Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is my favorite German Style Fermentation Crock made by TSM Products. I first found this item about 5 years ago and have used it many times since buying it. It comes in four sizes, 5L (1.3 Gallons), 10L (2.6 Gallons), 15L (3.9 Gallons) and 20L (5.2 Gallons).
I personally have the 10 liter model and to me it is plenty large enough. Frankly the 5L model will make quite a bit per batch. And while fermented foods keep quite well in the cellar or fridge but I prefer them quite fresh while they are still nice and crisp. Additionally making them is so simple it is no big deal to just keep running batches of what ever you want as needed.
My main focus with fermented foods is taste and health not storage, so I personally think I would have been just fine with the 5L model. The main use I would see for something like the 20 liter model would be for someone who is making product for a group or large family. Please consider all this before deciding you need a huge crock. Two whole cabbages fit in my 10L model with room to spare, that is a LOT of kraut.
Many people ferment in jars, this works, but it never comes out as consistently good for me as when I use my crock. There are a few reasons for this in my view. First and foremost is uniform temps, the thick ceramic construction holds a steady temp with minimal fluctuation. Next is the total darkness of the environment. Then you get a dead simple airlock with the water holding rim at the top. Finally the stone weights hold everything nicely under the brine so you don’t get any funny stuff going on with exposed veggies.
I do make my share of sauerkraut with this thing. My favorite variation is adding about 1/3rd by volume of cabbage shredded carrots and and equal amount of shredded apple, and a good helping of caraway seeds. Man is that stuff fantastic on brats! The key is never cook it, just gently warm it when serving it with things like your meats. This way all the beneficial bacteria stays alive.
What about slow cooking pork in kraut you say? Okay well then just do it, and at the end add a few tbs of fresh uncooked kraut to each plate.
My absolute favorite thing to make is my own signature brand escabache though. There are many varieties of escabache, some fermented and some done with vinegar. The one that inspired mine is generally in a small bowl on every table in any good “hole in the wall” Mexican restaurant in Texas. You know the kind of place where a margarita contains only tequila, lime juice and orange liquor, vs koolaid mixer and comes in a high ball glass vs. a fish bowl?
This brand of escabache consists of simply carrots, onions, jalapenos in a pickle brine. Though every place will tell you theirs is “special”. The best versions are always fermented and seen as a digestion aid. To make mine I broke with the standard to make it bit milder and get by product of amazing pickled garlic. Here is my recipe.
Equal amounts of the following vegetables cut to the shape of your liking, I like thin long strips….
- Sweet Peppers (several colors make for a great eye appeal, use red, orange, yellow to contrast with the green jalapenos)
- Carrots (again I cut them into thin sticks)
- Jalapenos (seed half to go a bit more mild, seed all and you get almost no heat. Tune in to today’s show for a major short cut on this)
- White Onions (cut again in long strips)
- Garlic (go to Albertsons Grocery, they sell whole pealed cloves in clam shells in the produce area for about 3 bucks, this is a great deal and saves a lot of time. Don’t slice the garlic leave the cloves whole.)
- Salt water (enough to cover, I use 2 TBS per quart, the standard is 1-3 per quart. Use sea or kosher or pickling salt)
- One hand full of black peppercorns
It could not be more easy, just stick everything in the crock, cover with salt water, put your stones on and wait about 7-10 days. I usually cover the top of my veggies with grape leaves (muscadine or wild fox grape leaves are fine for this). It keeps the little pieces from escaping and the tanning keeps things crisp. Some use oak leaves but I have never tried this.
If you want to kick start fermentation, put about one tablespoon of whey from some yogurt into the brine. While not necessary it is very helpful.
When done to your taste, put in ball jars and store in the fridge, it will be very good for 30 days and quite good for about 60. After that to me anyway it gets too fermented even in the fridge which is why I make about 2-3 quarts per run.
Well, then there is the garlic, that stuff keeps for months. So when I make a batch I usually buy 2-3 of the clam shells of garlic. I jar up about half with the escabache and half by itself for cooking or snacking, man is spicy garlic great stuff.
Another plan this year is to make up some fermented Jerusalem artichokes. Haven’t tried those yet but heard they are very good and it avoids the um, well side effects that make some call them fartachokes!
So if you have been thinking of adding fermented vegetables to your diet (and you really should) check out the German Style Fermentation Crock today. At only 59 dollars for the 5 liter model it will pay for itself in a batch or two and give you better quality pickled veggies then you could ever buy in a store. And unlike a ball jar, it will look awesome on your counter whether you have a batch running or not.
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