MakeSauerkraut

Fermenting Supplies for Sauerkraut & Vegetables [The Classics, The Latest, The Greatest]

Fermentation supplies for making sauerkraut. | makesauerkraut.com

Fermenting supplies for all your needs. I thought it would be helpful to create a resource page you can always come to for an overview of all your sauerkraut making tools. This list will evolve as I discover some of the best fermenting supplies to have on hand for successfully and safely making your own sauerkraut and other fermented foods.

There are many more fermentation products on the market now than when I first launched my website back in September of 2014. As new and noteworthy products come on the market, I will review them and share my findings.

This post was originally published on September 26, 2014. It was last updated with new information on January 12, 2017.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. Please understand that I have experience with most of these products, and I recommend them because they work, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something.

Holly/MakeSauerkraut.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com or endless.com, MYHABIT.com, SmallParts.com, or AmazonWireless.com. 

When first making naturally fermented sauerkraut, you really need just a few fermenting supplies:

  • A container of some sort, a canning jar being ideal.
  • A weight to hold your sauerkraut or fermenting mixture below the brine.
  • A lid to seal your jar.

Below are some options, along with specialty crocks to consider purchasing once you have the knowledge and desire to make large batches.

Fermentation Jars

There is a wide range of containers out there that can be used for fermentation all the way from a used pickle jar to a 10-liter water-sealed ceramic crock. They all get the job done, some with a bit more ease than others. And some with better results than others.

Canning Jars

Canning jars – sold under the name Mason, Ball, Kilner, Bernardin and others –  make for a great first fermentation vessel.

  • They’re inexpensive and easy to find used. You might even have some around the home.
  • The quart-sized (liter) jar is perfect for beginning fermenters. It allows you to make a small batch of sauerkraut, experiment with various recipes and develop the necessary fermentation skills and intuition to troubleshoot if a batch does not turn out to the best of your liking.
  • They fit easily in your refrigerator. No need to transfer your finished ferment into a new jar.
  • The jar is clear so you can watch the bubbles rise as your sauerkraut ferments!

Don’t be afraid to buy a case (12) – found in stores where home canning supplies are sold – of the jars. Just make sure you buy the wide-mouth jar. Not only will you have them to make more sauerkraut, but they come in handy for all sorts of uses in your home.

Wide Mouth Ball Jar, 32-Ounce, Case of 12

Ball wide-mouth quart jar, case of 12.
Ideal for small-batch fermentation.

Fido-Style Wire-Bale Clamp Jars

Another jar option for fermentation are wire-bale jars with clamp lids commonly called “Fido” jars. Many swear by them as the only way to create an anaerobic ferment in a glass jar. With these jars, a thick gasket and a strong wire bale holding down the lid create an airtight seal. Some ferment in them without an airlock saying that built-up gasses exert enough pressure to slightly lift the lid and escape between the rubber gasket and lid.

If fermenting in them without an airlock stick to the name brands such as Bormioli Rocco, Fido and Le Parfait which are made from hardened glass, instead of using the cheap knock-offs. Most no-name jars are made in China with thin glass, which is not usually hardened, and come with low-quality gaskets. This is important in order to avoid jars exploding when CO2 gasses build up during the early stages of fermentation.

Listed and discussed under Complete Jar Systems, are Fido-style jars with airlocks.

Bormioli Rocco Set OF 2 Fido Clear Jar, 33-3/4-ounce

Capacity 33.75 ounces (1 liter) with many other sizes available.
Made in Italy. Lead-free. BPA-free. Hardened glass.
Superior resistant to use and dishwashing guarantees long lasting product.

Fermentation Weights

One of the key factors for successful fermentation of sauerkraut and other vegetables is keeping everything below the brine and away from air. This prevents the growth of mold and yeasts. An inexpensive option, that I recommend when just starting out is a small jar. I list that here along with other products that I have used.

I have an entire blog post dedicated to the discussion of fermentation weights, that includes why a weight is necessary along with other options you might want to try:

Fermentation Weights: Keep Your Ferments Below the Brine

Some of the weights are items that can be found around you home, others are available for purchase.

4 ounce (125 gm) Small “Jelly Jar”

This is the smallest of the canning jars and is found in stores where home canning supplies are sold. This little jar works more as a counter-force than a weight. It is placed inside a quart jar on top of your packed sauerkraut. As the sauerkraut pushes up on the little jar, it’s held in place by the lid and can go no further, thus remaining below the brine.

My photo-rich teaching recipe uses these jars and guides your through the process step by step:

The SureFire Sauerkraut Method… In a Jar: 7 Easy Steps

4 Ounce Jelly Jars

Ball 4 ounce quilt jelly jar.
Inexpensive and effective “weight” for use in quart (liter) jars.

