Since I have officially become a fermenter, my shopping list has changed to include what I call my ‘fermenting essentials’. That’s not to say that my list was ever a ‘white bread and 2% cow’s milk’, Standard American Diet list. But now my fermenting essentials are regulars on my shopping list. Anyone who is unfamiliar with fermented food and beverages might find my essential ingredients list unusual.
For both beginners and seasoned fermenters who want to get another perspective on what I consider fermenting essentials, here is my ‘fermenting’ list that always seems to have the following:
• organic ginger root
• whole milk, organic yogurt
• some kind of organic sweetener if I have run low (either granulated, liquid or solid)
I use the ginger for making the most outrageously delicious homemade ginger ale. The process requires a ‘ginger bug’. A concoction made from grated ginger, sugar and water. It is supposed to be fed daily (I forget all the time). It ferments and is a ginger ale ‘essential’ starter. A ‘ginger wort’ is also necessary in the ginger ale making process. That requires more ginger. So I like to keep an ample supply on hand.
Fresh squeezed lemon juice is also indispensable for so many of the fermented recipes I make. Ginger ale requires it, lacto-fermented cranberry relish needs it and so does lacto-fermented lemonade.
The whole milk, organic yogurt is used to make whey for the lacto-fermented recipes. I usually keep a sizable amount of sugar varieties. But if I run low on one of them, it goes on the list too. So there you have it, my main fermenting essential ingredients.
‘But wait a minute’, you may be thinking.’I just read a lot of ingredients that might also require special utensils’. You are absolutely right. So my list of essential utensils follows.
I would like to mention the utensils that have become indispensable, too:
• a metal ginger grater
• two kinds of lemon juice ‘squeezers’
• round metal strainers of various sizes
• cheesecloth or a gallon size paint strainer
• plastic measuring spoons (keep metal away from fermenting agents such as SCOBY and kefir crystals)
• an array of measuring cups (buy American like Pyrex or Anchor Hocking to make sure there is no lead in the glass)
• wooden spoons
• large rubber mixing spoons
• a liquid thermometer
• a water purefier
• a blender
• various sizes of pots and pans
• round glass containers like cookie jars with lids (buy American made to guarantee that there is no lead in the glass)
• round glass dispensers with spigots (same here)
• a sharp knife
• glass mixing bowls of various sizes
• plenty of glass storage jars of various sizes (I like ‘Fido’ jars. Fido is both a style and a brand name.)
I am not going to go into any detail about sweeteners now because that requires it own blog post. I use between 4 types of granulated sugar, two or three liquids and about three or four solids. I want to leave plenty of time and room to discuss them in a way that will be most helpful and thorough.
This list of utensils may seem overwhelming at first. Much of it you will probably already own. What you don’t have, fill in as you can. Fermenting is meant to be fun, relaxing and satisfying. So don’t get stressed out about what you don’t have. You can most likely improvise until you do. There are also many discount stores and online sources for these items. So you can enjoy this without breaking the bank. In fact, the benefits far outweigh the effort.
In future posts, I will discuss fermenting processes, recipes and other details of this wonderful ‘whey’ of life.