Preparing and Canning Fermented Foods
Suitable Containers, Covers and Weights for
A 1-gallon container is needed for each 5 pounds of fresh vegetables. Therefore, a 5-gallon stone crock
is of ideal size for fermenting about 25 pounds of fresh cabbage or cucumbers. Food-grade
plastic and glass containers are excellent substitutes for stone crocks. Other 1- to 3-gallon non-food-grade
plastic containers may be used if lined inside with a clean food-grade plastic bag.
Caution: Be certain that foods contact only food-grade plastics. Do not use garbage bags or trash
liners. Fermenting sauerkraut in quart and half-gallon Mason jars is an acceptable practice,
but may result in more spoilage losses.
Cabbage and cucumbers must be kept 1 to 2 inches under brine while fermenting. After adding prepared
vegetables and brine, insert a suitably sized dinner plate or glass pie plate inside the
fermentation container. The plate must be slightly smaller than the container opening, yet large enough
to cover most of the shredded cabbage or cucumbers. To keep the plate under the brine, weight
it down with 2 to 3 sealed quart jars filled with water. Covering the container opening with a clean,
heavy bath towel helps to prevent contamination from insects and molds while the vegetables
are fermenting. Fine quality fermented vegetables are also obtained when the plate is weighted down
with a very large clean, plastic bag filled with 3 quarts of water containing 4-1/2 tablespoons
of salt. Be sure to seal the plastic bag. Freezer bags sold for packaging turkeys are suitable for use with
The fermentation container, plate, and jars must be washed in hot sudsy water, and rinsed well with very
hot water before use.
This document was extracted from the "Complete Guide to Home Canning," Agriculture
Information Bulletin No. 539, USDA (Revised 2009).
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