If fermenting liquid, containers are simple: a glass jar or bowl is adequate. Or you could use an old-fashioned, safely-glazed crock (read my post here about the dangers of using vintage crocks). A cloth to cover the mouth, a string to secure it and presto! You’re in business.
But when it comes to fermenting vegetables? Using proper containers is half the battle. When it was all said and done, my glass jars won!
My open-surface (unsealed) ferments in a crock, bowl or jar often came down with a fungus or mold. Perhaps some of you are comfortable with that. I was not.
So I attempted to ferment my food in a canning jar with the tin lid and metal band. Strangely enough, pressure built up over the next 4-7 days. Every time I released the lid there was a outward puff of air. My ferments were putting out gas! I discovered something new! Ferments don’t need exposure to the air; everything they need is in the vegetables, salt and juice.
My brain began working. Why would we leave our ferments exposed to the air and the possibility of growing bad bacteria when we can seal them off, significantly reducing the risk?
Yes, the gas must be released daily for 4-7 days. And yes, those who forget have had jars shatter! I’ve experienced more than one bubble-over. Since then I’ve been faithful to break seals daily!
But this method has never failed me in the proper temperatures!
What kind of jars? I use the 2 quart glass canning jars, and while I have used the quarts, they are a wee bit small for our purposes! But they do work just fine!
Wanna know a secret? So long as they are glass and have rubber in the lid, Adam’s peanut butter, old pickle, jam and salsa jars will all work as well! Its the rubber that ensures a good seal.
The 1 gallon glass jars may also be used! Schools may have these for the taking, as well as restaurants and such. They also have rubber built into the tin lid. I have about 8 from my mom. We used them for storing our Holstein’s milk when I was a child. They seemed so big and slippery to my 6 yr old hands! Now they line my pantry shelf! However, before picking up a load of ’em, make certain the lid’s rubber is still intact and makes a seal. Fill them with water and tip upside down to test. You’ll know!
I’ve also been collecting fido jars. The lid (it must have a rubber ring) is attached by a hinge on the back. These are useful for fermenting.
However, for the richest and safest ferments, airlock systems are the way to go! You’ll get the most beneficial bacteria using these, though I’ve yet to use ’em myself due to their cost. There’s three common ones on the market. First, comes the perfectpickler, a wide mouth, air lock, plastic lid (fits wide mouth canning jars which you supply). An all-glass system comes in the form of pickl-it fido glass jar with swing top, airlock glass lid. Fermentools carries a stainless steel, airlock, wide mouth lid and hefty glass weight. You must supply wide mouth canning bands and jars. Note: (not affiliated with any of the above). I’ve heard they do an amazing job of fermenting and keeping mold off!
But what I ultimately hope for one day…what I don’t dare spend the money on just yet…what I hardly dare to think about is…a Schmitt Fermenting Crock (not affiliated). These are lovely pieces of work! Stoneware crocks with a ‘gutter’ that allows for a water seal. The crock is filled with prepared vegetables and brine, and the lid (which has an ‘escape’ hole for gas buildup) fits over and into the gutter which is then filled with water. Ta-da! A perfectly sealed crock. Water levels must be check regularly and its an all-natural way to ensure a mold-free ferment!
I’ve heard of several different fermenting methods, but to date (and with my $) the canning jar/lid method has worked best!
Just remember to ‘burp’ the jars daily until they stop releasing gas! And then? That’s when I move ’em to the cool room!