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I know many of you have been patiently awaiting my review of the Pickl-It Jar. I wanted to try a few different ferments in them so I could really get a feel for how they work and give an honest review. Before I go further you should know I am not affiliated with Pickl-It and do not make any commission off of any sales.
I will be honest I’m in love but am now torn. I’ve been using the mason jar/whey method for years and many of my favorite books and bloggers endorse that method and stand behind it. But the more I learn the more I see the very best way to ferment is in a truly anaerobic environment and at this time that means a Pickl-It Jar or a Harsch crock. That’s it. I’m normally highly skeptically when someone tells me “This is the only product out there…” If fact, I’ll do whatever I can to avoid using it. Yeah, I’m stubborn. But it’s true. Any other system available now just is not as air tight as these. I could go into it all but thank goodness KerryAnn from Cooking Traditional Foods did it for me with this great post Pickl-It vs. Mason Jars. I really wish my DIY lids would be a viable option but it was brought to my attention that we just don’t know if the plastic will leach toxins into the ferment and I don’t feel comfortable using them at this time. Close but no cigar.
Why an anaerobic environment? The bacteria that we want are LAB’s (lactic acid bacteria) and these thrive in a salty anaerobic (no oxygen) environment. If there is any oxygen available, other bacteria that we don’t want can take hold. Skimming of the mold on top isn’t adequate because the mold does extend down further into the brine/veggie mix that you can’t see. If we use a mason jar, even with the lid tightly screwed on, it’s not tight enough to keep air out even with an airlock. Without an airlock if you don’t burp it the jar will explode. When you burp the jar, guess what? Air rushes in. It’s really not an anaerobic environment even if everything is submerged in the brine. This is not opinion, it’s fact. Sometimes I don’t like facts but that’s just how it is.
To illustrate here is a really bad picture:
Now that I’ve cleared up the whole anaerobic issue (not too muddied still is it?), let’s talk about the Pickl-It Jar. The jar is made from a Fido jar and is imported from Italy. It is a high quality glass that is thick and durable. You can tell how well made it is when you feel them. After seeing these jars, I’ve actually ordered a few regular Fido’s. They are an excellent jar. The lids of the jars have a hole drilled in them with a silicon grommet inserted. The jars use a wire-bail to lock the lid down with a thick gasket to ensure an airtight closure. They come with a standard airlock as well as a mini airlock, a glass dunk’r for holding food under the brine and a plug for cold storage. Kathleen from Pickl-It made sure all items in contact with the ferments are completely safe and free of toxins. Interestingly, she had initially tried out a system similar to the DIY lids I suggested but after research and trial and error decided they were not acceptable. You can read Kathleen’s story here http://www.pickl-it.com/about/our_story/
In the weeks I’ve had the jars, I’ve made kefir, filmjolk yogurt, carrot sticks, shredded ginger carrots, cauliflower and I have curtido and dilly green beans bubbling away right now. Everything has turned out beautifully and I plan on updating you in the months to come to let you know how well the ferments hold up. If something is fermented properly and cold stored in an airtight container, it should last much much longer. I look forward to seeing how well they hold up. I just threw out a jar of cauliflower that was forgotten in the back of the fridge. It was about 6 months old but had gotten very discolored and gone mushy. This should not happen with a good ferment.
Does this mean you can’t ferment in mason jars or use other airlock systems? Of course not but just be aware of the concerns. There is a risk that a bad bacteria could take hold instead of the LAB’s. You just don’t know what bacteria is growing in an open system. Many people have seemed to benefit from fermented foods from mason jars. The Weston A. Price Foundation rates foods by good, better, best and I think we can do the same here.
Good: Mason jar fermentation.
Better: Other airlock systems that use thick rubber gaskets. If it weren’t for the concern about toxins, I would rate these as good.
Best: Pickl-It Jar.
But that really doesn’t seem to do the jar justice. This graphic is more accurate.
If you are dealing with gut issues that you are trying to heal, I strongly suggest getting a Pickl-It Jar. The difference can many months of healing. If you are on the diet, it is imperative to use a probiotic and a good one can be spendy. I’ve consulted with KerryAnn and from my own research and hers, we agree that a Pickl-It Jar creates enough probiotics to not need a supplement. I don’t know about you but that is good news for me. A good probiotic for everyone in my family of 6 would be a lot of money. Purchasing a bundle of Pickl-It Jars is a one time purchase that would end up saving us hundreds of dollars.
In short, I don’t plan on fermenting in anything but a Pickl-It jar from now on (unless I find an awesome deal on a Harsch crock).
As a side note, kombucha should not be fermented in a Pickl-It Jar. Kombucha does need oxygen to ferment properly. The same goes for apple cider vinegar.
I anticipate questions, concerns and general unhappiness (who likes change?). Please feel free to comment or write on my Facebook wall (so all can benefit and pipe in). Us fermenters are passionate about our little fermenting hobby but please be respectful. My motto is “Know better, do better.”