Harsch Fermenting Crock Pot
Two Weighting stones and a lid
Tips and Handling
The primary requirement in preparation is to ensure all parts of the pot are clean, including the lid. This can be achieved simply by wiping, scrubbing or rinsing off. (Avoid detergents and allow to drip dry).
The weighted stones come in two pieces for easy handling and are used to provide necessary pressure on the vegetables for fermentation. The stones should be covered by one to two inches of vegetable juice. Where little juice is produced, add cool filtered salt water (15g salt to 1 litre of water).
Sealing the pot air tight is vital to successful lactic acid fermentation. This is achieved by pouring water into the water grove (mote) which enables its gasses to be released whilst preventing contamination from the ambient air. The water level in the mote should be carefully monitored during the fermentation process and topped up before it is completely evaporated. It is crucial that oxygen be excluded. Do not be tempted to open the pot during the fermentation stage to avoid spoilage.
After fermentation is complete Sauerkraut should be stored in glass containers in the fridge.
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Testing for spoilage
The best pH for sauerkraut is 4.1. You can test with a pH test kit. Make sure your sauerkraut is not slimy or present with any mould – if it does then you should throw it away and try again. This is why it is important to monitor the water mote and to ensure that you have not interrupted the process by opening the lid. The aroma and taste will tell you whether you whether you have been successful with your fermentation.
Size and Dimensions
The original Harsch Fermenting Crock Pots are available in the following sizes.
7.5 Litre Capacity
10 Litre Capacity
The following sizes are available upon special request orders.
15 Litre Capacity
20 Litre Capacity
25 Litre Capacity
30 Litre Capacity
40 Litre Capacity and
50 Litre Capacity
Lactic-acid Fermentation requirements
Lactic – acid fermentation has 4 basic requirements.
1. a certain concerntration of salt,
2. Specific temperature,
3. An oxygen free environment and
4. Pressure applied to the vegetables.
The Process of Lactic – Acid
occurs in two different stages
First the salt begins by protecting the vegetables from decay until enough lactic acid has formed to cease the growth of bacteria that cause decay. The process must not be interrupted and temperature is important. The ideal temperature in the first stage of making sauerkraut is 20-22 degrees Celsius (68-72 F). In Australia, the best time to make your sauerkraut is during autumn, winter and spring, however it can be made during the summer months if kept in a cool place. The warmer the temperature the faster the fermentation process. Whilst these are the preferred temperatures for making sauerkraut, temperature requirements for other vegetables vary when using different vegetables.
After two days the second stage commences when the lactic acid bacteria overpopulates and eliminates all other bacteria. The preferred temperature for sauerkraut at this stage is 15-18 degrees Celsius (59-64 F). These temperatures are easily gauged if you have access to airconditioning. Some people have been known to ferment in their place of work to maintain a constant temperature in the air conditioning during the summer months. After time the sauerkraut will reach a pH of 4.1, where decay bacteria can no longer form. This is where the formation of enzymes and vitamins are developed. The sauerkraut process will cease in 3 weeks but Harsch recommend leaving it for 6-8 weeks for best results.
Sauerkraut is a condiment suggested to be eaten as a side dish whenever meat is consumed and especially at the end of the day when the bodies enzyme storage is depleted having already been expended on previous meals earlier in the day. The evening meal is the most difficult for people who suffer from digestive disorders or associated disease. Thus sauerkraut is a natural aid for digestion.
According to Nutritional data, sauerkraut provides 102% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K, 35 % of vitamin C and 12% of iron. It also contains only 32 calories with 4 grams of fibre.
Commercially canned sauerkraut can be pasturised or processed in some way. Homemade unpasteurised sauerkraut is a power food and once you have tasted homemade sauerkraut, you will never want to buy commercial again, it doesn’t taste or act the same way.
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Hi Linda,A pleasant surprise today to find the kraut I put down some 3 weeks ago is perfect. I’ve had so much trouble with clear glass jars and fungis. Nearly gave it away, but the crock is super!
It will taste better in a month or so but was such a relief to find a perfect batch under the lid. My daughter is hard to feed at times but for reason unclear loves a good kraut. She will love this one!
Thanks very much! Regards Grahame
Ps. One fault I noticed was it’s possible that if the mote is overfilled it can leak into the pot. Not sure how since the inner ring is higher but pretty sure that did happen. No drama. Just will keep water level lower.
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Harsch Crock Fermentation Troubleshooting
Home fermentation is often like conducting a science experiment. We are dealing with live microbes and we want to encourage the good ones to get the upper hand during the fermentation process. A number of conditions need to occur in order to establish a good result. It needs to have the right temperature, salt ratio, good brine levels covering the stones, weights to hold the cabbage in place and it needs to make sure that all parts belonging to the Harsch and other equipment used are clean or sterilized.
- The right ratio of salt is required to ensure that the conversion of lactic acid gets the upper hand with in the first few days. The general ratio is 15grams of salt to one kg of cabbage.
