturer website gives some background information on their initial testing of their product, and how the results were disappointing at first, until they came up with a new way of interpreting the test results. The results, according to their lab, probably meant that there were no complete recognizable intact vitamin A or D elements, but that there were lots of “isomers”, or incomplete vitamin variations. The strategy used to inflate values, was to add up the values of all the fragments, and present them as entire and whole vitamins. The vitamin D level on subsequent test results which they publish on their site, is virtually all D2, rarely a little D3. Interestingly, Dr. Daniels’ lab reports show virtually no D2, and a little D3. The FCLO manufacturer says that there are “hundreds” of forms of vitamin D, but according to information in Dr. Daniels’ report, credible lab techs say that detecting vitamin D at all using the method that the manufacturer’s preferred lab uses (an uncommon method, often considered problematic for measuring D vitamins), is nearly impossible because there are so many other elements which confuse the results using that method, because they show up as being very similar. It appears that the manufacturer’s claim that they “added up the peaks” on the lab results may mean that they added the values of all of the elements found that resembled vitamin D, whether they were D or not, and labeled them as D2 (the manufacturer makes this claim on their website where they describe the initial vitamin testing). The lab the manufacturer uses has been the source of unbelievable reports before also.

Another article written in defense of FCLO (quoted on the manufacturer website) by a woman with a lot of initials after her name, is so full of “maybe”, “might”, “could”, “assume”, “extrapolate”, and “infer” that the article manages to imply that something is actually said in the article, but what is really said is, “We are hoping that what we imply is true because we have no evidence that it is.”. This article waxes long on the benefits of fermentation, but in fact cannot list one actual study on benefits of “fermentation” of anything other than vegetables, and the author expects you to join her in a land where everything is just as she says, simply because she wants it to be that way. Results with vegetables do NOT translate to meats.

As to the issue of Pollock versus Cod, this is indeed a serious issue for a number of reasons. For the unaware, Dr. Daniels lab results showed that the oil contains Pollock Oil, and the manufacturer insists that Pollock is the same as Cod so it does not matter. (Some people have also expressed shock over the revelation that the fish are Pacific fish and not Atlantic fish, but I have not yet heard where they were mislead about the origin of the fish.)

Wikipedia says:
“Cod is the common name for the genus Gadus of demersal fishes, belonging to the family Gadidae. Cod is also used as part of the common name for a number of other fish species, and there are species suggested to belong to genus Gadus that are not called cod (the Alaska pollock).”

So, briefly stated, Pollock is in the same FAMILY as cod, but is NOT cod. Like the nieces and nephews of my sisters – they come from the same root family I do, but they are not Wheelers.

The FDA does not allow labeling of Pollock as Cod.

The report issued by Dr. Kaayla Daniels ( explores some options for fermentation, but the manufacturer denies that any of these have any relevancy. Now, that is important, because she lists all the potential processes which might remotely qualify as “fermentation”, and he says (in effect), “Nope! Guess again!”. The process the manufacturer describes (always with critical details missing) sounds very much like either a CURING process, or a PUTRIFACTION process, but cannot be properly identified as a FERMENTATION process because there is nothing to ferment… Fermentation requires simple or complex carbohydrates, which are converted to either alcohol, or lactic acids. Livers have only trace carbohydrates, insufficient to sustain a fermentation process.

Molasses is listed on the GP cattle lick (which appears to be made from dried livers from which much of the oil has been extracted), and Dr. Daniels suggested this might aid in true fermentation. If fermentation process involves sugar carbohydrates, then it is being extracted by alcohol. But the manufacturer denies the use of any molasses in the process, in their answer to her questions and evidence, leaving the issue of both “fermentation” and extraction, at odds again.

The manufacturing facility is described as a greenhouse like structure, with a glass paneled roof. This would become very hot, even on cool days. Experimentation with water heat sinks in greenhouses indicates that the daytime temperatures would be such that it would increase the temperatures of the vats significantly. If this were not desired, the manufacturer would not have retained the glass roof, but would have replaced it with something more energy efficient, since daytime temps inside a greenhouse can reach heights sufficient to cook eggs (no exaggeration), and to slow cook meat. This is a potentially significant observation, because the manufacturer denies use of high heat in their processes. High heat is also a contraindication in virtually ALL fermentation processes, as it encourages microbes that hasten decay, and not the microbes that encourage preservation.

Incidentally, Dr. Daniels does mention in her report that the issue of the hot greenhouse has been commented upon. But I was struck by that before reading her report – because greenhouses just GET HOT. I’ve used them, and I’ve had plants get cooked because we forgot to open the vent in the fall, in Wyoming. Not exactly hot temperatures at the time either! No one had to tell me this – common sense told me that if they are using a greenhouse type structure, it is because they WANT heat. A lot of it.

What we can know, is that the manufacturer is NOT using a “historic” or “traditional” process, and even says so many times in his literature, where he says he could not find a process to ferment livers, and had to devise one of his own! It cannot be a unique process, and a historic process at the same time! It just cannot! They claim that CLO is historically “fermented”, and then describe putrifaction processes as examples. Putrifaction involves rotting of the food. Fermentation involves conversion (and preservation) of the food through a microbial process.

All historic examples of fish liver oil extraction given by the manufacturer are of putrifaction, not fermentation. Some are not even for products for human consumption, yet they are cited on the GP website as examples substantiating their claim to a “historic” process. Fermentation and putrifaction are distinctly different – polar opposites, in fact.

Botulism is in fact a risk. Basic knowledge of canning and preserving foods tells us this. Trust your knowledge folks! You KNOW this stuff. You KNOW that botulism thrives in an airless environment (such as at the bottom of a vat), and that improperly preserved low acid foods are susceptible to botulism. You also know that fermentation involves digestion of carbohydrates in order to CREATE a low acid environment, and that meats, by their very nature, are not fermentable, because they have no carbohydrates to ferment!

Meats are CURABLE, in a brine, which preserves them somewhat, but this is not a process which would aid in the extraction of oil from the meat, in fact it preserves the oils inside the meat. Cured meats, including various forms of partially decomposed herring, are COOKED prior to consumption (or canned after the curing process is completed), and they have a fairly limited shelf life in comparison to fermented foods. Consequently, using cured meats as an example of “historic fermentation” that is comparable to the FCLO process, is not applicable! It simply does not relate in any way.

Historic processes involving degraded or cured fish or meats invariably involve addition of salt, lye, sulphur, or other preservative compounds which allow the meat to degrade, but which inhibits the type of microbial action. This also, is not an example of fermentation, but of curing, and it does nothing to extract significant oils. This is another example used by the manufacturer to persuade customers that fermenting cod livers is a historic process, but in fact, the two processes are not comparable.

Fish sauce is listed as an example of “fermented fish”, when in fact, it is simply a salt extraction process for extracting liquids from the fish, by the use of salt, and any fermentation that occurs is due to the vegetables in the original mix, and not the fish itself. It is not the fermentation of fish. It is also not an OIL extraction method, only a WATER extraction method (quite different).

Another quoted example on the website of the manufacturer is of Shark Livers hanging in Shark stomachs in the South Sea Islands. This process appears valid, but it is an example not of fermentation, but of putrifaction. This example, as shown on the FCLO manufacturer website, leaves out one vital detail… The Shark Liver Oil was NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION. It was indeed highly prized and was a valuable cash crop. Not as food. As ENGINE OIL, Machine oil, and oil for Lamps (this can be verified through a quick web search). The consumption of Shark Liver Oil as a health supplement is of recent invention, occurring only when modern extraction methods were developed. In the same way that much whale oil was extracted by putrifaction for the purpose of being used as Lamp oil and lubrication, and just as the poorer quality Cod Liver Oil was used for the same.

The manufacturer and their defenders speak long about the enhanced nutritional value of FCLO, but in fact, their only evidence consists of studies done on vegetables, and none on FCLO itself to validate their suppositions – there are no credible test results to show increased nutrients, only supposition, and “we believe that” statements, with no science to back them up. Vegetables have carbohydrates to break down by lactic acid. Oils and meats (Cod Livers or Oil) can only be temporarily preserved by immersion in previously created brines, or in fresh salt brine, in a way that probably DOES affect the nutritional value, but not in the same way as carbohydrates would be affected. The glycogen in the livers is insufficient to sustain any kind of fermentation process, so the process would be one of brining, if lactic acid were added, and not one of fermentation. Fermentation is a LIVING process (designed to preserve in an evolving process), brining is a DEAD, short term preservation process (designed to kill microbes in the food).

We would like to believe in the good intentions of the manufacturer, but it is clear that they have engaged in wholesale speculation regarding the nutritional content of their product, and many other issues. It is clear that the manufacturer has no credible evidence to support many of their claims, and has been required to resort to declared assumptions (they say so themselves), oblique disclaimers (well, it is complicated, and no two batches are ever the same and no two people are ever the same and gosh it is just so hard to quantify that you will just have to take our word that it is really good stuff – *paraphrased*), and carefully worded statements which give the impression of having declared something, but no real firm statement that they can be made to stand behind, or which can be used to pin them to the wall in a lawsuit. As Maryanne says, in Sense and Sensibility, “It was every day implied, but never declared absolutely!”, and this is the illusion of substance that you will find in the vast majority of the claims regarding Fermented Cod Liver Oil.

Our take on the whole thing, from a nutritional standpoint.

In recent work with my own health issues, I have discovered some fairly amazing things. I have several metabolic deficiencies, which mean that I do not metabolize some common forms of amino acids, which are primarily found in meats, but one is also found in vegetables (not in high amounts), and one in grains. The thing is, there is NO treatment for these deficiencies. I only process specific amino acids in certain forms, and if I eat them in forms that my body cannot metabolize, the incomplete metabolites build up in my cells and have a toxic effect on my cells. This is a common result from metabolic deficiencies.

The cool thing is, that I have discovered that there are certain foods, and food combinations, that provide me with higher amounts of the forms of amino acids that I CAN metabolize. I cannot handle chicken eggs, but can handle quail eggs. They are just different enough. I can thrive on low lanolin lamb, but not mutton. Some kinds of fish agree with me better than others. And canned meats are indigestible for me – I cannot break down the proteins sufficient for my cells to use them, because they are changed due to the high heat. Conversely, I am able to digest canned beans, but if I cook them from scratch, they cause problems for me, for the same reason.

Why is this so?

I have come to believe that this is a genetic effect (metabolic deficiencies are inherited), which is brought about through cultural differences.

Hear me out… this is logical!

My ancestors hail from all over the world. There are few cultures that did not at one time or another, take up residence in my ancestral master bedroom. Some of the cultures that go with those ancestors are very diverse, and the food culture that goes with it is equally diverse.

