What is the best salt to water ratio for fermenting?
Use the Brine Calculator to determine the accurate salt to water ratio and make a perfect brine for fermenting vegetables.
The calculator enables you to accurately make a brine solution using the correct proportions of salt and water. This is important as different vegetables require different brine percentage levels. When converting between different units of measurement a simple calculation can get complicated. Calculator makes this easy and you have peace of mind that you are using the right salt solution.
To use the brine calculator simply:
- select the percentage of brine you wish to use
- select your preferred water unit measurement (cups, quarts, gallons or liters)
- enter the amount of brine to make (Water Value)
- select your preferred salt unit measurement (grams, ounces or pounds).
Based on your input, the calculator will display the required amount of salt.
The percentage of brine refers to the percentage of salt in solution. Most vegetables are fermented at around 2.5%-5% as per the graphic below. Some vegetables like olives are fermented at 10%.
The water value refers to the amount of brine you want to make. For example, if you are using one-quart jar you will make less than a quart of brine as you already have vegetables in the jar.
Remember that all salt weighs differently and is difficult to measure by volume. So if you don’t get the desired result, you will have to experiment until you settle on something you like.
If you are looking for a rule of thumb, then for vegetable ferments you need 1-3 tablespoons of salt per quart of water.
Brine percentage chart for fermenting
You can refer to your recipe to find out brine percentage needed or simply use my chart below. If what you are fermenting is not on the chart, just leave a comment and I’ll help you calculate your brine.
|broccoli||2% – 2.5%|
|celery||1% – 2%|
|cucumber||3.5% – 5%|
Why is salt important in fermentation?
Salt is a key ingredient in fermentation. The amount of salt you add to the ferment can make a big difference to the taste of the final product.
The purpose of using salt in fermenting is to keep away the unwanted bacteria, make vegetables crunchy and crisp, add flavor and preserve the vitamins.
You have probably noticed that similar fermentation recipes recommend using different amounts of salt. Reasons for this are personal preferences, other ingredients used in the recipe and the way the salt is added to the ferment.
How to add salt to a vegetable ferment?
There are two ways to add salt to a vegetable ferment. You can add salt directly to shredded or chopped vegetables such as beets or cabbage. Or you can make a brine by dissolving salt in the water and then submerging the vegetables in the brine.
What is brine?
Brine is dissolved salt in water. You need to make a brine when fermenting vegetables such as onions, olives, or horseradish (see the Brine percentage chart above for a more detailed list including the required brine level).
Use filtered water to make your brine and get nutritious pickled and fermented vegetables. If you use tap water it will likely contain chlorine which kills the probiotic lactobacillus bacteria required for fermenting.
To avoid interference with the fermentation process, don’t use salt that contains additives like iodine, sugar or anti-caking agents. My recommendation is to use unprocessed salt as its purity and high mineral concentration ensures a healthy fermentation environment. My favorite is Himalayan pink salt. Its salmon hue comes from trace amounts of rust and is extracted from deep in the Himalayan Mountains.
How to keep vegetables submerged?
Keeping vegetables submerged below the brine is essential to achieve desired taste for your pickled or fermented vegetables. If you have limited equipment and are new to fermenting, you can simply place a ceramic plate that fits well inside the vessel then place a clean rock on top.
The other option is to purchase fermentation weights. The best fermentation weights are those made of glass or ceramic as they eliminate the risk of mold, are reusable and easy to clean.