How To Turn A Mason Jar Into A Fermenting Crock

You can spend a lot of money on specialized pickling crocks. Go ahead, be my guest. You’ll learn all about how your $25-$200 is buying you an ideal anaerobic environment in which to nurture your precious anaerobic bacteria…blah, blah, blah.

Me? I don’t need another unitasker in my kitchen. I like to be able to use a few things – bowls, food processors, knives, mason jars – in a variety of flexible ways to achieve my goals. And this isn’t because I have a teeny, tiny kitchen, it’s just that one trick wonders don’t woo me.

So here’s how to turn any mason jar into a damn fine Pickl-It style fermentation crock for about $10, or way less if you already have a reCAP Mason Jar lid (which you should, because they rock and are definitely not unitaskers).

To DIY a very serviceable lacto-fermentation crock, you will need:

  • 1 airlock. $1.75 at your local homebrew store.
  • 1 rubber bung (hee hee, I just said bung). $.90 at your local homebrew store. #6 is a good size.
  • 1 reCAP Mason Jar Cap. (Wide month lids are coming soon!) $6.99 online.
  • 1 Mason jar  in an appropriate size to hold your ferment (you totally already have this, right?)

Step One: if necessary, go shopping at your local homebrew store. So fun, even if you aren’t a homebrewer. These places can be a bit intimidating at first, but just keep in mind that people at homebrew stores live for beer. Seriously. They are beer geeks. And like geeks of any stripe, all they want is for you to not laugh at the thing they think is cool.

So, here’s a secret: if you are a girl of even remotely serviceable appearance, and you show up at your local homebrew store and say the following: “I’m looking for whole leaf Amarillo for an all-grain 80 IBU IPA I’ve been perfecting,” you will have the rewarding experience of watching six homebrew-geeks trip over themselves in an attempt to assist you.

(By the way, Comic-Con people, don’t bother leaving nasty comments. I am Geek, garden-variety. I speak redshirt and Quenya and zucchini and I’m proud of it. I’m on your side.)

After you’ve browsed around, buy an airlock and a bung. Should run you about three bucks, all told.

Step Two: Get your homebrew loot home and put your airlock, bung and ReCAP Mason Jar Lid together in this order:

Viola! Now any mason jar is a fermentation crock. Seal off your ferment from nasty aerobic beasties.

Pat yourself on the back for the $15 or more you just saved. Don’t you love multi-taskers?


This post and lots more useful articles you might like are part of the Homestead Barn Hop on The Prairie Homestead.

Comments

  1. Seriously Erica, you are my hero! I was just weighing the pros and cons of making the more than slightly unnerving purchase of a Pickl-It or two after my most recent batch of kimchi went slimy on me. You just saved me a bunch of money!

    I still can’t believe I just recently found your blog!

    • Glad you found it! Welcome, and thanks for reading. :)

      • I am guessing if you have enough cabbage you could do this in a 5 gallon wine fermenting pail? We have two of those and 2 large carboys (dad loves to make wine and beer). Would think that if you do enough for 3 gallons that the 2 gallons would be enough headroom? New to fermenting veggies and thinking about doing kimchi (have never had it before).

        • Holly, I wouldn’t do that if you plan on using that fermenting pail to make wine again. Fermenting veggies builds up a bunch of wild yeast and bacteria. Getting rid of those later might be an issue despite how well you may clean it afterwards. When you try to brew wine later they might still be hiding out and they would love to feed on the wine. Sour/infected wine is a total bummer and a risk to your work/money.

      • Mark Mauk says:

        ” The Giveaway ” I have been trying to make a “comment” this is the only way I have found . I went to Facebook and did the “I Like Thing” and said to Comment when done , can You help me ? Thanks for any help You can give me .

    • Hi andrea.

      I’ve run into some serious trouble with the Pickl-It caps too. They use a plastic lid which contains a chemical that is completely toxic! The chemical is called formaldehyde and is suspected to cause cancer. I threw all of mine away….

      The only cap on the market that seems to be food safe at this point is called a “Kraut Kap” They food safe and have thick silicone seals which makes them completely air tight and water tight. They are even cheaper then Pickl-Its. You can check them out here..http://www.amazon.com/Kraut-Kaps/dp/B009RT4W9U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1357983522&sr=8-1&keywords=kraut+kaps

      I really hope this post helps people avoid getting exposed to toxic chemicals.

      Anna

      • Great advice Anna, thank you for sharing. Love this Blog by the way Erica–good job!

      • Pickl-Its do not have plastic lids. You’re thinking Perfect Pickler, I think.
        Very important distinction.
        Plastic leaks oxygen, glass does not.

