A water-sealed crock is the best style fermentation crock In my opinion, Biases aside…
Water-sealed crocks are a bit more difficult to find and usually more expensive , but they are generally pieces of art worthy of living on your kitchen counter.
After a water-sealed crock is packed, two half-circle weights are placed into the crock to keep your ferment submerged. Then, the lid is placed into an open moat which is then filled with water. Now, outside air is prevented from entering the crock and carbon dioxide gases created during fermentation easily bubble out. This helps to keep the environment inside the crock rich in carbon dioxide and this in turn helps to stop mold. Try to avoid opening the lid as much as you can though as otherwise you are letting fresh oxygen back inside!
Main Advantages of a Water-Sealed Crock
- Makes for a very easy, almost care-free fermentation experience (You have to keep the moat filled with water and check it throughout the process).
- Neither flies nor fruit flies can get into the crock and lay eggs (trust me this is important, the critters LOVE fermented foods!)
- reduces the chance of mold or surface yeasts growing on your ferment.
- Takes the guesswork out of making sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables.
Main Disadvantages of a Water-Sealed Crock
- The water in the moat must be monitored and filled as necessary. If not, the seal will be broken and air will be allowed to flow into the crock creating mold!
- Narrower opening makes it more difficult to pack your ferment and they are fragile so you need to be careful not to break them when you are pounding your cabbage.
- Shape at the top of the crock, where the lid is, can make it difficult to clean.
- Sealed environment makes it hard to monitor what is going on inside and if you are curious like me it is incredibly hard not knowing what is going on in the crock*
- Generally, more expensive than a jar style container and larger.*
* Mortier Pilon do a glass water sealed crock so you can see what is happening and they do it in a 2L size so its nice and petite!
Advantages of Fermenting in a Water-Sealed Crock
- The thicker stoneware wall creates a more stable fermentation temperature and insulates it well (good for the Cold british weather), resulting in sauerkraut with a greater depth of flavor.
- Weights keep sauerkraut below the brine for safe and even fermentation.
- The lid works with a water groove – which you keep filled with water – to form an airtight vacuum seal.
- Gasses created during fermentation rise and escape via the water moat.
- Brine can’t escape and overflow the vessel. Result? Sauerkraut with plenty of brine.
- more of the smell is trapped in the crock. Music of bubbles escaping – plop, plop – but less smell.
- Stable fermentation environment results in a greater range and number of beneficial bacteria.
To be fair, no matter what kind of vessel you use the end result will be fermented veggies that are rich in nutrients and good bacteria but if you can bear not to be able to see your ferment and you are looking for the best flavour then this is the vessel to go for.