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Make Cultured Veggies – But in What Kind of Jar?


If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.Thorin Oakenshield from the movie - The Hobbit

I often make fermented vegetables using a canning jar with a lid, but there are many methods and vessels you can use to make cultured vegetables. Some say you should only use an airlock jar to culture vegetables. They claim that the canning jar method doesn’t seal well enough to remove the oxygen (removing the oxygen creates an anaerobic environment for the fermentation) and, therefore, doesn’t produce enough good bacteria to create all the health benefits of fermentation. In addition, there are some suggesting this method is not safe. I have been making and eating these foods for almost two decades and I will shoot straight with you.

Generations of people have been fermenting foods for thousands of years without special vessels or fancy equipment. If your vegetables are submerged under the water or brine, then they are in an anaerobic environment and are perfectly fine and safe – period! Don’t let anyone try to convince you that you have to buy fancy equipment in order for your fermented vegetables to be safe. This story – that a simple, inexpensive method of making cultured vegetables is not safe – is very disheartening, because it scares people and keeps them from reaping the millions of benefits from these foods.

These are the methods that I use every day and I wanted to share them with you. I hope that I can make it easier for you, so that you will discover what fun it is to ferment foods and enjoy the benefits.

Pick Your Jar

Clamp Down Jar

A clamp down jar can be used to make cultured vegetables. I have so many of these jars and I think they work great to make cultured vegetables. I also like that they come in a variety of sizes and fit well in my fridge. They’re a little harder to clean then a regular glass canning jar. I usually just throw my jars in the dishwasher and you can do this with the clamp down jars too, but if they’re older jars the metal clamp can rust.

Glass Canning Jars

Canning jars with plastic lids in all different sizes are great for fermenting. You can use jars with metal lids, but I prefer the plastic lids. If the ferment touches the lid, a plastic lid won’t leave a metallic taste. Also, it is better for you not to have metal touch the food during the fermentation process. That being said, you can still use them, I just leave a little extra room at the top.

Airlock Lid and Jar

The airlock jar is my favorite method to make cultured veggies. What is an airlock jar for fermenting cultured vegetables? An airlock is a special gadget that facilitates the process of gas escaping your fermented vegetables while keeping air out. This allows you to make fermented vegetables while greatly reducing and often eliminating the threat of a harmless yeast that can form on cultured veggies. I also think they taste a little better and make the veggies are crisper. I also sell the airlock jars and lids in my store.


Crocks are another method of making a lot of cultured veggies and especially kraut. Crocks are my least favorite method because I have discovered that the cultured vegetables often, but not always, develop a white yeast called, kahm. This happens because the lids on crocks are not tight. That being said, lots of people use crocks to make cultured veggie with great results. Most fermentation croks come with a inner plate that helps seal off the veggie. I make so many veggies and I like variety that I prefer to make smaller batches in canning jars so I can and make lots of different kinds of veggies.

41 Responses to "Make Cultured Veggies – But in What Kind of Jar?"
  1. I purchased your airlock jar. I made my Kraut. It’s was bubbling so nicely. I had it sitting on a towel in my closet and it was bubbling over..so i removed the airlock from the lid. Put my finger over the hole so air would get in.or very little. Emptied the airlock and o ut it back in. Problem is. .#1 I forgot to add water back to the airlock. And # 2. When I inserted it back the rubber seal got rolled down so there was a opening where air was able to get. I noticed it was bubbling anyone but was patiently waiting. Then I noticed what I had done. It was exposed to air for about 4 days. I removed the veggies on top. Put more filtered water back in it and added water to the airlock . It did smell funny. But no slime just some brown cabbage which I removed. Do you think it’s ruined?

  2. Thanks for the idea of using other jars! I’m making my first batch of sauerkraut using an airlock jar I bought from “pickle guy” — problem is, I want to start fermenting other vegetables and don’t want to wait 6 weeks until the kraut is done. I have a question, though. What is the difference between buying a culture and using salt (which is what I’m fermenting the cabbage in)?

    • Never mind my previous question — I just finished reading to the bottom of your last newsletter, where you answered my question! 🙂

  3. I’m reading and trying to start culturing veggies…Can you culture ANY vegetable? Do they need to be fresh or can you use frozen…and one more thing, do you always ferment raw or should veggies be cooked? My sister and I have so many food allergies it’s hard for me to use your recipes…we kinda have to pick and choose what we can eat….and I’m not very creative. Thanks for all the good info you provide.

  4. This is my first attempt at making fermented veggies and I chose the apple/orange kraut recipe that came with the air lock lids. It’s been 6 days and the veggies have swollen, but there are no bubbles. I opened it and it has an unusual taste, but looks okay. Do you suggest I just refrigerate them or leave them longer? I did not use the Caldwell culture, but now wish I had. Help!

  5. I am using the airlock lid and have added oranges apples and cabbage. filtered water and sea salt. It has been 6 days and it only bubbles if I move the jar. Is it fermenting?