We have oceanside cultures, with diets of principally ocean fish, chicken, and sheep, and cool climate fruits and vegetables. We have tropical island cultures with ocean seafood, chicken, small fatty pigs, and tropical fruits and vegetables. We have mid-European bread, temperate fruits, and vegetables, with course fish and lake fish, chicken, pigeon, rabbit, deer, and ham (at least the upper class… which we have traced back to). We also have the Deep South, and the pedestrian Midwest in there in recent years, and a hefty amount of Eastern Nomadic, and American Native hunter gatherer cultures.

Each of these cultures evolved to metabolize various nutritional components in fairly specific forms, according to what was locally available. This is logical – the human body adapts to available foods, and those who CAN digest them, thrive and are productive, those who CANNOT, dwindle off and do not perpetuate. Each of these cultures, over time, genetically LOST the ability to metabolize various nutritional components in forms that were available through other foods – they lost the ability to digest and utilize foods and nutritional components in forms that they did not regularly consume – they did not NEED that ability, so the genetics for local food prevailed.

There is recent scientific evidence to support this, the Inuit, who live on a diet very high in fish oils, have specific genetic adaptations which allow them to do this. People from other cultures are not able to tolerate those foods in amounts as high as the Inuit are able to do.

A bit of each of the cultures of my ancestors was passed to me – so I don’t get any one of them intact, I get a jumble of bits of this and bits of that to figure out.

There is a difference between the meat in various pork breeds. There is a difference in the meat between a modern industrialized “improved” (fast growing) beef cow, or chicken, and a heritage “slow growing” animal – the protein chains form differently, and in a different balance. The nutrients in one form may be good for one person, the nutrients in another form may be good for another, based on the specific genetic makeup of each individual, even within the same family. Roll the dice, and cope with what you ended up with!

This is why one kid hates peas, and can never be persuaded to eat them, but cannot get enough peanut butter. This is why one person loves cottage cheese with fruit (the fruit helps digest the cottage cheese), and another loves cottage cheese with nuts. This is why a person may hate fresh tomatoes, but love tomato sauce (cooking changes it). This is why my husband loves his green beans cooked just until a fork goes through and lightly salted at the table, but I love mine cooked on the back of the stove Southern style, with a bit of bacon in the pot, salted with onion salt, and left to simmer all day. And this is why people with Polynesian genetics (or other similar genetics) love pineapple with their meat – so those enzymes in the pineapple can help break down the meat into recognizable nutrients.

The real secret that I’ve learned, is to TRUST MY BODY.

Turns out a little chocolate after my meals helps me digest certain foods, and break them down in a way they do not when I do not eat chocolate afterwards (One Dove dark is usually enough). I’ve always craved chocolate after meals. Who knew?

The other side of this is that what I intensely dislike is generally NOT GOOD FOR ME! If my body revolts at the idea, then I know it is not good food for ME.

So… My concluding opinion is this… (Yeah, I know, I took a bit to get to it!)

If A SUPPLEMENT (or food) TASTES GOOD TO YOU, and FEELS GOOD TO YOU, then it is good for you.


If your baby spits it out, DO NOT try to force feed it to them! They are telling you something! LISTEN! Because if you do not, you may do them irreparable harm, by requiring them to eat something that, at best, their body does not know what to do with and just expels it as fast as possible (laxative, anyone?), or, at worst, BUILDS UP HARMFUL incomplete metabolites, or incomplete (unnatural to them) forms of vitamins, minerals or other nutritional constituents. Over time, that build-up can damage the digestive system, nervous system, muscles (including the heart), pulmonary system, lymph system, renal and endocrine systems, and skeletal system.

A quote by Dr. Weston A. Price, found in the report by Dr. Kaayla Daniels, seems to agree with this philosophy of not force feeding Cod Liver Oil to children:

“I have frequently had mothers bring this question to me as a serious nutritional problem with their children.  They had desired to do all they possibly could for their children and, in their efforts, had tried to follow the directions on the bottle or as otherwise provided, which often meant large doses of cod liver oil.  They have reported to me the difficulty they had in combating the rebellion of their children against the use of cod liver oil, which may have been in part a reaction of self-preservation.  Many of the children were reported to regurgitate the oil when it was forced down. Since it has been demonstrated that only the oil that is utilized contributes to the well-being of the human being or animal, it can readily be anticipated that compulsion to take such a toxic product could be very injurious.”

Dr. Daniels continues with some additional information in her report, regarding dosages, and overuse, and the words of Dr. Price on these issues.

Trust your body! Trust your family to know what they love and what they don’t, and find good versions of the things they love to feed them! There will be enough variety in the things they love, and if they don’t like the veggies you love, keep trying until you find the veggies they DO love.

Would I give my family “Fermented” Cod Liver Oil?

No. I would not – UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES! There are too many scientific facts that I know that are in direct contradiction to statements made by the manufacturer. It does not make sense to me, so I won’t use it. Nor will I recommend it.

If I thought a family member had a specific ailment that might benefit, I might seek out a cleaner and more natural form of Cod Liver Oil. But I would be just as likely to try other options first, or instead of Cod Liver Oil.

Would I use a “Fermented” Cod Liver Oil Lick Tub for my cattle? Unequivocally no!

Cattle are not meant to eat fish! Ergo, it cannot be termed a “natural” supplement for Cattle or other herbivores! A Lick Tub might be appropriate for chickens, ducks, or turkeys, or even pigs or quail. But not for cows! I CAN, however, recommend Redmond Minerals Natural Mineral Salt Rocks (I do not know exactly what they call them, but they sell for about $1.50 per lb, and are hewn from the mountain and used as found – lovely pink salty rocks!).

So go eat some fish. And try some different kinds of foods! Your body will thank you!


More information here:

Many other WAPF bloggers initially questioned the FCLO controversy (the blog posts all have a sort of “Oh, golly, I don’t know WHAT to think!!” hand-wringing attitude to them), and then caved to pressure, and followed up with quotes from WAPFs misleading and vague response to the issues, or quoted the completely useless replies of the company that makes FCLO (written like a true politician, to make you THINK the question has been answered when it really has not, or just repeating information that has already been proven to be a lie, in the hopes you’ll believe it this time). In the interest of NOT confusing you, and because I never promote someone who has blatantly incorrect info if I can help it, I have not listed them in the list above. You can find them easily enough on your own.


Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. This article is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease, nor to recommend treatment for any disease. The interpretation of the information as presented is my opinion only, and should not be interpreted to be accusatory, or as a conclusive research document. We have no connection with the Weston A. Price Foundation, nor any affiliation with the manufacturer of Fermented Cod Liver Oil, nor with any competitors. We do not sell nutritional supplements, nor any products which might be considered to be competitive with any kind of Cod Liver Oil product, and have no financial motive for presenting this other than that it is a topic relevant to our own business, and contains questions being asked by our customers.

Periodically some new study will come out telling you how you are eating your foods all wrong, and how mankind has been duped for the entire history of the world into eating things that are harming them, and that this or that process is necessary in order to avoid the pitfall that the study somehow proves is unavoidable otherwise.

Hence we have groups of people dedicated to one extreme or another of eating, in complete disregard to the fact that historical patterns from society to society are a pretty accurate predictor of what is and is not sustainable.

Some of natures rules that we tend to forget:

  • There is no society in the world at any time in history that espoused a vegetarian or vegan diet without the addition of meat, fish or insect protein, usually two or more of those. No society has thrived under a meatless diet.
  • Sprouting and fermenting of foods was done as a supplement to seasonal eating, as a way of extending fresh food seasons, in all historic societies that practiced these preparation methods.
  • “Miracle foods” do not exist. Food, in and of itself, is a miracle, when it is fresh, not contaminated with things that the body should not be assaulted by, and when it is consumed in variety.
  • The best “medicinal supplements” are those that have a long history of being used in significant amounts in a thriving society somewhere in the world. Examples: Cinnamon, cocoa, coconut oil, oily fish (NOT extracted oils), whole wheat, dill, etc.
  • “Antioxidants” can be found in ANY fresh fruit or vegetable. They are not miraculous. They are elements in fresh foods, and ALL wholesome fresh foods aid in slowing cellular damage in the body.
  • Alcohol is consumed in every society in the world. But it is also KNOWN in every society in the world to be harmful to one extent to another, and is always the subject of some controversy due to negative health effects. This is true of many things, where an item may be accepted in a culture, but is also controversial in that culture.
  • More harm is done by trying to disinfect food than is done by the microbes that are considered harmful. Bacteria, molds, yeasts, and other microbes combine in variety to expose our bodies to both helpful agents that aid in the breakdown of food and low exposure to “harmful” agents that strengthen our immune system and often aid in ways we do not anticipate.
  • Nature does not rule by extremes, but by variety, and common sense.

Nature is not trying to trick us, and while science is discovering new benefits and cautions regarding food all the time, the fact is that a varied diet of fresh and whole foods is still the best way to stay healthy.

It is not as though mankind has been eating their vegetables all wrong until the last few years when a partially completed study suggested that some foods may cause a negative effect when processed in a laboratory. Not logical!

Food problems are NOT historic. They are recent. Escalating disease rates are also NOT historic, but of RECENT development.

Hence, we may assume that it is MODERN man that has eating all wrong, not HISTORIC man. We may know more about what food does in the body, but we also have more contaminants and our food is more processed and stripped of many of the elements which we need for optimal health.

  • There is NO society that fermented foods exclusively in a closed containment. They were fermented in MANY ways, in all societies, as a means of preservation.
  • There is NO society that consumed exclusively sprouted grains. Most grains were consumed after being cooked, or ground and baked.
  • There is NO society that ate exclusively COOKED vegetables, or exclusively RAW vegetables. ALL successful societies, even nomadic, consumed a combination of raw and cooked foods, depending upon the food.

Eating well is a fairly simple prospect, once we know that we only need a good variety of healthy foods, that have been affected by chemical contaminants as little as possible, and which have not been “refined” in a way that strips them of nutrients. The more natural microbes they happen to contain, the better.


(Foods that form significant alcohol when lacto-fermented.)

If a fermented food or drink is tingly or fizzy on your tongue, or if it has an alcohol “burn”, then it is UNSAFE for children, pregnant women, individuals on medications that conflict with alcohol, recovering alcoholics, people who are reactive to alcohols, and those who practice health codes that prohibit alcohol consumption.

The legal definition of “alcoholic” is any food or drink containing higher than .5% alcohol. This is right at the point where significant carbonation is detectible in liquid beverages (milk beverages fizz at a slightly lower level), and this is the level at which the government has determined that an individual MAY become intoxicated with sufficient consumption (and where it is a danger to children – and hence, to pregnant women). In other words, liquid fermentations will begin to “fizz” or “tingle” right about the point where they become unsafe for children, and where the US government classifies them as a potential intoxicant. This is why modern sodas are carbonated by pressure methods, and not by fermentation.

