Salt is used in fermented foods to inhibit the growth of unwanted dangerous microbes. Salt is a natural anti-biotic, and it also makes the water density higher, which inhibits air movement through the water.
Salt brine pickles, and sauer kraut are the two most common items, and the easiest to illustrate common salting techniques.
Pickles are typically salted with a brine solution. This really just means salt stirred into water. Salt to water amounts vary widely depending upon the source. I’ve seen them astronomically high, and I’ve seen them very low. In general, somewhere between 1 and 4 TBSP of salt per quart of water is appropriate, depending on whether you prefer more or less salt. I’ve used as low as 2 tsp per quart, and I’d not go lower than that.
Sauer Kraut uses about half that amount – because you are adding the salt directly to the vegetables, and not as a brine. Between 1/2 Tablespoon and 2 Tablespoons per quart of packed vegetables. If you need to add any salt brine, it should be the same ratio as for pickles.
Vegetables MAY be pickled without salt, but it is not generally recommended. There are a few places which recommend this as the preferred way, because they say that more beneficial microbes can grow without salt. There is no reliable scientific evidence to support that claim. There are, however, many reliable scientific sources on the increased risks of fermenting without salt. There is a higher likelihood of proliferation of harmful bacteria, including anaerobic bacterias such as botulism. Not a risk I am willing to flirt with. Go low salt if you must, but eliminating it is not wise.
The quality of the food suffers from eliminating the salt also. The storage life is dramatically shorter, the food decays much more quickly, and the texture will be mushier.
So what if you are on a salt restricted diet? If you are eating naturally, and not consuming processed foods, or restaurant foods, the salt in your fermented foods honestly should not be an issue! We have found that when we STOP using processed foods (which have hidden salt), and if we do not eat out, we have to consciously ADD salt to our diet, especially during the summer.
Salt is an essential mineral in the human diet. Lack of salt can kill you. Too much is also deadly, but contrary to current medical dogma, which tells everybody to use less salt (irrespective of how much or little they are already using!), a low salt diet is NOT necessarily healthier. A high salt diet IS harmful – but it is difficult to specify whether it is the SALT to blame, or whether it is the OTHER stuff that always goes along for the ride in processed foods. And low salt processed foods are even MORE deadly than high salt processed foods, because of the unnatural items they add to replace the salt.
When you eat healthy all around, the salt in pickled foods is not a concern. You are not using pickled foods as a main course. They are used as a condiment, or a side dish, or a component of a mixed dish. The ITEM may be a little high in salt, but the entire DISH, or the entire MEAL, is not high in salt, if you are combining it with fresh and whole foods that you have cooked yourself.
The bottom line? Pickling is an ancient method for preserving foods. There is a REASON why it developed as it did. It is sort of silly to assume that people would not work out the best way to do it over thousands of years of doing it! If there were a superior way, SOMEBODY would have noticed! But the practice of salt brines, and salt packed foods was developed and refined fairly early on, and many variations used within the cultures of the world. Science now backs up these practices as indeed being the safest and most predictable way to produce good pickled foods.
Salt is not evil. Indeed, the Bible refers to good people as being the “salt of the earth”. If it were evil, the body would not require it (low sodium is a potentially deadly condition). Like many things, we are intended to use it wisely. Salting pickled foods falls within that definition!
Work out your own measurements according to flavor. Your taste buds are more reliable than you realize. If you like it on the salty side, make them that way. If you like them less salty, use the lower end of the recommended measurements. Either way, don’t let ignorant people persuade you that because the food uses salt in the preparation that it is evil or unhealthy. Give a pass on the microwave pizza and fast food, and it will be a great addition to your diet!
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
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