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Fermenting vegetables is a simple process, once you get the hang of it, and it does not require a lot of specialized equipment. However, there are some tools that make preparation and fermentation even easier.
A good quality knife or food processor for preparing vegetables is key. Vegetables can be sliced, chopped, grated, or left whole. A Cabbage Crusher or other pounding tool is handy for making sauerkraut and other vegetables that will ferment in their own juices.
There is no shortage of options when it comes to choosing a container for fermenting your vegetables, fruits, or condiments. Fermenting vessels range from wide-mouth glass jars to ceramic crocks.
Glass is a good option for fermenting vegetables. Glass doesn’t scratch easily, nor does it contain chemicals such as BPA. Glass containers such as canning jars are relatively easy and inexpensive to obtain. Our Fermented Vegetable Master Kits are made of glass and come in half-gallon and gallon sizes.
Although technically plastic can be used for fermentation, we do not recommend it for several reasons. First, plastic can be damaged, and scratches in the plastic can harbor foreign bacteria. Second, plastic (even food-grade plastic) often contains undesirable chemicals that can affect the vegetables.
Ceramic fermentation crocks are fairly common and are a good choice for making large batches of fermented vegetables. The German Fermenting Crock ranges from 5-20 liters in size and comes complete with stone weights and lid.
Food-grade porcelain is generally safe for fermenting vegetables. Avoid porcelain pieces such as vases or decorative pottery that are not food grade.
Using cloth covers, tight lids, or lids with airlocks is a matter of personal preference.
For smaller jars, a paper coffee filter secured with a tight rubber band or canning lid ring works well to keep pests out and allow fermentation gases to escape. For small or large containers, a tight-weave dish towel or butter muslin, secured with a rubber band is sufficient.
One advantage of using a cloth cover is that it is easy to peek in or sneak a taste of the fermenting vegetables at any point. The disadvantage is that mold or kahm yeast forms more often on the surface of the vegetables. This surface formation is usually harmless and can be removed and discarded. Learn more about kahm yeast and how it can affect fermenting vegetables.
Using a canning jar or other glass jar with its lid tightly closed is another option when fermenting vegetables.
The advantage to using a tightly-sealed lid is that exposure to oxygen is reduced, so the chance of mold or kahm yeast forming on the surface is reduced. A disadvantage is that the jar requires more attention. When using a tight lid, burp the jar daily to release excess pressure and avoid overflow or explosions.
Using a jar with an airlock in the lid is a popular option for fermenting vegetables, and many designs are available.
For use with wide-mouth canning jars, the Perfect Pickler is a great choice! Wide-mouth canning jars come in a range of sizes, from half-pint to half-gallon.
Fermenting vegetables with an airlock lid greatly reduces the chance of mold or kahm yeast formation, no burping required!
Even when using a lid with airlock, keeping the vegetables submerged under the brine during fermentation is important. Use objects such as ceramic fermentation weights, glass jars, plastic bags filled with water, or any other object that is clean and free of glues or other chemical coating. Or read our list of ideas on how to keep vegetables submerged during fermentation.
So many options! Which method will you choose?