All of the following foods or beverages form significant alcohol. The sugars in the foods and drinks create alcohol during the fermentation process. If a food contains carbohydrate based sugars, IT WILL FORM SIGNIFICANT ALCOHOL. Basic rules of fermentation – sugar converts to alcohol.

Scientific studies on kombucha, fermented sodas (root beer, ginger ale, and others), and beet kvass, show the alcohol content to be between .5 and 13% alcohol. Beet kvass is usually on the high side.

In 2010, the US government recalled most of the kombucha being sold in the US (that without added carbonation). Believing the lie that it was insignificantly low in alcohol, hundreds of companies brewed and sold kombucha without testing alcohol levels. Testing revealed the levels to average about 3% alcohol content – enough to intoxicate an adult who sips it all day as an alternative to soda, and MORE than enough to intoxicate a child.

There have been anecdotal (believable) reports of children having a blood alcohol level that was over the legal limit, when all they had consumed that day was water kefir. (Presented to the ER for illness.)

The information regarding alcohol content has changed in the last few years online. When I did the initial research for this and other articles on this topic, a few years ago, I could easily find the content for root beer and ginger ale, and for kombucha and beet kvass. It is harder to find now, and there are numerous articles for HARD root beer (just home brewed root beer), and HARD lemonade (which is EXACTLY the same thing as “fermented soda”). So the internet now calls them what they really ARE, but people making them thinking they are “healthy” won’t look for them in those terms, and won’t realize THEY ARE THE SAME THING.

ANYTHING with equivalent SUGAR, and equivalent fermentation times, will form the same levels of alcohol. In water kefir, it is the sugars which enable fermentation – water, by itself, cannot ferment, it has to have something to work on, and when sugar is all that is added, you are producing an alcoholic beverage.


  • Kombucha
  • Fermented Soda
  • Water Kefir
  • Fermented Ginger Ale
  • Fermented Root Beer
  • Beet Kvass (higher than sodas)
  • Herbal Kombucha
  • Fruit Juice
  • Sugared drinks
  • Over-fermented milk Kefir (very fizzy – carbonation suspends in milk sooner than in thinner liquids, so only very fizzy milk kefir is significantly high in alcohol)


  • Fruits
  • Tomatoes (including tomato salsa or sauce)
  • Beets
  • Squash
  • Carrots (generally ok in vegetable blends)
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Other Starchy Vegetables
  • Grains
  • Flower blossoms

Foods sweetened with any of the following

  • Sugar
  • Turbinado
  • Raw Sugar
  • Agave
  • Fruit Syrups
  • Fructose
  • Sugar alcohols (xylitol, erithorbitol, sorbitol, etc)
  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • Sorghum
  • Other carbohydrate based sweeteners

Get Rid of the Alcohol

  • Add the sugar (or the fruits or starchy vegetables) after fermenting non-starchy vegetables, to prevent it forming (for sweet pickles or fermented condiments). Let it meld for three days under refrigeration to blend the flavors and let the sugars permeate the fermented foods.
  • Vinegarize it (open ferment it until the alcohol converts to acid). Ferment two weeks in a closed fermentation (to slightly reduce alcohol formation), and then open ferment until the alcohol is fully converted to acid.
  • Evaporate it (let it sit in a shallow dish until the alcohol evaporates). This can take several days in the fridge.
  • Cook it out (fast evaporation – heat it and stir it until alcohol evaporates). This takes between 10 and 20 minutes to boil out the alcohol, depending on total volume. This also destroys the helpful microbes.

Homemade kraut is one of the simplest fermented foods, but it follows slightly different rules than other fermented foods, because it involves only a single vegetable (usually, though it can involve more), and because it does not require a separate brine.

To make kraut, you slice or chop the cabbage. Size of the pieces is irrelevant, they may be any size you prefer. Most people go for something a little larger than coleslaw.

The short version is that the cabbage is packed into jars, and salted (or salted then packed into jars), and weighted down so the juice is pressed up around the cabbage to cover it.

Tip #1: Kraut requires HEAVIER WEIGHTS than many other ferments. When we make kraut, we use about 4-5 of our standard square weights, on top of a dunker extender to press the cabbage down.

But… The cabbage will not produce enough brine to cover the cabbage right away. It can take a day or so for this to happen. That is NORMAL.

Since it does not call for a separate brine, there are various methods for getting the cabbage to produce enough liquid to cover the cabbage. A frequently recommended method is pounding it, either in a bowl, or as you put it into the jars.

Tip #2: Don’t pound the cabbage. For the very best kraut, do not pound the cabbage either prior to packing it, or during packing. You get a crisper texture and a longer lasting preservation if you do not pound it.

Instead, put the cabbage into a large bowl, and salt it in the bowl. Put about 1-2 tsp of salt for every half gallon or so of loose cabbage (not packed). Just grab a large double handful and put it in the bowl, and then sprinkle a teaspoon or two of salt over it, then repeat. Let the cabbage sit for about 8 hours. Stir it every hour or two, to help distribute the salt. You will see the liquid start to form in the bottom of the bowl.

NOTE: If life interferes, it is perfectly fine to pop the bowl in the fridge for up to 2 days, but it is best that it is stirred a time or two.

Pack the cabbage into jars – leave about 1/5 of the jar empty at the top for headspace. Pack it tightly. I use a wooden spoon to press it firmly into the corners and press it into the jar. Divide the juice between the jars.

Weight it down heavily. You want close to a pound of weight on a half gallon jar. Less on smaller jars. Enough weight to get the juice about to the top of the cabbage.

The key to this is the weight. Cabbage just takes a lot of weight at first.

Tip #3: More juice will form over the next 24 hours. Yes, the top of the cabbage will be out of the juice for part of that time. This is normal.

After about 24 hours, the juice should COVER the top of the cabbage. As long as it is covering it by at least 1/4″, it will be fine, because it will continue to settle and rise very slowly over the next few days. After about three days, you want the brine to cover the cabbage by about 1″.

Tip #4: If the brine has not covered the cabbage, or if you just cannot get it weighted down enough to begin with to reach the top, then it is PERFECTLY FINE to add additional brine. Mix 2 shy tsp of salt with 1 cup of cold water, and stir to dissolve it (keep stirring, it will work).

Tip #5: Let the kraut ferment at room temperature to start with. Some sources say to keep it in the dark, but I have never done so.

Fermenting times are variable, they depend on the temperature of your room. In the summer, when temperatures are higher, it will ferment faster. In the winter, it will ferment more slowly. It GENERALLY takes about 3-5 days to develop the initial kraut smell – a pleasant vinegary smell (if your house is cooler than 65 degrees, it can go more slowly). You can smell this on top of the airlock if you are using a compact silicone airlock.

Ideally, you leave the kraut to ferment at room temperature 1-2 weeks (counting from the day you PACK the jars). Yeah, there are people who disagree with this. Yeah, they say science is on their side, but they are not considering ALL of the science. If you want your ferment to not only be healthy, but also to be preserved well so that it will last in the fridge if life gets hectic, then ferment it 1-2 weeks at room temperature, because longer SIGNIFICANTLY reduces lifespan in the fridge otherwise.

Tip #6: Ferment it at room temperature for only 1 week in the heat of summer. Ferment it for 2 weeks in the dead of winter. In between, you’ll just have to ballpark it somewhere in between. You are dealing with temperatures generally between 65 and 80 (no AC). So base your guesses on where your home falls in that range. If your home is a steady 72 degrees year round, then ferment your kraut 12 days all year. Most of us can’t afford that though, and will have to adjust!

NOTE: These rules are different for various foods. The LARGER the food pieces, the longer they take to ferment all the way through. Smaller pieces take 1-2 weeks. Larger things like whole pickles take up to 3 or more weeks.

This is NOT EXACT SCIENCE!!! It never will be. Sometimes you may need to put the food in the fridge sooner due to circumstances in your life. Sometimes you may leave it a few days longer when something distracts you. THIS IS OK!! It won’t ruin it. It will continue the fermentation process much more slowly in the fridge. As long as it still looks and smells like FOOD, extra days out won’t kill it!

Tip #7: The only visual clue you have that a food is ready for the fridge is that the concentration of bubbles in the food will reduce some. This is not always detectible, it depends on how much the jars are handled, how tightly the food is packed, and how much brine – and with foods other than kraut, it also depends on the thickness of the liquid (thicker shows more bubbles than thinner). So you may or may not be able to tell by observation when that 1-2 week period is completed. Judging readiness for the fridge by temperature estimation is JUST FINE. Don’t fuss over this, just take your best guess. It will be RIGHT the majority of the time (trust your intuition… you have it for a reason!).

Tip #8: DON’T repack the jars as you eat the kraut. Not only is this a waste of resources from washing jars, it is counterproductive!

The theory is that you repack the jars to reduce air in the headspace of the jar. This theory was devised by people who make money from persuading you that you have to have an “airtight” container for fermenting (which is pure fallacy to begin with since we know the containers they sell are not airtight at all) and who really like the idea of selling you multiple sizes of expensive jars. So IGNORE THIS THEORY. It is COMPLETELY WRONG.

Repacking jars introduces many times more air into the ferment than leaving excess headspace does. The reason for this is that the BRINE protects the kraut from air exposure. This is borne out by years of tradition – the kraut barrel was packed in the fall, and emptied through the winter, and the top was generally only covered by a cloth. The weight was left on it, and dropped with the level of the kraut to keep the cabbage under the brine. That is all.

If you take all that cabbage out and dump it into another jar, you are not only unnecessarily exposing it to air during the transfer, you are trapping air bubbles in it, and oxygenating the brine as you pour it between containers. Removing some food and replacing the extender and weight is less disruptive, and keeps the food fresher longer.

Tip #9: You can reduce the number of weights as the cabbage ferments. Generally about the time you put it in the fridge you can remove some of the weights. You’ll know how many. When it floats too much, put one back. As you eat the food from the jar, you can also remove weights to use them elsewhere.

Tip #10: Fermenting is a CASUAL and ENJOYABLE business, not a fussy worrisome thing. It has been done throughout the ages in conditions that were not only less than ideal, they were often appalling! It has been done in makeshift containers with unwashed foods. It has been carried out in root cellars with dirt walls and mold or mushrooms in every corner. Mothers prepared kraut in the back yard, or in a kitchen with a dirt floor, or an unpainted and dusty plank or brick floor with kids running through in bare feet stirring up the dust.

Nobody had thermometers, or airlock jars, or refrigerators or temperature controlled houses. They did not even have precise instructions! They had vegetables, salt, water (of questionable purity), a large crock, makeshift weights (usually a plate), a ladle or spoon to skim off the foam. Yeah, there are other ways from other cultures as well, but this is American tradition. The pickle barrel and kraut crock in the corner of the basement or root cellar.

So the last lesson is, enjoy the art of Fermentation. Watch your kraut, smell it, taste it, and learn to see and feel the process.

The REAL tradition is not the precise directions. The real tradition and heritage that we can recapture is the art of noticing and getting to know the food and the process.

