How food dehydrator screens will improve your ferment…

I was brainstorming what I could use to keep the cabbage floaties from coming to the top of the surface of the brine. I considered using needlepoint canvas, but it’s not food grade.

Then I found these food-grade screen trays for a dehydrator. Score! Only $5.99 for two of them, I grabbed two packs. I was able to cut a dozen circles out of each set, and here’s how I did it…

First, you’ll want to grab your netting, some scissors, a plastic white mason jar lid (I am sure a metal ring would also work), and a sharpie.

Place the lid on the netting and draw an outline around it (yes, this will mark up your lid, but it’s well worth it (or, use a dry erase marker).

See, now you have a nice circle. Repeat until you have six circles.

Repeat until you have six circles.

Cut along the INSIDE of the circle you made. This is the best size, and plus you don’t want sharpie fumes in your ferment :)

Repeat until you’ve cut them all out.

I am really happy with these “ferment-nets”. They fit nicely in the jar and keep virtually all the cabbage down – and without a weight! I bought some glass weights off ebay, but I am not even sure they are even needed. We’ll see once my cabbage starts swelling and the CO2 gets bubbly.

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Lea Harris founded Nourishing Treasures in 2006. A mom passionate about her family's health and well-being, Lea believes education is power. Encouraging others to take baby steps in the right direction of health for their families, Lea's goal is to raise awareness of what goes into our mouths and on our bodies, providing natural alternative information that promotes health and prevents disease by using traditional foods and nature's medicine.

Lea is a Certified Health Coach graduate from Beyond Organic University, and a Certified Aromatherapist graduate from Aromahead Institute.

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How food dehydrator screens will improve your ferment… — 24 Comments

  1. I have a question. All plastic (even food grade plastic) leaches chemicals under certain situations. Would you not worry about the fermentation process causing one of the many chemicals used to make plastic leach? I am just wondering about this because if it will not, then I think this is a great idea and will have to give it a try.

    • I would love to know the answer to this. I am not sure if the salt and the bacteria would accelerate plastic deterioration, but it’s certainly something to look into.

      If you are concerned, try one of the stainless steel mesh strainers like this one or this one. I have both and they will fit in the mason jar, but they do not go to the edges like the food-grade dehydrator sheets.

      • I also would never put plastics in my ferments. Although there may be issues with the salt and bacteria, the primary reason is the affect of the acidic environment on the petrochemical plastic.

        By the way, I thought stainless steel was antimicrobial, the reason stainless steel strainers are discouraged for kefir.

        • I am not a fan of plastics, but these are food-grade and I am personally comfortable with them for this purpose.

          But it’s a free country (at least it’s supposed to be) so there’s no reason you have to use them if you don’t want to :) I can see how the acidic environment could cause leeching that otherwise wouldn’t be an issue. Right now it’s unknown, although I’m not seeing any plastic remnants under the ‘scope.

          The flat marble weights I was using don’t seem to be helping. They are the ones everyone uses from ebay. I am not too impressed. These screens would have performed the same without them.

          Reactive metals are discouraged for kefir, but stainless isn’t reactive. I don’t believe it is antimicrobial, either. Where did you hear it was?

          Glass would be preferred, as always, but I have been unable to find an affordable one. I don’t want to spend more for the weight than for the jar :)

    • I’ve heard people use leaves to help with the crispness factor. The only drawback to using the outer leaves is if they have black marks on them it could be mold spores and then you could be introducing mold.

      Thanks for your comment!

    • Honestly, they probably aren’t going to keep the heavier things down. I’ve seen how much the pickles like to float. I am seeing a little shifting in the netting now with the sauerkraut, but they are holding up over all. I haven’t experiemented with pickles or other things.

      Let me know what you do!

      • I think this would be perfect with some kind of spacer. ANY spacer … it doesn’t have to be heavy; the lid will force it down. I use condiment cups, the kind you get with a little ketchup or wasabi in it, or one of those plastic K cups for making coffee, or whatever. Or a porcelain one (they sell them at the grocery store). Or the top part of a soda bottle even. Anything that fits that’s about an inch high.

        Personally I don’t worry too much about food-grade plastic. I’m probably in a minority about that, but plastic is basically made from ancient plants that got degraded into oil and then reformulated into plastic … it’s all the same organic materials, and the science is getting better and better to prevent leaching. Safer than stainless steel, I think, which CAN leach nickel, which is known to be toxic.

        • Yes, Jar #5 is set up with a condiment cup inside. I have it on a cabbage leaf, but I think it would work better with netting. The cabbage leaf doesn’t keep the floaties down very well.

  2. my dad told me to use grape leaves to insulate a ferment. yes i have a grape vine. in the same way that a thick cabbage leaf would work. i was also told that the grape leaf would keep the crunch in pickles…that part i can;t confirm..

      • I’ve heard that anything with tannic acid will work, oak leaves, acorns, oak bark, grape leaves, black or green tea, theoretically even something like white cedar or hemlock (eastern hemlock tree, different from poison/water hemlock) bark would work. I’ve only ever tried loose-leaf black tea, it seemed to help. Although that was also my first batch of pickles so I have no frame of reference.

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