For all the fermentation tools a person can choose from today, one of the most essential items for every fermenter’s kitchen remains a good quality crock. If you do any fermenting at all, a high-quality fermentation crock will do a lot to make the job go smoother.
If you’re considering purchasing a fermentation crock, our buyers’ guide is your one-stop-shop for everything you need to know during the buying process. We review water-sealed crocks, open crocks, pots for bulk fermentation, best-value fermentation crocks, multi-purpose crocks, fermentation crocks made for kombucha, and fermentation crock kits all for the fermented food lover. Let’s get started!
Factors to Consider When Buying a Crock for Fermenting Vegetables
A few things to consider before making a buying decision on a new fermentation crock include:
Different Types of Fermentation Crocks
The water-seal crock process is so simple: you fill-up the moat with water and it creates an airtight seal that keeps out contaminants, such as dust and bugs, keeping your foods fermenting without a problem. Also, there is little chance of mold or surface yeasts growing on your ferment.
You do need to keep an eye on the water-seal crocks, to make sure that the moat stays full of water. If the water in the moat evaporates, oxygen, particles, and bacteria can get into your brine solution.
Most open crocks don’t come with a lid or weight to keep the vegetables held down below the brine making it a cheaper purchase. This could be considered a positive because it saves you money.
However, it is up to you to find a suitable weight and cover. You can read the post, Fermentations Weights: How to Keep Veggies Submerged for some clever ideas.
The one open crock I do recommend does come with weights and a lid and they produce outstanding results.
If you are using a cloth or paper towel as a lid, then be sure to closely monitor the batch to prevent Kahm yeast and mold from developing. Both can appear when the vegetables are exposed to the air.
There are some great benefits of using an open crock. The wide mouth makes it easy to place several whole cabbages or other giant vegetables, such as cucks in the vessel.
So if you are preparing to ferment in bulk, this crock will be perfect for you.
Depending on their size, open crocks are quite easy to clean, since their bases and openings are the same diameters.
Furthermore, open crocks can also be used as a storeroom or kitchen container.
It is important to note that open crocks work better during colder periods of the year, i.e., in lower temperatures because molds or Kahm yeast do not form as quickly in lower temperatures.
Whichever style crock you choose to buy you will still have to check the batch of fermenting food to ensure the brine levels are not dropping.
Fermentation crocks come in a wide variety of sizes. If you are looking for a larger size crock, I recommend the Boleslawiec 15 L Polish Fermenting Crock which is almost 4 gallons in capacity. This baby can hold 10 heads of cabbage. Just beware of the weight; this crock weighs in at 34 lbs when empty.
Crazy Korean Kitchen has a 5.8-gallon crock which is both lighter in weight and on your budget. It is great for mass production. But you’ll want to make sure you have the room to store it. CKK crocks are plastic and come with an ingenious inner seal that makes it quite versatile because you can easily push down the seal to ferment a smaller batch in any of their container sizes.
There’s typically no harm in leaving some extra headspace in the crock, but if you usually make smaller personal batches, you’ll likely be perfectly fine with one of the smaller crocks on the market.
The price range for fermentation crocks on the market is vast, and because of that, it can make your initial search feel intimidating, but it just means you have a lot of room to choose one that fits your fermentation needs and budget.
Advantages of Fermenting Crocks
When I started out making my own ferments, I took the cheap and easy route by just using glass jars. Like most people taking on a new hobby, I didn’t want to invest in a lot of expensive equipment if I wasn’t sure I was going to stick with it.
But that all changed when I tried a batch of kimchi made in a water-seal style fermenting crock. The kimchi was so much better; I was blown away.
It wasn’t just a matter of the recipe or expertise; ferments come out better in a crock for two main reasons:
- Ceramic Materials: The thick walls of a crock are made with ceramic clay. The thick clay provides natural insulation and helps keep the brine temperature stable, allowing the bacteria to grow effectively.
