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Fermentation Crock Emergency!

RCBAliveRCBAlive Raw Newbie

I just got ready to make a batch of sauerkraut in my Harsch Earthenware Fermentation Crock and to my shock and dismay, the bottom of the crock had black mold in it, as did the weight stones. I washed the crock in vinegar and feel ok about using it. However, I am not comfortable using the stones. I boiled them in water with baking powder, but I am still concerned about mold that might be ingrained in the crevices of the stone. I don't know if the boiling process will kill all of the mold. Does anyone know if i can use the stones under these circumstances? If not, does anyone know who sells the stones by themselves? I am so bummed out!


  • emtpdmomemtpdmom Raw Newbie

    RCBAlive, haven't seen you online in a while. Don't know if you've been away, or we just haven't been on at the same time. But it's good to hear from you. I don't know anything about a Fermentation Crock, but this will bump you to the front page.

    Good luck!

  • RCBAliveRCBAlive Raw Newbie

    Thanks for the bump emtpdmom! You can always be counted on for a good bump!

    I have been on this site some, but not as much as I used to. Right before the site changed and then after things were just too time consuming. I now spend more time on Facebook, but i still love this site and tell everyone about it.

    I must say that you are certainly giving of your time and knowledge on this site. It's nice to see that you have continued to be so supportive.

  • RCBAliveRCBAlive Raw Newbie

    Come on, anybody, anybody?

  • emtpdmomemtpdmom Raw Newbie

    RCBAlive, this is probably a silly question, but have you checked with the supplier of your crock, both regarding the mold issue in the stones and purchasing replacement stones? I'm guessing the stones are not of the same "material" as the crock (non-lead and glazed), but somewhat porous; thus your concern.

    Here are some general suggestions:

    1. Baking soda and vinegar followed by boiling water is good for clearing drains (and making homemade volcanoes . . . without the boiling water, of course). The effervescent nature of the soda and vinegar together (which is not present when boiling just the soda) might work to bubble out the pores of the stones. You could try the soda and vinegar alone, followed by a second round with soda, vinegar and boiling water.

    2. A friend recently sent me a list of non-consumption uses for vodka which included the following:

  • pixxpixx Raw Master

    I just called Wisemen Trading and Supply (They came up on a quick google of "Harsch Earthenware Fermentation Crock" 1-888-891-8411) and they said they do sell replacement stones.


  • RCBAliveRCBAlive Raw Newbie

    emtpdmom thanks so much for your in depth reply. I did contact the company that I purchased it from, but hadn't heard back from them.

    After washing the stones with vinegar and then boiling them in water for a few hours, there was no mold apparent. This morning when they were completely dry, there was some white residue which I assume is the baking soda.

    Thanks for sharing waterbaby's suggestion about the vodka and your friend's advise about cleaning caulking with vodka. I am wondering why she specified vodka for the shower, rather than just regular alcohol. I understand using vodka for the rocks since they are used for food preparation, but curious about the shower.

    The beauty about the stones is that they fit perfectly and are the perfect weight, no fuss, no muss. I have made sauerkraut with plates and other types of weights and it is just easier with the stones. Anyway, it wouldn't be possible to use a plate as the opening of the crock is much smaller than the actual crock.

    Again emtpdmom your assistance is much appreciated. You're awesome!

    pixx thanks so much for the contact. I actually called them right after I saw your post. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I spoke with Zach at Wisemen Trading and Supply, www.wisementrading.com. He was so helpful and encouraging. He told me to use the following process: Use a brush to scrub the stones and then soak them overnight in vodka (thanks again emtpdmom and waterbaby) or everclear, which he said is 90 proof alcohol. Then put them on a rack in a pot and boil for 1/2 hour. The rack is to prevent the stone from cracking. Then soak them in the vodka again.

    He said that the process I already did should be fine but that following the above process would almost assure that all the mold is gone. Since I don't drink alcohol, I will purchase some tomorrow and start the process. By Tuesday I plan on making my sauerkraut. YAY!

