The other day I wrote a blog about preserving vegetables and fruits using a fermenting crock. Fermented Foods are Good for Your Health As a result of that post, the question was asked about the pros and cons of the fermenting crocks we use. It is surprisingly simple almost any ceramic, plastic or glass container will work. But the three, we have used are a plastic five-gallon bucket, a ceramic crock an a Harsch style crock.
The first of the three types we will discuss is the plastic food grade five-gallon bucket. This is the cheapest and easiest to find. Any clean food grade plastic bucket will work. All it takes is the bucket, a plate to hold the produce under the brine, a weight to set on top of the plate and a towel.
I first started out using plastic buckets and they work well. You can make a good fermented mixture in them. They do have a couple of downsides; first, because there is no airtight seal you will have a mold called bloom form on top of the brine. This won’t hurt you but you do have to scrape it of the top of the liquid. Second, you will get some odor from the fermentation process. Third, the towel is used to cover the top of the bucket to keep dirt and insects out. The fermented mixture can be kept in the bucket for some time as long as you kept the brine covering the food.
The second type we got was an old-fashioned ceramic crock with a lid. These work every bit as well as the plastic bucket. The disadvantage to them is that they can be expensive and they break. But with the lid, they are better, if you want to keep a live fermentation process going to preserve your food. Again you do have to use a plate and wieght to keep the food under the brine.
The Harsch style is my favorite type of crock. They have a lid that fits into a gutter that runs around the top. When this gutter is filled with water this makes an airtight seal. This style fermentation crock is the easiest to use. It eliminates the need for skimming the bloom that forms on the top of the brine where there is access to fresh air. Kept in a cool place, this style fermentation crock can be left alone for months while the vegetables inside get better and better. The only thing that you need to do is keep the gutter filled with water. These fermenting crocks can be found on the internet, but they are a bit pricey and can run about $100 each.
You can also make small batches in canning jars. I have never tried this I always wanted the big batches and like the five-gallon containers.
As I said the plastic bucket will work and if you are experimenting, it may not be a bad idea to start with a bucket. Here is a link to making sauerkraut in a plastic bucket, Making Sauerkraut Personally while the plastic bucket works, plastic is not one of my favorite things to use for preparing food. I am always concerned about something leaching into the mixture.