Mason Jar History

This early Mason jar is decorated with “THE GEM” in one line embossed on one side of the upper body. The jar has a glass lid, with nine patent dates, and metal screw-band top seal. The pale blue-green body, formed in a mold, is round with a tapered-shoulder. The Hero Glass Works, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, manufactured the mason jar.

Food and Human Survival

Harvesting and preserving food has always been crucial to survival. From the earliest periods of history people have sought a method by which food could be made resistant to spoilage.

Before the 19th century, foods were dried, smoked and salted, preserved in sugar, or stored, such as vegetables and grains, in a dry cool place. As methods of gathering food supplies and their protection improved, settlements eventually developed around the availability of adequate supplies of food — and towns emerged and cities grew. The proper preservation of food was a major factor in building civilizations, while its scarcity destroyed them.

Even though we continue to have incidents of food-borne illness, most of these come from the mishandling of food and not from food preservation. Very few cases are a result of properly hermetically sealed and processed foods.

New Discoveries Revolutionize Food Preservation

Early in the 19th century, the process of hermetically sealed cooked food was developed in France . By 1809, the Frenchman Francois (Nicolas) Appert had the background to solve the problem, having been a pickler, an expert confectioner, a brewer, a distiller, and a chef. In 1810, Appert established the principles for the preservation of certain foods in hermetically sealed glass containers, which he himself designed for the procedure. The bottles were filled with fruit and heated. Then they were sealed and placed in a water bath and heated gradually for specified lengths of time and then cooled. Applying heat to food in sealed glass bottles made it difficult for organisms to develop.

Appert really had no explanation for the success of his work. He believed the exclusion of air and the application of heat were the major factors in keeping the foods in his experiments from spoiling. He wrote:

Absolute prevention of contact of external air is necessary after the internal air is rendered of no effect by proper applications of heat by means of a water-bath. Although his explanation proved wrong, his methods worked. Appert’s experiments had taken place in a time when chemistry was still young and 50 years before Louis Pasteur and the science of bacteriology.

Food In a Tin Can

Also in 1810, the Englishman Peter Durand patented the idea of airtight tin-plated iron cans, instead of glass jars, for food preservation. Cooked meat, fruit, and vegetables could now be hermetically sealed in tin containers.

The first tin cans were patented in the United States in 1825, but it was not until around 1839 that tin cans were widespread in the United States, and about 10 years later were being mass produced. Now vitamin loss, bacterial spoilage, and enzyme changes were better controlled in providing an abundance of prepared food. A huge industry was underway. As the quality of commercial production improved and the cost became competitive, home canning declined.

The Mason Jar

Although hundreds of men and women obtained patents for fruit jars, probably the most well known in the industry has been the Mason jar. Many independent manufacturers included the name Mason with their logos on some jars. It became a common term for the fruit jar. The field of food microbiology made important breakthroughs by the mid-19th century. Previous jar sealing methods included waxed paper, leather, or skin, followed by cork stoppers and wax sealers. The breakthrough came with the development of the zinc cap for the shoulder-seal jar.

In 1858, John Landis Mason developed and patented a shoulder-seal jar with a zinc screw cap. The “Mason jar” had a threaded neck which fit with the threads in a metal cap to screw down to the shoulder of the jar and in this way form a seal. In 1869, a top seal above the threads and under a glass lid was introduced to the jar. The screw cap pressed tightly against the inverted lid, with rubber seal underneath, thus effecting an excellent seal. Preserving food in a glass home canning jar had now been taken a step further. A type of this closure still is in use today, although augmented with various other closure designs.

As the quality of commercial canning production improved, populations moved from the rural to the urban life, and as home freezers appeared, home canning of foods declined.

However, home gardening has been on the rise. This is one of the reasons for the rate of home canning in Tennessee being high. Recent surveys assure us that the Mason jar is still in use today. The glass top or the zinc lid are no longer recommended for home canning. The two-piece metal lid is the healthiest choice.

Source: Frank H. McClung Museum – The University of Tennessee.

Home Canning Articles

Home canning can be a safe and economical way to preserve quality fruits, vegetables and other foods produced in your home garden or orchard. Disregarding the value of your labor, canning vegetables, canning fruits, and other homegrown food may save you half the cost of buying commercially canned food. Canning favorite and special products to be enjoyed by family and friends is a fulfilling experience and a source of pride.

