How to Keep Your Fermented Vegetables Submerged When Fermenting in a Glass Jar
There are a lot of vessels out there that people claim are the best for fermenting vegetables. The ideal vessel allows you to keep your vegetables submerged underneath the ever important brine.
One vessel that comes to mind is the old-school crock. These crocks are beautiful, helpful, and usually very expensive. Some varieties even come with a heavy lid that will keep those veggies under the brine.
The other vessel often used is the affordable and versatile mason or canning jar. These jars can be found easily at hardware stores and big box stores alike; and quite inexpensively I might add. The only problem is that it can be difficult to mimic the submerging abilities of the weighted crock lids.
To solve this problem many people use what are called airlock lids. These are very similar to what is used in the fermentation process for alcoholic beverages like wine. They allow gases to escape the jars while preventing outside air from penetrating the brine.
This helps to create an anaerobic environment while not having to keep your vegetables underneath the brine 100% of the time. While this may eliminate some worry, it can also get very costly. If you’d like to ferment vegetables inexpensively and maintain a high quality end product, then you’re going to want to attempt to weight down your vegetables so that they remain under the brine at all times.
A regular mouth lid. I almost exclusively ferment vegetables in wide-mouthed jars. The first reason is that these are the jars we happen to own. The second reason is because they are much easier to wash due to the wider opening. The final reason, and perhaps the most important, is because the wide mouth allows you to fit a regular mouth lid into the jar to sit on top of the vegetables.
In order to do this properly you will first want to cover your vegetables in brine up to about 1 1/2 inches from the rim. Then take a very clean regular mouth lid with ring and push it gently so that the brine comes up over the top. This acts as a weight to keep your floating vegetables submerged.
A weight + a regular mouth lid. Another option is to take the regular mouth lid, sans ring, and add it to the vegetables and brine in the jar. Then place a very clean heavy object like a rock on top of the lid, making sure it is heavy enough to weight down the lid and keep the vegetables submerged.
A water-filled plastic bag. This is a clever, but fairly unsustainable method of keeping your vegetables submerged. Once your vegetables are covered in brine take a small sealable plastic bag partially into the jar. Fill it with enough water to weight the vegetables down below the brine. Seal it up tight and cover your jar with the wide mouth lid.
Ferment in a large bowl and then move to a jar. If you do your fermentation in a large vessel, like a big mixing bowl, and weight it down with a plate and other clean heavy objects, you can easily keep the vegetables submerged during the crucial beginning fermentation process. Then, once the vegetables are fermented, you can transfer them and their brine to jars, still attempting to keep the brine over the veggies. This way you can still use those mason jars and get that mixing bowl back in the kitchen for other purposes.
So, once again, fermentation proves simple enough for every budget.