Fermentation Jars

Ideas, Instructions, Recipes

Sarah Kersten

Recipes by Elizabeth Vecchiarelli

Introduction

In 2009 I started making fermentation jars while working on organic farms in Washington state.

I embraced fermented vegetables for their health benefits and delicious qualities, and was in need of a crock myself. I was inspired to create a functional + beautiful vessel for the process, and I discovered that the fermentation jars were an excellent way to focus my passion for ceramics. The jar you have today is the product of years I spent in pursuit of functionality, simplicity, and beauty in relation to this specific form.

Today my jars are made by a team of artisans working in Oakland, California. Sarah Kersten Studios is a small independent business, and we are honored that you have chosen to bring one of our pieces into your home. We hope that it bubbles away on your counter, serving you well, for many years to come.

For this instruction booklet, I asked my friend Elizabeth Vecchiarelli to contribute fermentation instruction tips + recipes. Elizabeth is the proprietor of Preserved, a beautiful Oakland shop that focuses on fermentation-related kitchen tools + pantry items. Preserved also hosts fermentation workshops. Find them online at preservedgoods.com.

SARAH KERSTEN

How to use your Fermentation Jar

1. Prepare the vegetables based on your recipe. Fill the fermentation jar with the prepared vegetables. Leave at least one inch of headspace open from the top of the crock. (The ferment will bubble and rise up slightly during fermentation, and will overflow into the water seal if there is not enough empty space in the jar).

2. Arrange the ceramic weights inside the jar, on top of the vegetables. Their role is to keep your veggies submerged under the brine.

3.  Fill the water moat about ¾ full with water. Place the lid into the moat to create a seal. Carbon dioxide — naturally produced during fermentation - will bubble its way out of the water moat, creating an oxygen free environment inside the jar. Replenish water in the moat as needed to maintain an airlock during fermentation.

4. Fermentation times vary based on recipe, style of pickle, density of the vegetable, ambient temperature, and your preferred flavor profile. Cooler temperatures slow down fermentation, warmer temperatures speed it up. If possible, store your jar in a cool location in your home.

5.  When your ferment is finished, remove the veggies, pack them into glass jars, and store in the refrigerator. Make sure to include the brine so the vegetables stay submerged during storage.

Live-culture ferments will store for an indefinite amount of time in a refrigerator, however they are often best enjoyed within 6-12 months. 

Sauerkraut

Recipe by Elizabeth Vecchiarelli

OPTIONAL:
Caraway
Mustard seed
Juniper berries
Coriander
Black peppercorns

INSTRUCTIONS

Peel off two outer layers of cabbage leaves and save. Cut out and finely chop the core. Finely chop cabbage leaves. Mix cabbage with sea salt in a large bowl. Squeeze the cabbage and salt together with your hands, gently until it releases its juice, making a brine. Let it sit at room temperature for an hour to allow the salt to further soften the cabbage, then massage gently again. Add spices (if using), then taste the cabbage to assess the salt level.

Pack the cabbage and brine tightly into your crock using your fist or a wooden tamper. Fill your crock, leaving at least one inch of headspace from the top. Lay the two reserved outer cabbage leaves on top of the packed cabbage and press down to completely submerge the cabbage in the brine. Place the ceramic weights on top. If there is not enough brine to cover the weights, make more brine by dissolving 1 teaspoon of sea salt in 1 cup of water

Fill the moat of your crock ¾ full with water and place the lid on top to create a seal. Ferment for a minimum of 5 days and up to 30 days (or longer) for a more complex and sour flavor.

Once the kraut is fermented to your liking, transfer to glass jars and store in the refrigerator, submerged in brine. Best enjoyed within 6-12 months.

NOTE: The cabbage leaves on top of the kraut provide an extra layer of protection against surface mold. Don’t stress about mold! Simply discard the outer leaves if mold appears.

