A few weeks ago, Chow aired this instructional video for making sauerkraut with Mark Frauenfelder of MAKE magazine and boingboing.net that’s an easy intro to making kraut. The coolest part for me was learning about the picklemeister as a way to seal your kraut from the air while it ferments. You can see it in the photo in the lower left corner. If you get mold on the surface of your pickle brine or sauerkraut brine, and that mold grosses you out, this clever setup could help you get rid of surface mold.
It works just like a homebrewing airlock by sealing the jar of sauerkraut or pickles or homebrew with a bit of water. As the stuff in the jar ferments, it releases carbon dioxide, which builds up enough pressure to push out the tube and through the water. But air, which carries mold spores, can’t get back in through the water. Soon, you have only carbon dioxide inside and no air at all. Here’s one in action:
You can buy the jar and lid set online, but it would be easy to make one, too, with a wide-mouthed gallon jar, an airlock, and a plastic grommet or plug, plus a little glue. You can find those parts at a homebrewing store. For those who prefer not to put plastic in contact with their food when weighing the kraut to keep it under the brine, I bet you could find a glass food storage bowl that would fit inside the jar, as mentioned at the picklemeister link above.