Pickle-Pushing No-Float Jar-Packer

Again, though it is not an actual weight, I list the Pickle-Pushing No-Float Jar-Packer from the Ultimate Pickle Jar Company under Fermentation Weights, because it acts as a weight, flawlessly holding your ferment below the brine. A very useful fermentation tool. Full details are found in my Review Blog Post:

Pickle-Pushing No-Float Jar-Packer Review: Ingenious

The owners of Ultimate Pickle Jar Company come from a home canning background. They learned about lacto-fermentation and were soon converted, but saw the need for an affordable way to keep their ferment below the brine. Concerned about the use of various metals and plastics in an acidic environment they did their homework. They use 316 stainless steel, FDA Grade BPA-free and phthalate-free silicone and BPA-free and phthalate-free plastic.

So, though this not an actual weight, its job is the same: Hold your ferment below the brine. The more I use it, the more I like how well it works. During fermentation, the large amount of air bubbles created within the packed sauerkraut force the cabbage to expand and move brine up and out of your jar. With the Pickle Pusher in place, this can’t happen. Instead, the air bubbles move up and out of the jar leaving your sauerkraut to happily ferment in plenty of brine for the entire fermentation period.

Pickle-Pushing No-Float Jar-Packer. | makesauerkraut.com

Pickle-Pushing No-Float Jar-Packer

Silicone disk with tabs that effectively holds your fermenting sauerkraut below the brine.
For use in wide-mouth quart (liter) canning jars.
Complete kits sold for a single jar, 3 jars or 6 jars.

ViscoDisc Canning Buddies

Though ViscoDisc Canning Buddies are not an actual weight, they perform the same task as a weight: holding your ferment below the brine. Simple, affordable and quite effective. Full details in my Review Blog Post:

ViscoDisc Canning Buddies REVIEW [Simple & Affordable]

These have been used in the commercial canning industry for over ten years and just recently have been introduced to the home fermentation market.

ViscoDisc is a stable FDA approved HDPE (High-density polyethylene) material. Tests have shown no leaching of harmful chemicals into the product being fermented.

Pickle Pebbles Plus by Mason Tops

What I like about these fermentation weights is their weight! 6.0 ounces; the greatest weight of all ones you can buy. I have not actually used these but are in the process of reviewing them – to see if they are heavy enough to hold active sauerkraut below the brine – and will soon post my results. They are one of the heaviest weights I could find.

Full details are found in my Review Blog Post:

Pickle Pipe Pickle Pebble [MasonTops] REVIEW: Delightfully Simple

Pickle Pebbles PLUS – Glass Fermentation Weights – WIDE MOUTH – 4 Pack.

Made of non-iridized soda glass which is completely inert and guarantees that no other substances leach into your ferment.
Lead-free, food-grade, non-porous glass.
Diameter 2.75 inches (7.0 cm); Thickness: .75 inches (1.9 cm); Weight 6 ounces (170 grams)
Designed for use in wide-mouth mason jars as well as Fido-style jars.

Best purchased as a set to include the Pickle Pipes.

Tamarack Stoneware 2-Piece Weight

Handmade and sold in the Tamarack Stoneware Etsy Shop.

Since these are a 2-piece weight, they can be cut a bit bigger than the single piece weights thus allowing for complete coverage of your ferment. They are also nice and heavy, similar in weight to the Pickle Pebbles.

Note: Stoneware clay is porous. Porous weights work great, just make sure they are completely dry before storing, else mold can grow on them.

Fermentation weights by Tamarack Etsy shop. | makesauerkraut.comTamarack Stoneware Stoneware 2-piece Weight – Etsy Shop.

Made of high-fired, fine-grain stoneware clay.
Lead-free, food-grade, non-glazed.
Diameter 3 inches (7.5 cm); Thickness: .5 inches (1.3 cm); Weight: 6 ounces (170 grams)
Designed for use in wide-mouth canning jars as well as Fido-style jars.

Fermentation Lids

Fermentation is an anaerobic – without air – process. Therefore, you will need a lid to seal your jar while its contents are fermenting. Choices range all the way from the metal rim and lid that is included when purchasing canning jars to lids that include one-way valves, the latest style of fermentation lids to hit the market.

Many also successfully ferment in Fido-style wire-bale clamp jars. I list the airlock lids for these jars along with complete jar systems.

I include options for:

  • One-Piece Fermentation Lids
  • Fermentation Lids with Airlocks
  • Water-Sealed Fermentation System for Wide-Mouth Canning Jars

One-Piece Fermentation Lids

To seal your quart (liter) jar, any of the various plastic storage caps work great. Unlike the metal lids that come with canning jars, the plastic ones will not corrode. Some come with seals to better keep air out of your ferment.

Since none of the lids in this set contain airlocks, they are not screwed on super tight during the active stage of fermentation where a build up of gases could cause your jar to explode. I’ve never had this happen with sauerkraut. Excessive build up of gases is more of an issue when fermenting foods high in sugar, such as fermented sodas.

