Here’s an overview of the types of containers you can use to make fermented foods. Hopefully, it will help you decide what types of fermentation jars or crocks to use for your homemade ferments!
There are lots of factors that go into choosing what type of fermentation jars or crocks to use for your ferments. If you are a beginner, you probably don’t have a lot of choices in your kitchen. However, there’s no need to rush out and buy specialized equipment. Most ferments can be made in a simple glass jar!
The key to choosing the right container is deciding what type of ferment you are doing.
- Wild-caught culture
- Short ferment (1 to 4 days)
- Long ferment (more than a week)
- Large batch ferment
See the sections below for my recommendations for each of these types of ferment.
These ferments cannot be done in a closed jar or container.
- Use a glass jar or container to prevent flavor contamination from plastic or metal.
- Cover with a tea towel, coffee filter, or a scrap of fabric held in place with a rubber band or jar ring.
- Usually, wild-caught cultures require stirring once or twice a day for a vigorous culture.
Ferments that last 1 to 4 days
Short ferments don’t require a specialized container. They tend to ferment vigorously for a short period of time. Or the fermentation is curbed by refrigerating to prevent the ferment from becoming too sour.
While it’s fine to use a fido jar or airlock (see the next section) it’s not necessary. Often a recycled pasta sauce jar is fine!
- Any glass jar will work. A specialized lid isn’t necessary.
- Use a smaller jar, glass weight, or zip-top bag filled with water to keep the ingredients submerged.
- Cover with a loose lid or cloth to prevent bugs or other pests from getting into the ferment.
- If you want a bit of extra protection, use a pickle pipe. They work great for short ferments.
Ferments that last longer than 1 week
The longer the ferment the more chance there is for mold or yeast contamination. I recommend using a specialized container for any ferment that lasts longer than a week. They are really reliable at preventing contamination. I even have some ferments stored in my pantry for up to a year or longer!
Here are the fermentation jars that will help your ferment last for up to a year:
- Fido jars are flip-top jars with a rubber gasket that allows CO2 to escape while preventing contamination. Avoid cheap decorative jars as they may not withstand the pressure of fermentation.
- Air-locks are typically used for beverages. They use water to make an air-tight seal. I recommend the cylindrical (not S-shaped) ones because they are easier to clean.
- Pickle pipes are silicon disks with a small hole to allow CO2 to escape. They are easy to use, but they are more prone to contamination than the other two options as they don’t stay pressurized once active fermentation slows down.
I use fidos for my stored vegetable ferments and ferments that I want to be cautious with, like the eggs below. I use air-locks for my wine and beer. Otherwise, most of my ferments are done in a regular mason jar.
Personally, when I want to make a large batch of something, I usually pack it into several smaller jars because it means that I can open one jar at a time, rather than digging into the whole batch at once. Whenever you open a container or stick a fork in, there’s a risk of contamination.
However, there may be times when a large batch is best. For example, it’s hard to ferment whole cabbage heads in a small container! (Looking for a whole cabbage recipe? Check out my cookbook!)
- Crocks are large ceramic containers specifically designed for fermenting. I recommend skipping second-hand crocks and opting for a new one. Vintage crocks may have lead in the glaze.
- Food-grade plastic buckets are a great option! However, they will pick up the flavor of the ferment. So if you make garlicky pickles don’t use the same bucket for yogurt.
- When making a huge batch of something be sure to use a fitted weight. That way any mold floating on the top won’t contaminate the whole batch.
I hope this addresses all your questions about the best type of fermentation jars or containers. If I missed something, feel free to leave me a note in the comments section.