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Old 07-12-2013, 05:40 PM   #1
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Sauerkraut Blues

I recently tried to make sauerkraut in a Homer bucket in my basement. I used a food processor to shred the cabbage and pressed the cabbage to the bottom of the bucket with my hands/fists. I added a palmful of salt to the 3+ pounds of cabbage. I used a large ziplock water bag to help press down the cabbage and keep the water level up. It fit most of the bucket and I did not cover the bucket with a towel. I just left it open.

My basement's temp is around 64F in the summer and I left it for about 6 weeks. After this amount of time I got a bloom that looked like black snot. I skimmed it off, hoping for the best. It smelled pretty skunky, but not in the right way. I took a deep breath, put a pinch of kraut between my cheek and gum and immediately spit it out. I don't know what happened but the gray spongy kraut had the taste of drinking from an old soggy shoe. It was really musty and awful.

What can I do next time to ensure crisp delicious sauerkraut?

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Old 07-12-2013, 06:17 PM   #2
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I don't know how to make sauerkraut, but I definitely would cover it. Any bacteria floating around the basement could land in your open container and reproduce.
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Old 07-12-2013, 06:29 PM   #3
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My grandmother used to regulaly make saurkraut in crockery containers. In her unfinished musty old dimly lit basement. It was good as a kid. then I grew up and didn't like it. NOW I wish I would have been old enought to watch how she made it, because jarred saurkraut from the store does not compare. You need to get an old crock, and borrow someone's grandmother.
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Old 07-12-2013, 07:59 PM   #4
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Like so many things, you need the right equipment for both safety, and success. Check out this video.

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Old 07-12-2013, 10:35 PM   #5
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We had a huge fail trying to use something other than a crock for kraut. My understanding is you need to be skimming daily if you do it that route.

We bought a crock, got it on Amazon, and have had a couple good runs with it. Too bad the cabbage failed in the garden this year. Might be time to go pick up some at the farmers market.
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Old 07-12-2013, 10:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by inchrisin View Post
I recently tried to make sauerkraut in a Homer bucket in my basement. I used a food processor to shred the cabbage and pressed the cabbage to the bottom of the bucket with my hands/fists. I added a palmful of salt to the 3+ pounds of cabbage. I used a large ziplock water bag to help press down the cabbage and keep the water level up. It fit most of the bucket and I did not cover the bucket with a towel. I just left it open.

My basement's temp is around 64F in the summer and I left it for about 6 weeks. After this amount of time I got a bloom that looked like black snot. I skimmed it off, hoping for the best. It smelled pretty skunky, but not in the right way. I took a deep breath, put a pinch of kraut between my cheek and gum and immediately spit it out. I don't know what happened but the gray spongy kraut had the taste of drinking from an old soggy shoe. It was really musty and awful.

What can I do next time to ensure crisp delicious sauerkraut?
Sorry to comment on something totally not related to your post, but your description is so fabulous. I'm a writer and I was on the floor with your description. My hat is off to you with an awesome picture of your experience!!!! There is now way a reader couldn't "be" with you.
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Old 07-13-2013, 10:06 AM   #7
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I've been making sauerkraut for about 20 years now. We go through pounds and pounds of the stuff. I just love it, and homemade is definitely the best.

To begin with, six weeks is far too long, in my opinion. Even four weeks, which is the amount of time many recipes call for, is probably pushing it a bit. I leave mine for about 10 days to two weeks, and that seems about right for the way I like it. It still has quite a bit of crisp at that stage and is tangy, but not too sour.

I'm also not sure how much a "palmful of salt" is. If you have hands like Lurch from the Addams Family, that could be quite a bit. I usually just layer the salt in when I make it. I haven't measured it in years, so I couldn't tell you how much. I sprinkle Kosher salt on each layer and taste as I go. If it's too salty, you'll know.

You need to really work the cabbage, in order to release as much liquid as you can. The only tool I use is my hands. The term I would use is "massaging" the cabbage. You basically get both hands in the bowl and squish it up. If done right, you shouldn't have to add additional water, or maybe only a little at most.

Once you put your cabbage in the container, press it down. It needs to be really compacted so that the liquid completely covers it. If there is not enough liquid, you can top it up with a little salt water.

Put something heavy over the kraut to keep it submerged. I have a plate that is exactly the size of my crock opening. I have a Mason Jar full of rocks I put on top of that.

You MUST put a towel over the top. This is needed to keep out dust, insects, and other nasties. Not to mention airborne spoilage organisms.

That's about all you need to do. Check it every 2-3 days and if there is anything growing on the surface, skim it off with a spoon. Make sure it's fully submerged. Bubbling and foaming is fine. This is the result of lactic acid fermentation.

Now as for the container, a real ceramic crock works wonderfully, and they aren't that expensive. I buy a gallon size crock at Ace Hardware for about $10, as I recall. That was a while ago, so it may cost more now. If you can't find a crock, a large Mason Jar should suffice. Do NOT use anything made out of metal, as the acid produced by fermentation will corrode it.
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Old 07-13-2013, 06:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katie H View Post
Sorry to comment on something totally not related to your post, but your description is so fabulous. I'm a writer and I was on the floor with your description. My hat is off to you with an awesome picture of your experience!!!! There is now way a reader couldn't "be" with you.
You can have that one. :) No charge!
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Old 07-13-2013, 08:17 PM   #9
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First we sanitize every tool Then cut the cabbage with the food processor. We add and mix in 1 tablespoon of salt per pound of cabbage. Our batches run 3-4 USA pounds




We find that water filled zip lock bags make perfect pressing weights



We cover it with a sanitized cloth



When it smells right we put it in jars.


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