Vegan Lactic Acid Fermentation Starter Culture Experiment

So, I really dig lacto-fermenting food, but sometimes it makes me feel better if I have a starter culture to get things bubbling quickly. You can use whey drained from yogurt or whatnot, but then it’s not vegan, and really, even though I’m not vegan, I don’t always want to have dairy in with my veggies, and I do like to be able to feed my friends who *are* vegan.

You can buy starter cultures, but everywhere I’ve looked for them, they seem to be fairly expensive. Spending lots of money on commercial starter cultures doesn’t really work for me for a number of reasons. It clashes with my DIY ethic, not to mention my level of income, which is currently ZERO. So, I decided to look around and see if I could find some recipes or at least advice on the internet about how to grow my own vegan starter culture.

To my surprise, I couldn’t find much of anything! I *did* find a really good technical overview, I think produced by the USDA, on lacto-fermentation, and from that I gleaned that lactic acid bacteria like to eat glucose and sucrose best. I decided to start a little experiment.

I filled a quart-size Ball Mason jar with filtered water nearly to the top, which turned out to be 770 g of water. Multiplying that by 1.06 to make a somewhat less concentrated solution than 6% comes to 816 grams. So, after a little more calculation, I decided to add to this water 50 g of kosher salt and 50 g of table sugar (sucrose), since I don’t keep glucose around the house, and I’m not going hunting for it. This leaves me with 880 g of 5.7% sucrose, 5.7% sodium chloride solution that should offer a good environment for growing a 100% vegan, flavorless lactic acid fermentation culture.

The only worry I have is that my jar, sugar, and salt might actually be *too clean* for the culture to start growing anytime soon, but we’ll see.

Does anyone else have any good ideas for growing your own vegan lactic acid fermentation starter culture?

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