Enjoy your Kraut!

What kind of insane person even RECOMMENDS doing so?

Stand back, I’m in no mood to be tactful today. If you can’t take it, you might want to stop reading this now.

If a person claiming to be a nutritional expert came to you and told you that beer was good for your children, and wine would help them be healthier, and that you should just dilute your beer by half with juice, and give that to your children, would you do it?

Authors of fermentation information across the US seem to think that this is not just acceptable, but somehow GOOD. An article on the WAPF site dismisses all concerns about alcohol, and publishes numbers for alcoholic content which cannot be verified by any source which has actually tested the content (sources which have tested them have found them to be VERY much higher – and don’t quote me that sad excuse for science by Kelly the Kitchen Kop either, because she HEATED the liquid before she tested it, completely invalidating her results since alcohol evaporates RAPIDLY when heated and does not need to even boil to evaporate).

After condemning the evils of sugar, the authors recommend alcoholic beverages as a safe and healthy alternative! Am I the only person out there who is flat out appalled and shocked by this? I am so shocked by this that no matter how many times I see it the shock value never diminishes! They would risk addicting their children to alcohol, damaging their brains, livers, digestive systems and immune systems far more than sugar ever did, and they would risk burdening their babies with Fetal Alcohol Effect or Syndrome, or with neural tube defects (which are affected by alcohol – including anencephaly which is a fatal condition), because they also advocate usage by pregnant women!

These articles recommend giving children (and pregnant women) kombucha, water kefir, beet kvass, fermented sodas (with sugars in them), fermented fruit juices, fermented fruits, and other beverages and foods which are KNOWN (and have been known through history) to produce intoxicating levels of alcohol.

NOTE: I am NOT citing sources for percentages on these. This information is SO EASY to find, by a simple Google search, that there is NO REASON for me to cite sources, and I do NOT want you to take my word for it or trust my sources. I want you to FIND OUT FOR YOURSELF. Go check my facts (don’t use fact checker websites, they are not accurate – just do a Google search for alcohol content of whatever).

Now… why do I compare those with beer?

Two reasons:

1. The level of alcohol which is determined to be “potentially intoxicating”. The US government regulates all foods with an alcohol content of over .5%. This is the level they have determined is sufficient to intoxicate if sufficient amount is consumed, and which is of an amount that you CAN consume enough to intoxicate. For children, the amounts required to intoxicate are far lower. Beverages with less are not considered to be alcoholic.

Remember that the majority of kombucha brands were pulled from the shelves of stores (in 2010) because levels of alcohol were too high to be sold except as alcoholic beverages? Recipes were then changed, with bacteria added, fermentation strictly limited (second ferments no longer done), and carbon dioxide added for fizz (since natural fizz is the result of much higher alcohol levels). Levels tested up to 3% alcohol. That is equivalent of light beer (most beers are 5%, stout beer can be as high as 8% – the WAPF article lists beer as 8% but this is completely inaccurate since beer ranges from 3-8%).

Home fermented sodas, including root beer, ginger ale, and others, have an alcohol content that can range from just under .5% (generally no fizz under that level) to as high as 11% alcohol, depending on how long it is fermented prior to bottling, exact temperatures of the room prior to bottling, exact amounts of sugar and other ingredients, the amount of time it stays in the bottle, the temperature the bottles are stored in, the amount of headspace in the bottle, whether the ferment is open or closed and WHEN it is open or closed, etc. There are SO MANY variables that you CANNOT follow a recipe and say, “Oh, they said it will not be alcoholic.” and know this is true! It is far MORE likely to be alcoholic than not!

NOTE: Some say that fermenting in a closed (airlock) container limits alcohol content. Not true. If you ferment during the first TWO WEEKS in a closed container, the alcohol content will be SLIGHTLY LOWER at the end of those two weeks. If you KEEP it in the closed container, the alcohol continues to concentrate. An OPEN ferment to start will build alcohol slightly faster, but then will evaporate it faster, and convert it to acetic acid (which does not happen in a closed ferment). Hence, brewers OPEN ferment for the initial phase, then CLOSE ferment to concentrate the alcohol. The opposite process will REDUCE the alcohol SOME, but will NOT eliminate the risks, and won’t provide ANY assurance that your sugary ferments are not alcoholic.

If you ferment sugars, which includes ANY kind of carbohydrate based sweetener, or starchy vegetable or grain, it WILL create alcohol.

Whey INCREASES alcohol content, it does NOT decrease it.

Salt does NOT reduce alcohol content, it only affects flavor and rapidity of acid creation.

Water kefir and fermented juices are in the same category, having similar sugar amounts. In fact, the water kefir we experimented with smelled so strongly alcoholic that we could not even taste test it, and we followed the instructions on the amount of molasses and sugar to add (and sugar, molasses, honey, fructose, and any other carbohydrate based sweetener that WILL ferment will create alcohol!).

Beet kvass is known to have an alcohol content over the legal limit of .5%, and is only listed as a non-alcoholic drink in a few countries which have much higher legal limits for classification of alcoholic beverages. It is usually between .5% and 1% WHEN MADE IN A CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT, and is usually higher when homebrewed, depending on same factors as other alcoholic ferments.

So, we are dealing with KNOWN higher amounts, in combination with an UNKNOWN process in your home which in most circumstances WILL result in an alcoholic content that is high enough to present real concerns.

2. The degree to which they advocate diluting them, and the strength at which they are using them.

If you have kombucha that is 2% alcohol, and you dilute it 50%, then you are not far off from giving your child beer diluted 75%. Would you do it?

If you have soda that ends up on the high end of the alcohol content scale, and you dilute it 50%, then you are still giving them the equivalent of beer, or light beer. Would you do it?

And since sodas are usually NOT diluted, nor are fermented fruit juices, or fermented fruit sauces, these things may have very high alcohol content, and are not any different than giving your children beer or wine.

The biggest issue here is the fact that YOU DON’T KNOW. Are you just ok with giving a child, whose brain is still developing, a beverage which has a high probability of having sufficient alcohol to affect brain development?

Roll the dice. Pick a drink off the shelves of a store blindfolded, not knowing whether it is juice, water, beer, or wine. Give it to your kids! There is no difference!


Yes, Child Protective Services WILL consider these things to be alcoholic. Yes, they WILL treat you the same as if you have given your children beer or wine. Yes, you CAN lose your children because of these things. And NO, this is NOT a reason for the entire fermentation world to let out a collective cry for secrecy! This is a reason to STOP GIVING CHILDREN ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES, whether made at home or not!

But that isn’t really the point. The point is that research on alcohol and developing bodies and brains is well established, and it is illegal to give your children these things because our society knows and recognizes the harm that it causes. What caring parent would casually dismiss this and brush it off as being of no concern, simply because they learned how to make a neat new thing that they think tastes pretty good? Pride in making such a thing, or even a belief that it might be helpful to an adult body (evidence suggests otherwise, but whatever) is NO reason to dismiss the danger to children from these beverages and foods.

Is that such a difficult thing? Is that such a difficult truth to accept?

Root beer and ginger ale are no longer fermented in the US. They are made by adding carbon dioxide as other sodas are made. They are specifically made that way because it is too difficult to develop sufficient carbonation while keeping it under the legal limit for regulation as an alcoholic beverage.

Honestly, what makes people think they can do so at home without accurate equipment, better than commercial companies who control every single aspect of the ferment? A home brewer CAN’T control every single aspect – they do not ferment their foods in temperature controlled rooms with exact measurements along the way to verify accuracy!

I am beyond disgusted with those who promote this. I can understand those who have been deceived continuing to do so because they have been assured by a source they trust that it will cause no harm. But SHAME on those sources! SHAME on those people who continue to claim that these things are safe or beneficial for children or pregnant women!

We SHOULD be outraged! We should, as a community of people dedicated to health, be disgusted and NOT TOLERATE people who make these claims! We should as a group, demand that they STOP IT. That they can risk their own children’s health, safety, and custody if they choose, but they have NO RIGHT to tell other people that they are in no danger if they do the same!

I have no patience with it anymore.

Rant over.

For today.

American gardeners usually plant in the spring, and harvest in the fall, and then hurry to “get the last of it before the frosts hit”. European gardeners are far more aware that some of the best crops come in after the frost hits!

Many spring and fall crops will bear long after the frost hits the garden. Most “cold” crops will continue to bear down to 15 degrees F, as long as the daytime temps get warm enough to thaw them out and give them some growing time.

In northern zones, you’ll need a layer or two of protection to keep things going. That means a row cover, a cold frame, or an UNHEATED greenhouse. In really cold areas, you may need to double up – using row covers in the greenhouse, or a coldframe in the greenhouse, row cover over the cold frame, hammock stands etc. However, this problem can be put to bay by installing the best hammocks for uk weather which also adapts to most of the weather conditions around the world.

Alaska is the only area in the US where there is a need for heat, since there are insufficient hours of sunlight to sufficiently warm a greenhouse in the daytime during deep winter. Even in that harsh climate though, an unheated greenhouse can extend your growing season by up to three months on either end.

Growth slows way down in the winter, and so does the need for water. With Termite control vaughan, the bugs are not a problem at all! They point out that it makes winter gardening surprisingly low maintenance!

The crops that grow best in the winter are those that are planted earliest in the spring. This includes a BUNCH of fragile greens such as lettuce, cress, endive, arugula, and raddichio, which either don’t ferment so well, or which never make it onto my menu simply because I dislike the sharp flavor.

The point being, pay attention this spring to what you are planting earliest, and many of those are your best winter crops. You will probably need to order your winter crop seeds in the spring also, so save your extras, or get an extra pack of the seeds for your winter crops.

Peas can be started very early, but the blossoms are more prone to freezing than the hardier plants listed below.

You can either plant your winter garden sometime around September, or you can just let your garden keep going into the winter.

There are more crops than those listed below which do well in this situation, but this will get you started!

Beets – Beets thrive in a cooler environment, for both roots, and greens.

Broccoli – After you pull the head from your broccoli it will send out side shoots from the leaf junctions, some of which can rival the main head for size. The longer you pick those into the fall though, the faster they will bolt, in a desperate last ditch attempt to set seed before it freezes. Broccoli that is planted later tends to be more stable for fall and winter harvests, as does broccoli with larger heads. Those varieties that are bred to send out lots of side shoots are less appropriate for winter growing since they bolt more easily in the fall. Cold weather broccoli tastes so much better than warm weather harvested heads. More sweet, less sulphur – and no cabbage loopers to gross you out.

Cabbage – You have never tasted anything like baby cabbage leaves grown in the cold weather! They are so good sauteed in butter with a little garlic! So plant some Dutch Cabbage to keep and mature late into the fall and winter (for better flavored cabbage heads), but plant a little late cabbage for fresh baby cabbage leaves also – they can be used and fermented the same as Collards, only they taste much better! Cabbage can also have the main head removed, and it will form new mini-heads at the leaf junctions of the remaining plant.

