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Old 12-07-2011, 09:41 PM   #1
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Canning Sauerkraut

I followed this recipe:

5 heads cabbage
Salt
White vinegar
Jars and lids
1 pot boiling water

Cut cabbage and fill jars. Pour boiling water in jars until full. Put 1 tsp. salt and 1 tbsp. of vinegar in each jar. Seal jar with the lid rim. Let ferment for 6 weeks. When bubbling has stopped, it indicates the fermentation period has finished.

Process kraut in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

I'm right at the 6 week waiting period. A few of the jars have stopped bubbling, the others have slowed way down.
All of the jars have a white film at the very bottom of the jars. Is it alright to process the jars?

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Old 12-07-2011, 11:09 PM   #2
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I make quite homemade sauerkraut often and I've never seen a recipe like this. Real sauerkraut has two ingredients: cabbage and salt. No vinegar is used. It's also about the easiest thing in the world to make if you have a little patience. This is the recipe I use to make a little under a gallon of homemade kraut:

Ingredients:
4 heads cabbage, green or red
4-6 tablespoons kosher or pickling salt

You'll need a one gallon container. The ideal vessel to use is a ceramic crock. This is similar to the one I have. You'll also need a plate that fits inside the crock.

Core and shred the cabbage, one head at a time. As you finish shredding each head, put it into a large bowl and sprinkle it with 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons salt. I like it less salty, so I stick to the low end.

Then you want to squish (or massage, as my wife says) the cabbage in your hands until it releases quite a bit of water. This will take about 5 minutes. Then pack it tightly into the crock. Repeat with each head of cabbage.

When you are finished, use your fist to compress the cabbage in the crock as tightly as possible. You want to get out any trapped air. Ideally, there should be enough liquid that the cabbage will be entirely submerged. This is important. If it isn't submerged, top it off with enough water so it's covered by about a half inch to three quarters of an inch.

Put a plate on top of the cabbage, and then put a weight on top of that to hold the plate down. I use a quart size mason jar full of beans. Put a towel over the top of the crock to keep out dust, etc.

Put the crock in a dark, cool place and leave it alone to ferment for at least 10-14 days. At this point, it's usually at the stage of sourness I like. But you can go as long as 6 weeks. Check it a couple of times a week. If you've done everything right, you shouldn't see any mold on the surface, but if you do, just skim it off with a spoon.

Now at this point you can either can it or just put it in the fridge and use it as is. It will keep for at least a month or more. Maybe longer. Though I've never found out because it never lasts that long in my house.

I like it raw myself, so I don't can it.

If you decide to can it, you want to cook the kraut for 20-30 minutes at a low simmer. Pack it into sterilized mason jars, leaving a half inch of head space. Make sure to pack tightly so there are no air bubbles. Then process the jars for 15-20 minutes in a boiling water bath.
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Old 12-07-2011, 11:11 PM   #3
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Oh, and to answer your question, the white scum on top is surface mold. It doesn't really hurt anything, but I would definitely try to skim it off before canning.

Just my opinion, but I find the recipe you used to be somewhat questionable. It might work, but as I said, I've never seen it done this way and I've made and eaten a lot of homemade kraut in my life.
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Old 12-08-2011, 12:13 AM   #4
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The white stuff is actually on the bottom of the jars.
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Old 12-08-2011, 06:45 AM   #5
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Are you sure the white film isn't just salt that settled at the bottom?
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Old 12-08-2011, 09:29 AM   #6
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I'm not sure. I'm relatively new to canning. First time with kraut. I was hoping this was just some normal sediment and could finish the canning process.
Next season, I think I'll try the way you described. I have one old crock and a local store sells them.
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Old 12-08-2011, 09:39 AM   #7
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How about try a trusted source such as: http://msuextension.org/publications...MT200902HR.pdf

I would not be happy trying food that didn't look right after it sat for 6 weeks. If you have a doubt toss it.
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Old 12-08-2011, 09:45 AM   #8
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I agree with Steve.
The recipe doesn't need vinegar.
(alternately--if you use vinegar, you can just can it as unfermented sauerkraut--pickled cabbage)
Also, if there isn't enough liquid to cover the kraut, add salt water (vs water), though depending on the amount of salt that is used, it might be just fine.
I've canned it successfully before after fermenting kraut--just don't over process it.
Here is a reliable reference: Sauerkraut recipe : Food Safety : University of Minnesota Extension

The sediment may be a little of the 'bloom' or 'mold' that breaks up into the liquid?

Best of luck.
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Old 12-08-2011, 10:52 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankZ View Post
I would not be happy trying food that didn't look right after it sat for 6 weeks. If you have a doubt toss it.
I agree completely. If you can't identify it, I wouldn't trust it.
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Old 12-08-2011, 11:58 AM   #10
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I've never seen a fermented sauerkraut recipe like that either. If you used regular table salt instead of the finer pickling salt, its possible the residue on the bottom is from salt and additives not being absorbed. I've never experienced that situation.

I would open a jar and taste it to see if it has truly fermented to the taste/texture of sauerkraut. If so, process in a Boiling Water Bath to stop the fermenting and preserve for long-term storage, but I would do it for 20 minutes. 15 minutes seems too short a time and perhaps a warning should be noted here that cabbage is a low-acid food that is normally pressure canned. Only if it is truly fermented should it be processed in a boiling water canner. Maybe it was the recipe author's belief that adding the vinegar would make it 'safe' by increasing the acidity a little.
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