First, and most importantly, I am so excited about this giveaway! I came across Sandy Der’s handmade pickle weights on a fermentation forum and I was ecstatic! Non-porous, unglazed and so very cute, I knew I had to have some. So I placed my order and the weights made their way to me very quickly. I opted for the wide-mouth variety, but I’ll be ordering some narrow ones too, since it is harder to find my style (aka stuff from around the house) weights for the narrow-mouthed jars. Now you all know that I’m a big advocate of being equipment free. But like many of you, I also have a house full of jar abrewin’ and sometimes the cloth-napkin-over-a-jar-in-a-jar look can get a bit old (also, I only have so many jam jars, cloth napkins and rubber bands). These weights allow me set a jar, lid on, ring attached loosely, and move on to the next thing. They’re also great in fidos, which have traditionally given me some issues when it comes to submersion.
Sandy is more than just a(n awesome) potter, though. She has a BS in Food Science and Technology from UC Davis where food microbiology was a favorite part of her coursework. She’s been a professional chef for over 20 years and she’s a certified nutrition consultant through the Bauman College holistic nutrition program. As for her fermentation experience, she’s a veteran, having made fermented foods on and off for more than a decade catching the kombucha bug in 2005 and playing around with veggie ferments for even longer.
Like me, Sandy is a starter-free fermenter (who needs whey in their veggies?), and tends to go small batch for her family of 2. Inspiration for these gorgeous weights came when she was weighing some kimchi down with a plastic bag full of brine and realized there had to be a better way. (Luckily she happened to have a pottery studio on hand to build her own solution!)
She uses unglazed porcelain which she found was the most food safe way to go. Porcelain is the most non porous of the clay bodies out there and has no toxic materials in it to leach into the ferments. The winner of the giveaway will be able to choose between standard or wide-mouthed ball jars sizes, but Der also makes Fido and custom sizes!
Her next project sounds awesome: clay pots that you can cook with on the stove – Flameware. I am personally looking forward to getting my hands on those! Want to buy some of Sandy’s cool food-related pottery? I highly recommend it! You can get them from the Pottery by Sandy Der etsy shop!
I most recently used the weights I bought from Sandy to ferment one of the best tasting ferments you could desire: rutabaga. I’m from Michigan and rutabaga is a common addition to the Thanksgiving table there. I like mashed potatoes, but if I had to choose, my dad’s rutabaga puree would be in my belly before I even looked at the good ol’ mashed taters. If you, too, are a rutabaga lover, then making this pickle should top your priority list. It has the flavor of rutabaga with all the wonderful complexity of a vegetable ferment. Bonus: It doesn’t need to ferment very long to be amazing, so there’s still time to get yours ready before Thanksgiving!
New to fermented pickling? Check out my Pickles FAQ!
- 2 pounds rutabaga, preferably unwaxed (best place to find unwaxed is a farmers’ market)
- 1/2 inch of unpeeled ginger
- 1 cup of brine (1 teaspoon salt dissolved into 1 cup of room temperature water)
- Remove any roots or unappetizing spots from your rutabaga. Using a box grater or the grating blade on your food processor, grate your scrubbed rutabaga. If you were unable to find unwaxed, you’ll need to peel it. In my experience peeled vegetables ferment more slowly than unpeeled.
- Grate your thoroughly washed, unpeeled ginger and mix it in to the rutabaga.
- Pack the vegetable mixture into a 1 quart jar as you would sauerkraut, which is to say, very tightly.
- Very slowly pour your brine over your rutabaga. Let the liquid seep in, then pack your rutabaga back in tight. Continue this process until you have a centimeter of brine on top of your rutabaga. You may not use the full cup of brine. Then, apply your weights. I used 2 of Sandy Der’s awesome wide-mouth jar weights.
- At five days, I felt that this ferment was perfect for my Thanksgiving pickle bar. Feel free to leave it longer if you want it more acidic.