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Monday, February 3, 2020

Making Sauerkraut: Ferment N Joy Fermentation Jar Lids Kit Review

 
Making Sauerkraut: Ferment N Joy Fermentation Jar Lids Kit Review

Buy it at Amazon: Ferment N Joy Fermentation Jar Lids Kit [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Easy to follow instructions, perfect for small batch fermenting.

The multi-pack kit includes three plastic lids, three air locks, and a brief fermenting guide that walks you through a basic vegetable fermentation. These specialized lids are meant to be used with wide mouth mason jars and measure 3.5” in diameter and have a hole in the middle with rubber grommet so you can create and air-tight seal with the air locks. Inside each lid is a silicone ring along the edge at the top which will create a leak-free seal with the jar. There’s a notch next to the sealing ring, so you can easily remove the seal for cleaning and it pops back in with little effort.

These air locks are the same ones that you might see in home brew beer/wine kits. It consists of a water chamber, a float valve, and a snap-on cover which has small holes on the top to allow fermentation gases to escape but won't allow outside air and contaminants go back into your jar. Before each use, you should always wash and rinse all parts of the lid and air lock well. I like using the amber mason jars from Ball to ferment in because they block UV light and help keep the food inside from spoilage better. The simplest recipe to start with is sauerkraut which is just fermented cabbage.

To prep the cabbage, cut a 3-4 lb head of cabbage in half, then quarters. Next, remove the core and slice the cabbage into thin strips. Place the cut strips into a large mixing bowl. For each pound of cabbage, add about a tablespoon of kosher salt. That’s about 10 grams of salt to every 500 grams of cabbage. Squeeze and knead the salt into the cabbage making sure to crush and press the cabbage pretty hard. You’re not trying to tear the cabbage into smaller pieces, just crush it to break the cell walls and release some of the juices. It should look wet and glossy after 5-10 minutes of kneading. Set it aside for 30 minutes, then give it another press and squeeze. At this point you should notice liquid pooling in the bottom of the mixing bowl as the salt draws the water out of the cabbage. At this point, you can add in your preferred spices and aromatics. I like to use 2 teaspoons each of minced garlic, mustard seed, and caraway seed. Mix in the spices until they’re well distributed.

When packing the cabbage into mason jars, you might want to use a wide mouth funnel to help you. You’re going to want to pack it in pretty tight, so I use a wooden tamper to press the cabbage down, but a spoon would work too. Once the jars are packed up to the shoulders, I like to place a glass fermentation weight on top to keep the vegetables under the liquid, though these are optional and are not included with the fermentation kit. Top off each jar with the leftover liquid extracted from the cabbage and ensure that all the vegetables are submerged. If you don't have enough liquid, you can mix up 2% salt water with 2 grams of kosher salt for every 98ml of water. Using the plastic lid with the hole in it from the fermentation kit, cap each jar tightly, and place an air lock into the hole. Fill the air lock with a couple tablespoons of distilled water, but be sure to only fill up to the max fill line marked on the water chamber before capping them. Place your jars on a tray, out of direct sunlight, in a warm area about 70 degrees F to ferment for at least 2 weeks.

After a couple days you’ll start to see bubbles rising up in the air lock indicating that fermentation has started. When I first used these air locks, I noticed the water in the air lock became a bit cloudy after fermentation started, because some of the fermentation liquid rose into the air lock. Keep in mind the liquid level will rise in the beginning but go back down as the gases are released, so you may want to leave more headroom when you top of the liquid. After two weeks I had an amazing smelling and tasting sauerkraut. It has a nice salty, sour crunch to it and tastes authentically fresh, not that vinegary stuff from the grocery store. If you like yours a little softer and more sour, you can let it go longer than two weeks, but I would probably stop the fermentation and refrigerate after 4 weeks.

When you want to store it, you can’t use the lid with the hole in it, but you can get the plastic storage caps from Ball which are identical but without the hole. However, those don’t come with the inner silicone ring so they aren’t air tight, meaning the liquid could leak/spill if you tilt the jar. However, you can buy silicone rings separately for these lids, and you’ll want to get the ones with a channel in the middle to fit and lock into the lid properly, then you can cap and store your fermented goodies in the fridge for quite a while without worrying about it spilling or spoiling quickly. Overall I think the fermentation lids did a great job and make it easy to ferment in small batches with mason jars that I already own.

Buy it at Amazon: Ferment N Joy Fermentation Jar Lids Kit [Affiliate Link]
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