Many vegetables begin losing some of their vitamins when harvested. Nearly half the vitamins may be lost within a few days unless the fresh produce is cooled or preserved. Within 1 to 2 weeks, even refrigerated produce loses half or more of some of its vitamins. The heating process during home canning destroys from one-third to one-half of vitamins A and C, thiamin, and riboflavin. Once canned, additional losses of these sensitive vitamins are from 5 to 20 percent each year. The amounts of other vitamins, however, are only slightly lower in canned compared with fresh food. If vegetables are handled properly and canned promptly after harvest, they can be more nutritious than fresh produce sold in local stores.

The technique articles linked from this page will help you get the most effective use out of your water-bath or pressure canner as you preserve the season’s harvest. Most of our home canning articles come in both “html” format for online reading and in printer-friendly “pdf” format. However, some home canning articles are html only or pdf only. PDF files are downloadable and formatted for printing or saving to your computer for future reference. The pdf files require the free Adobe Acrobat Reader which is available if needed by clicking the link at the bottom of the page. If a pdf version of an article is available, a link will show at the top of the article.

Canning Supplies To Make Your Food Storage Project Easier

The Mrs Wages line of pickling mixes and Mrs. Wages tomato canning mixes are one of our most popular additions to our huge selection of home canning supplies. For some, home canning is a hobby; for others, it’s a lifestyle. has the most complete selection of home canning supplies and canning equipment for the beginning canner as well as the food preservation expert. If we do not offer a home canning supply item that you need, please let us know.

Here is a limited selection of our must haves:

Essential Canning Supplies

Make sure you have plenty of these essential home canning supplies before starting your next food preservation project. Remember, canning lids must never be reused. However, canning rings and canning jars can be reused indefinitely. It’s always good to have plenty of pectin on hand prior to the jam and jelly season.

Be sure to try some of the great Mrs. Wages pickling and tomato mixes this season. We have many customers that say their families will eat nothing but Mrs. Wages pickles or salsa. We hope that our selection of canning supplies will meet all your home canning needs.

Pickling Chili Peppers

Chile peppers are usually preserved in salt and vinegar. Adding sugar or honey produces a more mellow tasting pickle. Adding spices gives additional flavour.

  • Salt: Used to extract moisture from some vegetables, which would otherwise dilute the vinegar and cause the pickle to ferment, and the vegetables to toughen. Use cooking salt rather than table salt; the latter contains a higher iodine content which can discolor the vegetables (it makes them darker).
  • Vinegar: Use bottled vinegar’s (malt, distilled, wine, cider, spiced etc); draught vinegar’s are not strong enough. White distilled or cider vinegar’s of 5 percent acidity (50 grain) are recommended. Use cold vinegar for crisp vegetables and boiling vinegar for softer ones. The vinegar should cover the vegetables by at least an inch (2.5cm). For a home-made spiced vinegar, boil 1oz (25g) of mixed pickling spice in 1 pint (600ml) of vinegar for 5 minutes. Strain when cold.
  • Spices: Use whole spices, powdered ones will make the vinegar cloudy. Mixed pickling spice consists of equal amounts of stick cinnamon, allspice berries, cloves, mace and peppercorns. Extras can include root ginger, celery seeds etc.
  • Pre-cooking: Some recipes require the chile peppers to be blanched before pickling, some don’t.
  • Pans: Use unchipped enamel, aluminum or stainless steel pans. Copper, brass and iron pans will react with the vinegar, giving an off taste.
  • Sealing: Jars must be sterilized and well sealed. Metal lids will corrode on contact with the vinegar. Kilner jars are recommended.
  • Maturing: A minimum of 2 to 4 weeks maturing time is recommended. Crisp pickles will tend to soften after about 3 months.

Garlic Pickled Chile Peppers

  • 500g (1 lb) Cayenne peppers
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 3 cloves of garlic cut in halves
  • 900ml (1 1/2 pints) vinegar (garlic vinegar if available)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 8 peppercorns

Wash the peppers and place into hot sterilized jars. Mix the allspice with the celery and mustard seeds. Pack into the jars. Add the garlic. Place the vinegar, sugar and peppercorns into pan and bring to the boil. Pour over the peppers and seal the jars. Makes about 1.5kg (3 lb)

Fresh Pickled Jalapenos

Using fresh Jalapenos peppers, blanch for 3 minutes in boiling water. To prevent collapsing, puncture each pepper with a needle. Add the following ingredients to a pint jar packed with the blanched peppers before cooling occurs:

  • 1/4 medium sized Garlic clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon of onion flakes
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground Oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon Thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon Marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Cover with boiling brine solution prepared as follows: mix together;

  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 9 tablespoons salt
  • 2 pints water
  • 2 pints 5% vinegar

Close containers and process for 10 minutes in boiling water, then cool. Note that the jalapenos must be hot when brine solution is added.

