Today I put the sauerkraut I started at the beginning of the month into pint jars. The wine kraut fermented in a two-dollar two-gallon food grade bucket with an airlock. The regular sauerkraut fermented in a 10 liter Harsch crock with a water seal lid.
Before we started the second batch of kraut, we needed a fermentation container. I really wanted another water seal crock but I didn’t want to spend the money for it. Harsch crocks are no longer available and the Nik Schmitt equivalent is even more expensive. We picked up the bucket and airlock at our local home brew store for under five dollars. I felt happy we saved money but bummed out because the water seal crocks are awesome.
After using both of them I was surprised at which one I preferred. The plastic bucket was easier to move, easier to fill, easier to clean and I didn’t have to worry about the water seal running dry. The down side was it didn’t have stone weights and it looks ugly.
The ceramic crock scratches the counter every time I move it (which will be a problem when we have nicer counters). The water seal gets slimy and ran out of water a couple times which made the brine inside evaporate a little. It’s a pain to move (HEAVY) and a pain to wash. I also chipped the lip a few days ago when I hit it with our glass flour jar. The only upside I can see is that it’s pretty–like leave on your countertop even when it’s empty pretty. It makes you feel equal parts posh hipster and authentic German grandmother.
The one difference I saw between the two sauerkrauts was that the kraut in the bucket fermented faster, so the kraut in the crock was crunchier. The ceramic crock has more thermal mass, so it seemed to stay cooler during the day and slowed the fermentation rate.
I’m loving the Wine Kraut I made. We have five pints of it and nine pints of regular sauerkraut. Some of our friends loved the sweet kraut I made last time, so I am anxious to see how they react to these new versions.