Many different kinds of vessels may be used for fermenting vegetables, and everyone has a favorite. One vessel that is very popular is the old-school crock. These crocks are beautiful, helpful, and usually very expensive. Some varieties even come with a heavy weight that will keep the vegetables under the brine.
Another 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. While these glass jars are great for fermenting, it can be tricky to keep the vegetables submerged under the brine.
Use a fermenting vessel with a mouth wide enough to allow a weight to be inserted easily. With a convenient opening, you can choose a variety of methods of submerging or weighting the vegetables inside the vessel.
- A cabbage leaf or other large firm piece of vegetable. Tuck a cabbage leaf over the top of the prepared vegetables. Often this leaf alone will be enough to keep the vegetables in place under the brine. Another option is to make thin wide strips from zucchini or carrot and place these over the vegetables as a mat.
- A small ceramic or glass dish. Condiment dishes or small dessert ramekins may work.
- A small dish plus an additional weight. Another option is to take the small dish and add it to the vegetables and brine in the wide-mouth jar. Then place a very clean heavy object like a rock on top of the dish.
- Glass stones. Glass stones of the type that are used in floral arrangements or aquariums to rest on top of the vegetables. These come in sizes from about the size of a dime to about 2 inches in diameter. The larger ones are easier to work with. Make sure the stones you use are clear glass, and food-grade. Stones with an iridescence to them are not food grade.
- Ceramic Fermentation Weight. These weights are designed for fermenting, so are made of safe materials. Check the size of the fermenting jar and the diameter of the weight to make sure they will fit.
- Ferment in a large bowl then move to a jar. If none of the above options is available, ferment in a large bowl, and use a plate to press down the top of the vegetables. Add weight to the top of the plate to keep the vegetables submerged. Once the vegetables are fermented, transfer them and their brine to storage jars, still attempting to keep the brine over the veggies.
No matter what object you use as fermentation weight, make sure it is clean and appropriate for contact with food. If any vegetables slip away from underneath the weights, simply discard them after the fermentation process is complete. Anything underneath the brine should be fine.