Earth’s General Store carries the German style Gärtopf fermentation crocks which have a water gutter molded into them to reduce the likelihood of mold and bacteria making its way into your fermenting vegetables. Our present crocks are supplied and manufactured by Schmitt & Sohn from Germany. (We used to carry the Harsch brand but they decided to close their business after a couple of centuries.)
The lactic fermentation process is an ancient and traditional method of preserving the bounty from our agricultural and gardening efforts. It seems most cultures have some form of fermented vegetable in their culinary history and present cuisine.
A variety of vegetables such as cabbage (think sauerkraut and kimchi), cucumbers (pickles), beans, beets, carrots, etc lend themselves very well to the lactic fermentation process. Recently it has become more widely acknowledged that the addition of fermented foods to a person’s diet produces very favourable results and health benefits.
The end result of the lactic fermentation process produces a product that is rich in probiotics which helps the lower intestinal tract and supports our immune systems but also aids with digestion and helps use deal with diseases.
Our crocks are a lead free glazed ceramic container that has a built in water seal, weights and a lid. Basically you placed your shredded vegetable into the crock, add salt, massage or tamper the vegetable mass, place the weights on the surface, put water into the trough and put the lid on the container.
The water trough acts as a one-way airlock. As the fermentation gases build up in the crock (mostly carbon dioxide) they need to vent. We don’t wish to have air borne bacteria entering and possibly contaminating our fermenting process so the water trough is there to protect the process. When the gasses build up they lift the lid until an edge of the lid is out of the water. The gasses ‘burp’ the pressure under the lid is reduced and the lid sinks to reseal the crock. Pretty cool, effective and simple airlock. Water airlocks is used in many other devices and processes such a wine and beer making and even you toilet uses a simple water airlock.
There are some other useful tools to help make things like sauerkraut (picked cabbage) more efficient and they are a tamper and a slicer (mandolin). We can special order these in for you and sometimes we even have them in stock. The sauerkraut slicer/shredder is an oversized mandolin (cabbages tend to be much larger than most other vegetables) and a mandolin made specifically for the cabbage will make the process go much faster.
As for the tamper these are quite easy to make. The main thing you are looking for is the wood has to be a hardwood and not a softwood like pine or spruce. A baseball bat is made from hardwood and perhaps you have one lying about (I would sand off the varnish first though). You can quite often pick up small pieces of hardwood from your local lumber yard or hardware store. They quite often have bins of cutoffs or mis-cuts that they sell for a reduced amount. Also many pallets have hardwood components and a plentiful supply of tamper making material.
Note – the reason why you don’t want to use softwood: softwood splinters too much; when bashing it in water pieces will come off and you will get that in your end product; and it is not as sanitary as hardwood insofar it sucks up moisture and where there is moisture bacteria can breed. A good analogy of why this is a good choice is to think of cutting boards. You don’t see cutting boards made of softwood… only hardwoods.
Earth’s General Store usually carries the following sizes at the corresponding price (thought the prices may change without notice or update of this site due to fluctuation in the exchange rate)
Each crock comes complete with the straight walled ceramic pot, a ceramic lid, two semi-circle weight stones and an instruction sheet.
We normally only carry the 5, 10, and 15 litre crocks. Sometimes we carry the 20L but they can always be special ordered through us.
- 5L Fermentation Crock – $ 128.00 Diameter 10″ / Height 12″ / 12.1 pounds Holds 5-8 lbs of cabbage
- 10L Fermentation Crock – $ 164.00 Diameter 12″ / Height 14.25″ / 18.9 pounds Holds 11-17 lbs of cabbage
- 15L Fermentation Crock – $ 190.00 Diameter 11.5″ / Height 16.25″ / 19.7 pounds
- 20L Fermentation Crock – $ 225.00 Diameter 14.25″ / Height 17″ / Weight 25.4 pounds
Earth’s General Store wants people to help people be successful when they make fermented foods at home and we offer fermentation workshops throughout the year. You can check whether we are hosting any upcoming workshops through our EventBrite page. We do have a workshop scheduled for October 6th, 2016.
We also carry pink Himalayan salt that works very well for this process (we also have bulk Celtic sea salt), the Perfect Pickler, and LOTS of books!
Other probiotic drinks include Kombucha and Kefir – which we also offer.