Does anyone use a crock for fermenting?

herbantherapy Posts: 453 ✭✭✭✭
edited October 2020 in Ferments

I’m new to fermenting and I see glass jar kits and burping lids. Old fashioned crocks with different weights or “just use a heavy plate”. Then there are quart size and gallon and 5 gallon and more sizes.

Im hoping to find the most versatile practical solution that will last a long time. I assume it’s a crock, but what size? I’m the only one eating anything pickled or fermented in my house and will likely give away extras, so we aren’t talking mass production here.

Any insight will be appreciated!


  • chimboodle04
    chimboodle04 Posts: 286 ✭✭✭

    We have a few different crocks - a small gallon size for doing fermented pickles etc, and a large 5 gallon one with a lid for when we do a large batch of sauerkraut or hard cider. The larger one is for making things we plan to preserve or can ( I know this loses the probiotics in the kraut, but we do just keep other things in the fridge so we get them that way!) I find we need both sizes (and possibly more than one of some sizes) for our family of four. It all depends on how much you plan to ferment, how often, and how you plan on storing what you make...

  • Ferg
    Ferg Posts: 285 ✭✭✭

    I used to use a crock, loved it, and it cracked. Thought, Oh, i will go and get one from a yard sale. When I was on long island that would have been a plan. Here in the south, where there are a bunch of retirees, they are charging obscenely huge amounts of money for a used one.

    So my backup plan is to use the crocks from large ceramic crock pots instead. The benefits include having a cover....

    @chimboodle04 would you mind sharing your method for making hard cider?

  • Ferg
    Ferg Posts: 285 ✭✭✭

    @herbantherapy I've never had a plate heavy enough but i do have little cement tiles that I cast that i put on top of the plate that do the job (-:

  • chimboodle04
    chimboodle04 Posts: 286 ✭✭✭

    @Ferg here is the recipe we have followed for the past few years making it. It took a bit of a learning curve - last years was the best yet! What I love is that it uses the leftover peels and cores from canning our own applesauce, so less waste!

  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,470 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I am starting with Mason jars, glass weights, and the burping lids. Crocks seem like a big investment to start out.

  • herbantherapy
    herbantherapy Posts: 453 ✭✭✭✭

    @Ferg I assume I would still need weights if using a crock pot with its lid, right? I actually have a couple of extra crock pot pots....just couldn’t give them up after the elements burnt out and I bought crockpots, the ceramic inserts are nice.

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,275 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I ferment kimchi in large mouth mason jars. I have glass weights that fit inside. I ferment kombucha in those huge jars that pickles come in at Sam's Club. I bought a large jar about that size off of Amazon for $19.99 and then got smart. I've had one of the pickle jars crack but I think it was my fault b/c the water I poured in it was too hot. I've learned a lot over the 2 years that I've been fermenting kombucha. I have 5 of those jars that I ferment tea in and an extra one if I make some for my in laws.

    I added the jars one at a time so we weren't eating massive pickles to empty the jars! 🤣

  • annbeck62
    annbeck62 Posts: 980 ✭✭✭✭

    I've been fermenting for years and have had great success with both an airlock and a burping insert you use with a mason jar. What I especially like about using the burping lip is that what I'm fermenting is already in it's storage container so I don't have to repack it.

  • solarnoon.aspen
    solarnoon.aspen Posts: 219 ✭✭✭

    I fill a number of different jars and crocks and have tried several methods to lid them over the years from bungs to mason jar lid fixes. But the best SMALL arrangement for me is the 2 litre mason jar with a glass weight (one manufacturer calls them pickle pebbles) and the Air lock fermentation lid (like these:

    But for sauerkraout or sour pickles, I need Large crocks. I have tried the versons with a lid that is pretty open to the air, like the Korean style crocks. (

    However my favourite bar none for the large quantity crock is the german style that has a 'moat' where you put water that allows the ferment to burp but no air can enter the jar. That is what I am sticking with now and have 3 different sizes. like these ones:

    Also, a note: in the way distant past, we filled a HUGE old crock with carefully cut cabbage and salt, then were told that we should get the heritage vessel tested for lead. We ended up tossing 30 pounds of kraut, as we were unable to find a way to test the thing. In the past, lead was not a known issue. So, take care if you wish to use OLD ones. they are great to look at, but lead leaches into the food, so........

  • So since you are the only one in your household currently eating fermented foods, I think a smaller scale solution is needed. I still do most of my fermenting in mason jars.