Easy Pickled Peppers

  • 1 – 1 1/2 lb. fresh hot peppers (any kind you like)
  • 1 good sized handful of cayenne peppers (optional – adds color to mix)
  • 1 lb package of peeled baby carrots
  • 1 or 2 heads garlic – peel and separate cloves
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup black peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup whole coriander seeds
  • White vinegar to cover

Put the carrots on to boil in the vinegar. Stab each pepper with a paring knife. After the carrots have cooked for about 10 minutes, add everything else to the pot. Simmer 5 (crisp) to 15 (soft) minutes depending on your taste. Pour mixture into old mayonnaise jars or what ever else large glass jars you have on hand that have a cover. Cover (not too tight) and let cool for an hour or so. Then refrigerate. You can eat these right away but if you way for a few days the vegetables (carrots and garlic) will get hotter.

Grandma’s Pickled Banana peppers

Recipe By : Jerry Ziehm

  • banana peppers
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbs. good olive oil in each jar
  • Brine
  • 3 qts. water
  • 1 qt. white vinegar bring to boil

Place peppers, salt, oil in jars, pour hot brine to the top of jar, seal jars, water bath for about 5 min.
(When I water bath I only boil about 2 min). Peppers stay very crisp. Also you can put a clove or two of garlic in each jar if you wish. Recipe yields about 10 quarts.

Pickled Jalapenos

Recipe By : Pacific Northwest Extension Bulletin

  • 6 pounds jalapeno
  • 5 cups vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 teaspoons pickling salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic

Wash peppers. If small peppers are left whole, slash 2-5 slits in each. Quarter large peppers. Blanch in boiling water. Flatten small peppers. Fill half-pint or pint jars leaving 1/2 inch head space. Combine and heat other ingredients to boiling and simmer 10 minutes. Remove garlic. Pour hot pickling solution over peppers leaving 1/2 inch head space. Adjust lids. Use conventional boiling water canner processing. Process for 10 minutes at below 1000 feet, 15 minutes at 1001 to 6000 feet and 20 minutes above 6000 feet.

Pickled Chiles

Recipe By : The Goodness of Peppers by John Midgley (Pavilion Books Unlimited, London).

  • 225g/8 oz. whole fresh chiles
  • 350ml/12 fl. oz/1 1/2 cups white wine vinegar with 1 teaspoon salt
  • sprig of bay
  • sprig of rosemary
  • 4 gloves of garlic, peeled
  • up to 350ml/12 fl. oz/1 1/2 cups extra white wine vinegar

Inspect the chiles for damage, discarding any that are bruised, lacerated or otherwise blemished. Snip off all but the base of their stems. Bring the vinegar and the chiles to a boil in a pan. Add the remaining ingredients except the extra vinegar and simmer for 6-8 minutes. With a clean spoon, transfer them to a jar previously sterilized with freshly boiled water. Pour in the pickling liquid with its herbs, top up with the additional vinegar to cover and allow to cool before sealing.

The chiles will be ready within a month.

This quantity will fill a medium-sized jar with whole chiles, preserved with herbs and garlic and up to 675ml /1 1/2 pints /3 cups of vinegar. Increase the vinegar quantity and dilute it with a little water if you want to preserve a larger quantity of chiles, or sweet red and yellow peppers, which should first have their caps, seeds and pithy membranes removed.

Home Canning Guides

This series from the US Department of Agriculture is one of the best series of articles on home canning. These “pdf” files require the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.Many of our articles are presented here courtesy of the Utah State University Extension and the University of Florida Extension.
USDA Home Canning Table of Contents Principles of Home Canning
Canning Fruit and Fruit Products
Canning Tomatoes and Tomato Products
Canning Vegetables and Vegetable Products
Canning Poultry, Meats, and Seafood
Canning Fermented Foods and Pickled Vegetables
Canning Jams and Jellies

Dehydration Of Food

Dehydration of Food is one of the oldest methods of preserving food for later use. It can either be an alternative to canning and freezing or a compliment to these methods. With modern food dehydrators, drying food is simple, safe and easy to learn. Dried food is great in traditional cooking recipes and can save you a lot of time in the kitchen during meal preparation time. Dried foods are also ideal for camping and backpacking as they take up little weight or space and do not require refrigeration. Kids really love fruit leathers too, which make a healthy nutritious snack food.

Home Canning Techniques

Preserving the harvest from your garden or orchard is a time-honored tradition that we are happy to promote with our many free canning technique and other food preservation articles. The following sub-directories present articles on home canning techniques, food dehydration, pickling, freezing, jam making & more.

