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Chinese pickling jar questions

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I've been having my eye on getting myself a Chinese pickling crock/jar. Had a few questions on the subject and thought I would ask you all.

1. I've seen jars with water locks and I've seen jars without water locks. Are some pickles suited for one jar over the other? Why pick a jar without a water lock? Is it just a budget/economical consideration?


2. I've heard whispers of a preference for un-glazed ceramic crocks over glazed or glass because, they claim, it's allows the ferment to "breath". Is there anything to this? I would assume the water lock allows for breathing and the un-glazed ceramic would be a home for pathogens. But I can't deny that I'm interested in it.

Would appreciate any other thoughts and information you may be willing to share. Thanks!



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I know nothing about Chinese crocks or Chinese fermentation but I would think that glazed would be better provided the glaze is lead-free, just for sanitation purposes. It is important to understand the difference between low-fired earthenware and high-fired stoneware. The former is not vitrified (using the term vitrified loosely) - there is significant porosity remaining in the clay body. Although this might promote breathing, it will more likely allow leakage of the liquid through the clay. The whole point of lacto-fermentation is to exclude air so I see no reason why you would want the pot to breathe. Stoneware should have little or no porosity left in the clay after firing (not always the case in the real world). This means it won't breathe, even if unglazed. You will just have a surface that is harder to clean.


Unless you are making vinegar, you want a water lock to exclude air so the contents ferment and to inhibit the formation of kahm yeast. One thing I have found with water locks is that changing temperature can allow the contents to expand and contract and that can cause water to suck out of the lock into the jar. Keeping a consistent temperature is good. The jars in your photo seem to have pretty deep locks, which is ideal. Keep water in them but not so full that the water sucks into the crock. I have had the water lock on my sauerkraut crock go dry and it doesn't seem really harmful since there isn't a lot of airflow. 

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