Mixed Pickles

Recipe by Elizabeth Vecchiarelli

USE ANY MIX OF HARDY VEGETABLES SUCH AS
Carrots
Cauliflower
Green beans
Radishes
Turnips
Onions
Fennel


OPTIONAL SPICES:
Bay leaf
Black peppercorns
Mustard seed
Coriander
Chile flakes
Turmeric
Whole fresh garlic cloves
Fresh minced ginger

INSTRUCTIONS

 Prepare the veggies by cutting them into similarly bite sized pieces. Peel root veggies if their skin is tough. If mixing vegetables, consider slicing denser veggies thinner and softer veggies larger so they will ferment at approximately the same rate (just like cooking). Combine salt and water, stirring to dissolve completely.

Place the spices in the bottom of your crock. Tightly pack the veggies into your vessel, leaving an inch of headspace from the top.

Pour in the salt-water brine to cover the veggies completely. Place the ceramic weights on top to keep everything submerged in brine. Inevitably, some spices or veggies will float to the top. Fill your crock’s moat ¾ full with water and place the lid on top to create a seal. Ferment for 1-2 weeks. Transfer to glass jars and store in the refrigerator. Best enjoyed within 6-12 months.

 


Kosher Style Pickles

Recipe by Elizabeth Vecchiarelli

INGREDIENTS:
Small (less than 6”) pickling cucumbers*
 Fresh dill
Garlic cloves, peeled

**Pickling cucumbers are a variety of thick skinned cucumbers 


SPICES:
Dill seed
Mustard seed
Coriander
Black peppercorn
Chili flake

INSTRUCTIONS

To ensure the cucumbers stay firm, soak for 2-4 hours in ice water prior to brining. Then, scrape off the blossom end of each cucumber, (opposite of the stem end).

 Combine sea salt and water, stirring to dissolve completely. Place dill, garlic and spices at the bottom of a one-gallon vessel. Pack cucumbers tightly into your crock, leaving an inch of headspace at the top. Add the grape leaves on top of cucumbers. Pour the salt-water brine over the cucumbers, covering them completely while leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top. Place the ceramic weights on top of grape leaves to keep everything submerged in brine.

 Fill your crock’s moat with water ¾ full and place the lid on top to create a seal. Ferment for 7-14 days, then transfer into glass jars and move to the refrigerator. (If your ambient temperature is very warm, move to the fridge after 7 days, if cooler, up to 14 days.) Pickles should be ready after 2 weeks of additional cold storage. Best enjoyed within 6 months.

Other Notes

BOOKS WE
RECOMMEND

Wild Fermentation 

BY SANDOR KATZ

Our top pick for someone new to fermentation 

The Art of Fermentation

BY SANDOR KATZ

Fermentation Journeys

BY SANDOR KATZ

The Noma Guide to Fermentation

Fermented Vegetables

BY KIRSTEN SHOCKEY

BASIC BRINE
RECIPE

Use 2 tablespoons of sea salt per quart of water. This brine is useful for filling remaining space in the jar if the vegetables are not fully submerged. Add more salt if pickling cucumbers.

SALT

We love fermenting with delicious sea salts, or kosher salt. Avoid iodized salts or salts with anti-caking agents.

THE WATER SEAL & THE PHENOMENON OF MOLD

If brine overflows into the water seal during fermentation, use a towel to sop up the liquid, wipe the moat clean, and refill with fresh water. On the chance that mold begins to grow in the water seal during fermentation, use the same technique to reset it.

 The water seal allows CO2 gas to bubble out, while preventing oxygen from flowing back in. A low oxygen environment in the jar will discourage mold + yeast growth on the surface of the brine water. If the jar remains closed, it is likely that the contents of the jar will be safe from mold or yeast growth. That being said, there is no reason to fear opening the jar, or little bits of mold or yeast.

 When first learning to ferment, taste your ferments or sample the brine to assess the flavor (and texture) every 4-5 days as fermentation progresses. Different stages of fermentation taste different. While you are opening your crock and breaking the oxygen seal, carbon dioxide created from fermentation will force out whatever oxygen is let in, reducing the risk of mold growth. Once you start opening the jar, make sure to open it every few days to monitor the surface of the brine water. With experience you will start to understand how long you like to let your veggies ferment, and how temperature affects the process. This is valuable information!

 If you do find mold or yeast, simply skim it off the top of the brine and replace the lid. Keep an eye on the brine, checking every few days while fermentation continues.