What is meant by "firmly packed" food?

“Firmly packed” is most often applied to foods that are shredded, finely cut, sliced or “threads”, such as sauerkraut. These type of cuts more easily trap oxygen, and “packing” them firmly into the jar, helps to remove oxygen pockets.

This is an important step in the anaerobic fermentation process, and one that shouldn’t be skipped. And the good news is, it is very simple!

Dunk'R Photo
There are two packing stages: before and after the brine is added to the Pickl-It.

Graphic No 1 Before the brine is added: Use a flat-bottomed long-handled wooden pestle, or the end of French-style rolling pin to push the food into the Pickl-It. You don’t need to use your weight, or mash the food. Working in layers, two-inches at a time, is the most efficient. Add a layer, push until you feel resistance, then add another layer.

Graphic No 2 After the brine is added: Use the Dunk’R, placing it on top the packed vegetables, and with the end of a narrow-French-style rolling pin, OR, the handle of a sturdy wooden spoon, push the Dunk’R down, applying even, steady pressure. You’ll see a burst of air bubbles escaping the vegetables.

Use the air bubbles as a guide in judging how much more “tamping” or “packing” is needed.

A simple rule-of-thumb is 3-6 pushes typically release adequate levels of oxygen.

Tip Star
When only a few, small bubbles break the brine surface, your food is adequately packed and enough oxygen has been removed.

Lactic-acid bacteria immediately begin the first phase of anaerobic fermentation.