In our fast-paced, fast food society, the skills & techniques that our grandparents and great-grandparents routinely used to store foods have been largely forgotten. We encourage you to pass your knowledge of food preservation and canning techniques on to interested youth so that this heritage is not lost to future generations.

Home canning can be a safe and economical way to preserve quality fruits, vegetables and other foods produced in your home garden or orchard. Disregarding the value of your labor, canning vegetables, canning fruits, and other homegrown food may save you half the cost of buying commercially canned food. Canning favorite and special products to be enjoyed by family and friends is a fulfilling experience and a source of pride.

Many vegetables begin losing some of their vitamins when harvested. Nearly half the vitamins may be lost within a few days unless the fresh produce is cooled or preserved. Within 1 to 2 weeks, even refrigerated produce loses half or more of some of its vitamins. The heating process during home canning destroys from one-third to one-half of vitamins A and C, thiamin, and riboflavin. Once canned, additional losses of these sensitive vitamins are from 5 to 20 percent each year. The amounts of other vitamins, however, are only slightly lower in canned compared with fresh food. If vegetables are handled properly and canned promptly after harvest, they can be more nutritious than fresh produce sold in local stores.

The technique articles linked from this page will help you get the most effective use out of your water-bath or pressure canner as you preserve the season’s harvest. Most of our home canning articles come in both “html” format for online reading and in printer-friendly “pdf” format. However, some home canning articles are html only or pdf only. PDF files are downloadable and formatted for printing or saving to your computer for future reference. The pdf files require the free Adobe Acrobat Reader which is available if needed by clicking the link at the bottom of the page. If a pdf version of an article is available, a link will show at the top of the article. PDF only articles are designated by the PDF symbol.

Pickling Salt & Canning Salt from Morton

Morton Pickling & Canning SaltMorton – Canning and Pickling Salt is a pure granulated salt, with no added preservatives or free-flowing agents. Can be used in cooking, canning and pickling.

About the product

  • Pack of two, 4-pounds per unit (total of 8 pounds)
  • A pure granulated salt, with no added preservatives or free-flowing agents
  • Can be used in cooking, canning and pickling

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Pickling Lime [Calcium Hydroxide]

Calcium hydroxide (traditionally called slaked lime) is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula Ca(OH)2. It is a colorless crystal or white powder and is obtained when calcium oxide (called lime or quicklime) is mixed, or slaked with water. It has many names including hydrated lime, caustic lime, builders’ lime, slack lime, cal, or pickling lime. Calcium hydroxide is used in many applications, including food preparation. Limewater is the common name for a saturated solution of calcium hydroxide.


Calcium hydroxide is relatively insoluble in water, with a solubility product Ksp of 5.5 × 10−6. It is large enough that its solutions are basic according to the following reaction:

Ca(OH)2 → Ca2+ + 2 OH−

At ambient temperature, calcium hydroxide (portlandite) dissolves in pure water to produce an alkaline solution with a pH of about 12.4. Calcium hydroxide solutions can cause chemical burns. At high pH value (see common ion effect), its solubility drastically decreases. This behavior is relevant to cement pastes. Its aqueous solutions is called limewater and is a medium strength base that reacts with acids and can attack some metals such as aluminium (amphoteric hydroxide dissolving at high pH) while protecting other metals from corrosion such as iron and steel by passivation of their surface. Limewater turns milky in the presence of carbon dioxide due to formation of calcium carbonate, a process called carbonatation:

Ca(OH)2 + CO2 → CaCO3 + H2O

When heated to 512 °C, the partial pressure of water in equilibrium with calcium hydroxide reaches 101 kPa (normal atmospheric pressure), which decomposes calcium hydroxide into calcium oxide and water.

Ca(OH)2 → CaO + H2O

Structure, preparation, occurrence

Calcium hydroxide adopts a polymeric structure, as do all metal hydroxides. The structure is identical to that of Mg(OH)2 (brucite structure); i.e., the cadmium iodide motif. Strong hydrogen bonds exist between the layers.[8]

Calcium hydroxide is produced commercially by treating lime with water:

CaO + H2O → Ca(OH)2

In the laboratory it can be prepared by mixing aqueous solutions of calcium chloride and sodium hydroxide. The mineral form, portlandite, is relatively rare but can be found in some volcanic, plutonic, and metamorphic rocks. It has also been known to arise in burning coal dumps. CaOH has been detected in the atmosphere of S-type stars.


