Carrot Slaw on left, Carrots with Fresh Ginger on right
This is just an introduction to lacto-fermenting in jars; there is much more to know about lacto-fermentation and I'll post some of it as time goes on. After trying several types of containers for lacto-fermenting with only slightly differing methods, I have decided the safest for me is using Fido Jars. Here's why:
There is no reason to open the jars prematurely. Using a clear jar, I can see what's going on inside without the temptation to open the jars or crock. Because of the rubber seal which has a slight 'give' to it, the fermenting gases (CO2) can push their way out but O2 cannot push it's way in. Using a canning jar with a 2 piece lid is similar, but most people who use that method have problems with the lids working loose and losing the top portion of the contents, or sometimes the whole jar.
There is also no rim with water to keep filled as on a Harsch crock. I'd forget to check it almost as soon as I stuck it in a dark closet!
The first regular canning jar I fermented something in gave me a problem with keeping the contents submerged. I used a glass sugar bowl lid but it wasn't heavy enough. I even went so far as to look online for 1/2" thick glass 'rounds' that would fit inside the neck and keep the food submerged. Once I switched to Fido jars, that is no longer a problem. I fill the jars with about 80% capacity with food, and then brine up to about half an inch to an inch from the top; yes, some things will float... However, as soon as the lactic acid process begins on Day 1 or 2, any air space inside the jar fills with CO2, so anything floating will not spoil.
See the ferment bubbles at the top of the liquid? (Beets with garlic and onions)
Basically, I do this: Fill the jars. Snap down the lid. Place the jar in a catch-pan because it may overflow a bit of liquid in the first days of fermenting. Cover with a dark towel. (Ferments are best done in the dark; light diminishes nutrients.) Leave on the counter in a warm spot and visually check it daily. When the bubbling stops, move it to a cool place (45-50ºF) like a basement closet. If you don't have a cool spot, refrigerate the jars. After a couple of months, you may want to sample the contents. If you do open the jar, you must then keep the jar in the refrigerator to avoid spoilage.
I know folks who don't touch their ferments for 6 months to a year, or more. Once the active fermenting (bubbling) stops, you are still a long way from good ferments. As they age, more vitamins and enzymes are formed, and the taste mellows or 'matures' much like a fine wine.
Most ferments will keep in a cool, dark spot for 1-3 years. Fruits are the exception. I haven't fermented any fruits so far, but everything I read says they spoil rather quickly, like in a couple of months. If I do ferment any, they will go into the fridge as soon as the active fermenting stops.