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

A Pickle-Pushing No-Float Jar-Packer!

A What?

I’ll get to that, but first…

THE Fermentation Challenge

Fermentation of sauerkraut and other vegetables is an anaerobic process. You’ll hear this refrain from me time and time again as I help you along your fermentation journey.

What does this mean?

The beneficial bacteria, the bacteria you want furiously multiplying inside that jar of yours don’t do their best work in a jar full of air.  They need the jar to be anaerobic, or without air.

In contrast…

The bad bacteria and the yeasts and molds that you don’t want in you jar, thrive on air.

Use the right amount of salt and keep out the air and your chances for success, your ability to ferment mold-free, no-yeast sauerkraut, skyrocket.

So, the challenge is to keep the air out of your jar and your ferment below the brine.

Keep your ferment below the brine. | makesauerkraut.com

With my SureFire Sauerkraut in a Jar Method, you pack everything into a jar, place a “weight,” or small jelly jar on top and screw on the lid.

The jelly jar acts as a counter-force in the jar. 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.

The lid – loosely screwed on – prevents air from entering the jar, yet allows the escape of CO2.

The main drawback of the small jelly jar is that it takes up space that is needed for the brine. Consequently, brine often overflows during the fermentation process. But, I like that my weight is made of glass, a material I feel comfortable using in an acidic environment.

The main drawback of the white plastic lid is that it is not 100% air tight, which allows CO2 to escape, needed to prevent a build up of gases, but also allows a small amount of air to enter the jar.

So, I’m always looking for ways to build a better mousetrap for fermentation in quart (liter) canning jars.

Mike, owner of The Ultimate Pickle Jar recently sent me – as a gift – his product:

The Pickle-Pushing No-Float Jar-Packer. (Affiliate Link)

Review of the Pickle-Pushing No-Float Jar-Packer

Review of: Pickle-Pushing No-Float Jar-Packer (Affiliate Link) by The Ultimate Pick Jar (Non-Affiliate Link)
Use: With quart (liter) jars. Holds your ferment below the brine and keeps air out.
Evaluation is with similar products in mind. Upcoming posts will cover Pickle Pebbles with Pickle Pipes, the FermentEm Waterless Airlock, SteriLIDS and the Kraut Source Fermentation Lid. 
Pickle-Pushing No-Float Jar-Packer Review. | makesauerkraut.com

Product Information

The Ultimate Pickle Packer parts. | makesauerkraut.comAll components are made from acid and brine resistant materials. Shown are the components for a 3-jar set. A set-up for one quart (liter) mason jar includes a:

  • Plunger.
    The work horse. This is what gets pushed down onto your ferment and is held securely in place below the neck of your jar by fins that push against the sides of the jar. It’s a round disk with small holes in it, fins around the edge and a center hole with a threaded metal insert.
    Made from FDA food-grade, BPA-free and phthalate-free silicone.
  • Adjusting Rod.
    This is screwed down through the center of the plunger and prevents the Plunger from tilting sideways when fermenting loose vegetables in brine.
    Made from 316 Stainless Steel.
  • Launcher.
    The fins of the Plunger are held “closed” by the Launcher while the Plunger is pushed down into your jar. Quite easy to do.
    Made from BPA-free and phthalate-free plastic.
  • Plastic Fermentation Lid.
    Comes with a silicone gasket and drilled hole encased in a silicone grommet for insertion of airlock.
    BPA-free and phthalate-free plastic.
  • 3-Piece Plastic Airlock.
    Inserted into the center of your fermentation lid and filled with water to form an anaerobic fermentation environment.
  • Plastic Storage Lid.
    Comes with a silicone gasket for storage of your ferment.

The Pickle-Pushing No-Float Jar-Packer in Action

Three types of ferments tested with the Ultimate Pickle Jar. | makesauerkraut.comI tested the Pickle-Pushing No-Float Jar-Packer with three types of ferments: paste, loose vegetables fermented in brine and standard sauerkraut. All were flavored with garlic scapes just harvested from my garden.

Garlic Scape Sauerkraut

Making sauerkraut with the Ultimate Pickle Jar. | makesauerkraut.comBowl on the scale and ready to weigh the finely sliced garlic scapes.

The Plunger, with its fins, next to the sliced garlic scapes. Then, the Plunger has been inserted into the Launcher and is sitting on top of the jar ready to be pushed down on top of the sauerkraut mixture.

Making sauerkraut with the Ultimate Pickle Jar. | makesauerkraut.comThe Launcher and Plunger assembly ready for “deployment.” The Plunger in the jar and then pressed down and below the brine.