One significant application of calcium hydroxide is as a flocculant, in water and sewage treatment. It forms a fluffy charged solid that aids in the removal of smaller particles from water, resulting in a clearer product. This application is enabled by the low cost and low toxicity of calcium hydroxide. It is also used in fresh water treatment for raising the pH of the water so that pipes will not corrode where the base water is acidic, because it is self-regulating and does not raise the pH too much.

It is also used in the preparation of ammonia gas, using the following reaction:

Ca(OH)2 + 2NH4Cl → 2NH3 + CaCl2 + 2H2O

Another large application is in the paper industry, where it is an intermediate in the reaction in the production of sodium hydroxide. This conversion is part of the causticizing step in the Kraft process for making pulp.[8] In the causticizing operation burned lime is added to green liquor which is a solution primarily of sodium carbonate and sodium sulfate produced by dissolving smelt, which is the molten form of these chemicals from the recovery furnace.


Home Canning – Jars and Lids

Food may be canned in glass jars or metal containers. Metal containers can be used only once. They require special sealing equipment and are much more costly than jars.

Regular and wide-mouth Mason-type, threaded, home-canning jars with self-sealing lids are the best choice. They are available in 1/2 pint, pint, 1-1/2 pint, quart, and 1/2 gallon sizes. The standard jar mouth opening is about 2-3/8 inches. Wide-mouth jars have openings of about 3 inches, making them more easily filled and emptied. Half-gallon jars may be used for canning very acid juices. Regular-mouth decorator jelly jars are available in 8 and 12 ounce sizes. With careful use and handling, Mason jars may be reused many times, requiring only new lids each time. When jars and lids are used properly, jar seals and vacuums are excellent and jar breakage is rare.

Most commercial pint- and quart-size mayonnaise or salad dressing jars may be used with new two-piece lids for canning acid foods. However, you should expect more seal failures and jar breakage. These jars have a narrower sealing surface and are tempered less than Mason jars, and may be weakened by repeated contact with metal spoons or knives used in dispensing mayonnaise or salad dressing. Seemingly insignificant scratches in glass may cause cracking and breakage while processing jars in a canner. Mayonnaise-type jars are not recommended for use with foods to be processed in a pressure canner because of excessive jar breakage. Other commercial jars with mouths that cannot be sealed with two-piece canning lids are not recommended for use in canning any food at home.

Jar Cleaning

Before every use, wash empty jars in hot water with detergent and rinse well by hand, or wash in a dishwasher. Unrinsed detergents may cause unnatural flavors and colors. These washing methods do not sterilize jars. Scale or hard-water films on jars are easily removed by soaking jars several hours in a solution containing 1 cup of vinegar (5 percent acidity) per gallon of water.

Sterilization of Empty Jars

All jams, jellies, and pickled products processed less than 10 minutes should be filled into sterile empty jars. To sterilize empty jars, put them right side up on the rack in a boiling-water canner. Fill the canner and jars with hot (not boiling) water to 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Boil 10 minutes at altitudes of less than 1,000 ft. At higher elevations, boil 1 additional minute for each additional 1,000 ft. elevation. Remove and drain hot sterilized jars one at a time. Save the hot water for processing filled jars. Fill jars with food, add lids, and tighten screw bands.

Empty jars used for vegetables, meats, and fruits to be processed in a pressure canner need not be presterilized. It is also unnecessary to presterilize jars for fruits, tomatoes, and pickled or fermented foods that will be processed 10 minutes or longer in a boiling-water canner.

Lid Selection, Preparation, And Use

The common self-sealing lid consists of a flat metal lid held in place by a metal screw band during processing. The flat lid is crimped around its bottom edge to form a trough, which is filled with a colored gasket compound. When jars are processed, the lid gasket softens and flows slightly to cover the jar-sealing surface, yet allows air to escape from the jar. The gasket then forms an airtight seal as the jar cools. Gaskets in unused lids work well for at least 5 years from date of manufacture. The gasket compound in older unused lids may fail to seal on jars.

Buy only the quantity of lids you will use in a year To ensure a good seal, carefully follow the manufacturer’s directions in preparing lids for use. Examine all metal lids carefully. Do not use old, dented, or deformed lids, or lids with gaps or other defects in the sealing gasket.

After filling jars with food, release air bubbles by inserting a flat plastic (not metal) spatula between the food and the jar. Slowly turn the jar and move the spatula up and down to allow air bubbles to escape. Adjust the headspace and then clean the jar rim (sealing surface) with a dampened paper towel. Place the lid, gasket down, onto the cleaned jar-sealing surface. Uncleaned jar-sealing surfaces may cause seal failures.

