Video Blog: Pickl-It Q&ABy
Hey, guys! I have gotten a ton of questions about the Pickl-it over the weekend. I have done 2 posts in the series so far, and I have had so many people email me questions. They’ve never seen an airlock before or they’ve never worked with a Pickl-it. They’re not quite sure what to do. I decided to do a quick video & show you all about the Pickl-it.
This is the one and a half liter size Pickl-it. As you can see, it’s bigger than a mason jar. It’s made of a Fido jar. It comes with an airlock and a dunker. The jar is 2 pieces. Let’s look at the jar. First, you can see this is nice thick, high quality glass. Fido is BPA-free, lead-free. It’s a well known, high quality jar, made in Italy. These things aren’t cheap. People want to compare this with a mason jar. Let’s be honest. There’s no comparison between the two. These are much higher quality jars. A mason jar is less than a dollar for a quart jar. You can’t get these [ Pickl-it] online for less than $20. I took a look online & they were around $20 with shipping for one. These are high-quality jars.
It comes with a rubber ring. When it arrives, it is already assembled, so you don’t have to worry about this. You do have to take it off for washing. I want you to see how thick this rubber ring is. It’s about 1/8”. It’s high quality. When you put it in and lock the lid on,` that ring is what keeps air from seeping in. The sealing compound that is on a mason jar lid is not this thick. It doesn’t have this much give to it. That’s the difference. Mason jars aren’t air tight. As far as the mason jar is concerned, it might as well be a Grand Canyon. This has a locking lid. The wire bells are lead-free, and you’ve got a grommet here. You can see the Fido insignia across the top of the jar here. It says made in Italy. They’ve drilled a hole & they’ve got a grommet. It’s a food-grade, I believe silicone, grommet. I’d have to double check to make sure. It’s very high quality. Kathleen [the owner of Pickl-it] had this tested to make sure they’re good quality.
Kathleen’s a mom. She has kids. She wants to know that the stuff she’s producing is quality and is not going to make them sick. No BPA. No nasties. No other things. Your food only touches glass when you follow the directions. Let’s be honest. BPA has been a nasty bear. So many of us have read enough about it that we don’t want BPA & our kids coming in contact with that. I don’t want my kids exposed to BPA. The other options for putting an airlock on a mason jar, number 1- you still have those threads there. You’re still going to get air in. Even if you’re using a mason jar lid, you’re still getting air coming in through the sides. The airlock isn’t the main issue. It’s the threading. It’s not a quality seal. Plus when you’re using those types of lids, the lids have a potential for formaldehyde. Traditional canning lids, the white lining on the inside, has BPA. I don’t want my kids exposed to that. I assume most of you don’t either. That’s one reason why I support the Pickl-it, because it doesn’t have any of those nasties in it.
To use the Pickl-it, what you do is just open it up. Give it a good wash when it arrives. It will already be assembled. You’ll get the dunker & the airlock in the jar. Take those out. You’ll also have a little plugger. It’s made of the same material as the grommet. We’ll get to that in a minute. You’ll put your veggies in. I try to only fill it up to about here [motions about the shoulder of the Pickl-it jar]. Pour in some brine. 19 grams of salt to 4 cups of water is what you’re looking at. It’s about a tablespoon of salt per 4 cups of water. I have a kitchen scale & just weight it. That’s the best way to know you’re getting it right, because depending on what type of salt you’re using, you could be putting more or less in if you just measure. If you have a scale, that’s the best way to go.
So, put your veggies to here [again, motions about the shoulder of the Pickl-it jar], add your brine. Then, you’re going to take your dunker, which is glass. It’s flat on one side and concave on the other. Put your flat side down on the veggies, and you’re going to take a French rolling pin or something else that will fit into the mouth of the jar. You’re going to use it to pack your vegetables down. The reason you’re doing that is actually 2-fold. 1- You get more veggies in the jar. 2- When you pack it down, it pushes any air bubbles out. The quicker you get the air out, the quicker you get to the stage of fermentation that produces the lactic acid & bacteria, so it’s a good idea to get all the air out.
Pack your veggies in. You want all your veggies sitting below the dunker. Fill the brine up just to the shoulder. Don’t go past the shoulder. When you ferment the vegetables produce carbon dioxide. When carbon dioxide forms, it produces bubbles. As those bubbles rise it pushes the veggies up with them. Your veggies are going to expand, and if they expand too much because you’ve filled it too full, it’s going to push the brine or the veggie matter into the airlock. It creates a mess. It’s just better not to do it that way. Follow the directions. If you just fill it to here [motions at shoulder of jar, you won’t have to stop every few days & repack your veggies down & take some out.
Then, what you’re going to do, in the grommet, is take a drop or two of water and put that on. This is going to make it easier to slip your airlock in. The airlock is made of 3 separate pieces. You have the lid, the main body of the airlock & we call this a bobber. We don’t know what it’s called technically, but for our use, it’s called a bobber ☺ .
Gently twist it [airlock body] in very carefully so you don’t tear that grommet. Push it until the end is just showing through the bottom of the grommet. That will allow the carbon dioxide to escape. At this point, lock down the jar. Take your “bobber” & drop it in. You’ll see there’s a fill line here. It’s about 1 ½ tablespoons. Pour water on top of the “bobber” into the airlock. Pop your lid on. You can see the little holes in the lid. That lets the carbon dioxide escape.
