The Kraut Collar

I prefer to make cabbage kraut in jars: wide mouth quart and 2-quart size.  (if I make larger batches, I use a ceramic crock.)  A challenge is keeping the cabbage submerged, especially when the mouth of the jar is smaller then the jar’s body.  I make something I call a kraut collar. (It reminds me of a collar worn by choristers over their robes.) I make mine from food grade plastic tub lids.

I cut the collar the same size as the inside of the body of the jar. Then cut to the center and take out a small hole (Looks like a doughnut now.)  This collar can be pushed into the mouth of the jar by overlapping the two radial edges. Once inside, it expands back to its original form to fit the inside of the jar.

Then, I place a shot glass atop the collar and put on the lid.  The lid pushes the collar down below the brine.  (I stack shot glasses depending on the level of the kraut.)

For a larger jar, you’ll need to find a larger plastic lid, but it should work the same.

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22 thoughts on “The Kraut Collar

  1. Thank you so much! I’ve been trying all sorts of crazy things and this beats them all! My kraut is done for now but I will be using your great idea soon!

  2. Nice idea. It is especially good for small batches of fermented veggies or a little kimchi when you don’t want to do a crock’s worth or you want to do a quick ferment.

    Maille , the Canadian firm most noted for mustards incorporates a nice appliance in their pickle jars (I love their cornichons, BTW) that one can keep on using. It is a plastic disk with a screen-like surface and a post sticking up the middle. The post both allows you to pull out the disk to get at the pickles and also the lid pushes on it to keep the disk submerged. The screen lets brine through and the solids submerged. I save these puppies.

    Paul

  3. I’d love to see a photo of your final product with the shot glass in there. Wouldn’t the weight of it make a divot in the middle causing the sides to flare up allowing the veggies to rise?

    • The pressure from the shot glass can invert the shape of the collar some. But if I’ve packed the cabbage tight, it’s never a problem. (And sorry, I cant’ find a picture at the moment.)
      Also, if you’ve never seen or used a kraut pounder, it’s a marvelous tool for getting that cabbage packed into the jar tight. (Easy to find using Google)

  4. thank a lot for sharing!
    just finished my first kraut batch.
    i had a vague idea for somethin’ like that but didn’t want to use a random piece of plastic. ended up using 2 layers of whole cabbage leaves..
    defiantly will use this method next.

    • I have also used the core of the cabbage in place of the shot glass to keep the collar submerged. It molds at the level of the brine, but is easily discarded once the kraut is done.

  5. I partially fill a food grade freezer bag with salt water, add a twist tie near the top end. Stuff the bag into the bottle, lay the excess over the outside and screw on the cap over the bag. This method allows gases to escape but not enter the kraut.

  6. Thank you for the suggestion. I usually take a couple of the cabbage leaves from the cabbage and I stuff them in. until the liquid is visible. Then I know what is beneath these leaves is submerged. But I like the idea of repurposing some plastic.

  7. When you are ready to use the bottle for the next batch, how do you remove the plastic disc? It seems like the diameter of the disc would (larger than the jar’s mouth) would make it difficult to remove. ~pfa

  8. Thanks for all the information! One question: I thought that even food-grade plastic can leach chemicals into the food?

    Something I saw somewhere else is stuffing a large leaf of cabbage at the top of the jar, above the vegetables, to keep them below the liquid. Does that make sense?

    • Yes, a large leaf of cabbage will work. I suggest putting a hole in it to let the CO2 escape, otherwise, the trapped gas will push the leaf up above the brine until it finds an escape route. During the first couple weeks, fermentation is rapid, as is CO2 production. Often, CO2 bubbles adhere to the vegetable substrate, making it more buoyant than it would otherwise be. Packing the kraut tight helps keep it in place during fermentation, resisting its tendency to float on the brine.
      After the initial rapid ferment (when fermenting in canning jars), I remove the collar and the kraut stays in place beneath the brine.
      I, too, have heard that food-grade plastic can leach into food. I have never read any published paper, only hearsay. So I don’t really know if it occurs, and, if so, how it would compare to other prepared foods stored and sold in food-grade plastic. If you learn anything on this topic in your online searching, please share it with us.

      • After everything I have read about the problems with plastic ; I avoid it like the plague even though ; I love the idea of the collar. I love the rock solution !

  9. Just say no to plastic!! There’s no such thing as TRULY food grade plastic. It’s not that hard to avoid buying food in plastic containers. And adding plastic to home made food is just so wrong!
    Find a stone that just fits into the jar. Boil it and use it instead of this plastic, you’ll be much better off – and won’t contribute to the toxins produced throughout the manufacturing chain from the oilfields to your dinner table.
    Please… and thank you.

  10. I’ve used a food grade oven bag (the kind you marinate turkey in) filled with water and pulled up, over and around the outside of the jar, like takelababy suggested above, but a new idea just popped into my head–how about cheesecloth tucked down around the edges of the kraut, as you would the cabbage leaf, if for some reason the leaf doesn’t work, which for some reason it often seems not to. Thoughts anyone?

    • I think it would work. In my experience using it to fermented egg yolks, even after 6 months submerged in miso paste, the cheesecloth is still strong and durable.

  11. I wouldn’t use plastic. I use a 2-quart glass jar and I simply fill a skinny pint canning jar with water and screw on its lid. When I push it down into the 2-quart mouth, it holds the veggies under the brine nicely.

    My only problem is that (since I’m still new at this) I chopped my last batch of kimchi too small, so there are pieces that escaped and are floating around the stopper jar. I figure I’ll just fish them out with a sieve when it’s time to eat the kimchi.

  12. I find the cheap plastic cutting mats you can buy at the dollar store work well for the collar and you don’t need to make the shape any different than a round one. They fold beautifully and pop back to their original shape inside the jar.

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