Ball Wide-Mouth Plastic Storage Caps, 8-Count

Set of 8 reusable BPA-free lids for wide-mouth canning jars.
Ideal for use during fermentation and for storage of fermented sauerkraut.
No rubber gasket.
Not leak proof.

Silicone gaskets, sold separately, can be placed inside plastic storage caps to make them air-tight and leak-proof. I tend not to use these when fermenting, but you could, and instead use them if I have a jar of liquids that I need to make leak-proof.

10 Silicone Sealing Rings Seals Gaskets for Mason Jars. Make Your Lids Spill Proof! (Wide Mouth)

Improved designed. Thicker with a groove to fit better
Made of 100% silicone rubber. Silicone is a safe, green, non-plastic (BPA free) material for food use that does not leach any chemicals.
Dishwasher, freezer, and microwave safe.

Tulid (Pack of 3) – Mason Jar Lids (Wide Mouth) – Reusable, leak-proof, BPA-free

Leak-proof, reusable, BPA-free lid for wide-mouth canning jars.
Rubberized grip enables easy opening for all ages.
Removable FDA approved silicone gasket.
High-gloss writable surface.

iLIDS Wide Mouth Mason Jar Storage Lid, Beach, 3-Pack

Made in the USA of recycled material.
BPA-free and phthalate-free.
Removable gasket for a leak-proof seal.

Fermentation Lids with Airlocks

If you use a lid with an airlock, gasses that build up during fermentation can escape but no new air can enter. Many say this makes for a higher-quality ferment with better levels of beneficial bacteria.

The three products listed below are all slated for review in the near future. I’ve used lids with the 3-piece airlocks, commonly used in the wine and beer making community, but did not like all the parts to deal with and their high profile. Up until my reviews, I’ve been successfully fermenting in canning jars with just the white storage caps but am excited to start using these well-designed airlock lids.

I have now reviewed the Pickle Pipe. Full details are found in my Review Blog Post:

Pickle Pipe Pickle Pebble [MasonTops] REVIEW: Delightfully Simple

Pickle Pipe – One-Piece Silicone Waterless Fermentation Airlock Lids for Wide Mouth Mason Jars – 3 Pack

Super-simple, one-piece waterless airlock.
Screws in place using any standard mason jar band.
No need to burp your jars manually each day.

Best purchased as a set to include the Pickle Pebbles.

Easy Fermenter Wide Mouth Lid Kit: Simplified Fermenting In Jars Not Crock Pots! Make Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Pickles Or Any Fermented Probiotic Foods. 3 Lids & Extractor Pump – Mold Free Guarantee

Designed to fit any wide mouth mason jar, our waterless airlock valve technology lets carbon escape.
Comes with an extractor pump to suck out the oxygen during the later stages of your ferments.
Date setter dial in rim keeps track when your ferment started so you always know when it’s almost complete.
An easy twist tab incorporated in the lid makes for easily removal of tight lids.

FermentEm 4-Piece Fermenting Kit: 4 Wide Mouth Mason Jar Fermentation Lids – Waterless Airlock System

4 Wide Mouth Plastic Cap Fermentation Jar Lids with Waterless Airlocks and removable silicone gasket seals.
Every component is BPA-free, food-safe, re-usable, washable and made in the USA.

The Probiotic Jar(tm) Lid Kit and Quick Start Guide to Old World Traditional Pickling and Anaerobic Fermentation

Fermentation lid for use on the Bormioli Fido Bale-Wire Jars size 500 ml thru 5 Liter.
Glass lid and brine bowl (Lead-Free) and other materials FDA food grade (No plastics or metals coming into contact with food.).
Two airlock types for maximum flexibility and stopper for post-ferment storage.
Does not come with wire-bale. Designed to replace lid of jar you already own.

Pickl-It Original Fermentation Lid Kit Convert ‘Fido’ Jars For Anaerobic Pickling

Fermentation lid for use on the Bormioli Fido Bale-Wire Jars size 500 ml thru 5 Liter
Glass-lid made in Italy. Silicone grommet USA-made FDA food-grade.
Barrel Air Lock – One-way valve releases excess CO2 and oxygen, creating natural, spontaneous anaerobic condition.
Does not come with wire-bale. Designed to replace lid of jar you already own.

Water-Sealed Fermentation System for Wide-Mouth Jars

I’m about to test this product with a variety of ferments and have no doubt it will perform splendidly. It uses the same concept as a water-sealed crock yet is designed for use on wide-mouth canning jars. Small batch fermentation with ease.

Kraut Source Fermentation Lid

Fits on standard wide mouth mason jars, allowing you to make pint, quart, or half-gallon sized batches of various ferments.
Made of 316-grade stainless steel and FDA food-grade silicone.
Metal disk held in place by a spring-loaded handle keeps everything below the brine.
Lid design has a moat that is filled with water for water-sealed safe fermentation.

