When I was offered a Pickle Pipe to review I said a quick yes. I am offered lots of things to review for this site. Many times it has absolutely nothing to do with canning... or preserving... or even homesteading skills. I turn those away. There is no point.
This one was different. This is a product that I think you will like!
The first steps in the process of canning sauerkraut is to ferment your cabbage to prepare it for canning.
Now is the perfect time to try out this pickle pipe. I also figured I'd use some different methods for fermenting and see how they compare. Really put it to the test. The pretty blue lid in the middle... that's the pickle pipe.
I already have one of those airlock lids. If you are not familiar with them they are simply a lid fitted with an airlock that keeps oxygen out, but allows the jars to vent as food ferments. The tall thing sticking out of the white lid... that's the airlock.
I've also done some fermenting just covering my jars with cheesecloth. The gallon jar in the picture has cheesecloth laid on top of the ferment in the jar as well as on top of the jar secured with a rubber band.
Three different methods lets see how they work.
By far my least favorite method, the cheesecloth cover. Most directions for sauerkraut simply state to cover your jars and skim off any scum that forms daily. That scum thing just gets to me. I know it is normal and you can safely skim it off. But it is icky! Even when I don't get any scum, I still like it better when my jars are covered. It could be psychological, but there you go. That is where I'm at. :)
Having a cover on the jars reduces the fermenting smell in my kitchen. When I'm fermenting with just a cloth cover, my husband will come in and state...... "something stinks!" I end up having to move my ferments outside on my front porch. In the kitchen is much more convenient.
The airlock lid would be my second choice. It works, but the airlock sticks out above the jar and is awkward to store.
It is also hard to clean. As a water dependant system, you place water in the reservoir which keeps out oxygen but still allows the jar to vent. The last time I fermented I filled my jars a bit too full and the fermenting liquid pushed up through the airlock and spilled all over my counter. (note to self, do NOT fill so much!) the airlock is built so that I can rinse it, but it doesn't really come clean. There is no way to get inside where the water (or, if you've overflowed, brine) is. But as I said, it does work so I wouldn't totally rule it out.
My favorite method? ... the Pickle Pipe. Hands Down... no question about it.
It is so super simple and easy.
The lid is a silicone lid made with just the right material to let the jars vent but not allow oxygen back in the jar.
It keeps the smell out of my kitchen.
I can put it on and almost forget about the jar until it is done fermenting.
And..... I can throw it in the dishwasher.
This is a one-piece silicone (FDA food grade, BPA- and pthlalate-free) airlock.
It is designed for wide mouth mason jars.. just screw it on. Depending on how much you are fermenting, you can use pints, quarts or half gallon size jars as long as it is a wide mouth jar.
(I hinted to MasonTops that a lid to fit gallon jars would be a perfect next product!)
The one-way valve only allows gas to flow one way: from inside the jar to the outside, never back.
I could see this in the lid itself as I was using it. When the ferments start, bubbling happens and the jar needs to vent. I could see the lid pushed out ever so slightly which indicated that the jar was venting. After it had been fermenting awhile, I could actually see the lid suck down in ever so slightly. This indicated to me that it was keeping oxygen out of the jar. Just the way fermenting works! I tried to get a picture, but it is pretty slight so I don't know that you can really tell from the image.
The one-way valve allows the CO2 produced while fermenting to escape (so jar does not explode!) without allowing oxygen to enter (so no mold - and that is a good thing!)
No need to manually burp every day or use a plastic water airlock.
Most methods require daily monitoring... this is the "set and forget" method.. especially useful as ferments can takes days or even weeks. And as for me... I forget to check things in my busy kitchen!
Dishwasher safe, low profile for storing.
These two points are what makes the Pickle Pipe stand out to me above the airlock systems. From my experience they both worked, but the pickle pipe made it so hands off and easy. The lids don't stick out on top of the jars. I don't have to worry if the lock will be knocked off or if the jar will fit under my counter.
It keeps the smell in the jar, which makes my family happy. And a happy family is a good thing eh?
And I love love the dishwasher! Who doesn't love convenience! Are you with me? Say yes!
I'm an old hat at canning (obviously) but I'm actually new to fermenting. I've fermenting things like pickles and sauerkraut to can, but I have not done much of the type of fermentation that is not finished off with canning your product.
I've dabbled a little in the past without much confidence. Then I started reading about probiotics and how good for you fermented foods are. So my next foodie skill is fermenting. Join me! I'll share more pages and we can learn as we go.
With the Pickle Pipe I'm pretty confident that we'll succeed! So far so good.
Sharon : I just read your article on fermenting cabbage. You also showed the canning discs to weight down cabbage as its fermenting. Did you use them with the new pickle pipe? If you did, did you use the regular size one. It was hard to see in the picture you posted. Thanks in advance. I love sauerkraut but didn't like the crock and cheesecloth method. The scum and the seemingly unclean look. I've not made it since. ~ Carmelia
Hi Carmelia, The Pickle Pebbles weights are the perfect size to fit down in a wide mouth straight sided jar. The picture I have included here show this better than I can explain.
I did use them in the gallon jar on my sauerkraut recipe page but they do need something beneath the pebbles if you are using a larger jar like I did. What I did was place them on top of the cheesecloth. It worked... but you will still be dealing with the cheesecloth. I like the weights but using the larger jar they still don't eliminate the need for something else to hold everything down under the brine.
Since I built that page I did another batch and used a cabbage leaf instead of the cheesecloth to hold down the sliced cabbage, this worked much better.
However, If you use a jar like what is in that picture, you don't really need anything else to hold down your cabbage. This would be the ideal method. I plan on doing 4 widemouth jars instead of the gallon jar for my next batch. Just gotta use up what we have in the fridge first. And I am sooo with you on the scum thing. I keep telling myself it is normal but I like the pickle pipe method so much better!
Just an fyi, I've also used this fermenting lid... The Perfect Pickler and it works too. I still admit I like the pickle pipe better.
Hope that helps.