    He was so helpful and patient. They do sell the stones for $20 a set (hmmm, I think it is a set and not a piece) for the 5 L, 10 L, and 15 L crocks. They also have a good price on the crocks. The 5 L, for instance, is $114 plus $12 for shipping. Based on the experience I had on the phone, I feel very good about this company.

    Thanks to emtpdmom, waterbaby, and pixx, as well as Zach at Wisemen Trading and Supply, my fermentation crock emergency is now officially over.

  • pixxpixx Raw Master

    Yay!! :~)

  • emtpdmomemtpdmom Raw Newbie

    So glad to hear your emergency is over. The vodka suggestion was one of 15 hints I received in an email. I would have sent you the complete list, but couldn't find your addy. If you'd like to see the complete list, you can email me and I'll forward it.

  • Have you thought of putting your stones in the diswasher with the vinegar and let it do a heated dry?

    I wouldn't worry too much about it personally. I think what you have done should be enough.

    The plate over the food works to hold things down. You can use a mason jar filled with water to weight it. I've used this method many times.

  • erinerin Raw Superstar

    Hello RCBalive,

    Are you doing a closed method with an airtight lid on the container? Or are you doing an open method with some type of cloth over the top? With either of these methods, the stones aren't necessary.

    If you are doing a closed method, prepare your vegetables and pack them tightly into your crock (there should be about an inch or two empty space at the top of the crock). Take the outer cabbage leaves and roll them up into several different rolls. Stuff these rolls in the top of the container and push the lid down on top so that the cabbage is pressing the rest of the veggies down. Within a day, the liquid from the vegetables should rise above the vegetables which will create a seal over the vegetables that bad bacteria will not penetrate. They should be ready to eat within 3 days. You can put them in the fridge and the fermentation, although slow, will continue and change the flavor.

    If you are doing an open method, prepare your vegetables and put them into the crock, pressing them down as you go along. Cover the vegetables with a plate that fits inside your crock. Place something to serve as a weight on top of the plate such as a glass bottle filled with water or any other kind of glass/ceramic container. Finally, put a cloth (dish towel, pillow case, etc) over the crock and secure it with a large rubber band or string. Once again, the water should rise above the plate. You can occasionally press on the bottle to make sure the water is coming out of the veggies and rising above them.

    Hope this helps, let me know.

    Oh yes, as a matter of fact, I just made some stuff i call "salsa-kraut" today. I put cabbage, carrots, red bell peppers, yellow squash, ginger, garlic, and cilantro in it. Very very tasty.

  • sharmarransharmarran Raw Newbie

    Proper storage of fermentation stone weighs

    Since these messages are dated, I have no way of knowing how long ago they were posted. But here goes. First, fermentation stone weights should always be stored separately from the crock. Second, the stone weights should be stored in a well aired and ventilated place, and separately. Never place them together, or stack them on top of one another. 

    Removing mold from your stone weights.

    First, wash them in hot soapy water (not boiling), and scrub the with a soft brush, such as a toothbrush. When they are scrubbed and rinsed, place them in a tub of hot water (not boiling), with baking soda or vinegar, and leave it overnight. Next day, rinse your stone weights. Add water and baking soda to a large pot, with just enough water to cover the stones. Bring it to a boil and then add the stone weights (not touching one another), and boil for 10-20 minutes. While they are boiling, preheat your oven to 400*F. When the stones are done boiling, carefully place them in your oven (directly on the rack). Then turn off the oven, and leave the stones to cool down with the oven. When the oven and stones have cooled, set them out to air for 24 hours before storing them separately (not touching) on a clean dry counter. After 24 hours, store the separately in a well aired place.

    If you use that process, then your stones will be sterilized, and perfectly safe to use. 

    Note: Do not use vinegar on the crock itself. If washing with soap and water is not enough, then fill the crock with hot (not boiling) water and baking soda, and let sit over night. Next day, washing, rinse and dry thoroughly, and et it sit (uncovered) for 24 hours. Then store it in a well aired place.

    Again, never store stone weights inside the fermentation crock. And always be sure that both crock and stones are completely dry before storing them. This will prevent them from gathering mold.

    I hope this helps. If you have any questions, then please feel free to ask. cheers.

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