Are you wanting to ferment in larger quantities? Here is my comparison and review of the different types of fermentation crock.
Choosing a fermentation crock
Sometimes you want to ferment larger amounts or ferment larger vegetables. Making a big batch of sauerkraut, for example, is very efficient. You’ll have enough to last for months! Learn how to make sauerkraut in a crock here.
You have a wide variety of sizes to choose from when buying a fermentation crock. You can go for a small size that fits on your counter, or a big one that will hold a year’s worth of fermented food.
If you’re in the market for choosing a fermentation crock, you’re in the right place. I’m going to share all the pros and cons for the two main styles of fermentation crocks.
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What are fermentation crocks?
Fermentation crocks are stoneware containers that come in a variety of sizes. Traditionally, they have been used for making fermented vegetables.
Fermentation crocks come in two main styles: open top, and water sealed. Some come with fermentation weights.
Why should you use a fermentation crock?
There are lots of good reasons to ferment in a crock. For one, you can make large batches of fermented foods, which is an efficient use of time compared to making small amounts in jars.
Fermented foods made in a crock have a better, more developed flavor than ferments made in jars. Something about the longer fermentation time just really enhances the taste.
Another great reason to ferment in a crock is that you end up with a fermented food with much lower histamine levels than smaller ferments in jars.
For example, sauerkraut made in a crock sits and ferments for much longer than sauerkraut made in a jar. This allows the finished kraut to have significantly fewer histamines, which is very important for some people following the GAPS diet.
Different types of fermentation crocks
There are lots of different fermentation crocks made by various companies, but they all boil down to the two main styles: open top and water seal. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each of these main styles of fermentation crocks.
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THE OPEN TOP CROCK
This is a really basic, simple style of fermentation crock. These crocks are also pretty easy to find among fermentation crocks on Amazon, or even at a local hardware store.
Open top crocks are easy to clean and easy to work with. It’s simple to get food in and out of the wide opening.
Because there is no seal, it is common for kahm yeast to form on the top of ferments made in open top crocks. Kahm yeast is a harmless white yeast that can form on the surface of the liquid. It looks like a fuzzy white layer with or without bubbles (source).
Even though it is harmless, kahm yeast can change the flavor and texture of ferments. If it ever forms on my ferments, I scrape it off as soon as I see it. Kahm yeast isn’t ideal for those following the GAPS diet.
Another thing that can happen more easily with open top crocks is bugs and foreign objects getting into the ferment. Mold can also more easily form in this style of crock.
Easy to clean, easy to get food in and out of, inexpensive, easy to find.
Doesn’t usually come with weights, doesn’t include a lid, open top design allows molds and kahm yeast to easily form, easy to get bugs and foreign objects in the ferment.
THE WATER SEALED CROCK
This is my favorite of the different styles of fermentation crock. I used an open top crock for several years, but constantly had trouble with kahm yeast. I’ve been really happy with my water seal fermentation crock.
Unlike most open top crocks, water seal crocks come with a lid and usually include some fermentation weights.
In this style of crock, the lid sits in a rim that you fill with water. This allows gasses to escape out of the crock, but no outside air can enter.
Having a water seal like this really helps to prevent molds and kahm yeast. It also offers a lot more protection against insects and other foreign objects.
The water seal provides a very effective airlock against outside air, which helps to prevent kahm yeast and mold forming, and also protects against foreign objects and insects contaminating the ferment.
A bit harder to clean, the smaller opening makes it a little less convenient for getting food in and out, harder to find, more expensive.
How do you use a fermentation crock?
Using a fermentation crock is very much like fermenting in jars, but everything is at a larger scale. If you’re already used to fermenting in jars, moving to a crock is an easy transition.
You add your vegetables and salt to the crock, make sure they’re submerged under the brine. Using fermentation weights helps to keep everything under the liquid. This is important to prevent mold.
If you’re using a crock with a lid, you place the lid on and let the crock sit in a warm place for the proper amount of time. This will vary depending on the size of the crock you’re using, and what vegetables you’re fermenting.
For a 5 gallon crock of sauerkraut, 6 weeks is a good time. It’s okay to let it go longer, too. Once I like the flavor, I transfer the sauerkraut to half gallon jars with lids and store the jars in my basement.
What can you use a crock for?
You can use stoneware crocks for lots of things, such as storage, a decoration, or for their traditional use, fermenting foods. I use mine for fermenting part of the time and as a decoration the rest of the time.
What do you like to ferment?
Have you tried a crock? Share in the comments!
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