      • Umm no, Pickl-its are made of all GLASS. There is no “cap” it is made from a FIDO jar and has only a glass fido jar lid with a drilled hole. So you are speaking of the Perfect Pickler as another commenter mentioned. There is nothing similar, the PP is simply a plastic lid with a hole and spacer added, not even close to the same.

        I still wouldn’t call this truly anaerobic because oxygen is getting in through the cap, these plastic lids can never be fully air tight. But I suppose this is better than the way most people ferment with mason jars. It’s a step up perhaps. But it’s no pickl-it by far.

      • Have you asked the pickl-it company about this chemical? She is such a nice lady. I am sure she would change the caps if indeed they are bad. Let’s help an American company to succeed and meet the demand that people want.
        Quality Components…
        Pickl-It has been developed and rigorously tested over the past 6-years, meeting the stringent needs of a toxin-free, nutrient-dense, whole-food lifestyle!

        Our youngest, adopted with a wide-range of health issues, including Autism Spectrum Disorder, needed the best possible nutrition, as well as easily digestible foods. Lacto-fermented foods played a very important role.

        Eliminating toxins from his diet – replacing all processed foods with made-from-scratch locally-raised foods – as well as using toxin-free cookware and kitchen tools were key to his recovery.

        All Pickl-It fermentation system components were selected from companies who feel the same way – that the health and safety of their customers is important.

        No Lead
        No BPA
        No Glaze
        No Cadmium
        No Phthalates
        No DHEA

      • Anna is confused.

        Pickl-It Parts

        A. Glass Fermenting Container – lead-free, high-quality, Italian-made glass with stainless steel, lead-free wire-bail; meets California safety standards.

        B. Glass Lid with installed airlock grommet – lead-free Italian glass and stainless steel, lead-free wire-bail; USA-made silicone grommet specially-designed to resist lactic-acid created during fermentation; meets California safety standards.

        C. Barrel Air Lock – Widely used in the making of beer and wine, allows escape of damaging oxygen, and excess carbon dioxide gas, prevents oxygen from entering; 3-part system is easy to disassemble and clean – Made in Canada; details

        D. Dunk’R – High-quality laboratory food-grade, toxin-free, food-safe glass weight; USA Made; details here meets California safety standards – available to purchase separately

        E. Plug’R: Superior dishwasher-safe and lactic-acid resistant silicone, the Plug’R converts the Pickl-It containers from fermentation to refrigerated food-storage. Made in USA; details here

        F. BPA-Free Cover Gasket – Superior all-natural rubber material is food-safe; dish-washer safe; one-size fits all Pickl-It lids – Italian-made; replaceable

  2. Yeah yeah yeah! No more fighting with ziplocs full of brine. Thanks!

  3. Erica, you are a awesome! Thanks for the super information! Will be heading out to get these today as I have really been wanting to jump into lacto fermentation! And I do have the reCap lids!! Keep up the wonderful informative blogs. Thnks again!!

  4. I had my heart set on a fermenting crock before I saw this idea floating around the internet! Our setup is similar, except we got a bung (didn’t know that’s what they were called!) that fits a regular-mouth mason jar all by itself. I’m still a fermenting novice, though, and my sauerkraut bubbled so much that it overflowed the airlock. Any tips?

    • Yeah, that happens. :) More headroom next time. We’ve done some alcohol ferments (homebrew, wine, etc.) that have gotten downright ejaculatory. Luckily an airlock is a one-way thing, and stuff getting out isn’t really an issue, just stuff getting in. Just rinse everything off as best you can and add clean water or brine to the lock.

    • One thing you can do for the first few days of heavy fermentation activity is another trick from us homebrewer’s trick bag – instead of the airlock, fit a length of vinyl tubing into the stopper (or if you can find tubing that fits snugly into the ReCAP opening, remove the #6 stopper) and put the other end into a can or vessel with the end under a little bit of water. This will allow the CO2 to vent out and the water will prevent air and bacteria from getting in. Once the activity dies down, replace the tubing with your stopper and airlock.

  5. This is such a great idea. It’s nice to know the tip of using the recap. I had already talked to the local brew store and they’ll have to order me the smaller airlock, but I didn’t realize the other pieces I’d need as well.

    We did sauerkraut this spring and loved it, but I’d like to have the more specialized tools, for a consistent outcome.

    • Homebrew Husband says:

      The airlock is a standard part, I’d expect your LHBS should have it in stock, but I’m not sure if that size bung is quite as common. We shop at The Cellar, just north of Seattle, and they’ve got basically wall-of-bungs.

  6. I love this idea! We are making hard cider this week, and I was hoping to do 3 or 4 different batches to test a recipe before going all in on 15 gallons… this is perfect!