Complete Jar Systems

Another jar option for fermentation are wire-bale jars with clamp lids commonly called “Fido” jars, fitted with airlocks, and sold under the name Pickl-it and The Probiotic Jar. Many swear by them as the only way to create an anaerobic ferment in a glass jar. With these jars, a thick gasket and a strong wire bale hold down the lid to create an airtight seal.

Makers of these systems fit them with an airlock to release any buildup of CO2 gasses and feel a hermetically sealed anaerobic environment is the only way to go. I purchased a few of the Pickl-it jars early on in my sauerkraut making journey and found them expensive, clunky to work with and more difficult to store. They work splendidly, but since I make 40-plus jars of sauerkraut seasonally both in a water-seal crock and quart canning jars, I find them cost prohibitive.

I would love to lab test for levels of beneficial bacteria in these jars, along with the various air-tight fermentation lids now on the market. For now, go with what works best for your particular situation.

The Probiotic Jar is a complete fermentation system using the Fido-style clamp jars.

All Italian-glass lead-free construction. FDA food-grade silicone grommet.
No metals or plastics touching food.
Full color-printed quick-star guide.

The Pickl-It jar is a complete fermentation system using the Fido-style clamp jars.

Developed and rigorously tested over the past 6-years, meeting the stringent needs of a toxin-free, nutrient-dense, whole-food lifestyle.
Easily transforms a wide variety of your favorite fruits, vegetables – even grain and dairy – into consistently tasty, Lacto-fermented, old-fashioned food.
Tight-fitting, air-tight glass lid. High-capacity easy-to-clean barrel-style airlock. Plug for storage when airlock is removed.

Water-Sealed Fermentation Crocks

Once you have developed confidence in making sauerkraut successfully in quart jars on your counter top, you may want to consider purchasing a large specialty crock to ferment larger batches.* These newer crocks offer a more stable environment for fermentation. Their innovative water-sealed lid also allows gasses to escape but no air to enter, thus maintaining an oxygen-free fermentation environment.

*The reason I recommend you get comfortable fermenting small batches before buying a large specialty crock is that it can be unnerving to pack 15 pounds of cabbage and vegetables into your new crock not knowing if it will turn out right or even whether you’ll like the flavor.

Even today, a decade after turning out my first jar of Dilly Delight Sauerkraut, I still make half of my sauerkraut in quart jars and half in my water-sealed crocks. I like the ability to experiment with flavors in single-jar batches yet also love the quality of sauerkraut that comes from fermenting in thick-walled, stoneware crocks.

Here is a post detailing everything you need to know before purchasing a fermentation crock, along with a larger coverage of fermentation crocks:

Fermentation Crocks: The Who, What, Where, When, Why and How

Below are some water-sealed fermentation crocks I recommend.

Stone Creek Trading water-sealed fermentation crock. | makesauerkraut.com

Boleslawiec Crock from Stone Creek Trading

Handcrafted with the rich, abundant clay by local artisans in the Boleslawiec Region of Poland, the Boleslawiec Crock is crafted by those with 60 years of experience.

The quality of these Polish fermenting crocks is on par with – or better than – the popular Harsch and Schmitt Gairtopf fermentation crocks from Germany, but at a much more affordable price. Check their website for other styles and sizes.

Best thing? These crocks come with lead-free glass weights – heavier than any other weights I’ve seen – and recipes for pickles and sauerkraut. Reviews on the Stone Creek Trading website all indicate impeccable customer service.

In addition, I just noticed that they carry replacement lids, a nice option one hopes to never need. When I moved, my Harsch crock lid broke. Thankfully, I was able to repair it.

TSM Products 31040 Harvest Fiesta Fermentation Pot with Stone Weight, 5-Liter

Available in sizes from 5 liters to 20 liters, this fermenting pot has a larger water moat and usable handles. I don’t own one but know many of my readers have been happy with their purchase of this crock.

Made in the Czech Republic. Lead and cadmium free ceramic and comes with stone weights. Emblem is a sticker that comes off; not painted on.

Schmitt 5L Gairtopf German Fermenting Crock Pot

This beautiful pot makes it extra easy to ferment your own cabbage, beets, pickles and other vegetables. It is made of fine-grained, kiln-fired, lead-free glazed stoneware, and has a very smooth exterior and interior.

I purchased this crock long before I learned of Stone Creek Trading and would recommend their crock – though I receive no compensation from them – over this one.

The size I purchased of this crock – 5-liters – is a great size for individuals or small families. I can pack almost 15 pounds of my seasoned cabbage/vegetable mixture into it and end up with 6–7 quarts (liters) of sauerkraut. You’ll also be able to pick the crock up (approximately 25 pounds when full) and fit it in your sink to wash it.

The weights that come with this crock are a little meager. This fall, I will test a batch with the glass weights I received from Stone Creek Trading, which can be purchased separately from them.

