Saturday, February 11, 2017

Homemade Sauerkraut and EcoJarz Fermenter Review - Satur-DIY, February 11th, 2017

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Homemade Sauerkraut Satur-DIY and EcoJarz Fermenter Kit Review
**Disclaimer: I have been given the fermenter kit to review but have not been compensated in any other way. I receive no commission on sales. All opinions and experiences are my own.**

In the fall, I received a glorious box in the mail from EcoJarz. Along with my order of more small-mouth drink tops and stainless steel (rustproof!) jar bands, they slipped in a few things for me to review. A couple of small-mouth PopTops (review here) and one of their new Fermenter Kits.


The kit contains a recipe booklet, bubbler airlock, a stainless steel lid with grommet and silicone seal, and a stainless steel jar band. The band alone is worth the kit! 


I promptly started a batch of sauerkraut using the recipe book that has a handful of quart size mason jar recipes.

Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe
(Fermenter Kit review below recipe.)


Tools and materials:

Quart size mason jar and 1/4 pint jar (to weigh the cabbage down)
Cabbage
Canning/Pickling or Sea Salt (NOT iodized table salt. *Note below)
Water - preferably filtered and dechlorinated (boiled and cooled) or spring water
Knife 

Directions:

1.) Shred or thinly slice the cabbage. 


The directions in the booklet said one medium sized cabbage. I found that it was too much and so would say about 2/3s of a medium sized cabbage, less if you're adding any other vegetables.


2.) Massage cabbage shreds with 1 to 1.5T salt until they become soft and slightly translucent. 

They will start to release some of their water and look almost cooked.

 The booklet directed 1.5Tbsp but I found that my first batch of sauerkraut was too salty. One of the troubles with measuring ingredients my volume is that 1.5Tbsp of fine ground sea salt might be much more salt by weight than 1.5Tbsp of course ground or kosher salt.  For my second batch I stuck with just 1Tbsp of sea salt. 

*Note about salt for fermenting - it's best to use whatever kind of salt is recommended. Sea salt is less salty than canning/pickling salt as it has other minerals in it. Iodized table salt makes for mushy and discolored ferments and is almost never recommended.


3.) Pack massaged cabbage and its juices into the mason jar.

Weigh down the cabbage with a small jar (I used a 1/4pt canning jar) that fits inside the quart jar. 


4.) Prepare brine and add enough to cover the level of cabbage in the jar.

According to the booklet, salt water brine should be approximately 3Tbsp of salt (see *Note above) per 1 quart of water. Brine will keep for months and can be used in fermenting other foods as well.

Fill the small jar and larger jar enough to cover the level of the cabbage and keep the little jar weighing the cabbage down.  (See photo below)

Make sure there is air space between the rim of the small jar and the large jar to allow gasses to escape the airlock freely


5.) Assemble fermenter kit, put on jar, and fill airlock to the "fill line" with brine.


Keep in a cool dark place. I put mine in a dark colored drawstring bag and kept it in a cupboard.



6.) Taste regularly and "when it satisfies your taste buds, dig in." (Hey, it's in the directions. :) )

The instructions said to let it ferment for 3 - 20 days - Make sure your label the start date! 

Our house is a bit chilly this time of year so it was a full five weeks before it was ready. 

Delicious and HandsomeJoe approved!

Once it's fermented to your liking, simply swap out the fermenter kit for another lid and refrigerate. I highly recommend the stainless steel storage lids from EcoJarz - plastic free!


Fermenter Kit Review

Since making my first batch of Homemade Sauerkraut, I've made a batch of fermented red onions and started another batch of sauerkraut with shredded carrots mixed in. (see below) 


Life happened and I let the onions ferment a little too long. While they were beautiful, they were a little too fermented for my taste. Our chickens however, LOVED the treat!


I think I'll try again another time.

Just this past week, I started a second batch of sauerkraut using a little less salt and adding shredded carrots. 


It will be so interesting to see how a little bit of carrot will change the flavor.

Now that I have a bit of experience with fermenting in general and the EcoJarz Fermenter Kit in particular, my review:

PROS:

This fermenter kit is easy to assemble and a breeze to use. 

The instruction/recipe booklet is friendly, easy to follow, and quite funny in places. 

You can tell that it was put together by real people who believe in what they do.

The materials are high quality (especially that stainless steel jar band! Love those.) and will last through years of use.

It's a simple tool that's easy to clean, separates for storage, and takes out some of the guesswork of making your own fermented foods.

CONS: 

The only downside I could find: The rubber gasket held onto the smell of the fermented onions. I left it in the silverware basket in our dishwasher for a handful of washes and it's back to normal.

All in all, I don't mind washing a gasket (or avoiding fermenting stinky things) to gain the versatility of this tool.

Final Thoughts:

I'm so thrilled to have gotten the chance to review this product. I would have hesitated to purchase my own as I've had bad experiences with attempting to make my own fermented foods in the past. But having been handed the chance, I highly recommend it to anyone!

If you've ever wanted to try fermenting, but were worried about getting started, this kit is for you.

If you've been fermenting for a while and have been looking to "up your game" from "burping" jars, or poking holes in plastic wrap, this kit is for you.

If you're looking for another way to make more of your own foods, be less of a consumer and produce more on your own, get closer to zero waste, this kit is for you!

A big thank you to EcoJarz!  I look forward to seeing what you come up with next!

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