  7. That is a seriously amazing plan! I’ve seen a plain mason jar lid modded with an airlock, but I think being able to take the system apart and use the different parts for different things if needed is a better idea.

    • Thanks. Yes, the flexibility of this is what I love. The reCAPs are extremely useful. And I’m not affiliated with them or anything, I just think they are handy as heck. And since we homebrew already, airlocks are standard equipment around here.

  8. awesome ingenious idea – thank you.

  9. Lady Banksia says:

    HA! I giggled a little inside, too, when you said ‘bung’…

    You come up with the neatest stuff! Totally a blogger high-five for you!

  10. Solid or perforated for airlocks? Important information we need to know.

    • Hi Kim – not familiar with the term “perforated airlock,” sorry! Generally we use the three piece airlocks over the one-piece bubblers. Is that what you mean? If there’s another type of airlock out there that I don’t know about, I’d love a link to see what you mean. Thanks!

    • Homebrew Husband says:

      Just a standard three-piece lock (I find them easier to clean). Like one of these: http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/three-piece-airlock.html
      I haven’t run across “perforated” as describing a fermentation lock before.

  11. dixiebelle says:

    Damn it. I wish Fowlers Vacola (the Aussie Mason jar company) would get them something like those re-Caps lids! I did buy a Pickl-It Converter Kit and two different sized Fido Bormioli jars, which have been brilliant.

  12. Debbie M. says:

    I don’t have a reCAP and only use wide mouth jars but I loved the idea of using the airlock for fermentation. I drilled a hole in a metal wide mouth like and inserted an airlock that had been laying around in a drawer. Works great! Thanks for sharing. If I could post a pic, I would.

    • Right on!

      • I’ll be modifying a Ball Wide Mouth Plastic Storage Cap in the same way – drill a hole in the cap, fit a rubber grommet into it and push the airlock into the grommet for a nice air-tight seal.

        • We drilled into the reusable tattler lids and fitted with the bung and the airlock -best kraut we ever made, we had problems with the regular ball lids rusting a little, that is why we use the tattler lids, this is the 2nd year of using them and no rust and no problem

    • That sounds awesome! I wanted to start this weekend, but all I have thus far is a 1 Quart Regular mouth jar. What do I need to buy? Also, any suggestions on a good sauerkraut recipe? Ty :)

  13. What’s wrong with using a plate to press down the fermentations with a rock on top of that to hold them under water? Has worked great for years for my kimchee. Just have to ferment in something wide enough to fit a plate inside.

  14. Have you considered lacto-fermentation? You can still use a mason jar but don’t need anything else other than the lid and ring it comes with. Google: Nourishing Traditions, Weston A. Price for more info.

    • this is a lacto-ferment. the ferment recipes in NT specify using whey but all that does is make it sour faster, and in many people’s experience, doesn’t result in consistent results. a salt brine in an airtight container is the best way to get consistently fantastic results with lots of LABs. NT is a great book, but Sally Fallon’s recipes for ferments and baking are only “meh” imho.

    • Yup, this is a lacto-fermentation technique, relying on the natural lactobacillus residing on the vegetables themselves.

  15. Do you weigh down what you’re fermenting or does the airlock make that unnecessary? If so, what are you using?

    • I do not weigh the ferment down in situations like this because the ferment itself rapidly creates a CO2 “cap” that protects the top of the ferment from oxygen. With the airlock in place no atmospheric O2 is sneaking in, so mold growth, etc. is highly, highly unlikely.

  16. Picture shows a wide mouth jar. I just ordered and realized these are not wide mouth adapters. Come on. Get us some wide mouth adapters please.

    thanks,
    John

    • Hi John. The picture does indeed show a regular mouth mason jar. As I mentioned in this post, and based on the information I have from the reCAP website, the wide mouth lids will be coming soon. Their website now says they will be available in October. I am not in any way affiliated with reCAP, but I encourage you to add your voice to mine in letting the people at reCAP know that you’re eager for those wide mouth lids. (http://recapmasonjars.com/) Sorry for any confusion.

  17. Absolutely brilliant!! Thank you.

  18. OK, I’m sold. Ordering it all on Amazon. Now, can you tell me how to make sauerkraut in the mason jar? Thanks!!!

  19. Excellent idea, thanks for sharing! So what I’m dying to know is what is in the soon to be fermenting mason jars in the last picture? It looks so awesomely, incredibly green.

    Thanks,
    Chris

  20. These look way cool. But excuse me for asking as I am new to the fermentation process. How do you guarantee against botulism? It is an anaerobic process and extremely dangerous.

