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Fermenting Food During Cold Weather

by Amber Fairweather |


Some foods and drinks ferment fine under cooler temperatures, while others slow down and just about go dormant. ( For tips on how to heat your ferments up, scroll to the bottom)

In most cases, cold weather is always a huge problem to ferment food. However, this problem can easily be overcome by placing the ferments close to a heat source- hot water cupboard, fireplace, stove, heater, on top of your fridge etc. This allows the bacteria to properly multiply so they can get to work.

Embracing Slow Ferments and Cold Weather

Lacto-fermented vegetables and sauerkraut benefit from a prolonged fermentation process. This allows for the sequence of particular types of bacteria to inhabit and multiple. Did you know usually there are pioneering bateria that begin the ferment? Only once this bacteria has done their hard work, can the subsequent bacteria begin multiplying and thriving.

When you keep such foods in cold parts of the house or in cold climates, your autumn vegetables will be preserved even during the winter months.

Don’t forget that before the advent of refrigeration, the original way of preserving food during winter was through lacto fermentation. Think about it, how did settlers and pioneer families make sauerkraut?

Many fermentation processes would have been going on slowly as the winter months progressed until the arrival of spring.

Slower, cooler, and longer fermentation processes let more flavors enter into your home ferments and yield ferments with a wider diversity of bacteria. At the same time, it also makes the food stay fresh for more extended periods.

Due to how fast paced our society is today, the expectation is to always have home fermented foods as fast as possible.

The most nuanced and complex flavors take place if vegetables are fermented at lower temperatures. This is why it is recommended to ferment sauerkraut in a ceramic fermentation pot to maintain a stable environment with less temperature swings over long periods of time.  

By increasing the temperature to about 21o to 26o celcius, your foods can be ready within 2 to 4 weeks. This is an alternative to waiting several months.

You can use this as a way to exercise your patience. At the end of the day, you’re sure the end product will taste way better than hurriedly made ferments.


Temperature and duration guide for fermenting sauerkraut:

  • 16 degree Celsius- 6-8 weeks ferment
  • 21-24 degree Celsius – 2 weeks
  • 32 degrees Celsius- 1 week.

Tips for warming your ferments up

Placing them in the hot water cupboard

Placing them high up on a shelf in a warm part of your house

Placing them on the fridge or above the oven

Using a slow cooker with adjustable temperatures

Using your oven light

Insulating your ferment in a small chillie bin with warm water or a heated towel

Using a thermos

Wrapping your ferment with a hot wheat bag or hot towel

Placing your ferment on a heat pad or using a heat belt


Using different methods? We'd love to hear what you do to create the perfect ferment.