February 2019 Mastery Challenge Round-up

The second month of the 2019 Mastery Challenge is over, and what a month it was! This time around, 240 people reported in about more than 500 completed fermentation projects.

One of the cool things about having a really broad topic is that so many people make more than one thing in their excitement to really explore the possibilities. Fermentation is such a deep area that I’m really happy that so many of you didn’t settle for just a single recipe.

At the start of the month, feelings were very mixed about fermentation. While there were a number of folks who felt very positively about the practice, there were nearly as many who had never tried it or were unsure.

I find this second chart really satisfying. At the end of the month, the vast majority of you who participated felt really positive about fermentation. Here’s hoping that some of the recipes and techniques you guys tried this month become part of your regular food preservation practice.

You all made so much stuff this month, but here are some of the most popular recipes. There were 110 batches of sauerkraut. More than 80 sourdough starters were created and transformed. On the yogurt front, there were 55 reported batches.

Kimchi clocked in at 37 batches and there were 31 of you who made kombucha. There were 20 batches of fermented garlic and the same number of brined hot sauce (though I hear that not all were as successful as desired).

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Kimchi is done and on point 👌#fijchallenge

A post shared by Melinda (@gibbymel) on

Eighteen new ginger bugs came to life in February, along with 12 crocks of apple cider vinegar, 7 jars of kefir, 6 batches of cheese (some dairy and some made from nuts), 5 kinds of curtido, and 4 bottles of beet kvass. It was a busy month all around!

Here’s what some of you had to say about this month’s challenge!

I’ve always wanted to make Curtido for an easy side on taco night. Adds the perfect tangy crunch. It inspired me to take on more fermentation projects as I used to do. Thanks for setting this up!

Sarah Hefner, New York

I almost didn’t do this challenge since fermentation was way out of my comfort zone. I had a hard time thinking about leaving something on my counter for days on end and then eventually eating it. I made my husband taste the sauerkraut first since I was afraid of it, LOL! Once I realized how good it was, I was planning the many other things I wanted to ferment once my counter was cleared of the others I’d started. I made a sourdough starter too and thought that would be the easy one, but it gave me the most trouble. I finally got it going and used the discard and the stater to bake several things. After seeing all the yogurt posts,

I decided to give that a try to and while it turned out more runny than I’d like, it was so good and pretty easy! I now follow other fermentation sites on Instagram so I will definitely continue fermenting things from here on out. Thank you for pushing me out of my comfort zone!

Jamie Bradfield, Maryland

Fermenting is the food preparation technique that feels most like magic to me. Set it up, and just wait until it transforms into something wonderful. Feels like making something out of nothing

Nicole Van Gaalen, Calgary

To see more of what your fellow Mastery Challenge participants made this month, make sure to check out the #fijchallenge feed on Instagram and join the Food in Jars Community group on Facebook!

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7 responses to “February 2019 Mastery Challenge Round-up”

  1. I made hot sauce but I’m having trouble finding small bottles with lug caps that can be used with a water bath. Tried Fillmore with no success. Any suggestions?

  2. Me again. My hot sauce was a mixture of jalepeños, Serrano’s and bell peppers. Made it exactly according to your recipe, but it is incredibly salty and not hot at all. What happened?

    • You could try to let it go longer. Though, sometimes peppers are treated with a bleach solution that kills all their good bacteria and they end up not fermenting at all. Did it ever bubble or get tangy?

    • The fact that it never bubbled or got at all tangy leads me to believe that the peppers you used were heavily treated and so had none of the necessary bacteria left. I would suggest trying again, perhaps with peppers from a more local source.

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