Then fit the metal screw band over the flat lid. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines enclosed with or on the box for tightening the jar lids properly.

Do Not Retighten Lids After Processing Jars

As jars cool, the contents in the jar contract, pulling the self-sealing lid firmly against the jar to form a high vacuum.

  • If rings are too loose, liquid may escape from jars during processing, and seals may fail.
  • If rings are too tight, air cannot vent during processing, and food will discolor during storage. Overtightening also may cause lids to buckle and jars to break, especially with raw-packed, pressure-processed food.

Screw bands are not needed on stored jars. They can be removed easily after jars are cooled. When removed, washed, dried, and stored in a dry area, screw bands may be used many times. If left on stored jars, they become difficult to remove, often rust, and may not work properly again.


This document is Fact Sheet FCS 8255, a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Publication date: June 1998. First published: January 1993. Reviewed: June 1998. This document was extracted from the “Complete Guide to Home Canning”, Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539, USDA. It was originally published on CD-ROM as part of HE 8147, Guide 1: Complete Guide to Home Canning. Please visit our EDIS Web site at

Reviewed for use in Florida by Mark L. Tamplin, associate professor, Food Safety, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville FL 32611.

The term “plates,” where used in this document, refers to color photographs that can be displayed on screen from CD-ROM. These photographs are not included in the printed document.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race color, sex, age, handicap, or national origin. For information on obtaining other extension publications, contact your county Cooperative Extension Service office.

Florida Cooperative Extension Service / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences / University of Florida / Christine Taylor Waddill, Dean

Copyright Information

This document is copyrighted by the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) for the people of the State of Florida. UF/IFAS retains all rights under all conventions, but permits free reproduction by all agents and offices of the Cooperative Extension Service and the people of the State of Florida. Permission is granted to others to use these materials in part or in full for educational purposes, provided that full credit is given to the UF/IFAS, citing the publication, its source, and date of publication.

Sauerkraut Fermentation Crocks

Fermenting Crock Pots are also known as sauerkraut crocks. These beautifully crafted stoneware fermenting crock pots from Germany produce sauerkraut and other pickled vegetables very simply. Their use of ceramic weight stones eliminates mold while their clever water sealing system allows fermentation gasses to escape without allowing air to enter the crock pot. Simple instructions for use and recipes are included.

About Crock Pots

The patented original Harsch crockpot is stoneware. It is fired at 1200 degress C and finished with a leadfree glaze. It is suitable for almost all types of vegetables like cabbages, pumpkins, cucumbers, carrots, beans, celery, onions and peppers. Stoneware does not require special storage or use and is neutral for all fermenting vegetables. In just 4-6 weeks you can have delicious sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables.

The fermentation crock has a special cast gutter in the rim, and includes a ceramic cover which fits into the gutter which is filled with water thus creating the air lock. Gases from the fermentation can escape, but air can not enter the crock from outside. The pasty, white “kahm yeast” which develops on the sauerkraut in ordinary crocks does not develop with the Harsch crocks. The Harsch crock comes with a 2 piece stone that it used to weigh down the lid and apply pressure during the fermentation process so there is not need for you to use your own stones.

Fermented vegetables are important for healthy nutrition

Natural fermentation is one of the oldest means of preservation. Lactic acid bacteria subject the vegetables to a fermentation process. The vegetable becomes preserved, it develops a pleasantly sour taste, and it is rich in vitamins and minerals.

Sauerkraut is among the healthiest foods, writes pastor Sebastian Kneipp. James Cook introduced sauerkraut into navigation. A world-circumnavigator, with the help of sauerkraut’s high vitamin C content, he protected many men from the pest of the seas, scurvy.

Nutritionists recommend fermented vegetables. Not only are they durable and taste delicious, but they also prevent numerous illnesses.

Correct handling of the crockpots

The first rule is cleanliness. This does not only apply to the vegetable but also pot and lid. This is where the remarkable traits of the stoneware pay off. It can be cleaned easily and without much trouble. It only needs to be wiped, scrubbed or rinsed off and then left to dry. Since stoneware absorbs virtually no water, the formation of mold, that is common at the surface of other materials , is eliminated. Mold formation affects taste, ingredients and preservation of the fermented vegetable.

The cover stones are replacing the previous board with cloth to weigh down the fermenting vegetable. They’re made from stoneware and come as two pieces for easier handling and better contact with the fermenting vegetable’s juice. They also provide the necessary pressure on the vegetable for fermentation. The stones should be covered by one to two inches of vegetable’s juice. When there’s too little juice, add cool boiled salt water (15 g [.5 oz.] salt in 1 liter [1 qt.] water). A normal crockpot requires that one cover the vegetable with a clean, washed cloth. This is not necessary with this crockpot. Here it is sufficient to put large cabbage-, grape- or horseradish leaves under the stones.

