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  #1  
Old 08-04-2007, 03:41 PM
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Making Sauerkraut/Pickling Jars

I love sauerkraut, pickles, miso and other common living foods, and had been interested in making my own. At the suggestion of SOR I picked up a copy of the book Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. Now, armed with intent and knowledge, what I needed to begin making my own stuff was some equipment.

Carmella had posted a link to this pickling jar which makes the whole process very easy for only about $30/jar (after shipping/handling). Since I was planning on experimenting with various things, I knew I would need several and that was adding up to some cash worthy of attention. The best kind of fermenting equipment is a Harsch Crock, but these are much more expensive than the jar above. Other alternatives are standard ceramic pickling crocks which are also pricy and hard to find. After that people tend to start using plastic food-grade buckets.

I did not want to use the bucket method since the jar Carmella linked to looked so utterly simple to use. I figured I could make one of these for less money, and set out to make 8 of them.

I started with a trip to a local home-brew/wine-making supply store. I picked up 8 airlocks for $1.70 each and 8 grommets for next to nothing. The airlocks let the gases escape but keep outside air from getting in. The grommets were to form the seal on the jar lid where I would insert this airlock.


Then I started searching for gallon jars. This took a few hours of driving all over the place. I tried all sorts of local mom & pop hardware stores but could not find any 1 gallon glass jars at all. I finally wound up going to Wal-Mart and found 1-gallon jars in both glass and plastic. The glass ones were $4.89 each and had a metal lid. I was a little worried about the metal rusting out, so I went with the plastic jars since they had plastic lids. They were also only $2.89 each meaning they were basically temporary until I could find good long term glass jars at good prices.


I also needed something to put inside the lid that would keep the vegetables submerged. I wanted something non-plastic and non-toxic, thinking whatever I got will possibly be used with the glass jars whenever I find those. I wound up going to a local arts and crafts store and picked up some 4-inch cork mats and some 3-inch ceramic saucers for small flower-pots. Grand total to supply 8 jars was $19.80.


Now all I needed was some vegetables for pickling. I headed to a local farmers market to see what small treats I could start with at prices that were too good to pass up. I found a stand with some long baby eggplants and some peppers. They were calling to me, and the eggplants are the perfect pickle size.


A couple stands down was a plastic tote with about 60 or so medium sized, odd shaped pickling cukes. They weren't the prettiest, but they would definitely work. They had wanted 8/$1.00, but the guy saw I was interested and offered me the entire batch for $3.00. I decided to stop there since I wasn't sure exactly how many jars I had just filled with pickling cukes!


So I went home...then went straight back out to get some more sea salt and to pick up some distilled water. Gotta have that.

So I went home again to put together the jars. I took the plastic lid and drilled a 1/2-inch hole dead center in the lid, and smoothed out any rough bits. Then I inserted a grommet into the hole and made sure the airlock could be insered into the grommet and into the lid. It fit beautifully! So now I had a pickling jar!

I made a batch of garlic-dill sour pickles with ease. Now I just have to let them sit for a week or four.


Total cost for all 8 jars was $64.28, or roughly $8.03 per jar.

I'm not sure if I can do miso in these or not though. I may need to get a crock for that.
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Last edited by RawVegan4Health : 08-04-2007 at 03:48 PM.
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  #2  
Old 08-04-2007, 05:23 PM
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FYI
Cost Plus Imports (World Market) Has many inexpensive large and small glass jars. I have begun to rid the home of all plastic. I am amazed at how much we have. I buy all the replacements at Cost plus.

The pickles look delic

Ral Love
Melissa
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  #3  
Old 08-04-2007, 07:54 PM
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RV4H,
Woo-Hoo!
This is sooooooo cool! How resourceful you are!

I just 'harvested' my batch of sauerkraut today. Man, how I love that little system! Technically, unless I can find a gallon jar that is identical to the one that came with my sauerkraut maker in order to fit the airlock system on, I can't make anything else until the jar is empty. Well, I suppose I could transfer the kraut into smaller jars, but that seems like a lot of work.

I think I'll just put Don to work on one of those instead! lol

Thanks for sharing!
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Old 08-04-2007, 08:53 PM
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Well, I have 4 jars of pickles going now. I made one per Sandor Katz's recipe (the one pictured in my original post), then made bascially one the same but with extra garlic and dill (sounded like fun). Then I made one jar of spicy pickles. Finally I did a regular recipe like the first batch pictured but with the eggplant and topped with a few cukes. I had to share a picture of the eggplant ones because they look pretty cool. On the right are the spicy ones.


The next 4 jars are going to be for sauerkraut, kimchi, and maybe the start of some miso if I can get word back about whether or not miso can be made in this sort of contraption. I would like to do both a one year red miso and a quicker sweet white miso.

I'm going to have to share of course, another advantage of so many experiments!
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Old 08-05-2007, 10:48 AM
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Whoa! Sounds like you have quite the fermentation operation going on!

My next blogpost will be about sauerkraut making, but in case you get going on it before then, just wanted to point out a few tips that have made a huge difference for me.

- You want to make sure to use enough salt. I've lost a couple of batches due to them not being sufficiently salted. Major bummer after all that work... The usual ratio is 5 lbs cabbage/3 tbs sea salt. I've seen recipes suggesting that you need 5 lbs of cabbage total to fill up a gallon jar, but I always end up using about 9 lbs. Perhaps because I massage/press it really good in order to release the juices before packing it tightly in the jar.

