One of the first questions that fermenting newbies have is, “Which fermenting method is the best?” When you first start fermenting you may feel overwhelmed by the options that are available.
This article will discuss the pros and cons of the most common ways of fermenting. We will compare these methods:
- Fermentation crock
- Fermentation jar with airlock device
- Pickle Pipe
Regardless of the method that you choose – crock, jar or Pickle Pipe – the most important tip that you need to remember is to keep the food submerged under the salty brine. This keeps your fermented food safe and ensures that it ferments properly. You can submerge the food using some of these methods:
- Weck glass weight.
- Large cabbage leaf (particularly for sauerkraut).
- Heavy ceramic weights.
- A small Mason glass jar or bowl.
- A clean rock or lead-free glass marbles.
Just like there are differences in how people keep their food submerged under the brine, there are also differences in the fermenting method that best suits their needs.The best method will depend on your budget, the amount of time that you have available to maintain your fermentation and the amount of space that you have available.
A fermentation crock is a stoneware pot that is either water sealed or open. A water sealed crock has a gutter in the lid that gets filled with water. This creates a ‘moat’ which seals out oxygen. Large stoneware weights keep your food submerged under the brine.
The advantage of the water sealed method is that it is highly effective and generally fool-proof. You will rarely have issues with mould and you can ‘set it and forget it’. It’s perfect for large batches of fermented food such as sauerkraut or kimchi.
The disadvantage of this method is that water sealed crocks are expensive. This makes it cost prohibitive when you want to ferment a number of different fruit and vegetables at once. A water sealed crock is heavy and takes up more room than glass jars.
Open crocks are less expensive than water sealed crocks, although you will need to purchase the weights and lid separately. The wide mouth makes it easy to clean. The disadvantage of this method is that it is exposed to air and surface Kahm yeast may develop. This method will take a little bit of work as it is advisable to skim off the Kahm yeast every few days.
Glass fermentation jars
Two of the most popular brands of glass fermentation jars are Mason and Weck.
Mason jars are inexpensive and come in a range of different sizes including 950 ml and two litres. Mason jars are ideal for fermenting a number of different fruits and vegetables at once. Even a two litre glass jar will not take up much space on your kitchen counter or in your pantry.
Weck glass jars are made in Germany of high-quality, thick glass. The stainless steel clips and rubber seal form an effective seal, guarding against oxygen entering the jar. Weck jars are available in a range of sizes and are more expensive than Mason jars.
Whether you choose a Mason or Weck glass fermenting jar, both styles will usually come with an airlock device. An airlock device keeps oxygen and harmful gases out of your fermentation. This method will require a small amount of work as you will need to refill the airlock with water when it evaporates.
The Pickle Pipe is a silicone fermentation lid which is easy to use and cost effective. Designed to keep oxygen out of your glass jar, it features a low profile lid with a small slit that releases the gases and oxygen. As the air bubbles form, the silicone slit slowly releases the bubbles. The Pickle Pipe lid is designed to be used with a Mason jar.
The benefit of the Pickle Pipe is that you can store your fermented food in a pantry with small shelves. The low profile lid takes up less space than an airlock device. Occasionally, you will need to ‘burp’ the fermented food to release any build up of oxygen and gases.
Check out our range of Mason and Weck fermentation jars. The Pickle Pipe lid is coming soon!