This post was created in partnership with Raw Rutes, fermenting crock giveaway below.
I grew up with home-pickling and fermenting as the norm. Food in the Soviet Union was not only scarce, but also highly seasonal, so if you didn’t take care to preserve some tomatoes or cucumbers for the winter, you wouldn’t be able to taste any until the next summer. My mom made sure to stock our cool basement with jars of pickles, tomatoes, and fruit preserves every summer, as did pretty much every woman around. Other common fermentation projects included kombucha (or the ‘tea mushroom’ as we call it) way before it was cool, kefir, and of course sauerkraut.
I can’t say that I’ve continued all these traditions. I do make my own kombucha, but I can’t motivate myself to do a big batch of pickles, and you can buy such good ones in the store anyways. Same goes for tomatoes, especially since California grown ones are available all year round, and will do if a big craving hits. Sauerkraut is a different story though, because it takes very little work, and the return is so good. I’ve fermented sauerkraut in jars and in big pots, inventing weighted contraptions out of any appropriately-sized object I could find, but what I’ve always dreamed about is a nice, clay fermenting crock with custom weights that fit inside perfectly.