- Don’t wrap the stones with cabbage leaves as suggested by Harsch because if the leaves stick out at the top they can encourage other microbial growth on the surface and we need to make sure everything is completely submerged under the juice and stones.
- Make sure that all parts belonging to the Harsch and other equipment used are clean or sterilized. This includes the stones which are then best to store on the bench to air out rather than stored inside the pot when not in use. Cleaning the pot thoroughly and sterilizing it is very important, especially for the first time. I always boil some water and pour it into a clean sink and then roll the pot to ensure each side inside the pot is exposed to the boiling water for 15 seconds. Do not use soap to clean the pot. I let my pot dry out on the clean stainless steel bench. If I am not going to use the pot strait away, I clean it all again in the same manner just before I use it.
- Select good quality fresh organic cabbage. Vegetables that have grown to rapidly for fast produce sales or those that have been over fertilized or sprayed with pesticides can spoil during the fermentation process. A fresh cabbage will produce more brine.
- Make sure that the water moat is always filled with water to create an anaerobic environment. Don’t panic if the water suddenly disappears from the mote because the gasses often cause a tight vacuum inside which sucks some water up onto the inside of the lid. It won’t pour over and into the inside at this point unless you top it up again thinking it needed a top up (when in fact it did not). If the water disappears quickly, you can assume that the gasses have formed a tight vacuum and all you need to do is gently turn the lid slightly and the water will rush back into the mote where it should be. DO NOT LIFT UP THE LID.
- Make sure that the cabbage is completely submerged under its own juices. The juice brine should cover the stones and sit at 3-4cm above the stones. You can add a salt water brine to the cabbage if you were unable to produce enough brine to cover the stones adequately.
- Massage the cabbage well for about 15 – 20 minutes to produce sufficient brine. Ensure your hands are clean before you massage the cabbage.
- Collect the stray bits of cabbage that are found floating on the top of the brine and those bits that may be stuck on the inside wall. This is helped by making sure you pack your cabbage into the pot first. I usually massage my cabbage in a big stock pot and then squeeze the juice from it, then place handfuls into the pot. I continue to wring the juice with hand full’s of cabbage until it is all packed in the Harsch nice and tight. I then use a potato masher to help push it down firmer so that there are no bits stuck to the inside wall of the pot. I then put the stones on top and gently pour in the brine. Finally, scoop any floating bits, fill the moat and close the lid. All equipment used must be very clean, including the pot I massage the cabbage in.
- Temperature is important during fermentation. The ideal temperature is 20 – 22 degrees Celsius for the first 2 days followed by 15 – 18 degrees Celsius. Although this is ideal, it is not a matter of fact and I have produced sauerkraut all year round whilst making an attempt to ferment on the cooler days and in the coolest part of the house. A fully controlled temperature will produce the best result. The warmer the temperature, the faster the fermentation time and the cooler the temperature the longer time needed for fermentation. This will also affect the taste so every batch may taste a little different.
The longer the fermentation time the more sour it will become.
- The sauerkraut will reach a pH of 4.1 where decay bacteria can no longer form. You can use pH test strips to test the pH to ensure that the fermentation has been successful.
When a buildup of mold and residue forms on the inside of the pot ask yourself the following
A: Have you used enough salt for the lactic acid conversion?
B: Did you clean and sterilize all the equipment, stones, lid and other items used to produce it?
C: Did you use pure organic vegetables in your ferment?
D: Did you remember to top up the Mote with water so that oxygen does not enter the pot during fermentation?
E: Make sure that the cabbage is completely submerged under its own juices and avoid floating bits of cabbage on the surface or on the sides of the inside of the pot wall.
F: Was the temperature to hot.
If you find that a small amount of scum has developed on the top of the batch
Occasionally a small acceptable amount of scum can form on the top of the juice when fermentation is complete. In this case, you should test the cabbage using the above test options because if the cabbage underneath the brine had been submerged throughout the entire fermentation process and enough salt was used to ferment the batch, the sauerkraut underneath the stones should be fine. The juice may not be the best you can produce but just scoop off the scum on top and store your sauerkraut in the fridge. Next time make sure all equipment is completely clean, hands and all because you are working with live microbes which need to be encouraged to produce good bacteria. If you make yoghurt, you can drip some whey and add this to help inoculate your batch as well. Just make sure that you drip it well and overlay your cheese cloth several times to get nice clear whey.
Testing the sauerkraut to ensure the fermentation has been successful.
Generally, smelling and tasting the end product will tell you whether your batch has fermented properly. The aroma is pleasing and the taste should be pleasant and slightly sour. If it appears to be slimy with a bad smell, you are best to throw it away. The kraut should have a slight crunch when you chew it. You can alternatively test the sauerkraut with litmus paper from the chemist. For Lactic Acid fermentation, the critical pH is 4.1 because decay cannot occur below this value.
How long can sauerkraut last?
Sauerkraut fermentation is the most natural form of preservation and has been safely stored in the fridge for up to 5 years.