Carrots – Carrots are a biennial crop, which means they start from seed one year, and set seed the second year. This means they hold very well over the winter in the ground, but start to get pretty tough when the weather warms up again in the spring and they start getting ready to set seed. If you start them in the fall, they will still form wonderful sweet baby carrots (which have a richer flavor than summer grown baby carrots).

Cauliflower – Pretty much the same rules as Broccoli. New heads will form at the leaf junctions when the main head is removed.

Chard – Chard grows well through the heat, and through the cold. Get it started before the frosts hit though.

Dill – Fresh baby dill picked from a winter garden is a real treat! It adds a brighter flavor to ferments than mature dill heads. Start in late summer.

Garlic – Garlic will stay in the ground and grow year round if you let it. As long as the ground does not stay frozen you can harvest it all year. If the ground does freeze, the garlic will generally come back in the spring. Green garlic tops snipped into your ferments will add a nice garlicky flavor and a bright dash of herby color.

Parsley – Parsley thrives in the cold weather. It goes well in many kinds of fresh veggie ferments, adding a tangy richness to the flavor. A relative of carrots, this is another biennial crop which winters over in order to set seed the second year.

Kale – Kale will try to set seed in the fall unless you start another planting. Start it about a month or two before freezing temps hit, and it will cheerfully give you a crop of leaves that can be picked individually, and which will keep coming well into the cold.

Kolrabi – Behaves about like cabbage or Kale – does best when planted again in the late summer. You’ll get a better flavor in this from the cold as well.

Onions – Onions are biennial. They start from seeds and form bulbs the first growing season, and then set seed the second year. This means they were designed by nature to winter over. You’ll get amazing sweet onions when you pick them after the first frosts. You can get green onions through the winter as long as temps stay above 15 degrees (outside, or under protection).

Radish – Radishes mature quickly even in cold weather. You get bigger radishes, and the flavor is less peppery when grown in the cold. The greens also make good rabbit or chicken feed!

Spinach – Spinach grows well even when temps are freezing. It is an amazing thing to go out in the morning and see baby spinach leaves with ice bubbles in them – you just know it is going to warm up into a pile of dark goo – but it doesn’t! An hour later it is perky and bright green, and ready to pick for a salad or to pack into a greens ferment.

Lettuces are not appropriate for fermenting, but also make wonderful winter greens to complement your ferments and add fresh vegetables to your table.

This is not by any means a comprehensive list. Many of these foods may be kept in a root cellar, and used well into the winter, but they do not ferment well after they have been in storage. Keeping them going in the garden means they are still truly fresh when you harvest them.

Some crops like carrots or cabbage may also be packed under straw or sawdust to store them outdoors in the garden (still rooted in). I don’t generally recommend that for fermenting, because they are more prone to mold, they tend to gather more debris on some kinds of foods, and covering them with mulch ends up blanching the color from them, which reduces the nutritional content.

Winter gardening is one of the delightful rediscoveries in traditional farming methods that has resurfaced recently, and it is one that is of particular benefit to the fermenter, since a lot of the foods which fermenters love the best are good winter crops.

Try it out this year, in your garden, in a greenhouse, or in containers under row covers or clear plastic on a balcony or sunny porch.

See the miracle for yourself!

Lacto-fermenting involves encouraging healthy bacteria and fungus to grow within a contained environment. Vegetables ferment extremely well because they already contain good starts of those bacteria and fungi.

The problem with mushrooms is that they ARE a fungus. Their presence in a ferment will radically affect the balance of bacteria and other fungus in the ferment. Not in a good way!

The problem with eggs and sausage is that they encourage the growth of other items that are not conducive to the growth of healthy microbes. Both are traditionally pickled with finished pickle brines, or with apple cider vinegar blends.

You can, of course, purchase pickled mushrooms, pickled eggs, and pickled sausage. The mushrooms are likely filled with chlorine because they’ve been watered with chlorinated water (and the mushroom fruits concentrate contaminants). The eggs are of unknown age, from chickens fed who knows what, and preserved with chemicals that were never meant to be consumed by humans. The sausage… well, if you don’t already know what goes into commercial sausage, then maybe you don’t really WANT to know. And that doesn’t even touch on the quality of what the animal ate, or the chemicals used to cure the sausage!

When you want to KNOW the real quality of the ingredients, you just HAVE to make your own! Fresh, quality ingredients. Or specialty ingredients.

Pickled chanterelles or morels. Or your own homegrown Criminis or Oyster mushrooms, or maybe the Russulas you gathered yourself. Pickled bantam eggs, or Quail eggs, with specialty seasoning combinations (I’d love to have some Quail eggs to drop into my Pickled Salsa… OOooooooh!). Or Polish sausage made from homegrown pork, elk, or wild hog, or even a combination of duck and rabbit.

Certainly you can use Raw Apple Cider Vinegar and mix a cold seasoned brine for use with any of these (stir well to incorporate the salt or sugar), in order to create a live culture pickling brine (heat must be avoided, it will kill the ACV). But you have so many more options by following this simple method instead.

To ferment these specialty items, get a good vegetable ferment going that has the flavors that you want in your finished pickle. Once the ferment is well established (approximately two weeks, minimum), you can add the mushrooms, peeled boiled eggs, or sausage, either to the vegetable mix, or after removing the veggies – just add it to the brine.

Let the food ferment for another week or two, to develop a good pickle. They may be refrigerated during the pickling process (especially important for eggs and sausage).

If you are going for a SWEET pickle flavor, add your sugar immediately prior to adding your mushrooms, eggs, or sausage. Make sure you stir it in well, so that it is completely dissolved. This keeps the ferment sweet and sour, instead of creating a sour alcoholic brine (sugars added earlier will convert to alcohol and go sour).

My mother pickled eggs in the brine from her home canned pickled beets. This was a heat treated brine, so the bacteria was dead, though adding the eggs stirred up a bunch of new healthy stuff as the eggs cured. The eggs turned a lovely shade of purply red, and the beet brine was a lovely complement to the eggs. I do not use beets in my fresh ferments though, because they are high in natural sugars, which go alcoholic, and that is not somewhere I’ll go with food I feed my family.

One of these days I will ferment some beets and push it through to the vinegar stage (past the alcohol stage) and then sweeten it a little and toss in some eggs, to see if I can get the delicious result with more probiotics but without the alcohol that would result from a young ferment with beets.

Get all the goodies from the lacto-fermented brine, with the superior flavor of home cured foods, infused all the way through your freshly purchased ingredients, or through your own homegrown or gathered mushrooms, clean-fed chicken eggs, and homemade sausage (from home grown pork even!).

Dead food just can’t taste like that!

It is that time of year again. The seed catalogs are arriving, and in the depths of winter the thought of spring refuses to be suppressed.

There is no doubt that vegetables fresh from the garden are the best for fermenting. They are fresher, and chemically cleaner than what you can buy, and you know for yourself exactly how they were grown.

If you are planning a limited space garden, or if you are wanting to plant a garden that has plenty of good stuff for fermenting, this list may help you plan a garden designed to get you in a fine pickle at harvest time!

  • Artichokes – Globe artichokes or Jerusalem artichokes both pickle well. Both are perinnial crops so you plant them once and they come back year after year.
  • Asparagus – plant once, and it comes back year after year. Remember to plant this where you will not need to move it, and where you do not plan to dig or till in the future (it even works well in landscaping beds).
  • Beets – You can grow a lot of beets in a small space, and you can use beet thinnings in salads, the baby greens are wonderfully flavorful. Traditionally used for kvass, beets also make wonderful pickles.
  • Bell Peppers – Perfect for salsas, and for adding color to pickled veggies. Pickled sweet peppers are amazing in any color!
  • Broccoli – An old favorite, you can pickle the flowerettes for a traditional look, or you can use the flowerettes in other meals and pickle the stems. Even the big tough stems can be peeled and cubed or julienned for amazing broccoli pickles.
  • Cabbage – Kraut. Need we say more?
  • Carrots – After Kraut and Cukes, carrots are one of the all time favorites for pickling. Lovely color to add to veggie mixes.
  • Cauliflower – Another traditional pickling veggie.
  • Chard – Pickles really well. It will go softer than kraut, but stays firmer than spinach.
  • Collards – A great pickler, it makes a softer kraut than cabbage, with LOTS more green! Collards will grow in the spring or fall an go to seed and self-seed in the south. In the north you can grow them as a summer crop and they stand the heat better than some.
  • Corn – Look for a “baby cob” corn variety, and you can make those awesome little pickled baby corn cobs.
  • Cucumbers – A pickling variety is best, picked young, but even older picklers will make good pickle slices. NOTHING that you buy in the store can equal a fresh snappy pickled cucumber fresh from the crock.
  • Dill – A must! Dill is easy to grow, and so good in pickles. Great for eggs and potato salads too! Dill grows well in winter gardens also.
  • Fennel – Fennel pickles well in veggie mixes where the unique flavor can be the focal point.
  • Garlic – If you plant your garlic in an area where you do not have to move it, you can naturalize it so it comes back year after year. A soft neck variety dries and hangs to keep for many months.
  • Green Beans – Bush varieties produce without poles, but pole varieties produce more beans over a longer time span. Either way, pick the beans young, and you’ll get great veggie pickles.
  • Herbs – Basil, Parsley, Cilantro, and all the other good stuff your recipes call for. Fresh grown is so much better than herbs from the store.
  • Jalapeno Peppers – Or your other favorite hot pepper. Toss them in wherever you want some sizzle.
  • Kale – Another vegetable that pickles like kraut only a little softer. It can also be added to other firm greens mixes.
  • Kohlrabi – Julienne and pickle. A good winter crop also.
  • Okra – Pickled okra is a Southern tradition. Okra really doesn’t grow well unless you have a long hot growing season, but then it will keep producing all summer.
  • Onions – Plant onion sets for large bulbs. Plant Shallots, or other multiplier onions to naturalize your onions so they keep producing year after year without replanting – just dig what you need and let the rest grow. Onions – baby onions, sliced green onions, chopped onions, or sliced onions, add a sweet crunchy bite to any veggie mix. They are nothing like the soggy cooked onion pickles you get in the stores.
  • Peas – Snap peas, or Snow peas will pickle nicely and work well in veggie mixes.
  • Radish – Daikon radish is used for traditional Japanese fermented radish. Goes soft in most ferments, so use with caution.
  • Spinach – Softens when it ferments, but pickled spinach is awesome!
  • Tomatoes – Sweet tomatoes go alcoholic. Dryer low sugar tomatoes such as Romas, or other sauce tomatoes work much better in salsas and other ferments. Don’t over-use, or they’ll go alcoholic anyway. Plant some sauce tomatoes and give them a try!
  • Zucchini – Pickled zucchini chips… They don’t go soggy like cooked pickles!
  • Watermelon – Ah, yes. Watermelon rind pickles. Use the green part, cut off the stiff outer rind. The inner rind makes a great tart pickle. Watermelon itself will go alcoholic.

