Although I give guidance on all my posts for products or solutions to create the best possible dishes and ferments, the following is an annotated list of recommended products across most categories found on this site.
If you are looking for recommendations and discussion of hot sauce bottles and supplies, click here for a separate post focused on that.
This list is based on my own extensive experience with these products (and clearly indicated in the few instances when this is not the case). All links are to Amazon. Prime-eligible products are always selected when there are multiple distributors.
As always, supporting local businesses and considering competitors’ products and pricing is a good idea.
If you are considering purchasing any of these items, I encourage you to use the links here and in this site as the small commission I receive can help offset some of the costs of maintaining this site and continuing to produce free, detailed recipes. Donations are also welcome if you’d like to support this site.
There is no rush for many of these items. The top priorities to get started are jars, weights to submerge produce below the brine, non-metal lids (with or without airlocks), and additive-free (100% pure) salt. My collection of items grew over time but every little bit makes things easier and often opens new possibilities.
For your convenience, here is the table of contents in order:
- Water-based airlock lids
- Waterless airlock lids
- Replacement airlocks
- Glass weights & “Pickle Pushers”
- The Probiotic Jar
- Canning funnel
- Replacement (non-metal) lids: widemouth; standard
- Glass mason jars: quart; half-gallon
- Gallon mason jars with accompanying airlock lid
- Fermentation/Sauerkraut crocks
- Water purification
- Fermenting Salts
- Food-grade gloves
- Gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
- Contemporary Kimchi Maker/Container
- Spice Grinding
Water-based airlock lids
Although there can be certain advantages of waterless airlocks, some expert fermenters point out those waterless systems aren’t technically airlocks at all, and it’s best to avoid them. If forced to choose between one and the other, I have to recommend a water-based airlock like this. Burping your jars daily to release gas can be fun (watch this video to learn more), but what if you forget and the contents of your jar explode everywhere while you’re out? It’s also simply a cleaner and more effective means of fermentation.
GoFerment is a bigger player in the market, but the durability and ease of use of the products by Fermentology (above) are a bit better in my experience.
Nonetheless, I have posted the comparable GoFerment product below as well, and the capping closure on it is a nice feature. I’ve dealt with their customer service (over a minor issue they gladly corrected) and it was highly responsive and top notch. They have extremely high customer loyalty and are fun on Instagram.
Waterless airlock lids
As I said above, some fermentation purists don’t consider these lids to be true airlocks. Silicone is porous on the microscopic level and unlike water-based systems, there may be no guarantee that molecules of air enter your ferment. I have seen countless incidences of disaster ferments because someone was using a “pickle pipe” of some sort. (These are the colorful lids with a nipple at the top.) These are so cheaply priced that they seem too good to be true, and in fact you shouldn’t believe the hype.
That said, there is a product which is plastic (not silicone) that I love. I have never had a ferment go sideways with this product, and you can see countless rave reviews about it on Amazon as well. It is simple, convenient, and the air vacuum pump works quite well.
If you just want to change out your airlocks due to age related wear, damage, or to separate airlocks for fruit and vegetable ferments (in order to avoid influencing flavors), here’s a good set.
Submerging everything in your ferment vessel below the brine is extremely important to avoid wild yeast and/or (especially) mold growth. You would think that glass weights to submerge your veggies would be super straightforward but it wasn’t until I had ordered my third set that I got it right. The issue is that so many weights are either flat or the handle is very hard to grasp. You end up getting your fingers in the brine (which I personally try to avoid at all costs), spilling brine or veggies in the process of removal, or otherwise getting frustrated.
A simple handle in the middle is all it takes. I love this product.
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A newer product is the “Pickle Pusher” and it deals with some of the drawbacks of glass weights. Namely, that the glass weights can sink down into a looser ferment (e.g. chopped hot peppers) or that they aren’t large enough to prevent some floaters from coming to the surface in larger jars like half gallon and gallon. (This will be dealt with by the half-gallon pickle pusher which is still under development.)
I periodically use plastic ziploc baggies filled with a little water to deal with this issue, which is a popular solution, but it can be wasteful and there is a suggestion that that type of plastic breaks down on the molecular level in a ferment.
(This kit includes 4 PicklePushers, 4 lids with attachable water-based airlocks, and 4 regular lids for post-fermentation storage
The Probiotic Jar
The Probiotic Jar (which isn’t actually a jar but an ingenious lid system that fits on a Fido jar sold by a different manufacturer) is another great solution to the potential slippage posed by glass weights and, more importantly, the possibility for regular mason jars to be less than 100% anaerobic. This has never been an issue for me personally in hundreds of jar ferments, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that suggests people with strong histamine sensitivities who are utilizing ferments to improve chronic diseases (such as Crohn’s, Colitis, Proctitis, Celiac, IBD, IBS, etc.) have better results with completely anaerobic ferments. This is not a cheap lid but it fits on Bormioli Fido Bale-Wire Jars up to 5 liters, which is upwards of 1.3 gallons. These jars are known for their exceptional craftsmanship.
I got this canning funnel as a gift and didn’t realize then how much I’d appreciate this little gadget. When transferring brine or any of your contents to your widemouth jar, you place this on top of the jar and it just makes the process so much quicker and neater. No more spills, no more lost kraut pieces that ended up on the floor.