3-Gallon Fermentation Crock Complete Kit

This traditional hand-molded stoneware crock has a lead-free, food-safe glaze. It includes two 8″ x 4″ stoneware crescent weights to keep contents submerged. It is made in the U.S.

This crock is huge. I pack 25-30 pounds of my seasoned cabbage/vegetable mixture into it and end up with 11–12 quarts (11–12 liters) of sauerkraut. You’ll need strong arms to pick the crock up (40-50 pounds when full) and its size makes it awkward to wash. But, I don`t regret owning it and use it to make a year’s supply of the only sauerkraut my eldest son will eat.



Mark Campbell water sealed fermentation crock. | makesauerkraut.comMark Campbell Ceramics

These crocks are wheel-thrown and made-to-order with your choice of glaze colors.

Design one to sit on your kitchen counter to daily add beauty to your home and inspire you to make sauerkraut! More about Mark Campbell Ceramics here. Be sure to check out his beautiful bowls.

He totally gets how flavor-packed sauerkraut can dramatically and effortlessly shift the flavor of a meal which is why I’m always creating new recipes.

Sarah Kersten water-sealed fermentation crock. | makesauerkraut.comSarah Kersten

Modeled after a traditional Chinese design, these crocks are designed by Sarah Kersten and hand crafted at her studio in Berkeley, California.

Sarah’s work is inspired by her love of beautiful, functional ceramics, and her desire to produce heirloom-quality fermentation crocks.

Crocks come with glazed porcelain weights and a letter-pressed booklet of recipes and instructions.



Schmitt & Sohn water-sealed fermentation crock. | makesauerkraut.com

In Canada, Schmitt & Sohn fermentation crocks are available from Bio Supply

Bio Supply carries the Schmitt & Sohn crock in a variety of sizes. With typical German ingenuity, these crocks are created with a modern twist using a natural clay slurry which reduces the weight while increasing the durability.

Bio Supply will ship across Canada. Contact them for shipping costs. Their store, House of Nutrition, is located just outside of Victoria, so if you live on Vancouver Island you can pick one up at their store and save on shipping.


Ken Bours sauerkrautpot. | makesauerkraut.comKen Bours Ceramics Agency is located in Nederland and ships worldwide.

They carry a variety of water-sealed fermentation crocks in sizes from 2-liters to 25-liters. Style vary all the way from the traditional straight-walled to hand-etched rounded. Some are handmade by master Dutch Ceramist Daniel Lebon.

Mad Millie Fermentation Crock. > makesauerkraut.comMad Millie Fermentation 3 Liter Crock.

For my followers in New Zealand or Australia! I recently came across the Mad Mille company and this beautiful crock. Don’t you love the color?

It’s a perfect entry level crock. You should be able to pack 5 pounds of cabbage into it and end up with 3 jars of sauerkraut. Those numbers are a guess, based on my experience; I haven’t actually used this size crock.

Zaklady water-sealed fermentation crock. | makesauerkraut.comScythes Australia is located in Mudgee, NSW.

They import fermentation crocks from Zaklady Ceramiczne that are made at a factory in Poland.

Scythes Australia carries the 5, 10 and 20-liter water-sealed crocks complete with weights and a set of fermentation recipes. I think these crocks are made by the same company making the Boleslaweic crocks shown at the beginning of this section.

Fermentation Salt

Salt is used to create the brine in which the cabbage mixture ferments. Salt pulls water out of the cabbage and vegetables to create an environment where the good bacteria (mainly lactobacillus) can grow and proliferate and the bad bacteria can die off.

Not all salts are the same. Most salt is highly refined, resulting in the loss of valuable trace minerals and the addition of mystery items that will not aid the fermentation process. I talk further about salt is this post:

What is the Best Salt to Use When Making Fermented Sauerkraut?

When first starting to ferment, keep things simple and use the salt you have in your home as long as it just says “salt” or “sodium dioxide” on the label. If it has sugar or anti-caking agents in it, don’t use it. Instead, look for a “pickling” salt at the store or consider one of the salts discussed below.

That being said, I like to ferment with unprocessed mineral-rich salts – salts that still have their complete natural profile of minerals. One of the nutritional benefits of fermentation is that it makes minerals bio-available, resulting in a more nutritious sauerkraut.

Mineral-Rich Salts

If you want to use an unprocessed, high-mineral salt, here are two kinds commonly used by fermenters. I buy my Pink Himalayan Salt in bulk from SaltWorks. SaltWorks offers a large variety of pure and high-quality wholesale sea salt and bulk gourmet sea salts from around the world. Select the fine grind because it dissolves easier than a coarse grind.

 

Sherpa Pink Gourmet Himalayan Salt, 5lbs Fine Grain

Himalayan Pink Salt is my favorite salt to ferment with. Its purity and high mineral profile ensure a healthy fermentation environment. I especially like its color – a beautiful pink!