- Naturally Blocks Light Out: Have you noticed that practically every fermentation recipe you come across recommends placing the jars in a cupboard or pantry away from the light? That is because UV light kills the healthy bacteria in the brine. The thick ceramic walls block out the light and help with a successful end product.
Buying Fermentation Weights
TIP: Most of the fermentation crock kits here come with non-glazed ceramic porous weights used to keep the vegetable below the brine. Unglazed porous weights can absorb bacteria present in your ferment and cause mold to grow. It also can be difficult to remove smells and stains from a non-glazed fermentation weight.
I highly recommend you purchase these lead-free glass weights by Stone Creek Trading. The 6.5 ” Luna Glass Crock Weight weights 2.6 lbs. This is almost double the weight of most standard glass weights on the market today. This is great because I often hear people complain that the glass weights they bought are not heavy enough to actually keep the veggies below the brine.
It is important to pay attention to the size of the weight, as their smallest size 6.5” will not fit into smaller 2-liter crocks listed in this article.
Fermentation Crock Buying Guide
Best Traditional Style Water-Sealed Crock
|Crock||Why We Love It||Price|
|K&K Keramik German Made Fermenting Crock 5-l||Thick walls, beautiful, easy to move||$129.00|
|Ohio Stoneware Pickling Crock 1-gallon||American Made, durable, classic design, can buy replacement pieces||$114.49|
|Boleslawiec Polish Fermenting Crock 15 L||High-quality, well made, sturdy, perfect for large capacity fermenting.||$200.00|
|Crock||Why We Love It||Price|
|Humble House SAUERKROCK Fermentation Crock 2-l||Quality made, Great beginner crock||$40.95|
|Mortier Pilon Glass Fermentation Crock 5-l||Easy to use, sleek modern design||$59.95|
Best Multi-Purpose Crock
|Crock||Why We Love It||Price|
|Crazy Korean Kitchen Crocks||Quality made, many sizes to choose from, can use as a food storage container||$44.90|
|Ohio Stoneware 2-g||Wide mouth for larger vegetables, can use as a kitchen utensil container||$148.00|
Humble House Crock
The Humble House Crock is a great buy because of the price point and the quality of the product.
The Humble House Crock is available in three sizes, 2 Liter, 5 liters, and the 10-liter option. It’s perfect for fermenting sauerkraut, pickles, and kimchi. It comes with a jar, lid, and weights. It is made of thick ceramic and finished with a lead and cadmium-free glaze.
This crock relies on the traditional method of fermentation, which is water sealing.
The 2-liter crock measures 6 inches wide and 8 inches tall, this smaller size crock will make about four mason jars worth of pickles, kimchi, or sauerkraut. That is enough to feed 3-4 people. This size crock is perfect for those who don’t have much storage space in their kitchen.
Beware that some people say the mouth of the 2-liter crock is so small they cannot fit their hand in it to give it a good scrub.
If that isn’t big enough for you, then the 5-liter crock can surely do the job. At 10 inches wide and 12 inches tall, this medium size crock makes up to 10 standard size mason jars per batch.
Thinking of mass producing your fall harvest of vegetables? The 10 liter Humble House Crock is the right crock for the job.
It measures 11 inches wide and 13 inches tall and makes up to 20 standard size mason jars per batch.
The Humble House Crocks are easy to clean by hand. The manufacturer does not recommend using a dishwasher or detergents. Just use soap and warm water to clean the pot.
Vinegar and water are great if you need extra cleaning power. Since the weights are unglazed, using warm water and vinegar is the preferred method. If necessary, you can boil them for deeper cleaning.
The crocks can be used to brew kombucha or grow a sourdough starter by simply replacing the lid for a clean cloth.
