How To Find The Best Fermenting Crock Pot – The Sauerkraut-Dipped Guide
Attention readers! There was the ultimate fight in my neighborhood.
What’s all the fuss about?
Well, as you know we are the community of passionate amateur cooks. A few weeks ago, my dear friends and I discussed the topic of fermentation and which crock is the best for that use. Surprisingly, all five of us had a different opinion!
My hubby, who overheard this discussion, proposed a competition. Every one of us should make sauerkraut in her own pot and let our husbands and children decide which one is the best. He even planned to prepare ribs and baked potatoes as a “side dish.”
I am getting ahead of myself, but can you guess who won? Yours truly, of course.
However, after the experience I gathered - this review had to be written. A significant amount of sauerkraut had been eaten for its sake, so do not question its relevance.
How Do Fermenting Crocks Work?
Fermentation crock is a pottery container used for holding the cabbage or other vegetables as they ferment. It comes in two versions: open crocks and water sealed ones. These two types work in slightly different ways.
When you are using an open crock, you have to pack vegetables inside it and then place a plate inside, above the vegetables. The role of this additional plate is to hold down whatever is fermenting beneath it. At last, the cloth is placed over the opening and fermentation process is ready to begin. This means ferment is exposed to the air the whole time.
On the other hand, water sealed crocks come with two weights which are put into the pot on top of the vegetables to hold them down. After that, the lid is placed into an open moat which should be filled with water. This mechanism prevents the air from entering the crock, while carbon dioxide gases can quickly bubble out.
Choosing The Best Fermenting Crock Pot
When you realize there are two types of crocks, your decision becomes even more complicated.
If you want to spend less money, get yourself a pot that is easy to clean, and you are planning on fitting large or whole vegetables in it, you should go with the open crock. Also, if you want to stay traditional and follow your grandmother’s recipe, this pot will serve you well.
However, if the thought of flies touching your food or mold appearing on the surface gets you nauseous – you should go with the water sealed pot. If you go with this option, prepare for spending more money and more time while you cut your vegetables into smaller pieces so they can go through the pot’s narrow opening.
There is two more stuff to look for. You should always be able to move your crock when it is full and heavy, so don’t buy oversized ones. Also, look for good stable handles, many crocks have a handling problem due to their weight.
What Size Fermenting Crock Do I Need?
In fermenting crocks, size matters. They can vary in their capacity from 2 to 50 liters. As you can see, it is an extensive range of sizes, and you don’t want to end up spending money on a huge crock if you are planning to prepare food for a family of three.
You can calculate how many pounds of cabbage you will get out of one pot by simply doubling the number of liters that mark its capacity. For example, 5 liters pot will give you around 10 pounds of vegetables, 10 liters pot will give you 20 pounds and so on.
5 liters crocks are usually enough for any household, but if you have particularly large family, you can go to the 10 liters pot.
How To Clean And Store Fermenting Crock Pot?
You can simply wash your fermentation container with soap and water after every use. Still, this is not enough if you want it to last.
Every now and then, do the deep down clean. After washing it with soap and rinsing it with hot water, as usual, scald the crock with boiling water for at least 30 seconds. Then pour the water out and let it dry for a little while.
While you wait, boil the lid, weights, and plate for 10 minutes in half water half distilled white vinegar. Once you are done, let them cool down and then rinse them with hot water.
The crock and all of its parts should be air dried!
When it comes to storing, I have only one rule. Do not put the weight stones inside of the crock pot and store them that way. As first, the mold can attack them that way and second they can damage the insides of the pot if you start moving them around.
How To Use A Fermenting Crock Pot
The first step is always choosing your favorite recipe. I think the simplest solution is the best when it comes to sauerkraut, so I chose this one. After this, you should prepare the ingredients as the recipe recommends and place them in the crock. Remember to fill only 2/3 or ¾ of crocks capacity, because you’ll need to leave space for weights.