Making sauerkraut with the Ultimate Pickle Jar. | makesauerkraut.comAirlock is filled with water for an anaerobic fermentation environment. Below the brine and happily fermenting.

Plenty of brine at the end of the first week. | makesauerkraut.com

Checked one week later. NO brine overflow during the active first phase. Plenty of brine covering the Plunger. And, when checked at the end of the second week all was still covered with plenty of brine. I’m a happy camper.

My Discoveries: I love the fact that there was no brine overflow as often happens when I’m using the jelly jar as a weight. The actual Plunger that sits down in the jar of fermenting sauerkraut takes up very little space.

You’ll notice that I did not use the Adjusting Rod. I saw no need for it with sauerkraut. If you pack your jar to the neck then the Plunger stays in place right at the neck and this is the spot at which it works best.

Fermented Garlic Scape Carrot Sticks

Fermenting carrots with the Pickle-Pushing No-Float Jar-Packer. | makesauerkraut.comHere we are a few days into the fermentation process and the Plunger has tilted such that garlic scape bits are floating to the surface. It would help if I had followed directions!

So, I used the Adjusting Rod to remove the Plunger and clean things up.

Then using the Launcher, I reinserted the Plunger complete with the necessary Adjusting Rod and what a difference that made.

Using the pickle-pushing no-float jar-packed to make fermented carrots. | makesauerkraut.comThe Plunger is held in place. No garlic scapes will be able to float to the surface.

And by holding the jar by the ring of the Adjusting Rod, it is clear that the Plunger won’t be going anywhere either. Any forces from the build up of CO2 gasses will not be able to push it up and out of the brine.

My Discoveries: Loose vegetables in a brine ferment are always a challenge to keep below the brine. The Plunger – with Adjusting Rod – holds everything below the brine with ease. I tend to ferment brined vegetables for short time periods because of the air exposure that happens to the bits that float to the surface. I will now feel much more comfortable fermenting them for a longer time period.

Garlic Scape Paste

Making garlic scape paste using the Ultimate Pickle Jar system. | makesauerkraut.comThe jar of garlic scape paste packed and the Plunger pushed down into place. Extra encouragement with my hand forces a nice bit of brine to rise to the surface. Air-lock lid in place and ready to ferment.

My Discoveries: A little jar can work as a weight but it takes up a lot of real estate when fermenting in smaller jars, which I tend to use for pastes and relishes. The supplied Adjusting Rod is too long for the smaller jar I used – a shorter one is planned – but the tabs held the Plunger securely in place. There was no movement of the Plunger during the fermentation process and brine always covered the paste. Keeping brine above pastes and relishes is a bit of a challenge because most weights don’t exert enough pressure.

Conclusion

The Plunger keeps all types of ferments below the brine. } makesauerkraut.comHere is a peek at my ferments, a week into the fermentation process. Below the brine and all is fine. Time to put back on my airlock lids and let the wonderful microbial world work for me.

There are other ways to hold your ferment below the brine, some more cost effective than others.

In this post, I share the pros and cons of one product, the Pickle-Pushing No-Float Jar-Packer on the market and will do so also with Pickle Pebbles & Pipes, the FermentEm Waterless Airlock, SteriLIDS and the Kraut Source Fermentation Lid.

Pros of the Pickle-Pushing No-Float Jar-Packer

  • Complete fermentation setup with Plunger – that acts much better than a weight – and exerts over 4 pounds of force to compact jar contents and keep under brine.
  • Plunger takes up very little space in your jar, therefore no loss of brine.
  • System prevents bits floating to the surface, thus preventing mold growth.
  • Works to hold a variety of types of ferments below the brine: sauerkraut, loose vegetables and pastes and relishes.
  • Comes with photo-rich set of instructions, along with instructional videos available on product website.

Cons of the Pickle-Pushing No-Float Jar-Packer

  • Lots of parts to keep track of when not in use.
  • Tall profile of the 3-piece airlock can be a bit awkward on some counter spaces.
  • Plunger – that sits in your ferment – is made from silicone. Though top-quality and BPA-free and  phthalate-free, we just don’t know the long-term impact of these materials in an acidic environment.
  • For the Plunger to work effectively, the jar needs to be packed to the right level (right to the neck of the jar).

I’m happy to have the Pickle-Pushing No-Float Jar-Packer (Affiliate link) in my fermentation repertoire and will use it often. It truly is a ingenious solution to keeping everything below the brine without using a weight.

If you have used this product – or if you do – feel free to leave comments or share your thoughts.

As I use my set throughout the sauerkraut making season, I will update you with any new discoveries.

