- DO NOT POUND IN THE POT
- DO NOT USE IODISED SALT
Using Your Fermenting Pot
Cleanliness is very important in order to prepare good quality fermented vegetables. Use hot water to clean the inside and outside of the crock and lid and let them dry. The glaze prevents flavours being absorbed into the crock and transferring to or contaminating other vegetables. Juice or brine should cover the vegetables by about 4-6 cm. A brine of saltwater in a predetermined concentration may be prepared by boiling and cooling the brine if there is not enough vegetable juice to sufficiently cover the vegetables. Lining the bottom of the crock with large cabbage leaf is a good idea but not essential.
Pounding the cabbage
The stoneware Fermenting Pot is reasonably fragile so make sure to always pound the cabbage in a separate bowl or bucket before placing them in the Fermenting Pot. The purpose of the pounding is to break up the cell walls and to the help release the natural juices contained in the cabbage. If you are making a larger quantity the ideal method is to stomp the cabbage, usually kids are very happy to do this. Otherwise you can use your fists, a piece of wood or any other utensil that is long and heavy enough. A few minutes of pounding will do, you do not want to mash the cabbage up into a slushy pulp. Once enough juice has been released you can stop there and begin packing it into the Fermenting Pot.
Filling the crock
Vegetables should be clean and of high quality. Cut away all the damaged, bruised, brown or black parts. Remove stems, leaving only the best parts of the vegetable. Wash thoroughly. For sauerkraut, you can make clean and uniform slices using a Cabbage Cutter. After preparing the vegetables, fill the crock about 4/5 full. After the weights are placed on top of the vegetables, there should still be about 1” of space. The mixture of juice from the cut vegetables and brine (see recipes for details) should cover the weight stones by at least an inch. (This is to allow space for the carbonic acid which will accumulate later.)
Fill the gutter with water and place the lid on. Let stand at room temperature (64-68F) for 8-10 days to begin the fermentation process. Adding some whey, buttermilk or wine will encourage and speed up the process (see recipes).
You will hear an occasional “gurgle.” This is normal, and is caused by carbon dioxide leaving during the fermentation process. After 8-10 days, move the crock to a cook, dark place (such as a basement or root cellar) at approx. 40-47F.
Observation and Maintenance
Constantly observe the water level in the gutter, adding more as needed. Don’t worry if all the water seems to suddenly disappear from the gutter. Move the lid slightly (don’t lift it!) and you will see that the water is still there; the vacuum has just drawn it up inside the lid. Keep the lid on at all times to keep out dust, insects, etc.
After 4-8 weeks, depending on the type of vegetable, the finished vegetables may be removed. When removing vegetables, be careful not to keep the crock open any longer than necessary. Vegetables that are too sour can be tempered by mixing in some fresh ones.
If mold has formed on the surface of your brine, you can skim it off and discard. Your pickled food will not be harmed, since harmful microorganisms cannot survive in the acidic brine.