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There are various lacto-fermentated sauce or pickle recipes making use of a salty brine. And depending on the food item that's going to be fermented and also depending on the sense of taste of the recipe developer, the salt-to-water ratio (salinity) in such recipes varies quite a lot.

What I'm wondering is, what is the maximum amount of salt you can have in a brine; so that you can still have the lactic acid bacteria develop. Where's the cut-off point (in terms of salinity) that stops the fermentation?

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Fermented Fruits and Vegetables: A Global Perspective appears to be a good document. This chapter contains some information that will be helpful for you. In section 5.6.3, it states:

At the highest concentrations of salt (about 60o salometer) the lactic fermentation ceases to function and if any acid is detected during brine storage it is acetic acid, presumably produced by acid-forming yeasts which are still active at this concentration of salt (Vaughn, 1985).

So, 60 degree salinity halts lactic fermentation. That's about 16% salt.

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  • How would 60% be determined? I was looking up salinity & other than as a weight percentage age [max 28 ish] it's not mentioned as a 'measuring scale' - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saline_water
    – unlisted
    Jul 15 '20 at 11:34
  • I think 60 degree doesn't directly translate to 60% salt. I guess fully saturated brine is around 26.4% salt (by weight). It looks like 60 degree SAL would mean; something like 15.84% salt by weight.
    – zetaprime
    Jul 15 '20 at 11:57
  • sorry...corrected
    – moscafj
    Jul 15 '20 at 12:06
  • Sorry, but now I'm even more confused - the linked table is for converting angles. I know that "degrees alcohol" converts at a simple 2:1 into % but salinity, I'm no wiser ;)
    – unlisted
    Jul 15 '20 at 13:17
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    @Tetsujin yea, found that one too. Just copied the wrong link. All should be right now. Thanks for sticking with it.
    – moscafj
    Jul 15 '20 at 14:38

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