16 thoughts on “Pickle-Pushing No-Float Jar-Packer Review: Ingenious”

  1. These look pretty cool, I’ll have to add them to my fermentation wish list along with a water seal crock. Just yesterday I received a new fermentation kit in the mail (https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KTOUZ66/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1). I’m doing a side by side test with those and the Pickle Pebble/Pipe with sauerkraut. I’m curious to see if there is any difference between the results with the 2 systems. I look forward to seeing your post on the Pickle Pebble and Pipe system. I think it’s a great and easy system but I do have “problems” with brine volcano’s the first few days of fermentation. I also find myself wanting to play with the Pickle Pipe, it’s just so fascinating. I will also be starting a side by side comparison between the 2 systems I have with fermented onions. I would love to hear how you think these compare to the Pickle Pipes, or maybe they would work really good together.

    • Our minds think alike, though I have been able to resist the play urge with the Pickle Pipes. My son, however was about to give it a pinch. I stopped him just in time.

      I find the beer & wine brewing airlocks you are testing a bit too obtrusive and fiddly but the price is right. I don’t like clutter in my visual space so the Pickle Pipes appeal to me.

      Yesterday, I did a batch of fermented carrots with them; today Cranberry Relish & tomorrow sauerkraut. Will be posting the results, soon. So far, so good. It’s neat to see the top curve up as the CO2 gases build up. No volcanoes, yet.

  2. I am on my second batch of your “Firecracker” recipe. This time I measured my batch’s for 900g. using the “Pickle-Pushing No-Float Jar-Packer”set. After packing the contents well, the plunger and rod sit exactly where the fins remained at the right location in the jar. Once pushed in to place the brine quickly rose to the surface and has remained constant. I am very pleased with the ease of the process.

    • Good to hear, Peter. I just did a batch of sauerkraut and found the plunger was a little lower than I would like. Used 800 grams. But… no worries. Within a few days, the kraut had expanded just enough pushing the plunger up to its ideal spot. 900 grams might be the trick. This picture is before expansion. I’ll take one of it 3 days into the process once it had expanded.

  3. Can you tell me if the probiotic count increases with time if one lets the ferment continue past 3 days? If so, is it a significant amount?

    • The one study I’ve seen shows beneficial bacteria counts peaking at day 21. This was done on a controlled batch in a controlled environment. This is why I recommend 3-4 weeks. But, there is much we don’t know and I feel different bacteria come and go along the way. Ferment for at least a week and enjoy the different bacteria after that depending upon fermentation length.

      • Thanks for your quick reply. Now what? Can I start fermenting it again after I refrigerated it this morning? I only did 3 days with this batch. I did one a while back and it was good (tasting) in 3 days but this one doesn’t seem quite as cruncy or tasty.

        • Hopefully, you’ll be able to restart the fermentation – actually it just slowed way down in the fridge – by bringing it back out. Problems arise if it gets refrigerated on day 1, before any action has started.

  4. I understand how the launcher works to insert the plunger. What I can’t figure out is how do you remove the plunger when the fermentation is done. The photo’s show how the whole system can be lifted with the rod, so that makes me wonder if it is hard to take it out.
    Another question is how far can the plunger be pushed down? Is it a fixed place (like to the shoulders of the jar) or can it be pushed down further?

    • Hello Danielle, There is a metal rod that can be used. to prevent the Pickle Pusher from tilting in the jar if fermenting loose bits. You can see this in the Fermented Carrots section, above. The ring on the rod can be used to pull the Pickle Pusher out of the jar. If I’m not using the metal rod, I just screw it into the Pickle Pusher when I’m ready to remove it. It pulls out fairly easily.

      If you’re not using the rod, the Pickle Pusher can be pushed down into the jar. It’s intended to sit in the shoulder of a standard canning jar, but I find it works quite well in a straight sided pint jar. See the Garlic Scape Paste pictures. Hope that helps to clarify.

      • Thank you Holly! That helps to understand. I guess I didn’t look at the pictures well enough before. I have decided to try the viscodiscs first. And if that doesn’t work out I will look at this system.

      • Thanks. I want to make sure I understand what you mean by “brine ferments.” Aren’t all the fermented foods we are creating here brine ferments? Or are you making a distinction here between self-brining ferments like sauerkraut, and foods you need to add brine to such as carrots? The latter group is what you’re calling “brine ferments“?

        • Yes, I’m making that distinction. “Brine Pickling” might say it better. I’m always hesitant to use the word “pickle” because it’s so connected to “Pickles, or Brined Cucumbers” and I want people to see beyond Pickles to yes, fermented carrots that are fermented by pouring a prepared brine over chopped – or whole – vegetables. Vegetables that can’t create a brine on their own. This is vs. self-brining ferments, like sauerkraut.

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