    I like the glass weights you can buy, and I do recommend them, but you can get the same effect with a clean rock, a ziploc bag filled with water, or even another smaller mason jar-- the micro jelly jars fit perfectly inside a large mouth jar, and if you leave them empty they provide a spill reservoir that protects your countertop. I learned this useful tip from YouTuber Mary's Nest.

    But the thing that has been the most benefit for fermenting in mason jars are the simple silicon airlocks. I like that they are a basic design--- I hate fiddling with the figure-eight ones you have to fill with water that beer brewers use. These are simple and reliable. Many different companies make them, I'll provide a link to one example, but they are all the same.

    Of course you can ferment with a piece of fabric with a mason jar lid screwed over the top as well. I did that for years. Eventually the convenience and cleanliness of the silicon airlock won me over.

  • Ferg
    Ferg Posts: 285 ✭✭✭

    @chimboodle04 thank you so very much! I used to have a friend with a few apple trees, old heirloom types no one knows about. She'd bring me the windfalls and i'd make sauce, no need for sugar, some of the apples were sweet, others tart, but altogether wonderful. I'd do chunky sauce and fine mush and sometimes add cinnamon, but I pressure canned all of them.

  • mcarryon
    mcarryon Posts: 32 ✭✭✭

    I ferment for just one person too. I use ball jars with plastic inserts that hold the food under brine. When I make hot pepper mash for sauces, I use a baggie filled with water.

  • Ferg
    Ferg Posts: 285 ✭✭✭

    @herbantherapy - yes, still need some weights. Keeps the other stuff floating around in my kitchen from getting into my brine, though, having those extra covers. They have the little holes in to let air out. Sometimes I'd put them upside down (the covers from the crock pot inserts if there was air space.

  • Momma Mo
    Momma Mo Posts: 138 ✭✭✭

    I have the moat type crocks and like them, but it is more convenient (in my opinion) to use mason jars for smaller batches.

  • seeker.nancy - Central Texas
    seeker.nancy - Central Texas Posts: 795 ✭✭✭✭

    Being the only one right now for ferments I use Mason jars with the silicon insert and a glass weight. That has worked great for me. I do have a few crocks but they are 8 and 12 gallon ones that have been in the family for I don't know how long lol. Dad used them for making wine and I did a time or two as well. As old as these are and as much as they have been used I would doubt there is any lead if there ever was any. I'm going to try fermenting squash and hopefully some sauerkraut in the Mason jars.

  • Gail H
    Gail H Posts: 359 ✭✭✭✭

    I have a Gartopf crock that I use for sauerkraut. It has the moat to keep air out. I only use it for sauerkraut, because the weights are quite heavy and I think it would squish pickles.

    The first time I used it, I was the only one up early one morning. It was a little disconcerting to hear "galump!" every time it let off carbon dioxide. Once I figured out what the noise was, it became quite comforting to hear- sort of a happy "all's right with the world" kind of sound.

  • KimWilson
    KimWilson Posts: 197 ✭✭✭

    I have used crocks some time ago, but I have a huge preference for the mason jar method. Last summer was the first time that we made pickles as well as yummy sauerkraut. Both turned out great!

  • danielle.meitiv
    danielle.meitiv Posts: 30 ✭✭✭

    We almost always have a crock of sauerkraut fermenting on the kitchen counter. We experimented with various containers but found the cheapest and easiest was a ceramic crock from a slow cooker. They're usually available and very cheap at secondhand shops (because the electric cooker part often goes before the crock, LOL) and come with their own lids! You can find them in lots of different sizes from a few quart round ones to ten quart ovals.

    We use a large flat river stone to hold down the cabbage - we found it outside and sterilized it in boiling water. You want to use very dense stone - nothing porous or "soft" like limestone, which will dissolve over time.

    I hope this helps!

  • I ferment a lot, and even though I have a crock, I rarely use it. My choice is for mason jars, quart or half gallon. Also invaluable for ease and convenience are glass weights and simple silicon airlocks. Both are cheap and available everywhere. I ferment so much that I have it down to a science, and those items make it easy, fast, and clean.

  • Acequiamadre
    Acequiamadre Posts: 269 ✭✭✭

    I was just given the Masontop Fermenting kit as a gift. I too will be jumping in. In the past, the items rising above the brine created all sorts of havoc. I am looking forward to trying out the weights to see if they are better than rocks and other random kitchen items. I will report back if I have success--and please let us know how your experiments work out.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,827 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I ferment kimchi in half-gallon mason jars. It works well, and takes up less space on the counter than a crock would. Make sure that the vegetables being fermented are completely immersed in liquid.