Then you just place the weights in, one at the time. Make sure that all vegetables are covered in brine, if not, add some more. Next, you should fill the moat with water in order to create the airlock. At last, place the lid on the top and wait. After two days you should start hearing “blurp” sounds out of the pot. This is the sign that fermentation had begun.
If you see floaters or mold on the surface, simply skim them off. After several days had passed, move your crock to a cooler, darker place. The process is done when you decide it is done. The longer you wait the taste will be more intense because more probiotics are created.
When you estimate you should do it, remove the ferment from the crock and place it into storage containers.
Why Use A Water-Sealed Fermentation Crock Instead Of Jars?
Many of you may ask yourself, why would I buy the fermentation crock when I can do the same thing using mason jars? Well, it is true, you can, and that is a much cheaper option. Still, if you are aiming for the deep flavor, you should use the crock.
Stoneware walls create more stable fermentation conditions which allow vegetables or whatever you are making to develop a deeper flavor. Also inside of the water sealed crock brine cannot escape nor overflow which gives it the right texture and moisture. At last, if you use this type of crocks you don’t have to worry about the odor; your house won’t have the cabbage-y smell that can appear when you use jars.
When To Ferment In A Crock?
You can ferment your vegetables whenever you want, but there are still some recommendations you should follow. For example, the perfect time for fermenting the whole cabbage is during autumn. During this period you can get high-quality organic cabbage, and outside temperatures won’t affect the fermentation process.
If you start fermenting in the summer, you might have a problem because of the high temperatures. In case you still decide to go through with it, pay close attention to your crocks. Ferment for a shorter period, 2 or 3 weeks max, instead of usual 4 to 6 weeks.
The Current Best Fermenting Crock Pots - My Reviews
After we’ve learned all about crocks and how to use them, we can proceed to find the best fermentation crock on the market.
**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
Brave choice for pros
If you buy Gardener Supply stoneware crock, you will get a pretty good deal. It is affordable and practical at the same time. It offers you an opportunity to make sauerkraut, pickles, apple cider vinegar and even Kombucha tea in it.
The crock is made of high-quality ceramics, and it has a beautiful design. It is smooth, round and elegant. On the other side, it doesn’t have any handles and it is large. This means moving it might be a little tricky, especially when you realize it is an open crock.
Before buying any crock, always check if it has the lid. There is nothing wrong with open crocks but be sure to get what you expected and not something you don’t know how to deal with. Also, I would recommend you to go and buy the crocks in an actual store and not over the internet, because they are usually fragile and you might end up with hundred broken pieces.
If you are an inexperienced cook, I wouldn’t recommend you to buy this crock because it requires a lot of attention and if you forget about it for a few days mold and bugs could easily destroy your ferment.
Things I liked
- Beautiful design.
- American made.
- High-quality ceramics.Right
- Right size and weight.
- Super easy to clean.
Things I didn’t like
- Open crock.
- It doesn’t have any handles.
- You shouldn’t put it on fire.
Durable but not trustworthy
If you decide to buy K&K Keramik’s best fermenting crock pot, you will pay almost the double price in comparison to the previous one. However, you will get durable crock with the airlock lid and German quality. This one can also be used for whatever needs to be fermented, from cabbage to ale. It is easy to use, and it comes with a few simple recipes on how to make sauerkraut, pickles and so on.
If you are a forgetful person who has many crock pots of different sizes, this one might confuse you. There is no engraved size on it, so you can only guess how much ferment you’ll make once you forget which size you bought.
Stones that should cover the ferment are too small, and they do the poor job when it comes to holding it down. At last, remember to put something underneath this crock before you start using it. It has rough edges which may scratch wooden floors and countertops.
Things I liked
- Airlock lid.
- It comes with few essential recipes.
- Made in Germany.
- Easy to use.
Things I didn’t like
- It doesn’t have engraved size.
- The stones are a little too small.
- It will scratch your floor or countertops.
