DIY pickl-it

So there is this huge debate going on in the states about anaerobic fermentation and whether or not mason jars are really an acceptable way to make your own probiotic ferments, and the more I read about it the more I'm convinced I want to try making my probiotic foods in a more 'sealed' environment.

A month or two ago I would have happily paid an extortionate amount to get my hands on a set of pickl-it jars, but nobody would sell me any. Turns out lack of sunlight isn't the only draw back to living in the uk!

In the last week or so, I've stumbled across some rather enlightening posts on Pinterest. My favourite being how to hack a recap mason jar into a DIY pickl-it.

Unfortunately you can't buy recap in the UK either.

It did give me a bit of an idea though, so today the kids and I went to our local home brewing retailer and bought some airlocks and bungs. Total cost for four = £5.20

It turns out kilner jar lids are actually really thin and easy to cut through. So thin in fact, that the lid scrunched up like tin foil when I first tried to drill a hole in the top.

I refined my technique though, so here is my step by step guide to making your own pickl-it (or as dang close as you can get in England) jar.

First draw around the base of your rubber bung (the thinnest end) onto the lid.
Take the lid off the kilner jar and place it on some burned old oven gloves (to protect your work surface).
Next take the smallest flat screw driver you have (we want it to be sharp) and hammer and punch holes around the circle you traced. It's important that you punch holes on opposite sides of the circle, then at the quarter points, then between each of those... Etc... Making sure you don't do all of one side before the other. The idea is to keep the structure as stable as possible whilst you are working so that it doesn't start tearing.
Once you've punched all the way around, keep filling in gaps until you've actually punched out a circle.
It should look very rangy and something like this.
Don't worry if its a bit too small for the bung, we're going to make it bigger when we file and you want a snug fit.
Turn the lid over and hammer any sharp bits flat.
Next take a rounded file (I asked my friendly neighbourhood Design Technology teacher. Maybe you have one in your garage? If not, you might need to buy one for this. I can't think of an alternative) and file the edges smooth.
Keep checking if your bung fits, as soon as it fits half way, you can stop filing and just twist/force it in to place.
If you have any gaps, you can fill it with some silicone sealant (I got aquarium sealer from amazon. According to pets at home the silicone does not degrade in water and is non-toxic to all species).

Ta da! My finished, anaerobic fermentation jars!

It was a little time consuming, I'll be honest, but once I got started it was not as hard as I'd imagined it would be. It also provided a great opportunity for Will to have a go with the hammer, and talk about bacteria and the difference between 'aerobic' and 'anaerobic' fermentation. Everyday is a school day!

 Now to try and make some ferments...


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  2. i am just wondering (because i have just bought lots of jars to pickle things with and they are just like these, with the same sort of metal lid) how the airlock makes it any more air tight than it was before it got the airlock? this is a sincere question, not a 'nit-picky' one. i fully expect that there will be a perfectly obvious answer that i just dont yet know :)

  3. Brilliant question!!

    The air lock allows gas exchange out (CO2 bubbles up through the water in the trap) but not in (the liquid is heavier than the air).

    With a normal Kilner jar, you can tighten the lid so that no air comes in or out (but risk pressure building up and making either a fizzy ferment or even an exploding glass jar!) or loosen it off slightly, but you risk it not being air tight.

    Using an airlock means you can tighten the jar so it's definitely sealed, without risking the explosion!


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