I’m sure I’ve left out a lot of options, but the veggies above should give you many choices for planting a good garden to keep your pickling ferments going throughout the harvest season.

Grow a spring garden, a summer garden, a fall garden, or a winter garden, and you can even keep the veggies coming all year round in most places in the US.

Look at your favorite pickling recipes and sort out the things you can grow yourself.

Your body will thank you!

Recently I’ve noticed a book circulating, and various posts online, encouraging the practice of freezing lacto-fermented foods.

My first reaction was, “WHYYYY?”.

There is absolutely NO benefit to doing so that is worth the trouble, and you lose virtually EVERY element that you want from lacto-fermented foods anyway!

1. You destroy the probiotics. Very few bacteria and fungus strains survive freezing and thawing. You just blitzed all the wonderful health benefits you labored to produce! Ok, so a few survive. Big deal. If all you want is a few, go buy yogurt.

2. You lose the crunch and freshness of the vegetables. That lovely snap and bite of good kraut, zesty dills and crunchy carrots. Freeze them, and they go to flop. Rubbery. Unappealing. If you want marginal food, buy canned. The whole point of making it yourself was to achieve something extraordinary. Not marginal.

3. It takes as much (or more) power to freeze foods as to fridge them. It takes none at all to root cellar fermented foods. If you repackage them you may save some space, but not a huge amount. No real significant benefit here.

4. It wastes time – no matter how you do it you have to take the time to thaw them. If you repackage them before freezing, it wastes even more. A convenience food goes from being fast and easy to being something you have to plan ahead for, or which you have to waste power heating before you use it.

5. You have to use it all soon after you thaw it, or it turns to spoiled goo. That’s right, once it comes out of the freezer it is ripe for contamination by opportunistic nasties, so it will spoil within a week or so of thawing.

So not only is it detrimental to the value of the food, it isn’t at ALL a convenience or time saver. It backfires all around!

The wonder that is lacto-fermented food is bursting with freshness, life, and convenience. Stick the jar in the fridge. When you want some, dig out what you need, and stick the jar back in the fridge. How hard is that? And it keeps for months (if it lasts that long), letting you use it as you like, no advanced preparation. SOOO nice for hurry up meals, unexpected guests, and your teenager’s surprise growth spurt (peanut butter and dill pickle sandwich anyone?).

Why spoil all that by taking an extra, unhelpful step? Rather mind-boggling that anyone ever thought it had any advantage, isn’t it?

“It takes genius to simplify the complicated. It is more common for people to complicate the simple.”

True, that!

I can sum this up in one word. Don’t. Of course, it does require a disclaimer – that some things DO in fact require a starter of some kind. And a few things do better with one.

The first thing I need to explain is a general misconception among new fermenters – a misunderstanding caused by the use of whey in so many fermentation recipes. “Lacto-fermentation” does NOT refer to the presence of any milk product in the ferment! It refers to “lactobacillus”. A category of bacteria that proliferate in old fashioned brine cured or cultured foods. Lactobacilli will grow perfectly happily without the whey.

In general, lacto-fermenting happens best when you just let Nature do her thing. She usually does – that is how fermentation processes were discovered to begin with. But it isn’t as simple as saying NEVER, or ALWAYS. There are some rules though.

Many recipes recommend whey as a starter. Some recommend specialized starter cultures. Other fermentation processes typically have standard recommended cultures – yogurt, buttermilk, etc. And many fermentation specialists say to never use a starter – but in fact they do not mean it, they just mean don’t use whey, usually. We have to break them down to understand what needs a culture, and what does not.

So the first rule is that MOST fruit and vegetable ferments do NOT need a starter. ALL cooked food fermentations do BETTER with a starter. SOME milk fermentations REQUIRE a starter to get the right flavor. Meat and Eggs need either HIGH SALT, or an already Fermented Brine. Grains can sometimes benefit from a starter but do not require one.


  • Milk fermentations – Raw milk will generally ferment nicely without a starter. It won’t taste like yogurt, sour cream, or kefir though. To get things that taste like those, you need higher concentrations of specific types of microbes. Hence, many milk ferments are best with a starter, of the type of thing you are trying to culture. In general, a spoonful of whatever it is, as long as it has live cultures, will do the trick for each cup of milk you are culturing. Buttermilk may or may not taste right if cultured without a starter, and depends on several factors. Too many to cover here. In general, if you are using pasteurized milk, you MUST use a starter (even if just a bit of a previous successful batch). If you are using raw milk, it depends entirely upon your taste preferences.
  • Vegetable Fermentations – Usually these occur very well without a starter. If you end up getting food that has been treated in some way (even some organics have been), it may interfere with the fermentation process. In that case, a starter culture may help. Generally, it is not needed, and whey, specifically, may be counterproductive. The best starter for vegetables is some brine from a previous batch. Raw Apple Cider Vinegar makes a reasonable second choice.
  • Cooked Food Fermentations – These lack the necessary natural microbes to predictably ferment, and are likely to mold. I DO recommend a starter for these. The type of starter used depends on the type of food being fermented – generally take the starter from a previous successful batch, OR something which contains similar ingredients. For cooked sauces and condiments, a vegetable brine is a good choice, and Raw Apple Cider Vinegar is also acceptable.
  • Fruit Ferments – These ALWAYS produce substantial amounts of alcohol (as does anything with any kind of sugar, honey, or syrup), so I only do them if I am pushing them through to a vinegar stage. Again, they ferment fine on their own without any kind of starter if you are using clean raw food (by clean I mean not contaminated with chemicals). On occasion, you may need a starter, especially if you are using cooked fruits or pasteurized juices. The best starter is a fruit based ferment – Raw Apple Cider Vinegar is a good choice.
  • Meats and Eggs – These are risky items to ferment, and should ALWAYS be done with either a high salt brine, or previously fermented brine. Far less risky when you use homegrown meats or eggs, and in general, the historic methods did not involve plopping the food into salty water and letting it ferment, anyway. Typically they were added to a brine that had been previously fermented. I have not studied meat curing methods sufficiently to be able to make recommendations other than that it is wiser to avoid trying to culture the meat in a fresh low salt brine. Meats that were cured and preserved in salt brines were always done in brines with very high salt content – enough that the meat had to be soaked prior to use to remove the majority of the salt. For eggs, simply use brine from pickles. Add sweetener if you like a sweet pickle brine on your pickled eggs. That IS the traditional way to do it, and you end up with true lacto-fermented eggs, which ferment with a good starter from the lacto-fermented pickle brine. You can try yellow pickled eggs, from pickle juice, or pink pickled eggs using beet pickles. Pop the eggs into the brine, and stick it in the fridge. They’ll be good to eat in 2-4 days (the pink ones are easiest to tell how far they’ve been pickled, since the color will tell you how far the brine has penetrated).


  • Grains – The principle grain ferment that we are concerned with is sourdough starter. I don’t mess with alcoholic ferments. Sourdough can be done either WITH, or WITHOUT a starter. There is some controversy over whether it does better with or without one, and whether a specific starter will retain individual characteristics. That said, what IS generally agreed upon in the fermentation world, is that you SHOULD NOT USE COMMERCIAL YEAST as the starter! It is also generally agreed that whey or other non-grain starters are unnecessary and generally counterproductive. Dried sourdough starter may be used, or you can culture it “wild”. We have had very good success with wild cultures – simply letting a flour and water mixture ferment, and feeding it regularly. The only time we had poor success is when using some marginal wheat (with drought burn on the kernels), which produced a very moldy sourdough. Good wheat, either whole or refined, fresh milled or commercially stripped of the germ, will generally produce good sourdough. Whole wheat, especially fresh milled with the germ, tends to ferment more actively, and produces a sharper flavor. The key to a good sourdough is keeping it fed and active. It requires a daily tending, does not do as well when stored in the fridge for long, and it likes flour without preservatives best.
  • Beans or Starchy Vegetables – These are vegetables, but they BEHAVE like fruit during the fermentation process. They produce substantial amounts of alcohol, due to the high carbohydrates in them. They do best WITHOUT a starter, UNLESS they are cooked (beans are likely to be unless sprouted), in which case a starter may be very helpful. A dab from a previous batch is the best option if you DO choose to use a starter. Secondary options would be Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, or Whey if you have nothing else.

The second rule is to use a starter that is most compatible with the ferment. Vegetables to vegetables, fruits to fruits, milks to milks, grains to grains. The exception is Eggs, which are done in a pickle brine, this being the traditional method of pickling eggs. Raw Apple Cider Vinegar is the closest thing we have to an “all purpose” starter, and it does not work for milk.

The reason we do like with like, is because various food categories allow specific types of bacteria and yeasts to culture. While there IS some commonality, the microbes that grow best in milk are NOT the same ones that grow best in vegetables or grains. Having milk by-products in your sourdough, vinegar, or pickles is not the best option for keeping the food fresh for extended periods either, since milk degrades faster than vegetables, fruits, or grains in a fermented storage situation. This is one of the reasons why whey is not a good starter to use for things other than milk cultures.

So as a general thing, skip the whey in your pickles or kraut. It isn’t needed, and actually does more harm than good. If you cannot get good quality organic produce and have to use treated foods that don’t pickle predictably, then use a starter from a similar food group to boost the predictability of your ferments.

Some companies sell fairly costly fermentation starters. Unless you are having problems with ferments (due to water quality, food quality, or other things you cannot control), they are not needed.

Mother Nature will be only too happy to help you create good food for your family.

A few years ago, the wine industry looked for a reason to market wine as a health food. They studied health statistics across the world, and discovered that France and Italy had lower heart disease rates than the United States. (Of course, so do many other nations… but France and Italy are the ones they wanted to pay attention to!). France and Italy have higher than average wine consumption. So wine began to be marketed as a heart healthy substance, and they acredited this to the “antioxidants” in it.

Funny thing about that study. France and Italy differ from the US in many ways. They eat more fresh vegetables year-round, they eat fresh fermented foods that have not been pasteurized, and their eggs are handled differently making them less prone to superbug contamination. But to the wine industry, there could only be one answer – it had to be the wine! Actually, grapes have more antioxidants than the wine, and they also have probiotics. Yeah, that’s right, fresh foods contain probiotics too. The natural bacteria and fungus that grows on and in fresh foods, that aids digestion and improves our health. It wasn’t the wine at all.

The lacto-fermentation world has done the same thing with fermented foods. They have failed to distinguish between those foods that contain alcohol, and those that do not, and to identify the ones that are really helping. Foods that do not contain significant levels of alcohol have a FAR higher benefit to the body than those that do.

