Pickl-ItA couple of months ago, I posted a Fermenting And Pickling Resource List. In response to my post, someone mentioned a device called Pickl-It (http://www.pickl-it.com/). I updated my resource list to include Pickl-It. Shortly thereafter, I was contacted by the makers of Pickl-It, who offered to send me a free sample. I accepted their offer. I have been using Pickl-It ever since.
Pickl-It includes a glass jar with a hinged lid and gasket, a hole in the lid, an airlock in the hole, and a glass disc as a weight. Pickl-It also includes a plug for the hole, for when you don't need the airlock.
HarschHarsch is a German company that makes a stoneware pickling crock, also called Gärtopf.
Harsch is a sturdy stoneware thing, glazed, with a heavy lid and a pair of ceramic weights.
SimilaritiesBoth of these devices serve the same purpose: to create good conditions for lactofermenting vegetables (or other things). Both are sealed vessels with airlocks, so that gases can escape as needed, but nothing can get in. Both use weights to keep fermenting foods submerged.
Pickl-It's airlock is of the type one might use in brewing beer, and its weight is a glass disc. Harsch employs an open mote filled with water around the lip of the lid, and a pair of weights that fit snugly within the crock.
May The Best Vat WinIt is a bit of a David And Goliath story: the young, small upstart, Pickl-It, versus the old, established, giant Harsch.
And the outcome is the same as in that fabled battle: Pickl-It vanquishes its larger foe Harsch!
The Harsch's advantages: It is available in huge sizes, up to at least 50 liter (great if you need to make 75 pounds of sauerkraut!); it looks impressive; its weights fit perfectly; and it's completely low-tech (100% stone). A couple of times I have made 10+ pounds of sauerkraut, and the Harsch worked well. A 2-gallon cookie jar with a strategically-sized dinner plate and some weights worked well before I had the Harsch.
- Pickl-It's airlock works better. The problem with the Harsch airlock is that in hot weather, the mote evaporates after a few days, leaving you vulnerable to fruit flies and such. If you ever go away for a few days at a time during the summer, this is a real concern. Standing water probably isn't a great idea in warmer climates anyway. Harsch may be better suited to a cellar, when it's warm at least; this makes the "looks impressive" factor less relevant.
- Pickl-It is easy to clean—you can take it apart and put it in the dishwasher. Harsch is hard to clean, and also somewhat porous, so it seems to absorb salt, yeast and mold, etc.
- My Pickl-It is a more practical size (1.5-liter) than my Harsch (10-liter). I could have bought a smaller Harsch, or a larger Pickl-It—but nonetheless, Harsch isn't well-suited to the fridge, while Pickl-It is just fine (if you remove the airlock and plug the hole).
- Pickl-It is clear, so it allows me to see what's going on, which is often useful. Harsch is deep and dark.
- Pickl-It is way less expensive than Harsch.
Uses For Pickl-ItI find Pickl-It great for pickling whole vegetables in brine (turnips, radishes, beets, cucumbers, zucchini, etc.), and I might try it for a corned beef or something like that. All of these things can be a little tricky in jars, whether open or sealed, so they benefit greatly from the airlock.
I've not had any problems making cabbage kraut, radish or turnip krauts, mixed krauts, chutneys and other strange fruit things, kimchi, or preserved lemons in sealed mason jars (burping them every once in a while). (But some people have had problems making these.)
Beyond that, you can use Pickl-It for fermenting dairy, grains, and so on. Kathleen, one of the inventors, has a blog full of awesome-sounding Pickl-It recipes (Lacto-fermented Garlic Scape, Mango Kefir Lassi, Fermented Turkish-Fig Coconut Oatmeal Granola, Japanese Miso Garlic, etc.).
My recommendation: If you like to ferment whole vegetables, or if you worry about having problems fermenting, or if you just want to have some fun fermenting, then it's definitely worth getting Pickl-It.
If you are going to do whole vegetables, a larger Pickl-It is the way to go.
Inside sources tell me that in addition to the existing 1.5-liter and 3-liter sizes, there are new 2-, 4-, and 5-liter sizes. 5 liters should be big enough for most non-commercial purposes (unless you're having a really big Oktoberfest party!). Other items joining the Pickl-It line in the near future include smaller airlocks and UV-blocking jar covers. Cool.
Buy Pickl-It here.