Crock of Time

  • Launched: May 2020
Screenshot of the home page of with a skeumorphic design that looks like a cloth-bound notebook.

Crock of Time is the manifestation of a hobby that became an obsession. Since roughly 2016, I had been learning about and experimenting with fermented foods and beverages at home. I had been slowly developing my home cooking skills for years before then, beginning with wanting to figure out how to make the foods I loved and the discovery of the Good Eats TV show in college. Also, when I achieved legal drinking age, I was invited to my former Scoutmaster’s annual Oktoberfest get-together, for which he brewed traditional German beers. He was nice enough to give a curious inquiring mind a tour of the mini brewery and an explanation of the process.

In 2018 I started getting serious about my hobby and began to take notes in a logbook for each new thing I tried. This was also the year that the Noma Guide to Fermentation came out, which finally convinced me to try koji for the first time. This lead to building an incubation chamber with an Arduino “Fermistat” (it’s open source!) which didn’t work as well as I’d hoped, having never grown koji before. So I signed up for a local koji class taught by Jeremy Umansky, owner/operator of Larder Delicatessen & Bakery and author of Koji Alchemy (not yet published at the time).

So, I was hooked on fermentation, learning new things all the time, and meeting others interested in these things. I’m also a web developer working with WordPress professionally, but I’d never done much actual blogging (unless you go way back to things that have thankfully been wiped from the internet). It was time I shared my experiments with the world. So, towards the end of 2019, I set out to build a website.

Sketches of koji, AKA Aspergilus oryzae, as little characters with personality.

Because I knew that I would ideate forever instead of just getting it done (I have done this before on a previous hobby project that never got off the ground), I enlisted my wife and branding expert Jack Watson to develop the logo and brand identity, including some illustrations (above) of various microbes that we have to thank for making some of the tastiest food in the world.

Crock of Time logo: a crock with an hourglass symbol on it, meant to look like stamped ink.

I built the site in the early days of Gutenberg as part of WordPress core, an experience which helped me figure out how to work with the new block editor and shaped what would become Blackbird Digital’s open-source wp-theme-scaffold. This was before full site editing, so the theme is hybrid with PHP templates and custom blocks for content. For instance, in the first image below, the recipe cards slide horizontally and stack on top of each other using nothing but CSS and position: sticky.

Since the design is based on my physical logbook, I knew I would also want the ability to write notes in the “margin” to the right of the main text column. Using CSS grid and a custom “aside” block, I can add notes, images, or any other block, and it will just slide under the block it’s next to on mobile.

The site launched in May 2020, and since then, Crock of Time has also grown into an active Discord community for home fermenters, spurred on by the annual but temporary Slack workspaces spun up for Kojicon each year, for which I volunteer as a moderator.

Screenshot of the search function, which opens as a card from the top-right of the screen with a search field and a list of popular tags.

In November 2022, the site received an updated custom search feature that suggests tags in real time based on the search input, which utilizes Awesomplete by Lea Verou.

In May 2023, I launched a Patreon page for Crock of Time in the hopes of eventually funding a side project to develop an app for home fermenters, as well as other things I do like making videos and running the Discord.