ISSUE 93  |  Eastern Europe

Fermentation Fever

October 09, 2013 5:00 PM

BY Sarah Lonsdale

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Eastern Europeans have long been connoisseurs of pickles, sauerkraut, and other fermented vegetables. Now the kombucha-chugging crowd is catching on (self included). I’m already contemplating a batch of gingered carrots, or perhaps some winter sauerkraut with juniper berries and a dash of caraway. That’s why I took note when I discovered these stoneware crocks by Sarah Kersten of Berkeley-based Counter Culture Pottery, which make the process especially satisfying—and easy.

Photography by Jessica Anton.

Above: Modeled after a traditional Chinese design, Kersten’s crocks have a lid that rests in a well of water while the vegetables ferment. The water-seal feature streamlines the fermentation process by sealing the contents of the jar from outside oxygen, preventing mold and other contaminants from growing in or on the food. The water seal also serves to contain the pungent odors of the fermenting ingredients until the jar is opened. 

Above: The Fermentation Jars are handmade of high-fired stoneware and finished with a non-toxic, non-corrosive glaze. They come with a set of weights to keep the vegetables submerged below the brine water, and are available in a selection of whites with either a matte or gloss finish; $240 from Counter Culture Pottery.

Above: In addition to white, Kersten makes a Gunmetal Black Fermentation Jar; $240.

Above: Each jar holds five quarts and is 10.5 inches-tall. To learn more about fermentation, Kersten recommends checking out the work of Sandor Ellix Katz, a self-described “fermentation revivalist” who specializes in what he calls “the flavorful space between fresh and rotten.”

Looking for other types of ceramic storage? See our long list of recommended Ceramics.