- I'd recommend the use of probiotics. (You can find these in most health food stores.) This considerably quickens the fermentation process. My last batch of sauerkraut was ready in 5 days instead of the usual several weeks!!! I usually mix in 3 probiotic caps per gallon jar, along with the salt. I think Gabriel Cousens uses miso in his for the same purpose, although I have yet to try it.

- A lot of juice gets released during the fermentation process, so you definitely want to put a plate underneath the jar. After a couple of days, I start checking on the level of liquid inside the jar, adding some salt water (ratio 1 cup/1 tsp salt) as needed to ensure that the cabbage is still submerged. I sometimes need to add a little brine when I transfer to individual jars as well.

Oh, and I like to use a mixture of red and green cabbage. The color is just stunning! It's what I most enjoy about this system; you can watch it change from day to day, turning into a bright fuschia. Nature's artwork!

I think that's about it. I'm by no means a sauerkraut expert but these have been my humble observations.

Hope they can be of some help!

Have fun!
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Last edited by Carmella : 08-05-2007 at 10:52 AM.
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Old 08-06-2007, 09:46 AM
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Thanks for the tips. They are much appreciated. I was going to start some sauerkraut soon, possibly even tonight. I was at first unsure whether to add a probiotic kick-starter to the pickles, but ultimately decided to let the first batches go their natural way and take a while to make, but then use some of the finished product in the next batch as a starter.
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Old 08-07-2007, 09:06 PM
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Carmella,

Thanks so much for the tips on making sauerkraut. I picked up just over 9 pounds of cabbage and it was just exactly the perfect amount to fill the jar after pressing it all in there. There is no way I would have thought to pick up that much cabbage without the advice, and would have made it very frustrating I am sure. Instead it all started perfectly and hopefully I will have some great sauerkraut here in just a few days!

I also started a batch of kimchi. I don't think I have ever had kimchi before to be honest with you. It can't be bad, it has all of my favorite seasonings in it!
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Old 08-08-2007, 10:33 AM
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Yay! I'm so glad!

That's what I love so much about being able to share like this! The first time I made sauerkraut in the gallon jar, I didn't have enough cabbage either and it was a pain! The worst part is that I had already cleaned the food processor and everything so I had to make another mess!

I've never had kimchi either and tried making it once in a regular (small) mason jar but didn't use enough salt and ended up having to throw it away.

Can't wait to hear how yours turn out!
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Old 08-08-2007, 12:15 PM
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Well, I translated the kimchi recipe from the book which he said would pack a 1 quart jar. So I multiplied everything by 4 and did not have enough to fill the gallon jar even 2/3 of the way! I had plenty of brine and put a small bowl under the lid to keep everything submerged, but couldn't just go get more because you have to brine the veggies overnight to start with before packing. I hope it turns out ok.
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Old 08-08-2007, 04:47 PM
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Oh! This is so righteously cool! I was looking at said $30.00 pickling apparatus thinking: gee seems like you could easily make this for A LOT cheaper. Thanks for the awesome post!
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  #11  
Old 08-10-2007, 09:08 PM
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Ingredients for kimchi?

Hello RawVegan4Health!

First of all, I thoroughly enjoy reading how you came up with the most cost effective pickling jar. I am sure a lot of people are going to appreciate what you have done as a way to save several pretty pennies. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what is needed to make a pickling jar. This is despite the fact that sourcing parts could be a problem if one doesn't know where to search for them. What I did instead is to buy the pickling jar kits ($8.00 per kit, including shipping) from Mike Synder in Portland Oregon. Then I went to Wal-Mart to get those gallon jars ($4.90 per jar) similar to what you bought. This should be viewed as another option for anyone to get those pickling jars at little cost, especially for those who live on the other side of USA (East Coast) where shipping cost could be very high.

I am about to make kimchi within the next few days. If you don't mind, could you please tell me what ingredients are used to make your kimchi based on Sandor Katz's Wild Fermentation? By the way, you don't need to list the measurements since the recipe for your current batch is probably copyrighted.

Whtever you share with me and the rest of the community is greatly appreciated.

Cheers,

Wayne
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  #12  
Old 08-11-2007, 12:38 PM
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Thanks, I wasn't aware of those kits, but not too surprised they are out there.

I checked Sandor's website to see if maybe he had it posted onlince since I noticed his basic pickle and saurkraut recipes were posted there. It was not though.

The batch I made I had followed the books recipe pretty much to the letter except where I had some leeway, but even then I still did not stray much at all. I used bok choy, red radish, carrot, onion, garlic, ginger and some ground chilli powder (2 L's in that kind of chilli).
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Last edited by RawVegan4Health : 08-11-2007 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 08-11-2007, 01:12 PM
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Wow what a project! Looks great, how does the eggplant taste and what do you use it in?
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Old 08-11-2007, 01:35 PM
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I haven't tried the eggplant yet. Today was the first I sampled anything (1 week later). I tried a cucumber, and it still tasted mostly cucumbery, but has a soda-ish thing going on and starting to get a hint of sour. Needs more time still.

I have never had pickled eggplant before actually. I saw them at the market and thought they looked the perfect size and shape. When I told the lady I bought them from I was going to pickle them, she said she likes doing that to these herself. Also, in the Wild Fermentation book Sandor talked about a batch of pickled veggies he made once and how he loved the baby eggplant. So I'm excited to try one when it's ready.

Here's an updated pic of the eggplant (left) and the spicy pickles (right). The eggplant has really changed color.


Here's a pic of the sauerkraut and kimchi when I started them.
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Last edited by RawVegan4Health : 08-11-2007 at 01:44 PM.
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Old 10-19-2007, 07:00 AM
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any updates???

I signed up to get them
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