Himalayan Pink Salt is mined from deep in the Himalayan Mountains. This salt crystallized more than 200 million years ago and remains protected from modern-day pollution and impurities. It contains more than 84 trace minerals and none of the additives or aluminum compounds found in refined table salt.

I tend to buy my Himalayan Pink Salt, fine grain in 55-pound bags from SaltWorks.

Redmond Real Salt, Fine Ground, 26 Ounce Pouch

Real Salt comes from an ancient sea bed in Central Utah. It is completely natural sea salt – nothing added, nothing taken away. That means you get more than 60 trace minerals in a delicious, healthy salt that is not chemically treated, bleached or kiln-dried.  Redmond Real Salt is commonly found in health food stores and even in many standard grocery stores.

Scales

A must-have fermentation tool!!!

If you haven’t yet purchased a scale, wait no longer. The success of your sauerkraut fermentation depends upon using the correct amount of salt for the cabbage and vegetables you want to ferment. The right amount of salt ensures that the lactobacilli, which are responsible for safely preserving your ferment, have a chance to fully do their job.

Weigh Your Cabbage and Vegetables to Guarantee a Perfect Ferment

I own both mechanical scales and digital scales and now use my My Weigh KD-8000 digital scale – purchased a year ago – exclusively. It is especially useful when calculating salt by weight.

Salt by Weight for Delicious Sauerkraut… Batch after Batch

Mechanical scales make no beeps, have no flashing lights and do not need batteries. I found a used mechanical scale years ago for $20 and have used it to successfully make many batches of sauerkraut. It’s not as accurate as a digital scale but it gets the job done.

Digital scales are more accurate and can easily switch between weight pounds, ounces or grams. Most, however, automatically shut off, negating the ability to zero out the weight of your bowl.

Some things to look for when selecting a digital scale:

  • Can you read the display when a large bowl is sitting on the scale?
  • Can it weigh at least 11 pounds (This is enough to make a bowl full of 5 pounds of sauerkraut, necessary when making larger batches or filling a crock.)?
  • Can you program it to not automatically shut off?

Kitchen Scale – Bakers Math Kitchen Scale – KD8000 Scale by My Weigh, Silver.

Highly recommended. I recently purchased this scale and I LOVE IT! You can program it so that it does not automatically shut off, especially helpful when your busy slicing cabbage and don’t want your scale to shut off before you’ve had a chance to weigh it.

I used to prefer my mechanical scale over any digital scale until owning the My Weigh KD8000. I have found all sorts of uses for it.

For additional information on this scale, see my Review Post, 7 Reasons Why I Love the MyWeigh KD-8000 Digital Scale [HOW-TOs] in which I not only cover its features but also have photographic slide shows on how to disable the Auto-Off setting and how to use the Baker’s Percentage Weighing Feature to effortless calculate your salt for any give weight of cabbage.



Smart Weigh Digital Glass Top Kitchen and Food Scale, 5- Unit Modes, Liquid Measurement Technology, Professional Design, Black

If you’re wanting a sleek, modern look in your scale and one that does not need much room for storage, consider this glass top scale by MyWeigh. This scale does shut off automatically if idle for 1-2 minutes. You would need to note the weight of your bowl and then add the sauerkraut weight to that.



Ozeri Pronto Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale.

This scale gets good reviews on Amazon. I dislike the light humming noise it makes and it automatically shuts off after a minute or two. Not good if you want it to hold the Tare weight for you bowl while you’re busy slicing cabbage.

Mixing Bowls

Most likely, you will have a large mixing bowl in your kitchen that will work fine. I prefer glass, though stainless steel or plastic work, too. Stay away from aluminum or copper because the salt used in fermenting reacts with these metals, possibly leaching bad stuff into your kraut.

The size of my favorite glass sauerkraut mixing bowl is 12 inches (31 centimeters) across the top, and it can hold 7 quarts (6.6 liters). This size enables me to make a single 1-quart batch or a 3-quart batch. It’s the largest mixing bowl I use, even when filling my large 10-litre crock, since I always mix and pack 3-quart quantities at a time.

Fox Run 10.75qt Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl

I purchased this bowl from Amazon last summer. Perfect size and wide enough to easily get your hands in when mixing up your sauerkraut.

Stainless-steel construction for durability and temperature retention.

Flat base for stability.

Dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.

Mandolins and Other Slicing Devices

A mandolin. My other must have fermentation tool! Why?

From the Pickl-it blog:

These “threads” were the secret behind every single batch of my grandmother’s kraut tasting the same from one family dinner to the next. Without fail, whenever my grandfather took his first bite of sauerkraut, he would give a quick, approving nod in my grandmother’s direction, saying, “Jah. Tastes like home.”

While they didn’t know the microbiology of “why” thin, uniformly-cut cabbage threads made consistent-textured and flavored sauerkraut, Grandma had good observation skills, an important skill when practicing food “science”.

