"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 clampdown 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 than a regular glass canning jar. I usually just throw my jars in the dishwasher and you can do this with the clampdown 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 crocks 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.