Now, some people will say that ALL fermented foods have alcohol. This is true. But NOT all fermented foods are ALCOHOLIC. Many are – far more than most avid fermenters are willing to acknowledge. For the purposes of distinction, alcoholic foods are defined as those having an alcohol content near or above the legally recognized level for alcoholic beverages. This is .5% alcohol content, as recognized by the US government as amounts high enough to produce intoxication, and illegal for consumption by minors.

Foods with an alcohol content close to this point will have the following characteristics:

1. They will smell of alcohol, or they will smell “yeasty” like beer. The boozy smell may be unmistakable for many people, or difficult to detect for others, depending on their sensitivity to it.

2. They will have a fizz or tingle on your tongue. Carbon dioxide will NOT suspend in liquids normally, unless they are under significant pressure (like commercial sodas). It WILL suspend (dissolve) into liquids that have significant alcohol content. That “carbonation” tingle, or the fiery burn of strong alcohol, is evidence of significant levels of alcohol in a food or drink. The finer the bubbles, the higher the alcohol content. This is the time honored method for detecting unwanted alcohol content in foods that are not supposed to go alcoholic.

3. They have been fermented with sugar, OR they include some kind of starchy carbohydrate. This includes fruit or fruit juice, cane sugar, unrefined sugars, agave, fructose, honey, and ANY OTHER carbohydrate based sweeteners, potatoes, grains, etc. If it has been fermented with sugars, it WILL go through an alcoholic phase, characterized by the fizz – this is not a “maybe” thing. Sugars or starchy carbs in foods WILL produce HIGH AMOUNTS of alcohol as they ferment! ALWAYS.

ANY fermented fruits, kombucha, fermented sodas (including but not limited to ginger ale and rootbeer), water kefir with or without fruit juice added, and fermented salsa (tomatoes have sufficient sugar), fermented potatoes, fermented grains, etc, all contain ALCOHOLIC levels of alcohol. Yes, this is provable… Ginger Ale and Rootbeer, made by fermenting, have an alcohol content of .05-11% (.05% is the level considered to be the minimum needed to produce sufficient carbonation to be identified as a soda). The potency depends on the length of fermentation. Longer ferment means higher alcohol content. Other fermented beverages with sugar contain similar amounts of sugar, and therefore WILL develop alcohol at a similar rate and level. This point is indisputable – the science behind this is very clear and so simple that you cannot misunderstand that this is so.

Alcohol is not an All or Nothing kind of thing. The levels will vary from item to item. The presence of suspended carbonation is an indicator of significant alcohol levels, and a good measurement of whether the alcohol is enough to cause harm. With alcohol though, more of it means more harm.

In fermented foods that have minute amounts, the probiotics and nutrient content provide enough benefit to offset any minor damage by the alcohol. Once you get to the point of being able to DETECT the alcohol through non-scientific means though, it is high enough so that the damage it is doing is equal to, or MORE than the benefit it is offering. ELIMINATING alcohol is an unrealistic goal, and isn’t the point at all. Keeping it to UNDETECTABLE levels (cannot smell or feel it on the tongue) is the goal.

How does alcohol cause harm?

  • Nothing can live in alcohol. It has been used historically as an embalming and preservation fluid because it stops growth and decay.
  • Alcohol is used in the medical field as a sterilizing fluid. It kills microbes on contact. This is NOT a 100% solution that is used, either. Standard is about a 50% alcohol content solution.
  • The higher the alcohol level in your ferments, the lower the helpful probiotic content.
  • The higher the alcohol content, the more cells it will kill passing through your digestive tract – it kills fast growing cells especially well, which includes both the natural and necessary bacteria in your intestines, and the cells that line your entire digestive tract. Alcohol is a known irritant to ulcers, Crohn’s Disease, Celiac, IBS, Colitis, and other forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
  • The higher the alcohol content, the more alcohol circulates in your bloodstream – alcohol in the bloodstream kills living cells, and is especially hard on neural cells which do not easily repair themselves, and on the liver, which is responsible for helping your body detox.
  • Even fairly low levels of alcohol consumption may lead to catastrophic harm to a fetus, if alcohol is consumed by either the mother (during pregnancy) OR the father (prior to pregnancy). It has as much to do with TIMING as it does with CONTENT.

There are foods that pass THROUGH an alcoholic phase (during which the bacterial content decreases as the alcoholic content rises), then vinegarize (the alcohol is gradually consumed by increasing populations of microbes), after which it will no longer contain significant alcohol. Apple Cider Vinegar is one such food, which is recognized as a supplement with strong health benefits – RAW ACV is once again alive with a wide range of probiotic microbes which are purely helpful. These foods are not a problem – when the fizz is gone, the alcohol is reduced to safe levels and generally the bacterial and fungal count will be correspondingly higher.

The alcohol may also be COOKED out of foods. This is why Sourdough Starter IS an alcoholic food, but baked bread is NOT. Of course, cooking the foods also kills the probiotics, so this is not a solution you’d want to use when you are going for maximum probiotic benefit. This MAY be a good option though, when you want to consume something with alcoholic content, and give your children a version of it that does not contain the alcohol. Just cook it until the boozy smell is gone, and make sure the tingle is gone after it is cooled down.

So… if you enjoy Kombucha, but do not want the alcohol, what do you do?

Ferment it as usual, but then let it OPEN ferment until the alcohol smell and fizz are gone (this can take days, or even weeks, depending on the recipe). You’ll get a sour taste – just sweeten it up again with the sweetener of your choice.

This can be done with water kefir, fermented juices, and many other foods, and they’ll end up with a nice high probiotic count without the backlash of the alcohol.

It CANNOT be done for fermented sodas. You’ll lose the carbonation. Sorry, no alternative here for fermented sodas. You can make soda for a party though, using dry ice.

If you’ve been trying to heal, and you seem to take two steps forward, two steps back, it may not be the fermentation method that is holding you back. It may be the KINDS of ferments you are relying on to heal.

Alcohol is NOT a helpful element in lacto-fermented foods and beverages. Yes, it DOES matter, and yes, it IS a significant amount in many kinds.

And whatever you do, PLEASE do not give your children ANY potentially alcoholic ferments. Not only are they especially vulnerable to the neurologic damage caused by alcohol in the bloodstream, you are just BEGGING for your children to be taken from you by Child Protective Services.

Enjoy your pickles and kraut and milk kefir (without the fizzies!). But avoid the alcoholic ferments if you want to supercharge your chances for good health.

This has to be one of the most controversial elements in lacto-fermenting – and one with the MOST misinformation. There is a ton of information out there which simply is not true, or is skewed, taken out of content, or badly misunderstood. It is my goal to clarify some of the points regarding alcohol in lacto-fermented foods.

First, there is a difference between foods that CONTAIN undetectible amounts of alcohol, and those that are ALCOHOLIC. The difference is simple… Alcoholic foods are those which can potentially produce INTOXICATION. This difference is vital in understanding alcohol in lacto-fermented foods.

We are not concerned with foods that “contain alcohol”. All ferments do. But the amount in many kinds is so low that it is no more than contained in a ripe apple (yeah, a lot of natural foods contain similar minute amounts of alcohol, and they are not of any concern). The goal is not, and never was, the elimination of alcohol. It is the avoidance of intoxication and damage from alcoholic beverages and foods for those who need or wish to avoid it.

This is NOT simply a matter of choice. There are strong reasons why you NEED to know whether your lacto-fermented foods contain significant amounts of alcohol.

1. Children. I put this first, because if you give your children alcoholic foods, you just invited the state to remove them from your home. I am constantly both shocked, and outraged at the number of people who give their children alcoholic lacto-fermented beverages casually, telling themselves it is “healthy”, and either KNOWING they contain significant alcohol and disregarding it, or who do it out of sheer ignorance. There are accounts online of people who have had bad experiences with this – a child testing positive for high blood alcohol at the emergency room, for example, after drinking several glasses of water kefir over the course of a day. You NEED to know. And you NEED to take it seriously if you care about your children and want to keep the privilege of parenting them yourself! It’s like seatbelts in the car, folks. You do it because you love your kids!

2. Medication. Many medications react poorly with alcohol. It may either increase, or decrease the effectiveness of medications, and either reaction may be deadly.

3. Alcoholism. If you have friends or family who struggle with this issue, you do NOT want to accidentally make it harder for them to stay sober. If you have alcoholism in your family line and avoid alcohol for that reason, you need to know how to keep from triggering negative affects in yourself.

4. Religious Beliefs. Many religions have restrictions regarding the consumption of alcoholic beverages and foods. Your friends or family who espouse one of these religious beliefs will be grateful if you are considerate and do not gift them with, or serve foods with significant alcohol content without warning them of the content.

5. Intoxication. Yeah, you really CAN get drunk on some of this stuff! You may find it difficult to defend yourself in court on a DUI or public intoxication charge. Frankly, they just are not going to believe that you did not know that those fizzy bubbles in your kombucha meant it had alcohol in it!

6. Pregnancy. The affects of alcohol on the developing brain and body range from invisible (difficulty with complex problem solving, difficulty making choices, difficulty with moral choices, difficulty understanding cause and effect, poor emotional control, behavioral and mood disorders, etc), to the catastrophic (anancephaly, microcephaly, hydranencephaly, and other disorders caused by failure of large portions of the brain to develop in utero, as well as various physical anomalies). Fetal Alcohol Effect or Syndrome are not just problems of binge drinkers and alcoholics – damage may result from the TIMING of the ingestion of alcohol as much as from the AMOUNT or FREQUENCY. There are some times during the development of a fetus when the baby is just more vulnerable to environmental insult than at other times, and at those times, it may take only a small amount to do great damage. Many of these effects ARE genetically inheritable, so it can take many generations for them to fade in a family line. Most women want better than that for their babies. If you are pregnant, or offering fermented foods to someone who is, PLEASE take this seriously. That baby has no choice in this, and deserves the best possible care before and after birth.

I’ll state right off the bat that I do not have alcohol percentages on various lacto-fermented foods (other than rootbeer and ginger ale given later) – and anyone who does know has not been disposed to publishing any reliable numbers. What I do have is a body of experience, facts, and some guidelines to help you to determine what lacto-fermented foods may be alcoholic, and which are not.

For the record… I’m a Mormon. It is against our beliefs to consume any kind of alcoholic substances (the wording of our health guidelines actually state that we should avoid “strong drink”, interpreted as ALCOHOLIC – there is no prohibition of alcohol in minute, non-alcoholic amounts). All my life I’ve been trained to recognize and avoid anything with significant amounts of alcohol. Whereas many people who drink alcohol and enjoy doing so will miss the signs of alcohol content in a food or drink, I do not. Since it is an anomaly in my life, I am very sensitive to it.

The first thing we need to understand is Sugar. And an ABSOLUTE RULE concerning it!