I’ve had people ask how the airlock works. How does it keep air out, but let carbon dioxide out? With the water, the carbon dioxide comes up through that little tube & comes to the little bobber. The bobber sits [like this] and as the carbon dioxide comes up, the bobber floats up as more carbon dioxide is released. You can see on the bobber there are little slots or holes. As it floats up, the carbon dioxide eventually works it’s way down & bubbles out of these holes & into the water that is surrounding it. So the water is the barrier that keeps the oxygen from getting into the system but lets the carbon dioxide out. This is why you fill it with the water. You can see there’s a little room there. The lid allows the carbon dioxide out.
It’s real easy to put together. It just takes a couple of minutes. You’re going to take a kitchen towel and wrap it from here [top of jar at bottom of airlock system] down. There are 2 reasons to do that. 1- Certain lactic acid bacteria are light sensitive. You want to preserve those as much as you can, so wrapping it helps. 2- Certain vitamins, like vitamin C, are light sensitive as well. Again, by wrapping it, you preserve those as well.
I wrap it in a kitchen towel or 2. You want to put it [ Pickl-it] in a spot in your house that’s upper 60’s, lower 70’s, but you don’t want to sit it near the stove or beside a running appliance like your refrigerator, because the outside does get sort of hot. In the summer, I prefer the basement. You’re aiming from about 68-72º. Find somewhere out of the way, a closet or kitchen cabinet.
Pickl-it does make a mini airlock that is for the smaller jars. It’s available on their website [www.pickl-it.com]. That can be a good option for leaving the airlock on in the refrigerator or for fermenting in the smaller jars. In the big jars you do want to use the larger airlock.
You have a variety of sizes. I have the “middle size.”
- ¾ liter
- 1 liter
- 1 ½ liter
- 2 liter
- 3 liter
- 4 liter
- 5 liter
I use this [“middle size”] for sauerkraut, water kefir, sourdough. If you have followed the blog for awhile, you know I ruined my kitchen ceiling with a sourdough explosion that I spent hours scraping sourdough off the ceiling. That’s when I started doing my sourdough in a Pickl-it.
When I ferment large amounts of garlic and things like that, I prefer the 1 ½ liter. The smaller ones are good for things like salsa & mayonnaise & things like that. If your family eats a lot of ferments, you may want to consider a 3 to a 5 liter. It takes 12 weeks for something like a sauerkraut to mature. Personally, sauerkraut is my favorite. By using the larger ones, you can keep a rotation. You always have one perking on the counter & one in the fridge that you’re able to enjoy. The 5 liter is great for things like dill pickles. We’ll be doing some of this this summer, & I’m excited to finally get to make some decent dill pickles.
Those are the options for the sizes that those come in. You can look on their website. There’s lots of FAQs on how fermentation works. They’ve got a picture tutorial to assemble your Pickl-it. If you have any questions, you’re more than welcome to email me. Use the comments below, and I’ll be happy to answer any questions I can.
I know a lot of people have been very upset at my series for 2 reasons. 1- They think the mason jar is enough. 2- They feel like in order to promote a product that’s expensive, I must be getting a kickback.
Let me answer that. 1- Financially, I receive zero compensation from Pickl-it. I support Pickl-it, because I believe that it is a high quality product. It’s well-constructed. I’ll be able to pass it down to my kids. 2-It’s made by a work at home mom who is trying to do the best that she can. She’s shown herself to be ethical, great customer service. Over the past few weeks of writing this series, I have emailed her repeatedly. She has always answered my questions. She’s been great. Let’s just be honest. You’re paying for service. You’re paying for very high quality products. You get what you pay for.
The 3rd reason is the lactic acid bacteria. After looking a the science & talking to my Dad, my dad did fermentation & chemistry for years before his car accident. Most of you know my Dad’s disabled, but he worked in water chemistry & waste water chemistry. He taught classes. He knows his chemistry forward & backward. He was impressed with this. I believe this is the best route to produce lactic acid bacteria, get it into your family, keep your ferments fresh, crunchy [they don’t go grey, limp, soggy, nasty or moldy] and be able to get the best use out of vegetables while benefiting yourself the most.
I had some questions about the 12 weeks [fermentation period]. Yes, 12 weeks for your sauerkraut. Here’s why. Fermentation takes place in stages.. You have 4 stages.
The first stage takes place in 2-3 days. That’s where the bacteria use up the oxygen. If you, after just 3 days, open up the jar, taste it & pop it in your fridge, you just started the process all over again, because you let air in. Fermentation seriously slows down in the fridge. We don’t want to put things in the refrigerator if we can help it. You want all of the fermentation to finish before you refrigerate. You refrigerate your finished product. You don’t want to use the refrigerator to slow down vegetable fermentation.
So, yes, 12 weeks on the counter so you have the maximum amount of lactic acid bacteria and it [lactic acid bacteria] has eaten all of the sugar & the starch out of the vegetables. Basically, what that leaves you with is veggie fiber, veggie flavor & a whole lot of beneficial bacteria. That’s really what you’re after when you’re eating a ferment as a condiment, that lactic acid bacteria.
If you have any questions, feel free to email me, post comments in the comment box. I’ll be happy to answer what I can. If I can’t answer it, I’ll ask the owner of the Pickl-it and we’ll get answers for you.
Thanks so much for watching.