Fermenting sauerkraut can be a very satisfying experience. It can also be incredibly easy to do if you have the right tools. One of the most common questions people ask is can you make sauerkraut in a plastic container? The answer is yes you can, but there are a number of important considerations so that you are confident that you are fermenting safely.
A lot of people are concerned about using plastic for fermenting foods, but there are benefits and limitations to glass ceramic, stainless steel and plastic containers. In this article, we will explore all aspects of whether or not it’s possible to use a plastic container for fermentation purposes.
To be right up front, I have used these in the past, and it worked fantastically well. I do prefer to use a more traditional ceramic fermentation crock these days, but it’s horses for courses and you choose what works best for you.
Fermenting Sauerkraut In Plastic Containers – Considerations
When it comes to plastic containers, there are a few things you need to consider. The first is that not all plastics are created equally. Some can leach harmful chemicals into your food, which can be dangerous if consumed regularly. It’s important to ALWAYS use food-grade material for fermenting sauerkraut or any other type of fermented food.
That means staying away from ones that are marked with recycling codes, which can include the numbers three or seven on them. Instead, you want to use plastics labeled as safe for fermenting purposes, usually indicated by a number one recycling code.
Use High Quality Food-Grade Plastics
There are two main types of – polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE). HDPE is a harder plastic that is less likely to leach chemicals into your food. It’s also more durable, meaning it can be reused multiple times. PET is a softer plastic that can leach chemicals into your food, but it’s also less expensive and can be used for single-use purposes.
Choosing Your Plastic Fermentation Container
When it comes to choosing a container for fermenting sauerkraut, both HDPE and PET have their benefits and drawbacks. If you’re looking for a durable container that can be reused multiple times, HDPE can be a great choice. Food-grade buckets are cheap and reliable. If you’re looking for something more affordable that can only be used once, PET can work well too.
Ultimately both types of can leach chemicals into your food if they are not BPA-free or labeled as safe to use with fermenting purposes. So before making any decision about whether or not to use plastic for fermenting, make sure to do your research and test out different brands. Most can be found at local grocery stores or online retailers like Amazon if you don’t have access to them locally. Reading reviews or checking out forums will help you to nail down the most appropriate containers.
Plastic Or Silicone Lids For Fermenting & Storage
A final consideration when it comes to using plastic containers is the type of lid that can seal onto it safely. This is important for the storage stage. When learning how to make sauerkraut, you will learn that the gases created during the fermentation process need to escape, so a loose-fitting lid is required. Your sauerkraut will need to be fully submerged below the brine level and there is a range of glass or ceramic fermenting stones that can achieve this.
Alternatively, putting a heavy stone from the garden (washed first) into a sandwich bag can make an effective weight. It can be helpful to have multiple containers if you are fermenting batches at different stages, or testing recipes with various ingredients that will allow you to reuse the lids but still keep them in good condition. Always check lids regularly to make sure they are a tight fit when storing.
Many people can feel overwhelmed when it comes to fermenting foods, but there are so many benefits that can come from making your own fermented sauerkraut or other vegetables at home. When choosing a container for fermentation purposes, the best thing you can do is test out different options until you find one that works well with your individual needs.
Plastic can be a great option for fermenting sauerkraut due to its affordability and durability, but it’s important to make sure the container is food-grade and BPA-free. So if you’re looking for an affordable and durable way to start fermenting your own food at home, it can be a good option to consider.
However, if you’re looking to avoid plastics for any reason then glass or a ceramic crock can be a great alternative that can provide all of the same benefits without the possible disadvantages.
Fermenting In A Plastic Container: The Pros And Cons
So we now know that you can make sauerkraut in a plastic fermenting container? And it has some benefits, but there are also some drawbacks to consider.
Benefits Of Using Plastic Containers To Make Sauerkraut
Here are some of the benefits of using plastic containers for making sauerkraut
One of the benefits of using a plastic container for fermenting homemade sauerkraut is that it can be very affordable. While glass can sometimes run a bit more expensive, it’s worth considering its many benefits before making your final decision. For many people who are new to fermentation, this can help ease their minds as they get started with testing the next thing you need to know is what type of plastic your container is made out of.
Here are a few more reasons you might want to try plastic before stepping up to a fermenting crock or glassware:
- Low cost and easily accessible
- Can be reused multiple times if made out of HDPE
- PET is cheap, but more likely to leach chemicals, user beware
Drawbacks Of Using Plastic Containers For Making Sauerkraut
There are some disadvantages that need to be considered:
- Can leach chemicals into your sauerkraut brine and food if it’s not BPA-free
- May taint the taste of the sauerkraut
- Non-traditional, which bothers some fermenters
- Probably less longevity when compared to glass or ceramic crocks
Does Fermenting In A Plastic Bucket Or Box Affect Taste?
So can fermenting sauerkraut in plastic affect taste? The answer is yes, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Many people actually enjoy the slightly tangy flavor that can come from fermenting in plastic. However, if you’re looking for a more subtle flavor then glass might be a better option for you. Ultimately, it all comes down to personal preference, so it’s worth trying out both options to see which you prefer.
The difference in taste is not, however, a result of chemical leaching, so don’t panic. The difference is simply because of the environment that the sauerkraut is fermenting in. Similar to fermenting wine in plastic buckets versus oak barrels
Can I Ferment In Tupperware?
Fermenting in Tupperware plastic boxes is probably not the best idea, unless the container is tall, but may be a good way to store your sauerkraut or other vegetables after fermenting. It can also present some problems. The main one is that the lids on these containers can come loose and leak as they’re not made specifically for use in fermenting foods.
The best thing you can do is try out different types of containers until you find one that works well for you. Tupperware has the benefit of being a food-grade plastic and can be reused multiple times, but it’s important to check the lids for any signs of wear and tear so that your food doesn’t spoil. Lots of people wonder can you freeze homemade sauerkraut and as long as your Tupperware boxes are freezer safe, then they could be a good idea if freezing is what you want to do.
So while Tupperware can be a good way to store your fermented vegetables, it’s not necessarily the best option for fermenting them in the first place.
Plastic can be a great option for fermenting sauerkraut due to its affordability and durability, but it’s important to make sure the container is food-grade and BPA-free. So if you’re looking for an affordable and durable way to start fermenting your own food at home, plastic can be a good option to consider.
The Final Decision: Plastic Containers For Fermenting Sauerkraut Can Be Great, But They Need To Be Food Grade And BPA Free!