April 21, 2015

Worth Fermentioning: A Review of Fermentation Vessels

by Tessa

To successfully ferment vegetables one must obtain a vessel. Here at Olykraut, high-grade stainless steel vats hold up to 800 lbs. of organic cabbage and house the microbe community that carry out fermentation.

Cozied up among the stainless steel vessels are heavier, more traditional European-style earthenware crocks that hold up to 50 gallons. Similar vegetable ferment vessels that originated in Korea are called Onggi, or breathing pottery. Interestingly, the size of ones Onggi correlated with a family’s wealth and dedication to health. With that, it looks as though the Olykraut family has a fortune of well-being.  However, for home fermenters, such capacity and bragging rights may not be necessary.

Ferment containers range drastically in size, shape, material and price. Handmade earthenware- clay made nonporous with heat and glaze- is the traditional container developed to carry out and store vegetable ferments. Wide availability of glass, metals and plastic in the twenty and twenty-first century has drastically diversified the ferment vessel and accoutrement options. When choosing a vessel one wants to steer clear of reactive metals (copper, aluminum, etc) and plastics (even food grade) due to the acidity produced during fermentation. The high acid and salt conditions will cause unwanted leaching of toxins.  Glass tends to be the most accessible and thrifty option for home fermenters and a cylindrical shaped jar allows for easy packing. Below are some examples of useful vessels and accoutrements for fermenting vegetables at home, but by no means does this list represent all there is.

 

Happy fermenting.

 

Hadar Iron crock, based in Seattle, WA

 

Ferment lid from Kraut Source that secures onto a wide-mouth mason jar. More information on their website!

 

 

An example of a brewers airlock lid made by Farm Curious – or DIY! A brewer’s airlock can be fastened onto glass jar lids to allow for the gradual release of carbon dioxide buildup as to prevent too much pressure inside the container.

 

 

Traditional Ongii earthenware popularized in Korea.

 

 

A basic home fermenting set up- large glass canning jar, smaller galss jar filled with water for a weight set on top of cabbage, all covered with a clean cloth to let gas escape and keep dust and debris out.

 

 

References:

"Onggi, Traditional Earthenware Vessel in Korea." :: Korea.net : The Official Website of the Republic of Korea. N.p., n.d. Web. Apr. 2015.

“In Ferment”, Hadar Iron. http://www.hadar-iron.com/fermenting-crocks/

 

(Tessa is a student at The Evergreen State College and is partnering with OlyKraut for an internship this quarter. Stay tuned for more great blog content from Tessa over the next several weeks!)


PO Box 1234, Olympia, WA 98507
360-956-1048 • Contact

Subscribe to our newsletter

Background illustration by Nikki McClure.