Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fermenting And Pickling Resource List

I've put together a short list of fermentation-related resources. It will never be complete—I will always be updating it—so come back and visit now and then!

If you have resources that you think I should include on my list, please comment, and I'll add them.

My blog posts

Web links (some serious, some silly)

Books

Devices

  • Harsch crocks: Good for brined pickles, or for making LARGE batches of kraut. Includes weights and an airlock system. Effective, but also expensive, heavy, large, and potentially messy. If you have a root cellar and want to be able to start a big ferment and forget about it for a month, the Harsch starts to make sense.
  • Pickl-It: "Harsch-lite", in a way. A gasket jar with an airlock built into the top, and a fitted weight for keeping things submerged. I haven't tried it, but I'm sure it works well, and it looks like it's much more manageable than the Harsch. UPDATED 7/2/2010: I now own a Pickl-It, have used it, and have blogged about it. See here.

    11 comments:

    Amber said...

    Great post! Thanks for sharing all this info about fermented veggies! I love to think about how cultured foods affect the body and in turn influence our experience of life. When our guts are happy and healthy, loaded with probiotics it has profound (and yet perhaps seemingly subtle) affects on the rest of us. Interesting stuff really…we can take it as far to see that we literally create culture from the inside out and one expression of that is how we care for our bodies and what we put in it. Cultured veggies = cultured lives!
    -Amber
    http://eatingforevolution.wordpress.com/

    -Lisa said...

    Excellent post, Alex! Reminds me of the sauerkraut I ate growing up with kielbasa. My grandparents were Lithuanian immigrants and this was a staple of their diet, and they lived into their 90s with no diabetes or heart disease. Maybe the cultured foods had something to do with it!

    Holly said...

    Thanks for the resource list. Lately I have been experimenting with the new Pickl-It fermenting jars. I have to say that my ferments have been much improved in taste and quality. The web site is www.pickl-it.com if you want to check it out. There are a lot of recipes and links to research as well. My favorite so far has been the fermented granola recipe.

    Alex Lewin said...

    Amber, thanks for your comment. It's really true, culture = culture...

    Alex Lewin said...

    Lisa, it's always hard to say, but I'd imagine the cultured foods did have something to do with it. According to Wikipedia, 14-15% of people in the US have irritable bowel syndrome. I can almost guarantee you that if they started making and eating sauerkraut, that number would go way down.

    Alex Lewin said...

    Holly: Thanks for mentioning the Pickl-It. What a good idea! And there's a great story that goes with it, too...don't know if you've seen it: http://www.pickl-it.com/about/our_story/

    wishlady said...

    I too have been using the Pickl-It and just love it! It comes in several sizes and my ferments have all turned out perfect. The taste and texture seem to have improved immensely. But the best part, no more burping jars! Check out the website. I was amazed by the amount of information and beautiful photos she has provided. http://www.pickl-it.com/

    Tracie

    8by8 said...

    I have done extensive fermentation and I guarantee that a FIDO jar without the beer air lock works 100% better and cheaper. You can get a 5 liter FIDO jar for under $10 from Crate & Barrel Outlet stores or you can find them on Amazon. Pickl-it charges $50 for the same FIDO jar.

    Fermentation works better without the air lock. The jar will never explode as it is designed to releave pressure. But I find it very easy to release pressure in a few seconds.

    During fermentation the ferment expands and traps bubbles inside the ferment. Without the airlock you can shake the bottle or turn it upside down and get the bubbles to the top of the bottle where you can release pressure.

    If you do not release pressure then the brine will leak out of the bottle.

    With Pickl-it the ferment expands and goes up and out the air lock making a mess. You can not shake and turn the jar upside down to get the bubbles to the top of the jar.

    I guarantee that if you try both Pickle-it and the same jar called FIDO jar with a solid lid you will immediately see that the fido jar is far superior.

    The glass disc that Pickl-it provides is a joke. To hold down the ferment you can use the plastic lid of a yougurt container. it is larger than the opening so it holds things down inside.

    With cucumber pickles the ferment does not really expand and so the problem of expansion of the ferment does not happen. The fido jar with solid lid will simply release pressure if you dont release pressure.

    There are big advantages to releasing pressure. You can tell how strong the ferment is. that is impossible with the air lock.

    All my ferment turn out perfect with the solid lid fido jars. I got 5 of the 5 liter fido jars for the price of one pickl-it.

    There are too many untruths about fermenting on Pickl-it web site. That I do not believe them any more. I will not make a long list of untruths.

    Once people find out how much better the fermentation is with a solid lid the entire concept of the airlock will collapse. It is a gimmick that actually creates more problems.

    Bye the way. The standard Ball canning jars will not explode either. The half gallon Ball jars are excellent choice. If you want larger jars then the 5 liter fido jar is the jar of choice.

    For the budget minded. A used gallon pickle jar can be used. Try a simple zip lock bag layed flat across the top before screwing down the lid. It will be best to release pressure because this is not designed to release pressure.

    Linda @KitchenTherapy said...

    Hi Justin,
    Great to meet you. We have had great success using inexpensive homemade air lock systems. We use ball jars and lids, with brewing air locks that cost about $1 each. Here is a blog post http://blog.kitchentherapy.us/2011/07/fermented-beets/

    Linda@Kitchen Therapy said...

    Make that Hi Alex. Can you edit my last comment? So sorry for the name mix up.
    Linda

    Alex Lewin said...

    Linda, sorry it took so long for me to see your comment--it got stuck in Blogger's spam filter for some reason. :-\

    Your post is great!

    I had thought about drilling a hole in one of the ball jar lids, but never tried it. I guess I was concerned about little bits of the plastic (BPA actually, sadly) getting into the pickles. I suppose if you leave enough space between the pickles and the lid, it shouldn't be an issue.