Replacement (standard) lids
I always advise people against using the metal lids that come with your mason type jars. They corrode and/or rust over time and can even ruin your first ferment due to contact between the water and the metals. Instead I recommend food grade plastic lids as replacements. If you simply prefer to burp your jars instead of using airlocks, lids are a cheaper and more convenient way to go.
There are of course a few producers of quality glass jars suitable for fermenting but Ball is the undisputed industry leader so links to their products are provided as they tend to be the cheapest. Sometimes you can find older jars for much cheaper at secondhand shops like Goodwill or at garage sales.
Quart jars (32 oz.) – widemouth, 12-pack (note Ball products are not Prime eligible but have free S/H):
Half gallon jars (64 oz.) – widemouth, 6-pack (note Ball products are not prime eligible but have free S/H)
Gallon Fermentation Jars
I really like having some gallon sized jars to ferment with. While I love making all kinds of microbatches and experiments in my quart or half gallon jars, sometimes it’s nice to know I’m packed with pickles (or whatever) for a while and won’t need to start all over again in a week or so. I’ve even made a gallon of mead with these a few times and it was great.
Crocks are a tried and true traditional means of fermenting which use a water moat as an airlock around the lid to keep out air and contaminants while allowing gases to escape. Besides their aesthetic and traditional appeal, they enable you to produce much larger sized ferments. This will help minimize your prepping multiple small batches. 5 liters is a very popular size among fermenters and this model is well reviewed and noted as “Amazon’s choice.” I actually have a 15L crock but don’t use it much because it’s generally too big for my needs, hence my suggestion for a 5L device.
If you’re going to be fermenting frequently (whether lacto-fermenting, homebrewing, or a combo) you will need large supplies of clean, filtered water. Most filter pitchers only reduce a small portion of contaminants and unwanted particulates.
Although there are some negative reviews, after years of use I believe I’ve discovered the reason. People seem not to use the Zerowater device correctly. I suspect they store water in the container for long periods, which keeps the water in ongoing contact with the filter. If you immediately use the water you’ve purified (or otherwise transfer it to a pitcher or other vessel), problem solved.
It also comes with an electronic meter to test the PPM (“parts” or contaminants per million) and mine reads at zero for months after installing a new filter. It’s pretty interesting testing out the levels of impurities in the water I drink from different sources too. (My tap is in the 60s, fridge filtered water in the 40s, and most bottled water I’ve tried is in the 20s.) More and more research is showing how these impurities, including fluoride, may be tolerated, but it is almost certainly not good for you.
There are so many different types of salt options and products nowadays. Some recipes call for pink Himalayan salt. Others call for sea salt or maybe something specific like Celtic sea salt. The bottom line is for healthy fermentation to take place you just need a salt that has no iodine or other additives in it. These can interfere with the natural fermentation process. I’ve even heard from a longtime fermenter that some hardware supply stores like Ace carry stock salt for cattle which has no additives and can be as cheap as $6 for a 20 pound bag. I’m still on the fence about using this product but the fermenter who told me about has been using it for years without issue.
My go-to salt is good old Morton’s All-Natural Canning & Pickling Salt.
Himalayan salt and Celtic sea salt are good examples of mineral rich salts that may provide your body with micronutrients you’re not otherwise getting in sufficient supply. Taste-wise, I don’t think you’ll notice any difference when it comes to a completed ferment. However, if you like the idea of using these unique mineral rich salts, here’s a few links to quality products I’ve had.
Redmond Real Sea Salt is also a favorite among fermenters
Food Grade Gloves
Speaking of salt, which stings my hands without gloves, these are my gloves of choice and I love them. The product comes in various sizes which you can select.
As far as whether they are necessary, I will start by saying that in normal lacto-fermenting, having clean hands washed with warm/hot soapy water is all that is needed (same goes for your jars and other equipment). In fact, evidence suggests that the bacteria on our hands is one contributor to kicking off a ferment and giving it its final chemistry, at least on the microscopic level.
However, there are some reasons why gloves can be advised and why I use them regularly: As a best practice for preparing foods for others to consume. (Golden rule. Do you really want someone else’s hand bacteria in your sauerkraut?) Moreover, though unlikely, what if even after washing, there is a harmful bacteria still present on your hand? Lastly, as I mentioned above, salt and other fermentation ingredients like citrus, hot peppers, and gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes) can be major irritants on our hands and fingers.
If you don’t have gochugaru, you can’t make the iconic red kimchi we all know and love. Except for my wife. She does not love. Any of it. Moving along.
Korean Kimchi Maker / Storage Container
If you ever talk to Korean people about kimchi making, they almost universally use this product or one of the few that looks just like it. There is extremely high satisfaction with this product both anecdotally and in online reviews. A major factor in the appeal is how it contains the smell more than glass jars or other methods. This link will bring you to a page which offers five different size options, ranging from almost a gallon to almost 12 gallons.
Many recipes, particularly in the realm of pickles, call for spices to be coarsely ground. There may also be other instances where you have a whole spice (such as mustard seed or star anise) and the recipe calls for this to be powdered. Coarsely grinding can be done in a mortar and pestle.
However, if you are looking for greater speed and efficiency, or need to ground finely, I have also provided a link to a solid electric spice grinder. This is a great thing to have also if you have coarse or whole salt and are trying to measure according to teaspoons/tablespoons, which base the measurement on finely ground.
There are so many of these on Amazon but this is the one I own, it’s a reasonable price, and I love it.