    • Hi David, I’m glad you asked. I think it is very responsible to have a healthy respect/fear of botulism. To answer your question, the salt content of the ferment (as in sauerkraut) or the added brine (as in crock pickles) creates an environment that favors the growth of lactobacillus. The lactobacillus in turn converts starch and sugar from the vegetables (or fruit) into lactic acid, which sufficiently lowers the pH of the ferment to make it unlikely to support the growth of c. botulinum spores. This is the same basic technique used in kimchi, sauerkraut, dill pickles.

      The CDC puts out periodic reports on what foods have actually caused botulism. I recommend the summary from 1990-2000, which shows 10 years of botulism events in the US, none of which, so far as I can tell, are traceable to canned *high acid* or fermented foods outside of Alaska. Alaska is a special case for a variety of reasons, and is always looked at separately from the rest of the US. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/10/9/03-0745-t3.htm

      I have spent a good deal of time studying the actual risk factors for botulism, and have come to the personal conclusion that properly fermented and properly home canned food poses a risk to my family so minute that I have no concerns about these techniques. That said, I highly respect your hesitation and encourage you to investigate for yourself for your own confort level. A good rule of thumb in ANY food preservation is that, if you aren’t *sure* don’t do it.

      Thanks!

  21. These things seem like botulism havens. I would have my brine fully cultured and the PH set before mixing in raw veggies. Am I right about this?

  22. I love this approach but why use reCaps rather than drilling a hole in a standard lid and inserting a bung (hee-hee) for the airlock? Loving your blog!

  23. Hi All,
    I love this idea. I had the recap lids and air locks. I purchased a bung. I recently noticed that the recap lids are not liquid tight. Therefore they must not be air tight. Anyone else have this problem?
    Maryellen

    • Another commenter on this post made the same comment so I just double checked. I cannot get my recaps to leak. I just turned a qt jar half full of water fitted with a recap upside down and shook it for about 3 minutes, then tilted it every which way I could and didn’t get any leaking. I wonder if there is an issue with some gaskets? Is yours stretched at all? Is it clean and well seated? I don’t know if you can get replacement gaskets but that would be my first thought. Good luck!

      • Yes – I was the other commenter. I got mine when they first came out as a sponsor gift for sponsoring. Both of the leak. Now…I have heard that it is possible that OLDER canning jars may have had thinner rims and that the newer rims are thicker and seal better. I haven’t tested this as mine are narrow mouth and I don’t ever want to purchase a narrow mouth canning jar. I usually don’t even take them if someone gives them to me! So…that may be the issue.

  24. Esther Faith Elias says:

    Dear blog,
    I read that fermented cabbage has trillions of probiotics so I was very excited about making a big batch, which we enjoyed for months. Unfortunately my dad was put on Coumadin for blood clots. We were given a list of food to avoid because they would reverse the blood thinning of Coumadin. My question is can we get the same trillions of probiotics from other fruits or vegetables?
    Thanks,
    Esther

    • Trevor Perry says:

      When you aren’t allowed to eat healthy food because of drugs, it’s time to lose the drugs. Research the blood thinning properties of beet juice. Get a good juicer (omega 8500) juice several times a week, get off the processed foods, slowly get off the meds, and never go back to your doctor.

      • Trevor, this is an ignorant and highly irresponsible piece of advice.

        • Actually, I found it quite helpful. He is right. If your drugs don’t allow you to eat what you’re supposed to, get a second opinion from a holistic doctor and get out of the other doctors office.

        • complete agreement with Nicole here, mr. or ms. Beck. you have bought into conventional medical propaganda, an information stream of mendacious garbage in most instances.

    • Yes. You can ferment any raw fruit or veg, though some do better than others. If cabbage but not all brassicas are disallowed, try turnips. Turnips are my fave ferment. A good veg to start with is cucumbers. Ferment them and they are pickles! :) Most people are familiar with cucumber pickles. I like the recipe in Wild Fermentation.

      • I have *just learned about fermenting veggies. I have not researched them much at all. Could you walk me through how I would ferment veggies in this neat contraption? And, how would I get these parts if I do not have a brew store? Do you all use cultures in the fermenting process? Someone referred me to bodyecology.com for their cultures.

        • If you don’t have a brew store nearby, check out the available set-ups on eBay…I just got three set-ups (made from a Tattler reusable canning jar lid with a rubber grommet/bung and the airlock piece) for a wide-mouth jar for about $16 delivered. Totally worth it and WAY less than what I was thinking about paying at Pickl-It. With the wide-mouth lid set-up you can use wide-mouth pints, quarts, or half gallon jars.

    • Rea a book called ‘Wild Fermentation’ by Sandor Ellix Katz. VERY good info on this topic!

