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Today I'm excited to share with you something I have been wanting to create for the last 4 years! We are now including a "Fermenting Crock Basic Use" pamphlet with every crock we sell. In addition to our family recipes for sauerkraut and pickles, you now have everything you need to get started using your crock right away!
Just like our recipes, I know some people will misplace this guide. Which is why I wanted to share the guide today on our blog. I also want to make sure any customers who purchased from us before we created this pamphlet will have access to is here as well! So without further delay, here it is -
Fermenting is part science and part art. Which means, it takes a lot of experimentation to figure out what will work best for you. For every person who says that THIS is the only way to ferment, there is another person who does it the opposite way with great results! Remember, there are many variables in fermenting, which means no two people or batches will turn out the same every time. These instructions are a basic guideline on how to get started using your fermenting crock. Hopefully your first batch will come out perfectly! But if it doesn’t, make some changes and try again!
We recommend washing your fermenting crock with mild soap and warm water and letting it air dry. Avoid exposing it to extreme heat, humidity or cold. Do not place your fermenting crock in the dishwasher! This will likely lead to the glaze on your crock cracking. The Luna Glass Crock Weights, however, are dishwasher safe.
1. Choose your favorite fermenting recipe.
There are many available online, in fermenting books, or you can use the 2 family recipes that we include with your purchase!
2. Prepare the ingredients per the instructions in the recipe.
Avoid using reactive metal kitchen utensils when working with fermenting ingredients.
3. Place the ingredients in the crock, filling it to 2/3 to ¾ of the way full.
Fermenting Crocks are not designed to be filled to the top. You need to leave space at the top of the crock to insert the weights and to allow for potential expansion of the ingredients during fermenting. You do not want the brine to overflow out of the crock.
4. Insert the Luna Glass Crock Weights into the crock
Insert the weights vertically one at a time into the crock opening. Rotate the weight to horizontal while inside the crock. Move the weight to one side. Insert the second weight in the same manner, placing it next to the first weight to cover the top of your ingredients. The weights will not completely fill the inside diameter of the crock. There will be some space between the edge of the weight and the crock.
5. Be sure that the ingredients are completely covered by the brine. Add additional brine if needed to cover everything.
Additional brine is created during fermenting as the salt pulls liquid from the ingredients. You can wait a few hours before adding additional brine to see if this will happen. A Cabbage Masher will help cabbage release more liquid. To avoid pieces floating on top of the brine in finely shredded ferments such as sauerkraut, save a few large leaves of cabbage before shredding. Place these on top of the shredded cabbage before inserting the weights.
6. Fill the moat at the top of the crock with water or brine.
In order to create the airlock, water or brine must be present in the moat at the top of the crock. If you have extra brine, you can use this in the rim. Changes in barometric pressure or temperature swings can cause the water/brine to be sucked into the crock. If this happens, slowly lift the lid until the water/brine is released. The water in the rim will also evaporate over time. Check the water level in the rim every few days and refill if necessary.
7. Place the lid on the crock and wait!
This is the hard part! Each ferment will have a different number of days suggested to ferment. You can sneak a peek inside your crock, but each time you open it you could introduce a foreign substance that can lead to mold or other issues. We try to wait at least 3 days before checking your pickles, and a week to 10 days before checking sauerkraut.
After a day or two you should start hearing a little “blurp” noise. This is the sound of the carbon dioxide created during fermentation escaping through the airlock water moat. This is a very good thing! It means that fermentation is happening. If you don’t hear the sound, there may be something wrong. The more “burps” you hear, the faster it is fermenting!
9. Skim floaters or mold if needed.
If you see evidence of mold on the surface or “floaters”, you can skim them from the surface.
10. After several days, move the crock to a cooler place if desired.
You can leave the crock in place the entire time you ferment, or move it to a cooler place after some time. Moving to a cooler place will slow down fermenting, allowing the flavors to develop differently.
11. Decide when the ferment has reached your desired flavor and texture.
Another part of the experimenting with fermentation is deciding when it’s done! The longer it ferments, the more probiotics are created, but there is a greater chance that something could go wrong. The flavor will also become more sour over time, while shorter times yield a milder flavor. The recipe you are following will likely have a suggested fermenting time, but ultimately it’s up to you to find the balance of when you think its “done”!
12. Remove ferment from the crock for storage.
When you are ready, remove the ferment from the crock and place it in storage containers. We recommend using glass jars as they are inert and will not react with your ferment. Place ingredients in the jar and cover with brine from the crock. Extra brine can be used as a probiotic “gut shot” drink if desired.
Store the ferment in your fridge when it is finished to slow down/stop the fermenting process.
Most ferments will last about 3 months in the refrigerator, but some can be safe for longer. Your recipe should note how long it can be stored. Use your nose and brain – if it smells rotten it probably is!
- Large fermenting crocks become very heavy once filled. We recommend filling large crocks with ingredients in the place where it will stay during fermentation. The process can be up to 6 weeks for sauerkraut, so take some time to plan for where the crock will be during this time!
- The time it takes to ferment will vary depending on the amount of salt used (more salt = slower, less salt = faster) and the temperature (cold = slower, hot = faster).
- We do not recommend water bath canning your ferments. The high temperature will kill off many if not all of the probiotics present in the ferment. It will also change the texture and flavor of your recipe.
- If you have an unfinished basement or root cellar, you can store the ferment in the crock like was traditionally done. Make sure that the crock is set directly on top of the concrete floor so that the cool temperature of the ground is transferred into the ceramic crock. This cold temperature is what suspends fermenting. However, if you do this, you won’t be able to use your crock to ferment another batch!
Now that you know what to do, go buy a fermenting crock so you can start using it!