A few weeks ago I came to the obvious conclusion that making fermented vegetables was a hobby that I was not going to get tired of anytime soon. I also realized that I was eating and gifting these ferments faster than I could make them. I needed to ramp up production.
Bring On The Buckets!
When I toured Firefly Kitchens, I learned they used food grade plastic buckets to prepare their ferments. Doing this allows you to make far greater quantities than standard kitchen bowls. So I went to Home Depot and purchased two buckets.
You want to use the 2 gallon white buckets that are in the paint section (not the orange Homer buckets). They are made by Argee Corp out of Santee, CA. I contacted the company and confirmed with them that these buckets are food grade quality. Unless you have a problem with flies, you do not need to buy separate lids. These buckets are for preparation and not the ferment itself.
Ghost Sauerkraut Reboot and Killer Kimchi (yeah, I’m tweaking the recipes again!)
Boxes Are Better Than Towels
I started this hobby by covering up jars with kitchen towels. More ferments meant more towels. Pretty soon I was using half my kitchen towels. Then I switched to using paper bags turned upside down. That was better, but I figured out that turning over an empty box worked better. With a single box, I could cover multiple ferments.
10 pounds of ferments under a single box.
Scheduling Multiple Ferments
When I was doing a single kimchi ferment, I would just remember the date. Since sauerkrauts take longer, that date could get forgotten. Then I started doing multiple ferments with staggered start dates. At first I used little slips of paper, but they tended to get lost or would fall off the table.
What I needed was a single fermentation schedule that wouldn’t get blown off the table whenever I opened a window. A quick search online for “printable calendars” got me exactly what I needed. I printed out the current month and the following month. Both calendars were taped to the top of the box. Now at a moments notice I can see when each ferment started and its current age.
CS=Cortido Sauerkraut, KM=kimchi, GP=Ghost Pepper Sauerkraut, DS=Dill Sauerkraut
Potato Masher To the Rescue!
It is common to use wooden blocks to crush vegetables down for easy packing. I looked around my kitchen for something similar. Turns out the potato masher was perfect. I use the masher in the buckets right before I pack the veggies into the jars for fermentation.
Potato Mashing the Kimchi!
A good fermentation crock can run over $100. I needed something a little more budget. Around ten years ago, I acquired a set of ceramic coffee storage canisters. As my coffee consumption dropped, I used fewer and fewer of the containers, until eventually all but one was in storage. A new hobby means a new function for these canisters.
Each “ghetto crock” can hold over 3 pounds of packed veggies.