  25. I sponsored re-cap when they were first being designed so I have a couple of the originals. Unfortunately, they both leak so I don’t get an airtight seal with mine. (When I place them on a jar and lay the jar on it’s side, it’s not air-tight and the liquid will leak out.)

    So…I’m wondering how you are getting an air-tight seal? Perhaps a different brand of canning jars that have a wider lip?

    • Hmmm. I have to say I haven’t had any issues with leakage. I am pretty careful about getting the gasket well seated but I haven’t run into leaks. I generally use Kerr jars, but have the typical assortment laying around. I don’t think I’ve noticed a difference in that. I’m sorry you are having leaking. :(

  26. Well, you just hooked a: Homebrewer; Gardner; Preserver (Vegies & Meats); Hunter/Fisherman; Cook; and Rancher (Waygu Beef) , along with 3 or 4 other things that friends call upon me to do for them….lol.
    Great site!
    Just getting started looking and learning.

    Carey

  27. peppergrass says:

    Thanks so much for this information. My husband has recently become obsessed with all things fermented, and I want to support him as much as possible (because I get to eat the results). I’d mooned over some really gorgeous ceramic crocks, but winced at the prices (up to a couple hundred bucks). So excited to find this solution – and it will finally get me in the door of our local home brew supply shop.

  28. WWWWWOOOOOOOWWWWW! So glad I found this. I’ve been debating if I should fork over my bday money to buy some pickle-its, but didn’t want to and now THIS!!!! Thanks!

  29. so here i am trying this fermentation thing and i am still skimming mold. I am attempting some home made pear vineagar from cores and peelings. I made my trip to the brewery, got my bung….giggle…….airlocked it up……when i went to check there was the layer of mold scuz on top. wtf? so how do i fill my containers…..how do you seal out the air? i am confused and tired of skimming scuz

  30. Ericka, my wife and I bought picklit jars several months back. Yes, they are very pricy. Thanks for this vital information as we need more fermentation containers. My wife cultures a lot of veggies.

    I am making some fermented granola this week and will be dehydrating it tonight. Can you culture dairy products in these jars?

  31. I bought two ReCap lids to experiment with, and I noticed the wide mouth one leaked AT FIRST. I went back, carefully clean and seated the lid and the rim of the jar. Then I cranked that mutha down very tight. Result: no leak. In my case the leak was “operator error”.

  32. I plan on trying this recipe this weekend I have come up with my own airlock system

  33. No home brew store around here. Can these be purchased online?

    • eBay has tons of options for airlock lid set-ups…some use the Tattler reusable canning lids with the rubber gasket, some use a regular canning lid, some have other plastic or glass lids…there are hundreds of listings…

  34. I got two ReCap lids from funding their Kickstarter campaign. I was trying to think of a way to create a pickle-it like lid with mason jars when I thought of my caps. Glad to see I was’n the only one thinking like this.

  35. Really want to try this, thanks!

  36. Cynthia O. says:

    I love the idea of this and have checked it out on a couple of different websites/blogs. The convenience and freedom to make several recipes at once would be wonderful.

    That said, I hesitate because I’m uncertain about investing in this process until I determine whether or not the bung contain toxic chemicals. I would not be comfortable with chemicals leaching into my ferments. Do you (or anyone else here) have any information on the bung regarding toxicity? Thank you!

  37. Hi, Thanks for this tutorial! I ended up drilling a hole in Ball plastic lid and inserting the bung and airlock in there. One question:
    About 2 weeks into my first batch of sauerkraut, it seems like the cabbage has reabsorbed most of the liquid in the jar. Should I open the jar and top it off with brine?
    Thanks!

  38. Hi, Thanks for this tutorial! I ended up drilling a hole in Ball plastic lid and inserting the bung and airlock in there. One question:
    About 2 weeks into my first batch of sauerkraut, it seems like the cabbage has reabsorbed most of the liquid in the jar. Should I open the jar and top it off with brine?

    • I’ve done it both ways, topping it with brine (2.5%) and not. In my experience leaving it un-topped results in slightly uneven fermentation: the kraut that was fully submerged was slightly more sauer-y than what was on top.

  39. I. Love. You. Thankyousomuch! <3

  40. Hi Erica, thank you so much for this fantastic idea. I found a hombrew shop and bought a bung an airlock and I just purchased four reCap’s on Amazon. All that’s left is my wide mouth mason jars :). I am a novice when it comes to fermenting sauerkraut and I have been mostly making Kombucha, kefir, and water kefir. I’m very excited to put this tool to work! Next goal is to dive into the world of homebrewing. Again, thank you very much.

