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Large inexpensive nonplastic fermenting vessels  RSS feed

 
Adam Ormes
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Wondering whether any here have experience to share with using either wooden barrels or any other large nonplastic vessels of comparable size? I am looking into doing lactofermented veg on a medium scale, and would like to do so without having them in contact with plastic if at all possible.

With barrels, I would be interested to learn about how barrels with different previous uses might affect the fermentation, i.e. beer/wine/whiskey. A conversation with a friend came to the conclusion that whiskey barrels might be safest from the point of view of not importing unwanted microbes. I see that Brooklyn Brine ("We do primary fermentation in the oak bourbon barrels for our sauerkraut. It adds many layers of flavor.") and likewise Puckers Gourmet are doing sauerkraut in whiskey barrels. I have also come across the opinion that due to their being charred, whiskey barrels may not be so great. Don't yet know how these producers prevent bits of charcoal getting in their kraut.

I also have some concerns about gluten - it seems some producers put the distilled whiskey back in contact with gluten-containing substances, so one would need to check with the given distillery as to whether or not this is the case. Beer barrels are probably going to be a no go for this reason as well as potentially harbouring nondesirable microbe populations I speculate? Wine likely the same I would think, likewise one would have the problem of sulphur unless natural winemakers' barrels are used? If that were the case then would wine barrels be viable? I understand that they are toasted on the inside, which is to say they are a few stages short of charred...

Finally, my topic title encompasses other nonplastic containers that I may not have thought of. There are of course ceramic crocks but these are going to be rather expensive if I were to buy them in any quantity. So if there is some unusual product of the modern world that people have adapted to the purposes of fermenting vegetables which I have yet to hear of, and that is relatively inexpensive to obtain, please do share!

Plastic free kraut visionary
 
Robert Ray
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Would you consider a stainless pot? Some turkey fryer pots are pretty large and cost considerably less than my german crock.
 
Adam Ormes
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Robert Ray wrote: Would you consider a stainless pot? Some turkey fryer pots are pretty large and cost considerably less than my german crock.


Robert,

I have yet to do any proper research into fermenting in stainless steel. I have some vague apprehensions about it, likely based partly on what I have read about acidic things leaching the metal, and partly on the fact that the water at my school, which was kept in steel jugs and drunk out of steel cups, tasted metallic. Of course, using stainless steel would be much easier for the food safety people to swallow. Now presumably there are different grades of stainless steel. Only that 'food grade plastic' doesn't exactly fill me with confidence! Anyone know of any research? Although, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence...

These guys are doing their fermenting in steel. "We ferment all of our foods in stainless steel fermentation tanks originally designed for wine production."

http://www.fireflykitchens.com/products/

Also, I am thinking more big whiskey barrel size rather than crock size, so a turkey fryer pot would probably be rather too small for my purposes. Now need to investigate these wine fermentation tanks.
 
Adam Ormes
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Organic cider barrels could be good, too...
 
tel jetson
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you could always take up cooperage and make some yourself. I believe that miso vessels were (are?) made of sugi, a softwood that would be much easier to work with than oak. I think the hoops are made of bamboo put on green so that it tightens up a bit as it dries. lots of barrels and buckets like this all over Japan used for all sorts of things.

I don't think you would have to worry about charcoal with bourbon barrels. a quick scrub with something bristly and a rinse would take care of any issues.

I also wouldn't worry about barrels that might still have live yeast in them. remember that you're using a lot of salt and those organisms aren't likely to be adapted to that.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Glass jars.

My neighbor reuse commercial glass jars with their lids. Of course you need a lot...
Or you can buy the ones made for sterilizing and keep vegetables and fruits.
Still not as big as a barrel!!
 
don bradley
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tel jetson wrote:you could always take up cooperage and make some yourself.
Rather than learning to be both a cooper and a wainwright, it might be easier to contact a large Science Supply firm that can sell you a wide variety of glass flasks and bowls. One advantage is you can order them graduated, that is with measuring amounts indicated on the glassware. They are built to withstand the effects of acid so there would not be any leaching, however this would also avoid drawing in a good many flavors that you might get if you did actually use barrels.
 
