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Q+A: All About the Airlock - FarmSteady

Q+A: All About the Airlock

There are lots of lacto-fermentation set-ups, but we prefer to keep it as low maintenance as possible. That’s why we use airlocks: they keep the fermentation process super simple and mostly hands-off, so you never have to worry about your project while it ferments.

We get lots of questions about the airlock, so we wanted to break down this awesome tool to help you troubleshoot in your own kitchen:

What is the airlock?

Our airlocks are made of 3 pieces: the cap, inner dome, and main chamber. To assemble, just remove the cap (which may be a little tight the first time you take it off), fill the chamber about two-thirds of the way with water (tap is fine!), place the dome inside the chamber and cap it. Now, push your assembled airlock firmly into the grommet on the jar lid. You’re ready to ferment!

What does it do?

When you’re making kimchi, pickles, kraut or anything else, gases and bubbles are created during fermentation. Those bubbles need to be released when you’re fermenting in a closed container, which is why you might’ve heard of “burping” your jars to let the bubbles escape. We think that’s kind of gross, and we’re really not interested in babysitting our jars that way.

The airlock lets all those bubbles out without letting anything else get inside your fermentation jar. That means you can set your jar aside and not worry about it during fermentation.

What if something gets into your airlock?

If a day or two into fermentation you notice the liquid in your airlock is cloudy, don’t worry! It just means your fermentation was super active and pushed some of the brine into the airlock chamber. To fix it, just remove the airlock from the lid, rinse out the chamber, refill with clean water, reassemble and pop it back on your lid. On the opposite end of the spectrum, sometimes the water level in your airlock can get really low (this can happen in the summer when there’s a lot of evaporation). Just take it off, top with water, and pop it back on.

Previous article Lacto-Fermentation: A Guide to Making Fermented Foods

Comments

FarmSteady - December 7, 2023

If you forgot to put water in your airlock for one day, you should be totally fine. No need to worry. And your pickles getting cloudy is absolutely normal. So your ferment sounds perfect. And no need for the airlock when moving to the fridge.

FarmSteady - December 7, 2023

@Trish When moving your pickles to the fridge, you’ll no longer need the airlock. So you can absolutely move them into any old jar at that point.

FarmSteady - December 7, 2023

@Julie If your airlock fills with brine, it’s nothing to worry about, but it may indicate your jar is just a little too full. Try filling it up a little less next time, and you shouldn’t have that problem.

FarmSteady - December 7, 2023

@Robert Kolberg You’re exactly right. The airlock won’t totally seal your fermenting jar. It will just create a barrier so that gas can still escape while preventing anything from getting in.

FarmSteady - December 7, 2023

@Michael Murgo Brine can sometimes escape a little bit from your airlock/grommet if the level of brine/ferment is particularly high. If possible, try to fill your fermenter just a little bit less to that there’s more space between the bottom of your airlock and the top of the surface of your ferment.

FarmSteady - December 7, 2023

The most important thing is to use enough brine to cover your jalapeños (or whatever you’re happening to ferment). The total volume of brine isn’t as important as the fact that it’s covered and protected from the air.

Barb Sieps - December 7, 2023

I’m making a hot sauce and only 3 cups of brine fits – is it better to remove some of the jalapeños etc in order for the entire amount of brine to fit or is 3 cups enough?
Thanks!

Michael Murgo - December 7, 2023

My kit is leaking from the airlock, why? The airlock is 3/4 full, but everyday I come home to more fluid (brine) on the jar top, and sometimes run over the jar sides.

C Moss - December 7, 2023

Airlock. If I fill lock up, put in some, and snap cap back on, won’t that seal the fermentation jar assembly and let gas & pressure build up? The airlock should relieve pressure in the jar, but if the airlock is capped, there’s no outlet.

Thank you!

Trish - December 7, 2023

When you place your pickles in the refrigerator , do you keep the Airlock on it?
T

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