  41. hi, i bought the recap and find it impossible to get a stopper for it does anyone have a website that has the right size stopper?the #3 stopper is to small nobody caries the #4 and the # 5 is to big.
    i cant believe i am the only one having this problem.

  42. Question for you~ Do you need a glass weight to lay on top of the veggies? Do I just follow standard directions for fermenting? Do you use whey? What is the best salt to use?

  43. Phoebe Thomas says:

    Thanks for sharing! I’ve also been looking for a more affordable airlock system.

  44. It is VOILA, fyi :) Viola is an instrument.

  45. Love this! Anything to make fermenting easier and fun…..thanks for sharing!

  46. Gary Whitt says:

    Weighing down the ferment so the veggies are reliably submerged in the brine is the standard to achieve and not something to ignore. Veggies above the brine might not rot in a reliably anaerobic environment, but they won’t evenly ferment, either. The LABs require the liquid for mobility and high & dry veggies get no LAB love….

  47. Hi,
    When using the homemade airlock is the #6 bung the same #6′s used for carboys? And does the jar then need to be filled to the top or can their be a space and, finally, do the veggies still need to be fully submerged in the brine? I have just been using mason jars and some drinking glasses that fit perfectly into the standard lid with success. Looking to upgrade though.

    Thanks

  48. Lee Deavers says:

    Do your lids not leak?
    There are a lot of complaints on Amazon about the lids not making a tight seal.
    But they are an excellent idea. I would buy them if they had a higher rating.
    Thanks

    • Have you thought of using silicon plumbers tape?
      Cheap to use and will easily last the time you need to ferment (mulitple opening ansd closing. Otherwise you can just use a silicon ring inside the lid. As you tighten it, it will create a watertight seal and can be used multiple times.

  49. I know this is a good year later, but thanks for the idea! I was struggling with this exact problem … the need to make a fermentation setup and a severe lack of a desire to have yet another piece of cruft in my kitchen. I have tons of mason jars, and the reCAP + airlock idea is genius. Thanks to you I’m going to be producing kimchi and hot sauce out of my garden this year!

    • I have been making Kim Chee for five plus year now. Some batches were better than others and I had to play with the salt content to get it right. I use only mason jars. No airlock. The first day or two the bok choi sits in brine on the counter. Day two it get a real good rinse and then I add all the carrots, garlic, onions, ginger, cayenne, and a closely measured dose of salt. Once it is firmly packed in the jar on goes the lid and then in the fridge for at least two weeks. I have had it set in the fridge for 3 plus months and it seems the longer it is in there the better it tastes. I have done refrigerator salt fermented pickles too. They are delicious. Never had a carbonated pickle before.

  50. Can you give some instruction on how much water to put in the airlock, how long to let ferment, etc.

  51. Derek Hart says:

    OK I read through all these comments. Just bought the bung and airlock today. I just wanted to verify. Should I fill the airlock to the fill line with just plain filtered water? Salt water?

    And definitely don’t place anything on top to push it down, right?

  52. stephanie says:

    Hi Erica. Question. If you use an airlock like this setup, do you have to eight down your ferment so that veggies stay under the liquid or does using the airlock eliminate that piece. I am new to fermenting and weighing down the is the problem I have had so far. Thanks for the article. I is very awesome.

  53. Well, I did buy four of the Re_Cap lids and extra rings…BUT all of them leak and I am sorry to say I cannot return them since they have been used. I have doubled up on the ring gaskets and they still leak. There is no way to get an air tight seal with the ones I have. I am sadly out $30 and am going to send them back to the company anyway…Sorry if this puts a crimp on your blog but since I bought them because of this article I thought you should know. I will have to look into other products and probably bite the bullet and go with a more expensive solution.

    I understand if you decide not to allow my post…but people should know these things are not foolproof by any means. But I did enjoy your blog.

    Best regards,
    RonB

    • Use silicon plumbers tape arouns thread. If this does not work them the caps should be replaced as they are faulty.

      R

  54. Does this mean that no weight is needed in the jar to keep the fermenting vegetables submerged?

    • For years I have used msaon jars to ferment Kim Chee and to ferement pickles in. I do put them in the fridge and after about two weeks to a month they should be good to go. The longer you leave the kim chee ferment the better. I have one batch sit for 3-4 months and it is deliscious. With the right amount of salt your fermented product will be quite lively. I love the carbonated Kim Chee and Pickles. You may want to set the kim chee jar in a bowl upon initial opening though!

      Enjoy!

    • Bill Sager says:

      Just pack the Kim Chee into the jar as tightly as you can until the juice covers the kim chee at the top of the jar. That should be sufficient.

      Just using the mason jars I have never had a leak issue.

