Sanitation and Sterilization
Sanitation is when you clean something really well. It removes the surface bacteria and fungus, but not everything. Sanitation is usually good enough for short term ferments like pickles, sauerkraut or yogurt.
Sterilization is when every single bacteria, virus or fungus is killed. It is necessary for making things like hard cheese, beer and wine. I also sterilize for other long ferments, like my Grandma’s pickles or apple cider vinegar.
- Pull your hair back.
- Wash your hands and sing “baa baa black sheep” under running water, before touching anything to do with food preparation.
- Wipe down your counters with a sanitization solution, especially if you use a few different types of culture in your kitchen.
- Sanitize all of your equipment, before (and preferably also after) use.
Methods of Sanitizing
There are several different ways of sanitizing equipment. I usually fill up one of my sinks with a commercial sanitizer and keep all my equipment stored there while I’m cooking.
- Boiling: Fill a large pot up with water and bring it to a boil. Boil all of your glass and metal implements for 5 minutes. Alternatively, if you’re just making a single jar of pickles, then fill the jar with boiling water and leave it for five minutes. *This won’t work for plastic and wooden items.*
- Bleach: Dip all items in a solution of 2 tbsp of bleach per gallon of water. Rinse items well prior to use. Bleach can also be used for spraying down surfaces.
- Commercial Sanitizers: There are many different types of commercial sanitizers available. I have used pink chlorine sanitizer powder and iodophor sanitizer (affiliate links) and both work equally well. Just follow the instructions on the package and rinse well prior to use because sanitizer will also kill the good bacteria that you want to ferment.