I recently had the opportunity to taste some kraut that was anaerobically made. The friend who dropped by my house, wanting me to check their kraut ‘to see if it was ok’ didn’t tell me details, other than me knowing which fermentation vessel she was using from our conversations on fermentation. I picked up the spoon and took a bite. It was tangy, slightly salty and extremely crisp. It was beautifully made kraut!
She didn’t know if it was safe to eat. She wanted my opinion. My opinion was that it was fantastic and that she should enjoy it.
It was over a year old. She didn’t tell me the age of the kraut until after I told her it was good. She was pretty amazed.
Isn’t it amazing that anaerobically fermented food can last so long, even in the humid and moldy South? When I use the truly anaerobic methods of the Pickl-It or the Harsch crock, I can consistently get ferments that last until they are used up. Previously, I was lucky to get three months out of a batch that didn’t grow mold.
One of the biggest beauties of anaerobic fermentation is that you can preserve foods from harvest to harvest. In the past, I have done a good amount of canning every summer and fall. However, within the last year we’ve learned that regular canning lids have BPA and the reusable canning lids have formaldehyde in them. I don’t want either anywhere near my kids or my food. So this year I am shifting from canning to anaerobic fermentation in a Harsch crock and a Pickl-It to preserve my foods from harvest to harvest.
Yes, it does require some up-front investment, but so does the canning equipment. However, the work isn’t any more difficult and it is definitely cooler and less time consuming. No stove, no heat and I don’t have to stay up until 1 or 2 am waiting for jars to be done processing and cool enough to remove from the pressure canner after a long canning session.
So this year, instead of jams and jellies, I will make lacto-fermented chutney. I will make sauerkraut and dilled carrots. I will ferment my green beans and pickles. I’m still trying to decide on my tomatoes, but the freezer is looking really good right now. We’ll have more digestive enzymes, probiotics, vitamins and the myriad of other goodies that come with lacto-fermentation without the potential of chemical exposure through the canning jar lids. The fired glass used for the Pickl-It and its components are lead and cadnium-free, as are the wire bails. The Harsch is lead-free, too.
The more I read about plastic (here, here and here among many more), the more I want it no where near my food or my kids. We know that other probiotic products such as kombucha should be kept away from plastic because it will attempt to detoxify it, pulling the chemicals into the liquid. We don’t have solid evidence that this doesn’t happen in other probiotics products or if other interactions could take place between acidic, probiotic-filled ferments and a plastic container, so I do not feel comfortable fermenting in plastic.
So I will stick to my non-plastic, truly anaerobic fermentation options and leave the plastic until more solid evidence is out about the true effects of plastics in food. And in turn, I will be able to keep my goodies until they are used up, get extra probiotics, vitamins and minerals into the family and have true harvest-to-harvest preservation.
What about dehydrating the tomatoes?
I have considered dehydration and in fact I do use it to make tomato paste, juice and sauce- I grind the dried tomatoes and then rehydrate the powder as needed. But for diced tomatoes I don’t think dehydration would work.
Jennifer @ 20 something allergies says
I love it! I don’t like the heat or loss of nutrients from canning, so we do the same. Freezing, dehydrating, and fermenting are our only preservation methods. I hope to do it on a bigger scale over the next few years and grow/preserve at least 80% of our own food. I’m hoping this suburbanite can pull it off. Dream big, right? 🙂
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Hey, if you’re going to dream, dream big. If I didn’t dream big, we wouldn’t be half-way to where we are with our own food production. 🙂
I think this is a good plan and I am doing similarly. I may just go ahead and get a Harsh if I can swing it, cause I can’t figure out how I’ll do enough kraut in my Pickl-It jar (5 liters). I learned enough about plastics disrupt the endocrine system and I’m on a mission to ditch the plastics even more – I already got rid of a ton, but now I’m trying to figure out how to deal with gallon plastic bags that come in so handy and things like that, ugh. It’s just a bit of retraining and re-gearing, I’m sure I’ll figure out a good plan.
I love sundried cherry tomatoes! DOH!
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I’m also trying to figure out how to get rid of the ziplock bags, especially for the freezer! We’ve got the cloth ziplocks for snacks and the like but they won’t hold liquids or messy things.
Just a thought… I like to collect abandoned crockpot crocks, from the thrift store, that have lids and use them for fermenting. After the food is in the crock, I put on some grape leaves weighted down with clean rocks to keep the food under the brine. I suppose this is not truly anaerobic, but I can’t begin to afford the purchased crocks. I do have airlocks for canning jars, but made them with canning lids so that’s not so good either! I have used the clean rock method there as well with good results.
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Yolonda, because I live in the humid South, using methods that aren’t truly airtight almost always mold or go mushy before they’re used up. I can’t get ferments to last long enough using anything but the truly anaerobic methods of the Harsch and the Pickl-It.
Marcella F says
I purchased Pickl-it jars because of your series and I absolutely love them! There is a definite difference in taste between mason jar fermentation and Pickl-it.
My question is how are you planning to store your ferments once they are completed? I know you can store them in the Pickl-it, but do you have to keep them in the refrigerator?
Thank you again for all the research you have done on this subject.
Marcella, my basement is cool enough that I don’t have to refrigerate except in the hottest part of the year. So we refrigerate when the basement is too warm and leave them sitting on the basement shelves when it is cool enough.
KerryAnn, do you know of any reason why these would not work as well as Pickl-It for anaerobic fermenting?
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Sarah, plastic deforms under pressure and it ins’t possible to screw threaded lids tight enough to form a seal that won’t loosen under pressure. To be truly airtight, it must have a wire bail latch. My own personal experience with those types of lids shows that they leak fluid easily and if it leaks fluid, it will leak air.
Connie Hendricks says
KerryAnn, I’m pretty sure I’ve read elsewhere that fruit fermentation only lasts a short time. Is this because they’re not fermenting anaerobically? Or … ? I’d hate to put up a bunch of fruit chutney and have it go bad!
Connie, truly anaerobic conditions do make fruit ferments last longer. However, we tend to use them up fast enough that it isn’t an issue. We don’t try to keep them from harvest to harvest, we only try to keep them for a month or two before trying something else.
How many Pickl-it’s do you have now? I know that you were able to purchase more just recently but before that you only had two of the 1 1/2 ltr? I am adding Pickl-it to my birthday wishlist but am trying to figure out what sizes might be best to start with. Currently I only do water kefir but would like to get into sourdough and pickles. Any recommendations on which sizes are good “starters”? Thanks!
I now have ten. I’ve got a baby- those will be available on the website soon. They’re adorable little 1/2 cup jars with a special size lid, meant for trying out flavor combinations.
I also have a .5L, one .75L, two 1Ls, three 1.5Ls, one 2L and one 3L. I love the 1.5L for general purpose anything and those are my workhorses. I use the 3L for pickles or sauerkraut, the 2L for sauerkraut and I do everything else with the smaller jars. The .5 is good for condiments and the .75 for batters.
Megan Harris says
Hi there! Just discovered your site today and can’t believe its taken me this long to find you :). I’m loving going through your archive section! I had a question… I’ve been making kraut for the past three years but have been using the jar method. I do have a crock but haven’t really got into using it. After reading your posts I’m going to use it for sure! My question was how long do I leave my sauerkraut in the crock. Do I let it go for however long and then put it in a mason jar to have easy access to? Sorry for the questions but I wasn’t sure what to do.
Thanks so much!!!
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It needs to go ten to twelve weeks. Longer times are for cooler temps. Leave it in the crock so that it can remain anaerobic, or you loose some of the benefits as some of the probiotics and many of the products of fermentation will drop from putting them into mason jars.