  6. I started my first ferment on 06/12/14 using the half gallon jar, airlock and starter that I ordered from you. I picked the cabbage/blueberry/spinach recipe to start.
    The next morning I noticed that the tube had moved in the airlock. Last night I noticed that the water in the airlock had changed color. I took a closer look and see that all the veggies are up against the lid, nothing but liquid on the very bottom. The veggies are not overpacked, but will not stay down. Can this be saved?

  7. I just rec’d your book -Cultured Food For life. I am getting all my supplies next week to get started. Can’t wait to make the Kefir.I am learning so much from your posts. The ladies are going to be missing me on Facebook.LOL I am also posting and some are interrested.,but the older people get the more they are afraid of change.Thanks Donna for all you do for so many. God bless you!

  8. Donna, I’m excited to get started fermenting carrots and bought the Pickl-it 1-gallon container and the Caldwell Starter. Now I’m reading that I need a piece of equipment called a Dunk-R to weight down the vegetables. I was excited to get started tonight, but do I have to buy the Dunk-R?

      • So I went ahead and made them with Caldwells starter, but there’s no sign of activity after 12 hours. I’m worried it’s because there was a lot of liquid with the shredded carrots and I just poured it all in my one quart air lock container without pressing down on the carrots. They seem to have settled comfortably under all the liquid, but there is no bubbling and no sour smell. In fact, there is a really nice strong fresh carrot smell. How will I know if it is fermenting or not?

          • Ah, you’re right! Just hit the 24 hour mark and it’s bubbling away! Thank you so much for your website and all your helpful advice

            • One more question: When I store the carrots in my fridge after their 3 days on my counter, do I keep the air-lock apparatus on the jar the entire time they are in the fridge? Can I use another lid on the Pick-It jar, or even transfer the carrots to a regular Mason jar?

  9. Hi Donna,
    I wanted to share my experience with using a ceramic crock for making fermented veggies. I have tried using jars, but I love using my fermenting crock the most!! The one I have is made in Poland and is designed with an airtight water-sealable cover. This allows the gases to escape without letting oxygen in so there are never any issues with mold. It’s fool-proof! Just wanted your readers to know that there are certain types of fermenting crocks that work very well.
    Love your recipes!! Keep them coming 🙂

  10. This is the 2nd time i’ve made the blueberry sauerkraut. The 1st time it came out great but the 2nd time not so much. It is frothy and softer and doesn’t taste as good as the first time. I followed the directions the same as before using fresh whey from making the kefir and Celtic sea salt. Is it still good? Also, I don’t understand the directions about pushing down veggies that pop up over the water/brine. If I open the jar to do that, then I let in air which I have also read contributes to bacteria getting in and messing up the taste which is what I am wondering happened with my batch?

    • Did you add salt to you second batch. Without salt it can get slimy and soft, salt makes it crunchy. I really don’t want you to worry about pushy your veggies down all the time. Mine pop up to and sometimes I push them down and sometimes I don’t once they get in the fridge they calm down and stay under the brine.

        • The only other thing that could make it soft would be how much whey and how strong your whey was. I would try adding a little more salt to your next batch and less whey.

  11. I purchased the airlock lids from your website and made two 1/2 gallon jars of veggies, blueberry cabbage, and orange carrots, using Caldwells starter. everything looks great, but no matter how much I press them down, veggies insist upon floating above the liquid. Any suggestions?

    • Once you put them in the fridge they will calm down its just part of the fermentation they will naturally rise. There is so much good bacteria in the veggies their is no need to worry.

  12. I tossed some orange Krauthammer the other day because I was nervous about it! Made without culture starter. The top third was grayish.. The pinch of it I ate upset my stomach a bit. I have since purchased the Caldwell Starter and airlock lids. Just tasted my first Dilly bean made from your recipe! Loved it! I have been making kefir and Konica for about 2 months now! Loving the extra energy I have and don’t have the sluggish feeling I’ve had for a few years! Also no more lactose intolerance or acid reflux! Seem to be sleeping better too!

    • Ugh! Should have checked the spelling closer. My tablet thinks it’s so smart! Kraut not Krauthammer! Lol. And kombucha not Konica! Hope that’s all!

  13. Thank you for posting this information. I have wondered about the different containers and which works best. It is interesting that the crocks are so expensive, but are your least favorite.

  14. I’ve been saving glass food containers for fermenting foods, both with plastic and metal lids. Buying specialty containers isn’t practical for me, both financially and because of my location and circumstances. Is there any reason I can’t use the glass jars I have (from mayonnaise, coffee, jam, etc.)?

  15. I have had virtually no success with Sauerkraut in either an airlock jar or a crock but am intrigued by your recommendation of oil on the top. I just want to know if the gases are able to escape or does it need to be opened occasionally?
    Thanks for all your info.

      • They do not smell right or taste right. I check them in about a week then again in a few days. They have gone as long as six weeks. The room where I have them is in the mid sixties during the winter here in Maine.
        I like the idea of oil on the top. I use a cabbage leave and weights on top. I also do carrot sticks and they are great.

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