Monitor the evaporation of water in the water groove. Close the pot with the lid. Pour water (normal tap water) into the water groove. This assures that the pot is sealed airtight, an important requirement for the pot to ferment properly. Fermentation occurs in several stages. Depending on the kind of vegetable, it takes 4 to 6 weeks. Especially in the early stages, it is extremely important that no air contacts the vegetable. The lid should therefore be opened no earlier than 2 to 3 weeks into the fermentation.

During fermentation and storage of the fermented vegetable the water groove needs to be filled with water. This prevents the following:

  • air coming in contact with the vegetable
  • yeast forming which makes the vegetable slimy
  • the upper portion of the vegetable turning bad
  • dust or vermin entering
  • stones or cloth turning smeary

Recipes to use with your crockpot

In general, don’t fill the crockpot all the way, since the cover stones and the carbon dioxide need room. The crockpot should be filled to no higher than 4/5 its height. When the pot is used for storage, don’t open the pot on a daily basis but rather remove a weeks amount and store it in a closed container in the refrigerator.


  • 5-8 kg. [11-17 lbs.] Cabbage for the 10 liter pot
  • 5-8 g [2 oz.] (max 15g [.5 oz.]) salt for 1 kg. [2.2 lbs.] Cabbage.
  • The better the seal, the less salt is needed.

1. Remove the outer wilted leaves of the cabbage and remove the stalk (with a special stalk-remover or a knife) and shred into a large bowl (depending on the amount with a small vegetable f or a special cabbage shredder)
2. Weigh the salt and keep it separate from the shredded cabbage
3. Add a layer of cabbage to the pot and sprinkle some salt on it. Mash the cabbage with a masher or fist until cellular fluid is extruded
4. Repeat until the pot is filled
5. Weigh down with the cover stones. If the stones are covered by less than 1 to 2 inches of liquid, add boiled and cooled salt water (1.5 g salt per liter)
6. Cover the pot with the lid and add water into the water groove
7. Leave at room temperature (20-22 degrees C [68-72 degress F]) best in the the kitchen for 2 to 3 days. Bubbling indicates the beginning of fermentation
8. Subsequently, move to a cool location (ca. 15-18TC [59-64 degress F])
9. The sauerkraut can be eaten after 4-6 weeks. Store in a cool basement (5-15 degress C [41-59 degress F]).

You can also flavor the cabbage with spices such as juniper berries, caraway or dill or fruits such as apples or pineapple.

Weinkraut is prepared like Sauerkraut. Instead of salt water, add 1 liter of wine and several apples (peeled and sliced). Cover with grape leaves.

Russian Cabbage

White cabbage (2 kg), green tomatoes (1kg), carrots (.5 kg), rutabaga(.5 kg), celery (.5 kg), onions (.5 kg), red and yellow peppers (2 each), dill (1 bunch), tarragon (2 branches), savory (3branches), bay leaves (5), garlic (6 cloves), horseradish (sliced), mustard seed (4 tablespoons), cilantro (1 tablespoon), juniper berries (3 tablespoons), salt (5-8 g per kg vegetables)

Prepare vegetables: shred cabbage, tomatoes, celery and carrots; slice peppers into strips, onions into fine rings add salt to vegetables, then add spices and herbs, mix and mash until juice becomes visible layer into the fermentation pot (up to 4/5 of height), cover with horseradish slices or cabbage leaves continue as described for Sauerkraut. After 6 weeks the cabbage is ready. (Longer storage improves the taste.)

Blaukraut and Rotkraut (red cabbage)

Both, Blaukraut and Rotkraut (red cabbage) are prepared like Sauerkraut. Fermentation gives the cabbage a beautiful red coloring. When prepared as a salad – with onions, marjoram, thyme and garlic – it goes well with potatoes and hot chestnuts.

Green Beans

  • 6-7 kg beans for the 10 liter fermentation pot
  • 5-8 g salt per kg vegetables (max. 15 g)
  • Savory, dill, bay leaves, a bit buttermilk or sour cream as a starter beans must be boiled before fermenting. (They contain poisonous substances
    that are destroyed by heating.)
  • Boil for ca. 5 minutes in salt water (15 g per liter).
  • spread on a cloth and let cool layer the beans with the spices in the fermentation pot (max. 4/5).
  • Continue as described for Sauerkraut

After 3 weeks storage, the beans are ready for consumption.