Whatever your favorite fermentation recipe is, or the frequency with which you ferment, the SAUERKROCK is the perfect fermentation crock for all of your home fermentation needs.
|Three sizes to choose from: 2l, 5l, and 10l.||Handwash Only|
|Easy method of fermenting|
|Lead and cadmium-free glaze|
2-Gallon Ohio Stoneware Pickling Crock Complete Kit
Capacity: 2 Gallon
If you are looking for a Made in the U.S.A product, then the Ohio Stoneware 2 gallon starter kit is perfect for you.
It comes with everything you need to get started on your fermenting adventures. The kit includes the crock, weight, and a lid. This crock comes with a water trough an airlock system that allows carbon dioxide and other gases to escape while keeping out air.
The natural stoneware with classic blue stripes and the lead-free, food-safe glaze will not retain food flavors and makes for easy cleanup.
The weights are two split pieces that make it easy to remove from the crock. Ohio Stoneware weights are considered one of the heaviest of fermentation weights, which is great because they easily keep the vegetables below the brine.
With this style of crock, you can make beer, kombucha, and any fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and pickles.
The 2-Gallon overall height with the lid is 14-3/8 inches and weighs 28.5 pounds. So this is a rather heavy item to pick up, something to take into consideration if you are not that strong.
Ohio Stoneware also sells the lids, weights, and crocks separately on Amazon in case you break or misplace a piece.
|The weights are two pieces, which makes it easy to remove from the crock and they are very heavy, heavier than most.||Heavy|
|This is the most beautiful looking fermentation crock with the ceramic Bristol and striking Navy Stripe.||Thin walls, which may cause problems|
|Has handles to make it easy to pick up and move|
|Dishwasher, oven, and microwave safe.|
|Pieces are sold separately, easy to replace|
Crazy Koren Cooking Premium Fermentation and Storage Container
Capacity: 5.8 Gallon
Crazy Koren Cooking hits it out of the ballpark with this masterfully made fermentation crock. There are five different sizes to choose from, 0.9 gallons up to a whopping 11.8 gallons.
The smaller containers can fit in any standard size refrigerator.
Although they might not look very pretty, they are made of high-quality polypropylene plastic mixed with 7-10% natural clay. This combo makes for optimal porosity and all components are FDA approved materials, free of BPA, DEHP and lead.
Warning: The inner seal has a little nozzle, which you need to open for a second or so every day or two depending on what you are fermenting.
If you don’t do this, the gases gradually push the inner seal upwards, and oxygen may enter.
This container can also be used for storing non-fermented foods, think coffee, bread, seaweed, cereal, and so on.
|FDA approved materials, free of BPA, DEHP and lead||Made of Polypropylene Plastic|
|Can be used as storage container||Not Pretty|
K&K Keramik German Fermenting Crock Pot
Capacity: 5 liter
Crocks that originated in Germany have a distinct style and are known as the water-sealed crock. The water gutter in which the lid sits in are shaped in a ‘u’ or ‘v’-shape. The gutter is filled with water and creates an airtight seal that only allows gases to escape, but no air to enter.
The Keramik German Made Fermenting Crock is known for its impeccable design and high-quality products. The kit comes complete with a pot, lid, weighing stones, and a recipe book.
The body is created in a single piece with walls that are 0.6 inches in thickness.
The FORM 1 seen here has a deep gully that allows the expelling of gas and prevents the entry of dust and air.
There is also a Form 2, which has slightly narrower physic.
Both have the water seal lid that works by filling the built-in channel with water to guarantee a perfect seal against the lid. The carbon dioxide that forms during fermentation can easily escape while the odor is trapped inside. The seal blocks contaminated air, mold, and insects from entering the crock.
This ceramic crock is lead-free and cadmium-free, making it a healthy option. It is a 5-liter crock with handles on each side to simplify lifting and transporting.
|Deep gully 5-liter||Handles are not very big|
|Handmade German ceramic free of lead and cadmium||Heavy at approximately 30 pounds|
|Comes with weighing stones||Fragile|
The Ohio Stoneware wide-mouth crock is microwave, broiler, stove, and even dishwasher safe. Ohio Stoneware presses these crocks in a metal mold with a hydraulic press, resulting in a sturdy and hardy crock.
