I wanted to take some time to address the issue of cost as that is the main comment or concern people have made about the series. The second most comment I have received, about being overwhelmed, we’ll discuss in my next post.
When you look at the benefits of using a Pickl-It, I firmly believe that the benefits outweigh the cost AND you will far more than save the amount you invested in the vessels. As someone who is concerned about both time in the kitchen and the budget, I believe that the Pickl-It is a great kitchen investment. When I pick kitchen equipment, I look for items that will save money in the long-run. I have invested in other equipment such as a dehydrator, pressure canner, roaster, food processor, blender, quality knives, crock-pot and similar equipment to make my job faster and easier and save me money. The Pickl-It is no different.
I totally get tight budgets. Since 2008 we’ve been through two long stretches of unemployment, including right now. So I am writing this from a perspective of cost versus time, benefit versus risk and cost in time and money. If you enjoy fermentation and do it regularly, this will save you time and money in the long-run even if you aren’t trying to heal your gut. If you want to ferment but haven’t been able to do it successfully, this might be what you need to meet your goal.
The Pickl-It is a high quality piece of equipment that will last a lifetime. It’s made out of heavy glass and it isn’t easily breakable. Should you ever shatter a piece, Pickl-It will replace it for a low cost. Should you ever damage an airlock or other piece, they will replace it for a low cost. Should you ever tear a grommet, they’ll mail you a new one for free. You just have to call them to arrange it. They back their products so you won’t have to completely replace the entire unit should an accident occur.
Pickl-It Compared to Thrown Out Food
If you live in a humid or warmer area, you probably have had at least some ferments done in methods that aren’t airtight go bad. When the slimy-nasty-moldies set in on your carrots or kraut, you’re (hopefully) going to toss it. Because the Pickl-It excludes the oxygen-loving bacteria, you’re not nearly so likely to have a batch go bad. I’m not saying that it’s impossible to have it happen, I’m saying that it appears to be rare.
Before we moved, I had a hard time getting my non-aerobic ferments to turn out right thanks to the high humidity. I threw away a LOT of food. When I used other methods, I consistently had batches go bad before they were done fermenting or have to be thrown out before I could get through them. Sometimes that meant throwing out expensive, organic food. But even if it was just carrots, it hurt the budget.
It seems so often when people address the cost of fermentation and the various vessels, they rarely address the reality of failed batches. I’ve had people contact me who have read books and taken eCourses on fermentation who still couldn’t get it to turn out correctly until they went to a truly anaerobic method. After having many such people contact me, I believe the high failure rate is due to location (predominately warm and humid climates) and not due to user error. Many people have reported switching to a Harsch or a Pickl-It solved the issue.
If you enjoy making ferments with some of the more expensive fruits and vegetables, you can really save in the long-run as your chances of having a batch go bad are much, much lower. When you pay $4 or more for a pound of organic cherries or $3 for a pound of asparagus, it doesn’t take throwing out much food to pay for the first vessel. I easily threw out enough ingredients in one year to pay for a 4L Pickl-It, not even accounting for the time spent making the recipe. Having a Pickl-It would have saved me money, time and frustration from the wasted batches.
It also takes longer for ferments like fruit chutneys to go bad in a Pickl-It, as exposure to oxygen speeds up the formation of alcohol. That gives you more time to consume those ferments. This is very budget friendly as many of the fruit ferments are more costly than the vegetable ones. We’ll be giving more details about alcohol in another post.
Pickl-It Compared to Digestive Enzymes
When I became ill, other methods of fermentation didn’t give me the digestive enzymes I needed in order to be able to quit taking the pills. Had I used a Pickl-It from the beginning, it would have saved me $50-$150 a month, depending on which enzymes you need, in purchasing commercial digestive enzyme pills. At that rate, it doesn’t take long at all to recoup even an investment in a large set of Pickl-Its- one to three months to pay for a big bundle of five and you’d have it for a lifetime to produce digestive enzymes without having to buy pills again. We’ll be covering more details about the enzymes in a properly fermented product soon, as this is an area I have found to be fascinating. I’m excited to share details 🙂
Pickl-It Compared to Probiotics
As with the digestive enzymes, I wasn’t able to get off of the probiotic pills until I went to anaerobic ferments. Many people are currently using the GAPS diet to heal their guts, so let’s look at the GAPS recommended probiotic, called BioKult. Currently, BioKult costs $42 for 120 pills, plus shipping. If you are following the GAPS diet, the book calls for 15-20 billion bacteria per day for six months to heal your gut (pages 251-252 of Gut and Psychology Syndrome). Each BioKult capsule contains 2 billion per pill, meaning you would need to take 8-10 a day. If you want to order 10 bottles, you can get it for $377.55 plus shipping. That would cover only four to five of the six months. If you choose to do the whole six months, BioKult would cost you $503.55 if you took 8 a day (consuming 13 bottles) and $629.55 if you took ten a day (consuming 16 bottles).
If I purchased the big bundle of 5 from Pickl-It, that would cost $158.50 including shipping to my house. That contains two 3L vessels and three 1.5L vessels. You’d recoup your cost in less than two months and you’d have it for a lifetime to produce probiotics without having to buy pills again.
How Much Fermented Food Would I Have To Eat?
