Lacto-fermented foods can take days or weeks to reach desirable flavor. Taste your creations as they ferment to see how flavors evolve. Foods ferment most quickly at room temperature, but the process continues (albeit more slowly) even under refrigeration.
Some produce (such as cabbage) will create its own brine when salted and left to ferment. Others with less water will need to be submerged in a brine to prevent spoilage. A version of each method is given here.
Air locks are typically three-piece plastic stoppers that get partially filled with water. They allow carbon dioxide to escape the fermentation vessel while keeping oxygen out. In a pinch, cheesecloth can also be used.
For more information on lacto-fermentation, consult:
• Mary Karlin's website, masteringfermentation.com and her book "Mastering Fermentation"; Ten Speed Press, $29.99
• "The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking With Pickles, Preserves, and Aigre-doux," by Paul Virant and Kate Leahy, Ten Speed Press, $29.99
• "The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes From Around the World," by Sandor Katz, Chelsea Green Publishing, $39.95; plus his website where he liberally shares information wildfermentation.com.
-- Heather Lalley, Special to Tribune Newspapers