Water seal at its best
With Nik Schmitt's fermenting crock you will get a heavy duty, German quality product for the surprisingly low price. It leaves no space for mold or floatings. It has small air vents on the lid, but you shouldn’t worry because nothing can go through them. What really surprised me was the tightness of the lid and how well it works.
This crock doesn’t require any special care nor storage space, which is great if you tend to be sloppy in storing your pots. However, just as the previous one it has a rough bottom, so you might scratch your hands or floor. Of course, this fermentation crock is multifunctional just as any other one, it is not specialized in pickles, carrots, green beans, beets, cabbage or anything else.
The moat is a little shallow, and some of my friends thought that this size wouldn’t be enough for their families, but again this depends primarily on your needs. In case you end up breaking your lid or stones, you can always buy them separately.
Things I liked
- Very affordable product.
- It has the airlock lid.
- Easy to maintain.
- It comes with an instruction booklet.
Things I didn’t like
- The rough bottom can be a problem.
- It has a little shallow moat.
Watch for the stones
Many of my acquaintances have this fermentation crock. Their opinions are so different!
Everyone agrees on one thing – the price is excellent. For the value of money, you pay you will get lead and cadmium free product, which is why many people insist on using this one in particular. It is easy to clean, doesn’t require more than soap and hot water. Instructions manual that comes with is simple and well written.
On the other hand, it comes with a few difficulties. Some of my friends say they cannot get rid of the mold on the weights, no matter how long they air dry them. Fortunately, solution for this problem exists. You should put the weights in the oven and let them dry that way; it would fasten the process and stones would be clean.
This crock has handles, but it seems they are here just for aesthetics because you cannot lift it by using them, the chance is it will slip and spill all over your floor.
Things I liked
- Reasonable price.
- Lead and cadmium free ceramic.
- Easy to clean.
- It comes with basic directions.
Things I didn’t like
- Made in China.
- The handles are worthless.
- Poor quality, fragile.
- Stones mold quickly.
Perfect taste and missing stones
TSM’s fermentation pot will probably make you spend more money than you have planned, especially if you want to buy their weight stones, too. Yes, they are sold separately and no, it doesn’t make much sense to me either.
However, this is one high-quality pot, handcrafted in Poland with lead-free materials. If you want to be safe and you believe more in hand made products, this is the right crock for you. It has 10 liters capacity which is double the amount of all of the previous ones. If you plan on making ferment for a big family and giving away some to your friends, this fermenting crock pot is the right size.
You will surely get the perfect taste sauerkraut without much effort, but you will have to find a replacement for missing stones. Of course, you can make anything you want in it, starting with pickles and Kimchi, all the way to fermenting wine. Also, if you are the first time user, remember that this pot comes without any instruction, so you will have to figure it out on your own.
Things I liked
- Handcrafted in Poland.
- Lead-free material.
- Huge capacity.
- Perfect taste.
Things I didn’t like
- Stone weights sold separately.
- It lacks instructions.
What Is The Best Fermenting Crock Pot?
After more than a month of preparations, multi-day discussions and more sauerkraut than we can bear to eat, the decision was made. The high court with my best friend’s son as a supreme judge found me guilty of making the best cabbage in the neighborhood.
Well, the fault was only partially mine, while the other half should be blamed on the Nik Schmitt's fermenting crock pot. I have to admit; I am one of those people who hate mold, bugs and all of the other filth that can come in contact with my food. This is why good water sealed lid is such an important factor to me.
I tend to believe in German quality, and rough bottom of the pot is not a deal breaker for me. I will tell you a secret; it can be fixed by the pair of skillful hands and a little wet-dry sandpaper.
Now that I have seen other crocks and how they work, I would consider buying the TSM’s 10-liter pot, even if it comes without weight stones. The sauerkraut from that pot was astonishing!
Whichever pot you choose, use it wisely and remember to share the food you make with your friends and family, because love makes everything taste better!