UCCE Master Food Preservers of Orange County
University of California
UCCE Master Food Preservers of Orange County


Spring Garden Show 2015

South Coast Plaza Spring Garden Show 2015


The annual Spring Garden Show starts on Thursday, April 23rd and runs through Sunday, April 26th.  This will be the second year that UCCE Master Food Preservers have been privileged to have an exhibit booth at this wonderful show.  Plan to stop by and talk ‘preserving’ with us!  Bring your canning, freezing and dehydrating questions for us – or just stop and say hi!

More information about this show can be found at: http://www.springgardenshow.com/.  

Have questions?  Contact us at uccemfp@ucdavis.edu.

Hope to see you there!




An Overview

Lacto-Fermentation is a metabolic process that converts sugar to acids, gases, and/or alcohol. Lactic acid bacteria breaks down a food and in the process lowers the pH of the food making it more acidic. Examples of this are cucumbers turned into pickles and milk turned into yogurt. 

Lactobacillus strains are the main microorganisms in fermentation with a few other microorganisms assisting. Lactobacillus are also referred to as lactic acid bacteria (LAB). Lactobacillus, when given a favorable environment, will convert carbohydrates – sugars and starches – into lactic acid. The lactic acid environment then prevents other microorganisms from colonizing the food and prevents further decomposition.  There are many different strains of lactobacillus.

Lactobacillus in conjunction with Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a yeast, will convert flour and water and give us sourdough bread. Yogurt is fermented with Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus

Why do we ferment food?

We do not have to use the process of fermentation to preserve food. We have dehydration, canning, refrigeration and freezing as good methods of keeping food safe. The main reason we practice fermentation today is to take advantage of the health benefits that are realized with eating fermented foods. Fermented foods add live cultures to our food - probiotics.

 How do you ferment vegetables?

Fermentation is managed by creating a favorable environment for the lactobacillus to grow. In most vegetable ferments, this is done with non-iodized salt. Limiting the exposure to air also helps this process and keeps undesirable bacteria away from the food.

Main Ingredients

Water - use non-chlorinated water. To remove chlorine, boil water and let it cool. Or use filtered water. Bottled water is fine but not do not use distilled water.

Salt - non-iodized salt without any anti-caking ingredients. It is best to weigh the salt for accuracy. See below for more information.

Containers - a large food-safe container with a way to keep vegetables submerged and a lid that will allow gases to escape. More on containers from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Two main types of vegetable ferments:

•Large vegetables (cucumbers for pickles or carrot slices for escabeche) use a 5% brine

•Shredded vegetables (cabbage to make sauerkraut) use a 3% brine

The size of the vegetable determines the strength of the brine. The temperature can also make a difference in brine strength. If it is warm, a higher strength brine will help control microbial growth. Cooler temperatures can use a lower strength brine. As most of us live in the 68-72°F range we can use the ratios below.

For a large vegetable ferment use a 5% brine and for a shredded vegetable use a 3% brine or just add salt to the vegetable to draw out the water. Weighing the salt gives a more accurate brine. 

Brine Calculation

Added to 1 quart  (32 ounces) of water:

3%  = 2 tablespoons of salt (weighing about 1 ounces or 27 grams)

5% = 3 tablespoons of salt (weighing about 1.6 ounce or 45 grams)

Traditionally salt is measured by volume but as salt crystals can vary the volume measured, we like to weigh the salt. Calculations above

Direct Salting

As you do when making sauerkraut

2 tsp (12 grams or 0.375 ounce or 3/8 ounce) per pound of vegetable

 Signs of an Active Ferment

Bubbles will begin to form in the fermenting vessel and the colors of the vegetables will begin to fade. Bright greens will fade to an olive green. After a few days, taste the product and see if it is sour enough for you. Continue tasting every day or two, keeping the weight clean when you remove it from the jar.

 More information about salt:



Food Safety-Botulism

Linda Harris, Cooperative Extension Specialist in Microbial Food Safety (http://ucfoodsafety.ucdavis.edu/?facultyid=929) addressed various questions about botulism recently.     

Botulism  (Clostridium botulinum ) Q & A. 

Are these statements correct?  

1. Botulism bacteria die at boiling.
2. Botulism spores die at 250 F.
3. Botulisum toxin that is the cause of the disease dies at 185 F (below boiling) or boiling for 10min.

Read more

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From the Helpline

Ever wonder what questions other Food Preservers ask?  Here are answers to commonly asked questions....

Page Last Updated: April 13, 2015

If you can't find the answer on the site, don’t despair!  We also have the capacity to assist you through our helpline.  Just contact us by email and we will respond to your inquiry.

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