  55. do I leave plastic lid/cap on bubbler?

  56. Laura Reynolds says:

    This is SO great! I have a home brew store just half an hour away! I have a question though. Do you think you could drill a hole in the white re-usable mason jar lids and will it work just as well? Thanks for your great idea!

    • Use silicon plumbers tape arouns thread. If this does not work them the caps should be replaced as they are faulty.

      R

    • You most certainly can….or you can pay 5 times the amount and pay for someone to drill the hole for you. I use this meathod for raising yeast for brewing, fermenting, etc.

  57. I bought two of the reCAP lids, ball jars and an air lock, chopped my veggies, sealed them and so far they’re bubbling away nicely.

    Here’s my problem…

    Both reCAP lids are completely unopenable, completely stuck. I’ve tried rubber bands on the bottle and cap, two people (one twisting the bottle the other the cap), and a commercial jar-opener which doesn’t even fit the lid becasue of the shape.

    Any ideas anyone ? I’m physically fairly strong, they’re just completely stuck.

    Thanks,
    John.

    • John, try the old hot water trick? Run hot water around the ReCAP lid and it should expand enough to twist off. I would gradually increase the heat so that a sudden temperature change wouldn’t cause the glass to shatter.

  58. Great idea. As an alternative to the recap lid you can make one from a screw cap milk or stock container, saves you the effort and cost of finding the recap lid check it out here. The only thing I would change is instead of tracing from the threaded lid, trace the actual cap insert it is the size that fits the screw cap.

    http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2013/07/turn-a-mason-jar-into-an-easy-diy-dispenser.html

  59. Richard Berman says:

    Seems great, my pickles are done. Now, how do you get the plastic lid off? I’ve tried hot water and twisting, I’m ready for a screwdriver and hammer but I am reluctant. Any ideas?

  60. I have never tried fermenting veggies and want to try this weekend. I have a quart size Ball mason jar. It’s a regular mouth size. Is it possible to do it with a regular mouth jar? If so, what else do I need to do this? Ty in advance

    • Yes you can. It is not as practical for fermenting pickles and pickling green tomatoes etc as it is more difficult to pack and eliminate air bubbles, however this is not rocket science. It is pickling, somehting my grandmother did out the back of the house with a huge crock jar (anyone say anything about lead! :() and some foil over the top. For chopped stuff like cabbage it gives the same result. Just keep an eye on the air bubbles.

  61. David and Nancy says:

    Your fermenting lid idea is clever.
    However I simply punch a 1/2 inch diameter hole in the canning lid then pop in a grommet from the home brew store (.99 cent) then the airlock pops in to the grommet.
    Its a little less costly.
    Good blog keep up the good ideas.

  62. Hello there, You have performed a fantastic job. I’ll definitely digg it and in my opinion suggest to my friends. I’m sure they will be benefited from this web site.

  63. Harold Weese says:

    I am on a very low salt diet due to congestive heart failure. All of my ferments have been without salt; saurkraut, cucumbers pineapple, vinegar etc. The problem that I see is all of these recipes call for salt and I don’t have enough experience or knowledge on how to make these other things without salt. I need help here. Harold

    • Look up a book called The Art of Fermentation (or one of the newer editions). It does list some recipes. He (Sandor Katz) also has some stuff listed on his website.

  64. First go at saurcrout. Ball jars. Sirlock with robber gromet. Fluid on one coming out seal. Day 1. Wish I could send pict. Is all lost.

  65. This is my fermenting crock for my kraut, made with things on hand.
    All you need are
    1 gal glass jar filled with chopped cabbage and salt packed .

    Place this in a larger pot
    Fill pot with water to near the top of the glass jar
    Place a large glass or ceramic bowl inverted over glass jar and inside the pot
    So that the rim of the bowl isin the water asthe bowl rest on the lip of the jar.
    Now it is hermaticaly sealed
    If i did not describe this well i can send pics

  66. want to say so excited. to hear of your ideas.then boom smashed went to webiste and said only pick it jars will work. if not then u could be doing more harm than good. . if cant afford the pick it. what u to do. use rock . wont do she said. . only thing is pick it. . . so discouraged help asap

    • All you need to make your own Kim Chee, Kraut, and Fermented Pickles is a regular mason jar. All of the other pickle it and other such devices seem meant to fail. I have had no failures using just the trusty old mason jar. Head spacing is probably the only thing you have to watch for. If you do not want to worry about it open your jar over a bowl to avoid a mess. I hope this helps!

