The Polish Fermentation Pot

I’ve recently finished my first batch of sauerkraut in my handsome, chocolate-brown crock from Boleslawiec, Poland. Like the Harsch Gärtopf crock, the Polish crock has fitted weights and a trough in which the lid rests. If you keep water in the trough through the fermentation, no yeast or mold gets inside, so you don’t have to skim scum from the surface of the kraut.

The stoneware weights

Carbon dioxide produced during fermentation escapes through the water in the trough. You know this is happening by the occasional  burp that the crock emits (it’s a puzzling sound to hear in the middle of the night at first, but you get used to it). You can tell how active the fermentation is by the frequency of the burps.

I was attracted to this crock partially because of the rotund shape of the 10-liter size (the 20-liter crock is straight-sided). But the roundness is a little impractical if you frequently fill the crock only about halfway. In this case the weights rest in the broadest part of the crock, where they don’t come close to covering the surface. I guess the Poles can’t imagine anyone making less than 15 pounds of kraut at a time.

Even if you fill the crock completely, you’ll want to cover your kraut with two or three uncut outer cabbage leaves before adding the weights. This will keep little bits of cabbage from floating.

UPDATE 2022: The Polish pickling crocks are no longer available, but you can buy a similar, 3- or 7-liter crock–with glass weights!–from Stone Creek Trading.

The beloved Harsch pot is also unavailable now, but you can buy the similar Nik Schmitt pot from Harvest Essentials.

Be careful about buying any pickling crock priced under one hundred dollars. It is probably either very small or made in China.

0 thoughts on “The Polish Fermentation Pot”

    1. Thanks for the good question, Julie. The Polish crock is a little less expensive, and I think it’s prettier. But I love my Harsch pot.
      Besides the water locks and weights, what makes these crocks far superior to American ones is the impermeable glaze, inside and out. My American crocks are all leaky. They grow mold on the bottom, and, after pickling, salt crystals grow on the outside.

  1. Hi! I have the same crock in 15L and have just started using it. I find that the weight isn’t wide enough, so my little cucumbers are floating to the top. I tuck them under the weight, but with the fermentation bubbles, they’re escaping to the top. Any suggestions for the best way to keep the cukes down? Should I use cabbage leaves with my cukes, too? What else might work, but not change the flavor of my fermenting pickles? This is only my second batch and the floaters in the first batch got moldy and had to be discarded.

    Thanks from a fan in Chicago!

    (I love Portland and Kenny & Zukes, btw. Their pickle plate is much fun.)

    1. Yes, Ronna, cabbage leaves would work, or you could use grape leaves, which would also help to keep the cucumber pickles firm. Also, the next time you pack your crock you might try putting the little cucumbers in first, so the bigger ones will help to hold them down.
      I’ve thought of buying larger weights for my Polish crock, ones meant for a larger-size crock, but I’m not sure they would fit. If anyone else tries this, please let me know.

  2. Thanks so much for the reply and great tips, Linda. I’ll definitely try leaves. Plastic bags filled with brine got me through the last few days of pickling, but I’d like to try something different next time.

    Gotta say, though, that I’m really liking the crock. It’s the first time I’ve brined pickles without even a hint of the blue fuzzies on top.

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