Asked August 11, 2020, 8:19 AM EDT

Hello, just learning about fermenting veggies. I need filtered water! Living here in Union, if I leave a container of water sitting out will the chlorine evaporate? Also, is it safe to just crumple up some wax paper and put in top of my jars to hold my veggies into the brine and keep them covered? I know that there are glass weights for fermenting jars but would rather not go to the expense if I don't have to. Thanks!

Boone County Kentucky

1 Response

Yes, leaving water out for 24 hours will allow chlorine to dissipate. However, there may be other additives in the city water that you may not want. You can buy spring water at the store that will work for you.

As for keeping items submerged -- I would not recommend wax paper. It will ultimately absorb the liquid and not hold the product under the brine. Parchment paper would be a better choice.

You can consider other items you might have. I don't know how bit your fermenting container might be or what product(s) you are fermenting. If a jar, look for a jar that is smaller that will fit into the mouth of the jar you are fermenting in. Then, you can weight that smaller jar with plain water or some type of weights that won't touch the foods. If you are doing something like sauerkraut -- or any vegetable where cabbage won't affect the ultimate flavor of the food, take a couple of leaves of cabbage and lay across the top of the fermenting veggies, then place the weight on top of those. That way, the cabbage serves as your cover to keep the fermenting foods under the brine.

You can also fill a resealable freezer bag with or brine and place it on top of the veggies (that way if the bag leaks you'll be adding brine not just plain water). A saucer or a plate will work for larger containers. Anything that won't react with the food being fermented.

Cleanliness is a key to successful fermenting -- hands, equipment, supplies. Another key is to use the appropriate percentages of salt for the brine based on the weight of the ingredients. It is best to go by weight, not by measure when fermenting.
Information for the National Center for Home Food Preservation:

Suitable Containers, Covers and Weights for Fermenting Food

A 1-gallon container is needed for each 5 pounds of fresh vegetables. Therefore, a 5-gallon stone crock is of ideal size for fermenting about 25 pounds of fresh cabbage or cucumbers. Food-grade plastic and glass containers are excellent substitutes for stone crocks. Other 1- to 3-gallon non-food-grade plastic containers may be used if lined inside with a clean food-grade plastic bag. Caution: Be certain that foods contact only food-grade plastics. Do not use garbage bags or trash liners. Fermenting sauerkraut in quart and half-gallon Mason jars is an acceptable practice, but may result in more spoilage losses.

Cabbage and cucumbers must be kept 1 to 2 inches under brine while fermenting. After adding prepared vegetables and brine, insert a suitably sized dinner plate or glass pie plate inside the fermentation container. The plate must be slightly smaller than the container opening, yet large enough to cover most of the shredded cabbage or cucumbers. To keep the plate under the brine, weight it down with 2 to 3 sealed quart jars filled with water. Covering the container opening with a clean, heavy bath towel helps to prevent contamination from insects and molds while the vegetables are fermenting. Fine quality fermented vegetables are also obtained when the plate is weighted down with a very large clean, plastic bag filled with 3 quarts of water containing 4-1/2 tablespoons of salt. Be sure to seal the plastic bag. Freezer bags sold for packaging turkeys are suitable for use with 5-gallon containers.

The fermentation container, plate, and jars must be washed in hot sudsy water, and rinsed well with very hot water before use.

A couple of resource links from North Carolina Extension:

Hope this helps. If not, you can always call our office - 859-586-6101. We are here Monday - Friday from 8 - 4:30.