  67. I think this post is how I found my way to your website. But I just kept not making it to the brew supply store. I ordered the reCaps and have been using them for other stuff. Started fermenting whole radishes that I want to let go longer than the normal 3-5 days I do with thin slices of stuff…that I can get away with without an airlock. FINALLY went into the the brew supply place near me…I’m not sure why these places are intimidating at first, but they are! Once I went in, piece of cake. Airlocks are bubbling away as we speak. Great idea! An easy and affordable solution. And now I really want to brew beer. Whoopsie.

  68. Matthew says:

    Thank you so much for the useful information.

  69. Mary Menz says:

    Wow! So glad I found your site! I have all these materials, including a zillion Mason jars. So glad to repurpose existing materials (but I’ll invest in a new set of airlocks and bungs for the kitchen…my husband wouldn’t be too happy if I borrowed his beer-making materials)! SO much easier than investing in other materials I’ve seen marketed in my search for fermenting materials. This method will satisfy my needs. Thank you!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] by a lady in Seattle who I’m a little bit in love with.  Her posts on mason jar magic and possibilities alone have me hooked.  I’m still exploring, but so far I like her style and what I can see [...]

  2. [...] I had a fermentation party! By far, the coolest one was in Groton, CT, organized by my friend Heather (also the woman who got me hooked on kombucha). I will never forget the delicious piña colada smoothies Amber brought. I need to make that stat! Basically, a bunch of people brought stuff they had fermented and everybody got to try some. I call it a Show-And-Taste. Anne showing us her cool Harsch Crock The lid has two little holes that allow the air to escape. With the lid off, you can see the ring that you fill up with water once you are ready to start the fermentation. This allows air to escape (because air is produced as the veg ferments) without allowing air in (which can contaminate the ferment). There are also two stones that go on the top to hold the cabbage or whatever veg down below the surface of the liquid. Here you can see the AWESOMELY DELICIOUS batch of sauerkraut that Anne brought for us to taste (and she left some with me – Thanks, Anne!) and a few lids with various air-lock contraptions to be used if you don’t have the awesome, but very expensive fermentation crock. Mine is the one on the far left – a ReCap that fits a standard mason jar fitted with a stopper and airlock from a homebrew store. The other two are Anne’s, but she said the black stoppers are smaller and do occasionally fail. My advice is to start with the ReCap setup which costs less than $10. You can read a bit more about the idea (including better pics of each item) here. [...]

  3. [...] This girl is going to start fermenting all sorts of briny things… thanks to this cheap $15 vessel/fermenting crock hack! [...]

  4. [...] The key to a successful fermentation is keeping your vegetables or fruits submerged completely under the brine so bad bacteria won’t grow in your ferment. Fermentation is an anaerobic process so doing this is an absolute necessity. Two of the best ways to do this is to use either a  Pickl-It Jar or a Harsch crock. Both of these vessels are more expensive than mason jars so if you are just starting out you may want to try making your ferments with the mason jars and see how you like doing it before you invest in the more expensive options. I personally have been making ferments in mason jars for 4 years now and have not had any issues with bad batches. If you want to learn how to convert a inexpensive mason jar to an airtight container you can see how from Northwest Edible Life  in this post. [...]

  5. [...] this sounds like too much work.  Well, you’re in luck.  Because here’s a guide from NorthWest Edible Life for turning a product called the reCAP in to a fermentation lid.  Her guide has the advantage that [...]

  6. [...] about what an airlock is, you can read about Pick It jars here or about alternative airlock methods here. There are also some beautiful traditional kraut crocks available online (I recommend Etsy), but [...]

  7. [...] I just recently switched to a Pickl-It jar but before that I was making ferments in glass mason jars for 5 years and never had any issues with bad batches especially when I used the vegetable culture starter or probiotic capsules together with sea salt. If you want to learn how to convert a inexpensive mason jar to an airtight container you can see how from Northwest Edible Life in this post. [...]

  8. [...] you want to save a few bucks, you can also try out the method outlined by Northwest Edible Life – use a ReCap lid with a #6 drilled rubber stopper for the spout opening to hold the airlock. [...]

  9. [...] you want to save a few bucks, you can also try out the method outlined by Northwest Edible Life – use a ReCap lid with a #6 drilled rubber stopper for the spout opening to hold the airlock. [...]

  10. [...] found this post, on How to Turn a Mason Jar into a Fermenting Crock, really useful! For about $50, vs. the Pickl-it 5 bundle at $126, you can make a relatively [...]

  11. […] How To Turn A Mason Jar Into A Fermenting Crock […]

  12. business says:

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    How To Turn A Mason Jar Into A Fermenting Crock

  13. […] come in many, many forms.  I like the ReCAP lids that can be used in this manner with mason jars.  But, I also like just using brewing bungs and airlocks with bottles or […]

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