The open crock I recommend is the Ohio Stoneware 2 gallon three-piece kit because the kit includes weights and a lid.
|Mcrowave, broiler, stove, and even dishwasher safe||Heavy when full|
|Great for Bulk Fermentation||Ferment prone to developing mold and/or Kahm yeast|
|Lead and cadmium-free glaze|
Continuous brewing crock for kombucha and other fermented drinks
Humble House SAUERKROCK TAP Kombucha Crock with Stainless Steel Spigot
Lastly, this continuous brewing crock for kombucha and other fermented drinks made by Sauerkrock is perfect if you want to keep a crock just for fermented drinks.
Humble House makes this beautiful sleek crock just for Kombucha lovers. Their kombucha crock comes in black and white as well as two sizes, a 5 liter and a 10 liter. Don’t stop at kombucha; the Humble House Kombucha crock can also be used to make jun tea, kefir, vinegar, and more.
The spigot is made from 304 stainless steel and comes with a BPA-free silicone washer. You should tighten the spigot before your first use to ensure a good seal. The 5-liter crock easily makes up to ten mason jars worth of kombucha in a single batch. This is enough kombucha for families of 2-4 who drink kombucha every day.
When filled with liquid, the crock will be quite heavy, so plan ahead as to where it is going to sit in your kitchen — moving it around when full could be difficult.
It is designed with continuous brewing in mind, as the spigot makes it easy to fill up bottles and transfer to the refrigerator.
The glaze is food-safe and lead and cadmium-free.
This crock has thick walls and is sturdy enough for regular use. It is still possible to use a thermostat strip to monitor the temperature of your liquid though.
The kombucha crock does not come with a lid. You must use a paper towel or piece of cloth secured with a rubber band to cover it and allow it to breathe. This is normal when fermenting kombucha.
Additionally, you must clean the spigot by hand with warm water and vinegar. Do not use a dishwasher.
|Beautifully made with thick ceramic, perfect for regular use||Heavy when full|
|Easy to clean with a water/vinegar||Handwash Only|
|Lead and cadmium-free glaze|
|Stainless Steel Spigot|
How do you clean a ceramic fermentation crock and stone weights?
Fermentation crocks should be cleaned with warm water and mild dish soap. You can also use a water/vinegar solution.
To remove strong smells, apply soap for at least 15 to 20 minutes before washing it: rinse and air dry.
Clean the equipment right after you remove the fermented food. Do not let it sit for a long time with food particles.
If you are storing the crock for a while, then fill it up with a scrunched up newspaper. Also, wrap the lid and stones in newspaper to protect the ceramic pieces and ensure they stay dry.
To prevent mold growth in a crock or on the weight
- Always dry the stones/crock thoroughly in a warm oven or the sun
- Never put the crock or weights away wet
- Never store your crock and weights in a damp room, such as a cellar or basement
If you notice the crock or weights, do have a little mold on them. They can still be saved by quickly cleaning them off before the next use.
How to remove mold
Sometimes, mold happens, here are some tips on how to clean them
- Scrub the mold off as best you can
- Soak the weights overnight in a pot with a few tablespoons of vinegar and hot water (not boiling), or fill the crock with vinegar and hot water.
- Rinse thoroughly
- Lastly, place the weights or crock in the oven at a low temperature until completely dried
As with any product, it is important to buy quality so that way you only have to buy once. That couldn’t be truer than when it comes to the purchase of a fermentation crock.
If you settle on a cheaper fermentation crock, you are going to be facing a short lifespan, along with wasting your time and vegetables. Nobody wants that, especially if you have been waiting all summer for harvest time.
I hope our Guide to Buying a Fermentation Crock serves you well. Happy Fermenting!