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Pickle ferment gear and tips

November 7, 2020

I’ve tried a lot of things and would love others to get started so here’s my best advice on pickling equipment. Just to be clear though…

You don’t have to have all this stuff!

You’ll get good results with any old jury rigged system you come up with so long as you use the right amount of salt and keep the food under the brine at all times. Once you get hooked and start doing this a lot (’cause you will!) upgrding your gear will save you time and irritation.

Airlock Lids

An airlock lid is the easiest way to keep mold and yeast out of your jars so lactobacilli can do their magic. Many are designs from brewing, others are fance, expensive things.

I like Pickle Pipes and similar products. They are cheap, simple, work really well, and last forever. It’s just a silicone rubber insert that works with the canning rings that come with your jars.

Submergence Devices

Sounds very technical! Most folks use weights like glass or ceramic, placed on top of the food in the jar. They suck. Things shift around and drop down the side of the jar. There are also spring or turnscrew contraptions but they are expensive so I haven’t tried ’em. I tried using a plastic bag with air in it, that’s a big mess.

The best things I’ve found are Occupare Vita “food retainer cups” from Quality Reliable Products. I simply can’t recommend these strongly enough, they work perfectly every time. Their website is clunky and I can’t get just the cups from them directly anymore, only kits. However, if you’re OK with Amazon you can get just the cups there for either wide mouth or regular mouth jars.

Salt

All that really matters is using a salt without iodine. Iodine kills the helpful critters you are lovingly cultivating in your food. Any type will do.

That said, I like sea salt b/c it has minerals.

Their gear looks pretty good too… they have something they call a “brine bowl”.

The most important thing is measure your salt by weight! This is very important for repeatable results and possibly food safety. Different types of salt have different grain sizes. So a tablespoon of kosher salt is not the same amount as a tablespoon of sea salt. If you measure by volume, you really don’t know how salty your brine is. Getting this right is important for finding the flavor you like and to ensure the ferment is safe… though it’s hard to screw that up.

Weigh the food and water you are fermenting in grams. Divide by 100. That’s how many grams of salt you need for 1% salinity. So easy.

Tamper

Easily replaceable with spoons and such, but I like having this object around. It’s a lovely piece of wood with a pleasing shape. They make it much easier to press the gas out of during primary fermentation. Masontop is a good source but there are plenty of cheaper options.

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