The search for a stoneware crock has a happy ending. My SO, who also serves as my personal shopper, found said crock at Grabill Hardware, which is a Do It Best that serves the local Amish community. This crock is made at the same place in Ohio as all the other crocks I have looked at, but costs only $16.99. I can check that item off my to-do list.
And why do I need a stoneware crock? Why, so I can try some of the recipes in Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz.
While most of the time, I live in a state of denial, I sometimes vacation in a place called What If. A side trip to this land goes something like this: Instead of our seemingly unending and uninterrupted access to electricity, What If there were brown outs or even black outs? How would we get water and food? If I grow some of that food myself, how would I preserve it? Dehydration is one answer, but I could also ferment a wide variety of foods with little or no extra ingredients or fancy equipment.
Some people have a sweet tooth; I prefer salty and sour. Sauerkraut, brined garlic, sour dough, yogurt all appeal to me. One of my great disappointments of middle age is losing my tolerance for alcohol, but sometimes I wonder if it is the alcohol or the adulterants added to the alcohol that is the culprit. Consequently, I am eager to try some hard cider, flower wine, and ginger beer, even kombucha, if I can find a mother. Recipes for all these and more are in Wild Fermentation.
Some of the recipes include instructions to skim mold (a.k.a. scum or bloom) off the top of whatever is fermenting. That idea tends to turn me off. While Katz believes that the cultures used in fermentation discourage bacteria such as salmonella and he has never heard of anyone getting sick from home fermented foods, he is smart enough to urge the fermenter to trust his/her nose and/or taste (but don't swallow!) to decide whether to chuck the item in question.
Anyway, once the tomato season (which has yet to start) dies down, I hope to try some experiments in fermentation.