“They are cut nice and thin”, she instructed, in her still-heavy German accent, “they all must become sauerkraut together, at the same time – otherwise, if some are thick, and some are thin, then parts are too mushy, and some too crunchy, and that is never good sauerkraut.”

Why thread cuts are better:

  • Expose more cabbage cells.
  • More exposed cabbage cells release more lactic-acid bacteria.
  • More lactic-acid bacteria creates more lactic-acid.
  • Lactic acid helps to maintain a good pH which preserves flavor, texture and color.

And yes, you do not need to buy a special device to chop vegetables for fermentation. A knife and grater are perfectly adequate. However, I love my mandolin for how quickly it shreds my vegetables into thin, even slices.

A mandolin is a plastic or stainless steel device for slicing vegetables and fruit. It has interchangeable blades, the best one being made of surgical steel. I have never had to sharpen or replace the blade on the Benriner mandolin I received as a gift 35 years ago! It’s a workhorse and far easier to set up and clean than a food processor.

Here is a quick video on how to use it. I leave the core in; no need for the ice bath.

Look for an upcoming blogpost on the different cuts achieved with each of the mandolins below, along with the slicing, shredding and chopping devises on a food processor.

Benriner Wide-Body Large Slicer.

This slicer by Benriner is my favorite. It is wider than most kitchen mandolins, making it extra easy to slice wide chunks of cabbage. I like that it is smaller than the typical box mandolins – like the one below – and that I can place it directly on my bowl and have the slices fall directly into the bowl.

The Benriner mandolin comes with 3 “grating” blades for fancy vegetable cuts. You DO NOT need these for slicing cabbage. Just adjust the height of the already installed smooth blade.

SwissMar V-Slicer Plus Mandoline

A few of my readers have shared that they use this mandoline engineered in Germany by Börner. It comes with a safety guard to for your fingers. The surgical-grade stainless-steel blades are incredibly sharp and snap in and out of base with 1 easy movement. Slated for an upcoming blogpost, is a review of this mandoline.

mandolin makes a great fermentation tool for slicing cabbage. | makesauerkraut.comWood Cabbage Slicer, Medium Size

From Stone Creek Trading. Also available in Large and Extra Large.

Are you serious about Sauerkraut?  Then this is seriously the product for you.  With three metal blades and all wood construction, this wood cabbage shredder will cut the time it takes you to make sauerkraut or coleslaw in half!  A wood box holds the cabbage in place, making shredding fast, efficient and a little safer.

The blades on this shredder are removable, but not adjustable.  The blades are set at approximately 1/8″ apart.

Kitchen Knife Slicer Cabbage chopper Shredder Sauerkraut Cutter CoFermentation tool for slicing cabbage. | makesauerkraut.comleslaw Grater

I recently discovered these knives and purchased them here on eBay.
Made in and shipped from Russia.
Stainless steel.

This knife combines comfort and easiness of an ordinary knife and punctuality of classic shredder. It has the advantage of safety, simplicity and easy to hand.

Dual blades speed up the process: shreds of one kilogram of cabbage takes less than 5 minutes even if you are an inexperienced person. You move the knife, not the heavy head of cabbage!

You do need to use crisp, fresh cabbage. It is hard to get the knife to slice cabbage that is limp from months of storage.

Kraut Pounders, Funnels

A kraut pounder makes it easy to mix and pound vegetables in a large bowl so that they release their natural juices.

It is even more useful for pressing the vegetables down into the jar especially if you have large hands. I make good use of my kraut pounder to pack my sauerkraut into quart jars when I’m harvesting the goodness from my large crock. Your hand will do the job just fine, as will a large spoon, the end of a rolling pin, or a meat pounder.

Pickle Packer – Sauerkraut Pounder Made From Natural Acacia Wood.

I love the simple shape of this pounder and the beauty of the Acacia wood. My favorite. Made in China, sadly, though the company – MasonTops prides itself on quality control.

The Pickle Packer measures 10 inches tall by 2 1/2 inches at the wider base; 1 inches at the narrow base. It is designed to fit in both wide-mouth and narrow-mouth mason jars.


Kraut pounder hand crafted in Oregon. | makesauerkraut.com

Kraut Pounder

This kraut pounder is hand turned from one solid piece of hardwood maple. They are made in small batches by a local craftsman in Eugene, Oregon, engraved, oiled and shipped around the world. No glues are used. They are finished with food-grade, expeller-pressed walnut oil.

The Kraut Pounder measures 11 inches tall by 2 1/2 inches across the base and is designed to fit in wide-mouth canning jars.

Fermentation supplies; cabbage crusher from Cultures for Health. | makesauerkraut.com

Cabbage Crusher

The Cabbage Crusher is hand turned from one solid piece of hardwood maple. They are made in the U.S. small batches by the husband of an employee at Cultures for Health. They are finished with organic food-grade walnut oil.