Luke Burkholder
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Just this year, Northern Brewer introduced a glass carboy with a big lid:

http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/big-mouth-bubbler-6-5-gallon.html

It's a $45 glass jar, so I'm not sure exactly what your definition of cheap is, but it's got to be less than oak barrels. The top is plastic, but this would not be in extended contact with your foodstuff, and I'm sure an ingenious person could come up with a solution...

Sounds like an exciting endeavor, good luck!
 
Steven Feil
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Why would you not want to repurpose a 3, 4 or 5 gallon plastic bucket. I know they are available locally at a grocer. I bet you could even find them use that have had pickles in them if you check with a larger deli.
 
John Saltveit
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Sandor Katz mentioned in "The Art of Fermentation" that Ohio Stoneware makes lead free crocks and ships them free if you buy them from Ace Hardware. Typically the shipping costs as much as the crock in a big crock. I got a 5 gallon one for $59, which is cheaper than Craig's list and lead free. That's where I got mine and it's a great deal. I use it all the time. I also bought some large enamel covered metal cooking pots at Bi-Mart, a discount store here in PNW. I don't have any financial interest in any of these.
John S
PDX OR
 
Adam Moore
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If you are ever in Ohio Lehmans has alot of different crocks http://non-electric.lehmans.com/search#?p=KK&srid=S6-USESD01&lbc=lehmans&ts=ajax&pw=Sauerkraut%20Crocks&uid=107603699&isort=score&view=grid&w=Pickle%20Crocks&rk=4 They are cheaper and have a larger selection in the actual store than what you can see online. Also no shipping. I live an hour from there. Also if you want something pretty unique you can call them. They have contacts with alot of small Amish buisnesses that might have what you need.

If your trying to think of something different than a large wooden barrel or crock what about making something out of stone. I know it sounds crazy but I was thinking of large 2'x4' cut stones used for patios. As long as you don't need to move it. Get 3 of those and two 2'x2' flat stones for the ends and build a rectangular box. Strap it together and somehow seal the edges. Make a light weight top and it might work. I had thought about concrete but I bet the lime in it would be a problem. Just an idea, trying to think outside the box. I actually thought of this idea reading Katz book because I have 2'x4'x2" stones for my patio now but my wife will never let me dig them up, lol.
 
Steven Feil
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You would want the stone to be absolutely inert and would not dissolve AT ALL. I am thinking GRANITE or some other similar stone. Aquarium silicone and plenty of cure time as well.
 
John Saltveit
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One potential downside to a really huge one, like a barrel, is that the kraut can start to get too soft after awhile, like after months. I think the 5 gallon one is big enough for me. THe four gallon enamel covered metal ones were only like $14 or so. I worry about chipping if they are going to be cooked in all the time, but these will be just for fermenting. I seem to recall someone saying that Target or some other large store had just 1 or 2 gallon glass containers for pretty cheap, like $10-15. You can use plates to cover them. I usually use river rocks that are flat and wide from when I go canoeing to keep the plates down.

Keeping the workers down is another matter.
John S
PDX OR
 
Luke Burkholder
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I just saw Anchor Hocking glass cookie jars, one, two, and mabye even 3 gallons in the $15 - $25 range. Sur la Table and Amazon, probably lots of other places, too. Nice squat cylinders with wide openings, great for fermenting. Totally transparent, so you'll want to keep them away from too much UV light.
 
Johnny Niamert
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I use glass jars from everyone's favorite store, Mal-Wart.

I just stocked up on fermenting vessels. 1/2 gallon for $4.50. 1 gallon for $7.something. 2 gallon for $10.

Glass jars with glass lids. Clear, wide-mouth. I used to use mason jars, till I noticed how bad the brine would affect the lid and rust with even slight contact.

EDIT: Just checked the labels on the glass and it is Anchor Hocking, made in USA. I thought it would be a knock-off import.
 
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