4.5-5 kg cucumbers (medium size, hard), several onions, mustard seeds (2-3 tablespoons), cilantro (2-3 tablespoons), bay leaves (10-12), dill, horseradish, tarragon, whey (1.4 liters), salt water (30 g per liter).

  • wash and scrub cucumbers, and puncture with a knitting needle or sharp knife so as to facilitate the exchange of fluids.
  • densely pack the cucumbers and spices into the fermentation pot (max 4/5).
  • add whey and salt water
  • add the cover stones
  • close the lid and fill the water groove with water
  • leave at room temperature for 10 days, then keep cool

After 2 to 3 weeks the cucumbers are ready for consumption.

Further information regarding working with the fermentation pot, healthy nutrition and many recipes can be found in Annelies Schoneck’s book.


Ball Mason Canning Jars

With more styles of canning jars than any other brand, Ball® home canning mason jars fulfill every canner’s needs. Cases include one dozen mason jars, bands and Dome® lids (except for half-gallon canning jars which are sold in a case of 6). Sold in cases only. Ball® provides a complete selection of home canning supplies for food preservation, crafts, and more.

Ball Mason Canning Jars

Jarden Home Brands (formerly Alltrista) is the leading supplier of home canning products and manufacturers both Ball and Kerr mason canning jars. The caps, lids, and rings of either brand are interchangeable on either brand of jar. Jarden canning products, including Ball mason jars, are designed for the home canner and not for commercial use. CanningPantry is your source for a complete selection of home canning supplies, canning equipment, and more.

Steam Canner Controversy

Steam Canners are revolutionary canners that save time, energy and water and are so simple and easy to use that you will enjoy home canning for the first time. Most steam canners use only three pints of water and cut preheating time by up to 50%. That also eliminates heavy lifting, boil-overs and messy clean-ups.

Steam Canner Controversy

Steam canners have been used for more than 80 years, however, controversy still surrounds their use primarily because the USDA states that their use is not recommended because processing times have not been adequately researched. However, several research studies appear to contradict this USDA position:

Von Mendenhall, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus, Utah State University wrote in March 1986 to say, “Research conducted at U.S.U. and the University of Massachusetts concluded that steam canning is safe for use with high acid foods only.” Dr. Mendenhall noted the following procedure to ensure the safe processing of high-acid foods:

1) Place appropriate amount of water in the base of the steam canner. Place the perforated cover over the base and bring water to a low boil

2) Pack and fill jars. Secure lids firmly, but not over-tight. Set each full jar on the canner base and allow it to warm up while packing and filling enough jars for one batch.

3) When the last full jar has warmed up for 1-2 minutes, place the dome on the base and slowly (4-5 minutes) increase temperature setting of the stove until a column of steam 8-10 inches is evident from the small holes at the base of the dome.

4) Begin timing the process, maintaining the column of steam following the water bath canning recommendations adjusted for your altitude. Do not reduce temperature setting of the stove. The dome should not bounce from the base during processing.

5) When processing time is complete, turn off the stove and wait 2-3 minutes before removing the dome. Remove the dome by turning it away from your face and body to avoid burns.

6) Allow jars to cool and seal. Remove metal bands and store the jars in a cool dark place.

Additional Steam Canner Research

Dr. George York from the University of California published research in March of 2005 in which four foods of different densities were processed. The conclusion reached by the research was that the processing times for steam canners are essentially the same as for water bath canners and that both types are equally safe to use for high acid foods.

Final Thoughts on Steam Canner Use

Steam canners are NOT the same as pressure canners. Steam canners should be used like water bath canners and are for high acid foods only. Any low acid (e.g. meats, vegetables) or borderline acid foods (e.g. tomatoes without added acid) require the use of a pressure canner to prevent botulism food poisoning.

Canning experts, Paul & Bernice Noll have this to say about their steam canner: “Our steam canner accomplishes all we need in a water bath canner. It has a number of good advantages. We would never go back to water bath for these reasons:

  1. Uses less water. Important for us with a well.
  2. Takes far less heat to get going due to less water to get boiling. Important in a hot summer.
  3. Those big water bath canners can be difficult to lift full of water.
  4. You can’t put jars that are not hot in a water bath of boiling water. Jars will break. In a steam canner you can set the jars, cold or hot on the rack with the water below boiling with no problem. So cycling batches is much easier and faster.

So given proper handling, steam canners appear to be as safe for high-acid foods as water-bath canners. Give a steam canner a try; you might love its fast heating times.