A photo essay of the creation of the Cabbage Crusher.

Sauerkraut Stomper by Living Foods Lifestyle. | makesauerkraut.com

Sauerkraut Stomper

Live in or near New Zealand? This Sauerkraut Stomper might not have to travel too far to reach you.

The sauerkraut stomper by Living Foods Lifestyle New Zealand is crafted from the finest New Zealand pine by local bespoke-joiners IntaWood, smoothly sanded and coated with extra-virgin coconut oil. Look closely as the picture to see the hand grip cut into the stomper. A nice touch and would prevent slipping if using with wet hands. Made in New Zealand.

The Sauerkraut Stomper comes with an “elegantly” designed small booklet complete with care instructions and a simple sauerkraut recipe.

I received one of these as a gift to evaluate. A BIG Thank You to Living Foods Lifestyle New Zealand, a.k.a. Forage. They ship internationally.

RSVP Endurance 18/8 Stainless Steel Canning Funnel

A few of my readers have recommended a wide-mouth funnel to make the packing of your jar a bit easier. This one is stainless steel, dishwasher safe with two small handles on either side. It might be a hassle to use – continually removing – if you like to use your hands to pack down the mixture in your jar. If you use a kraut pounder, the funnel could stay in place.

pH Test Strips

Some new to fermentation want to know for sure that their ferment is safe to eat. You might not trust your nose, especially if you’ve never smelled or eaten sauerkraut before. Enter one little fermentation tool to add to your arsenal:

pH test strips

Use a spoon, or small ladle to grab a bit of brine from you jar or crock and dip the pH test strip into the brine. If the pH is 4.0 or below, you may safely eat the ferment. Make sure the pH paper you buy is in the lower end of the pH range (0.0 – 0.6), like the one below that I’ve used.

Hydrion S/r Dispenser 0.0-6.0 Ph Range 96 – 15 Ft Roll w/ Color Chart/ Dispenser

Ph range 0-6.0 , 15 ft roll with color chart and dispenser.
Offers clear bright single color matches at every .5 interval from pH 0.0-6.0.
The color chart has pH matches at [0.0][0.5][1.0][1.5][2.0][2.5][3.0][3.5][4.0][4.5][5.0][5.5][6.0]

Favorite Fermentation Books

New fermentation books are being published daily. I can’t keep up with them but I sure try to! Here are the chosen few from my stack.

The SureFire Sauerkraut Recipe Collection. | makesauerkraut.com

The SureFire Sauerkraut Recipe Collection: 12 Creative Recipes & Tips to Make Fermenting a Breeze

You can never have too many sauerkraut recipes. My first ebook contains 12 delicious, mouth-watering sauerkraut recipes that range from classic Juniper Berry Sauerkraut to popular Hawaiian Sauerkraut with turmeric, pineapple and a few other goodies.

Four Bonus Recipes introduce other types of ferments: Citrus-Pickled Red Onions, Cranberry Orange Relish, Simple Simon Carrot Sticks and Thyme for Leeks Relish.

Fermented Vegetables: Creative Recipes for Fermenting 64 Vegetables & Herbs in Krauts, Kimchis, Brined Pickles, Chutneys, Relishes & Pastes

Currently, my favorite fermentation book. After a nice coverage of Fermentation Fundamentals, chapters on Mastering the Basics detail Sauerkraut, Condiments, Brine Pickling and Kimchi.

Their Fermenting Vegetables A to Z chapter comes in real handy. Just harvested a bunch of beets? After sharing their knowledge on beets, recipes for Simple Beet Kraut, Curtido Rojo, Curried Golden Beets, Beet Kvass and Golden Ginger Beet Kvass with Meyer Lemon follows. Endless inspiration with recipes that work.

Ferment Your Vegetables: A Fun and Flavorful Guide to Making Your Own Pickles, Kimchi, Kraut, and More

My other go-to book on fermenting vegetables. Chapters on Pickles, Kraut, Kimchi, Sauces, Salsas and Condiments and Kvass.

Sauerkraut Pickled Eggs anyone? How about Hot Pepper Flakes?

The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from around the World

The Classic! An encyclopedia – 500 pagaes – on anything and everything that can be fermented.

Author Sandor Katz was instrumental in getting fermented foods on the map. Though his recipes are not often detailed, there is plenty of in-depth information to get you headed in the right direction.

Real Food Fermentation: Preserving Whole Fresh Food with Live Cultures in Your Home Kitchen

Want to explore the world of fermentation beyond sauerkraut and fermented vegetables?

Simple and beautiful photo-rich recipes introduce readers to dairy, fruit and meat ferments along with the classics: sauerkraut and pickles.

There you have it. An extensive list of the latest and greatest fermentation tools. Let me know if I missed a favorite of yours.

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