By way of comparison, one study pegged anaerobically-fermented sauerkraut as having 1 – 1.5 billion bacteria per 25-gram serving. Note that aerobic methods of fermenting will have far less due to competition. 1/4 cup of sauerkraut without the juice was 60 grams on my scale. That’s works out to be about 1 to 1.5 cups of sauerkraut. So how to work that level of food into your diet?
- Use two 3L Pickl-Its for sauerkraut and eat 1/3 cup of sauerkraut at both lunch and dinner- have one container that you’re eating out of and one ‘brewing’ to be ready when you finish it.
- Use a 1.5L Pickl-It so you can pick a different ferment for breakfast.
- Drink some water kefir or dairy kefir made in a 1.5L Pickl-It at one meal or as a snack.
- You could also include yogurt in your dessert.
- Use the last 1.5L Pickl-It to give yourself more variety and experiment so you don’t get bored with your food.
You’re likely going over the 15 billion mark Dr. McBride set for a LOT less money!
Lactofermented food will also contain beneficial yeast. BioKult doesn’t contain any yeast. In order to get beneficial yeast, you must purchase a separate pill, costing more money and giving you yet more pills to swallow. Personally, when I was at my sickest, I swallowed a LOT of pills. I’d much rather have had the option to eat something than to have to swallow yet another pill!
Comparison of Probiotic Types
I know someone will ask if fermented veggies contain everything that BioKult has, so let’s take a look. BioKult contains:
Probiotic cultures [Bacillus subtilis PXN 21, Bifidobacterium spp. (B. bifidum PXN 23, B. breve PXN 25, B. infantis PXN 27, B. longum PXN 30), Lactobacillus spp. (L. acidophilus PXN 35, L. delbrueckii ssp. bulgaricus PXN 39, L. casei PXN 37, L. plantarum PXN 47, L. rhamnosus PXN 54, L. helveticus PXN 45, L. salivarius PXN 57), Lactococcus lactis ssp. lactis PXN 63, Streptococcus thermophilus PXN 66], Cellulose (bulking agent), Vegetable Capsule (Hydroxypropylmethyl Cellulose).
I looked up each one listed to find where you’re most likely to locate it in the world of fermentation. In order to replicate those contents, you’d need to make sauerkraut, a different type of fermented vegetable for variety if you need it, and yogurt or kefir. Non-Dairy yogurt can easily be made at home if you’re intolerant to dairy and it isn’t expensive to make. And you wouldn’t be consuming any cellulose in the deal.
What If I’m Not Healing My Gut?
If you aren’t working on gut healing or health problems, you might be taking a different type of probiotic. You likely aren’t needing the massive doses listed above. You could purchase a smaller bundle, such as the Veggie Duo, which is two 1.5L vessels. Including shipping, that bundle would cost me $67. Since many of the good probiotics cost at least $1 per day, you could recoup the cost in less than 3 months AND produce and consume far more probiotics in the meantime!
Another thing to consider is that BioKult contains dairy and soy. Most probiotics on the market do have dairy in them. It’s difficult to find dairy-free probiotics. Soy is problematic for many. When you use a Pickl-It, you can guarantee that your ferments don’t have soy or dairy or any other allergen you might have in them.
Pickl-It Compared to The Harsch Crock
The Pickl-It and the Harsch are direct competitors- they turn out the same product. One 5L Harsch, the smallest model I could find, is $120.95 plus shipping of around $50. The crocks are big and VERY heavy, so they’re expensive to ship even with the slow boat method. The Pickl-It is $39 with a shipping cost of $12, sent by FedEx. The Pickl-It costs 70% less than a Harsch. If you purchase more than one Pickl-It at a time, you save significantly on the shipping. Adding a second Pickl-It only ups the shipping by $6.
The Pickl-It excels over the Harsch in three areas. First, if you neglect your Harsch, it can develop mold and you can’t get it out. When that happens, you have to throw the crock away. The Pickl-It is made of glass so it can not mold. If you’re prone to forget your ferments, this is significant.
Second, the Pickl-It is available in a wide variety of sizes. This saves space, tons of money and if you don’t like a flavor combination you’ve created, you aren’t out a lot of ingredients as the smallest Harsch available is a 5L (that’s 1-1/3 gallons) and you must fill it at least 75% full. With a Pickl-It, you can do a tiny batch in a 3/4L to make sure you like the flavor and you’ll eat a lot of it before making bigger batches.
Third, it is important to consider variety. Even if you love sauerkraut, you’ll likely get tired of eating it at each meal, three times a day, for months on end. With the Pickl-It you can be creative and ferment a wide variety of foods so you don’t get bored and possibly reduce your intake or stop eating the fermented foods.
Pickl-It can also be used for water kefirs, sourdoughs and fermented batters. The Harsch crock is much too large to work with these options. And it would be difficult to use up almost a gallon of a fruit ferment before it could go bad unless you’re feeding a really large crowd.
When you add it all up, the Pickl-It has a large advantage over the Harsch.
So, the question to me isn’t how can you afford a Pickl-It, the question is if you’re working on fixing your health and spending lots of money in the process, how can you NOT afford it? If you’re just taking probiotics as insurance, you’ll save money with the Pickl-It in the long-run. If you’re currently throwing out ferments that have gone bad, the Pickl-It will save you that money and more in the long-run.