This means, the following items will ALWAYS produce significant amounts of alcohol, and have a high probability of producing an alcoholic food or beverage:

  • Fruit, including tomatoes and sour fruits. (This includes any ferment with fruit, or fruit juices, and salsa with tomatoes.)
  • ANY liquid with added sugar, honey, molasses, fructose, agave, or other carbohydrate based sugars. (Kombucha, fermented sodas, water kefir, etc.)
  • Starchy vegetables (including squash and potatoes, and others).
  • Grains.
  • Milk (though not all fermented milk products are alcoholic).

NON STARCHY VEGETABLES DO NOT PRODUCE SIGNIFICANT ALCOHOL – pickles are non-alcoholic, unless you add sugar to the brine (NOT recommended anyway!).

Now, at about this point, about half of the people reading this are going to get very angry with me, and discount everything here, simply because they do not wish to believe what I am saying. They will resort to Kelly the Kitchen Kop and quote her infamous experiment where she heated the liquids before measuring the content… the problem being that heat causes alcohol to evaporate, completely nullifying the validity of her results! Scientific fact, people!

To those people, I say this: If your life possesses so little value to you that you do not wish to know whether your homemade foods may affect your life in unpredictable ways, if your children mean so little to you that you are willing to risk their removal from your home, and if your friends and family who need to avoid alcohol (there ARE some, there always are!) count for so little in your esteem, then go your merry way. Life will catch up with you, and I wish you all the best with it.

For those who want to know, read on. There are two more rules that can help you to know, and some information about fermenting milk and avoiding alcoholic content, as well as some info on alcohol and fermenting methods.

So how do you know if you have something with an excess of alcohol?

1. Trust your nose. If you have the ability to smell alcohol, trust it! Now, it is important to point out that many people have LOST this ability, typically through frequent consumption of alcohol, but sometimes for other reasons. But if you make something that smells boozy, it IS. Many alcoholic fermented foods will have a yeasty smell also.

2. Watch for fizzies. We are very conditioned in our society to think of fizzy bubbles as the result of “carbonation”, and to think it a harmless thing. NON ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES DO NOT HOLD CARBONATION! You do realize that soda pops only retain carbonation when the cap is on, and the liquid is under pressure. As soon as the top is opened, the bubbles start rising, and will quickly result in a flat soda. Now, fermenting causes the release of carbon dioxide, so it is correctly named here, but when there is no significant alcohol in the ferment, the bubbles will do EXACTLY what they do in soda pop – they will rise to the surface and escape (evidence – your pickles are not bubbly, and they are not alcoholic). A higher alcohol content causes tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide to remain suspended in the liquid. The carbonation associated with soda pop is a coarse large bubble feel on the tongue. The carbonation associated with alcoholic beverages is a finer tinier bubble feel on the tongue. If your fermented foods taste tingly, they are potentially intoxicating. Sorry, but that is the fact behind that fizzy feel – it is the evidence of significant amounts of alcohol. More fizz, more alcohol.

So what about yogurt and kefir? Does this necessarily mean that they are alcoholic? Sometimes. Milk DOES have sufficient sugars to produce alcohol, but it usually takes some time to produce enough to be potentially intoxicating.

Yogurt that is fermented just until it sets, and which DOES NOT TASTE FIZZY, is not alcoholic! If it gets to the fizzy point, then YES, it IS alcoholic.

The same is true of Kefir – if you ferment it for a short period of time, and it is not fizzy, then it is not alcoholic. If it is fizzy, then it is! If you produce a fizzy batch, take heart though! There is no need to toss it. Just strain out the grains, take the fizzy kefir and dilute it with more milk, and let it set out for another 8-24 hours until it is thickened but NOT fizzy.

Old fashioned sodas used to be called “beer”. The original Rootbeer and Ginger Ale were EXACTLY that! They were called “beer” and “ale” because they were made in a similar fashion to other beers. Today, we have forgotten that fact, because those two drinks are now made using pressurized carbonation instead of fermentation. While it is true that the alcohol content of these beverages is LOWER than of a true beer, if you make your own fermented Rootbeer, Ginger Ale, or “Soda”, you will be making something that is equivalent to a “light” beer, or a wine spritzer.

US law defines a “non-alcoholic beverage” as one having LESS than .5% alcohol content. According to the majority of sources, fermented rootbeer GENERALLY contains an alcohol content between .5 and 2%, depending on the length of fermentation, but may contain an alcohol content as high as 10% if it is fermented longer (longer ferment, higher alcohol). Fermented Ginger Ale contains a similar amount of alcohol – and it is logical to conclude that other sodas and drinks with similar amounts of sugar (water kefir, kombucha, lemonade, “fruit” soda, and homemade sodas, etc), put to ferment for similar amounts of time, will produce an equivalent alcohol content.

Given that information (which you can easily verify in a 2 minute Google search), there is NO WAY that the risk of alcohol in home fermented sugared beverages can be dismissed lightly. It might be hard for an adult to get drunk on it, but not for a child to do so, and it is still enough to conflict with medications, or get you in trouble over religious restrictions – and it is certainly enough to cause some potentially traumatic harm to a developing fetus if consumed by a pregnant woman.

These drinks USED to be given to children, not because they were alcohol free, but because they had LOWER AMOUNTS of alcohol – but at that time in history people were less educated about the harmful effects of alcohol on the developing brain and body. We know better now.

One other area of confusion on this issue is in regard to fermentation method. There are two statements that you hear regarding this:

1. Open ferments create more alcohol.
2. Closed ferments result in more alcohol.

Actually, in a way, both are true, but in different ways.

1. Open ferments create alcohol more quickly, but they also disperse and convert it to vinegars more quickly.
2. Closed ferments create alcohol a SLIGHT bit slower, but they CONCENTRATE the alcohol, and keep it in the ferment. It does not disperse, and it does not convert to vinegars. Many processes for making alcoholic beverages BEGIN with an open ferment, but an airlock is installed within a few days, to concentrate the alcohol, and this is why.

So… if you are making a food that has some sugar, and needs to pass through an alcoholic stage before finishing as a vinegar, use an open ferment. This is also an option for making tinctures and other items which normally do contain high amounts of alcohol, but which also work well when vinegarized.

You may also begin with a closed ferment, to establish the ferment well, and then change to an open ferment after about 2 weeks. This gives you the best of both for keeping the alcohol content down and converting it to vinegar. I use a closed ferment for my kefir, and it does not go bubbly on me.

Many people will take exception to this information, and even some who know it to be true will be very disappointed that I had to go and point it out. Heck, I’m disappointed myself! I’d LOVE to use water kefir, I’d LOVE to be able to make my own “healthy” soda, and I’d LOVE to be able to make herbal kombucha. But I don’t. Because avoiding intoxicating beverages is important to me, so I follow the rules to keep safely on the non-alcoholic side of fermenting.

The ORIGINAL one-way valve fermenting airlock! Imitation IS the sincerest form of flattery, and we have noticed that our product has been copied by other sellers of fermenting products. Remember, if you see someone else selling a one-way valve airlock for fermenting, THEY copied US, not the other way around! Fermenta Lock is still the only original invention, handmade in the US. If it isn't orange, it isn't the original!

We invented Fermenta Lock, Fermenta Free, and the valve used for Fermenta Fido and other Fermenta Airlock products. We invented Fermenta Dunk Extender. Patents are prohibitively expensive, and designed by the government not to protect the rights of individuals, but to provide another source of revenue and control for the government and lawyers. We are good at what we do. We have endless ideas and endless creativity, and competition does not scare us. Impatient thieves do not scare us - they are too busy taking shortcuts to make a success of it anyway, and they won't want to take the effort to actually MAKE a product and fill orders.

So if you want to copy our idea, go right ahead. If you want to market and sell a competing product, you are welcome to do so, as long as you do not patent our idea - we had it first, and our posts on FaceBook announcing the invention and launch of it will prove that. This idea is officially in the public domain, placed there by us. We will NOT release supply sources, or part names unless you want to buy them - we'll be happy to sell you an instruction kit. If you buy our product, or look at the images and figure it out for yourself, good on you. Compete with us if you like, just don't screw us, and we'll get along just fine. Big companies who might want to screw us may have more money, and more lawyers than we do, but we have more to gain by suing the pants off a big company, and believe me, we will be well motivated to do so if anyone patents our idea and claims it as their own - this is a free idea. Everybody now owns it.

Published June 23, 2012

Wholesale, Export, and Manufacture of this product by other companies is an option. International distributorships are available for those wishing to export. Please email us to inquire about access to our wholesale website, or in regards to manufacturing any of our products.

Business Building Services Are Available - If you are wanting to build a business like this, where you make things in the home and sell them direct to the customer, or if you want to build a business that you can sell to other people as a complete business package, Firelight Heritage Farm is now offering Cottage Industry Services to aid small business owners in building a successful product or service business from the home. Don't know what you want to do? We can help you figure that out too (something original, and just yours, not a canned business). You get the wisdom and uniquely successful perspective and experience of people who have been business, marketing, and website professionals for more than a dozen years. For more information, visit Why copy someone else's business when you can do something uniquely you and enjoy it so much more?

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Uses of Fermenta Lock

Fermenta Lock is a compact airlock cap for mason jars, to help in making old fashioned brined pickles, and other lacto-fermented foods. Use Fermenta Lock for:

Pickles (all kinds)
Sauer Kraut
Milk Kefir
Bean Paste/Hummus
Sourdough Starter (if started with culture or yeast)
Anything which needs gas release without a lot of air circulation.

Customer Comments

“Living down in Guatemala, we have quite a lot of dampness in our houses and mold is an ongoing battle. After a long dose of antibiotics due to a parasite, I absolutely required probiotics to get my gut back in order and I know homemade sauerkraut has more probiotic content than anything else I could find here. I wasn’t able to make my beloved sauerkraut or even Kombucha in my kitchen because mold would start growing immediately on the top. Your Fermenta Locks have literally been a lifesaver for me! No more mold, and PERFECT Kraut EVERY time!!! Thank you for creating such a wonderful product!!!”

A. Kratzert

“Oh how I wish I had found you first!! Too many experts and too many bucks later I discovered your “Lock” and the sheer elegance and simplicity of your system.Thank you for your help and affordability, it makes healthy food attainable.”


“I came back to order more FermentaCaps. A wonderful innovation. I have not lost a single batch of sauerkraut since I started using the original Fermenta Locks.”


“Please continue your good work on producing such a great product. I’ve tried lots of other kinds of airlocks- the 3 piece water lock, pickle pipes, fermilid, boss pickler, and I think yours is the best design and quality. I’d like to order another 100 of them right now, but I’ll have to wait a bit. I’ve had lifelong health challenges. I’m 38 and about 20 years ago my health was so bad I didn’t feel like living most of the time. Now my health is the best it’s ever been and it wouldn’t be possible without fermented vegetables, they have made a huge improvement in my health.”


(Last names omitted to protect customer privacy.)