Cleaning and Sanitizing Your Fermenting Tools

Part of the Fermenting For Dummies Cheat Sheet

When fermenting, having a clean work space and tools ensures that your good bacteria outnumber the bad. Cleaning your work area and equipment is essential to for creating a delicious final product. Here are some general steps you should follow when preparing to ferment food:

  1. Wash all containers, utensils, and weights that you’re going to use in a dishwasher or by hand with hot, soapy water just before use.

  2. Sanitize or sterilize equipment and containers, as called for in the recipe you're following.

  3. Rinse items in cool, clean water. (Sterilized items don’t need rinsing.)

  4. Air dry items or dry them with paper towels; use a fresh paper towel for each item.

  5. Store items on clean paper towels on clean countertops or tables until you use them.

  6. Remove pets and small children from the room before you begin to work.

  7. Before beginning to work with food, tie back your hair if it’s long, and scrub your hands, including under your fingernails.

Don’t use dishcloths or rags to dry the cleaned items. Cloth is notorious for holding huge quantities of harmful microbes, and you spread those from item to item as you wipe them. Instead, use a clean paper towel for each item if you need to dry them. Aprons made of cloth also spread bacteria, especially if you wipe your hands on them, so keep paper towels close by for wiping your hands.

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