Q+A: All About Fermentation Weights
Why Do You Need a Fermentation Weight?
When lacto-fermenting veggies, we try to keep everything submerged under brine to keep it healthy and free of grossies.
You can do this lots of ways with varying degrees of success. We’ve tried our fair share of DIY fermentation weight ideas. We’ve used plates, pebbles, rocks, veggie chunks, jars, lids, ceramic and whatever else would fit through the top of our fermentation jar.
It was never all that pretty. Lots of make-shift jars made our shelves look a little like Frankenstein’s lab. Plus, like our menagerie of weights, the success-rate of our ferments was varied. So we kept testing and came up with something we absolutely love using when making anything from pickles to hot sauce to kraut, and that’s the weight we include in all of our fermentation kits now!
What’s the best material for a fermentation weight?
For us, experimentation is one of our favorite parts of fermenting. We like trying out different vegetables, herbs and spices, including bold flavors (like garlic, and chili) and bright colors (like turmeric). Which means a non-porous fermentation weight is key so that none of those flavors and colors transfer from batch to batch. Ceramic crocks and weights are beautiful but because ceramic is porous it’s going to hold onto the bacteria, color and flavors from your last batch. That works if you are making the same batch over and over again but because we love to experiment, we designed a glass fermentation weight for our kits that gets squeaky clean between batches.
How do I get it out of the jar?
Before we designed this fermentation weight with a hole in the middle, we used other solid fermentation weights. They worked fine, until it was time to get them out. Then it was a battle with a butter knife to try and pry it out without pushing in any surface gunk. Sometimes we’d win, sometimes we’d end up pushing the weight too far down and dealing with a pretty messy transfer. So when we designed our own weight we knew it needed to be easy to get in, but also easy to get out. Ours has a hole through the middle that makes it easy to grab hold of for a smooth removal.
What about the slimmer weights I’ve seen?
The point of a fermentation weight is to weigh down your vegetables during fermentation, which means it actually needs to weigh enough to hold things down. We’ve used other weights in the past where we would have to layer a couple in order to keep things submerged. But we would rather have a couple different batches going simultaneously, and let a single weight do its job.
How do I wash it?
It’s best to give your glass fermentation weight a good scrubbing by hand with your usual dish soap and brush and is dishwasher safe.