Wondering if vinegar will stop fermentation? The answer isn’t a strict “no”. Here’s a guide to adding vinegar to your ferments.
One of the biggest differences between traditional pickling and fermentation is the use of vinegar.
–> In traditional pickling, vinegar is added to the vegetables to prevent contamination by molds, bacteria, and yeasts.
–> In fermentation, the acidity comes from the conversion of sugar into acids by Lactic Acid Bacteria.
So, does vinegar stop fermentation?
The answer isn’t entirely straightforward…
Vinegar does stop fermentation, but only if in concentrations that are high enough to prevent bacterial growth. This is the case with traditionally canned pickles, salsas, and chutneys.
However, just adding a little bit of vinegar to fermented vegetables won’t be sufficient to stop fermentation.
Why would you want to add vinegar to a ferment?
There are few circumstances when adding vinegar to a ferment is actually helpful.
1. For Added Flavor
Sometimes I add vinegar to a ferment for the flavor. Ferments usually end up at a pH of 4.5 to 3.5. Adding a few tablespoons of vinegar gives an added tanginess.
I particularly like adding vinegar to fermented beets. It really helps to balance the earthy sweetness of the beets.
2. To Speed Up The Ferment
Certain lactic bacteria are acid-loving. For example, sauerkraut starts out with a ton of different bacterial cultures, but by day 5, the acid-loving lactic bacteria have taken over.
By adding a bit of vinegar to a ferment, it creates an environment that is ideal for acid-loving bacteria, thus speeding up fermentation time. While fast fermentation isn’t always the goal, it can be helpful in preventing unwanted contamination in a ferment that is going to be stored for a long period of time.
My favorite fermented cucumber pickle recipe uses a little bit of added vinegar to ensure a good, fast ferment.
3. Culture for a Ferment
Cultured (raw) vinegar is perfect as a starter for ferments. Here are a few reasons to consider using vinegar culture:
–> Fruit ferments: Salty-fruit is unusual. Using vinegar allows you to make sweet (or at least not salty) fermented fruit.
Not all vinegar will work as a starter. Here are a few options: