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What do you know about making sauerkraut?

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Post  Scorpio Rising 7/11/2017, 7:08 am

I think frothy bubbles are OK in fermenting veggies:

http://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/natural-fermentation/fermented-vegetables-troubleshooting-faq/

Anybody else who has actually done this?
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Post  RoOsTeR 7/11/2017, 7:40 am

It's normal. As long as the contents of the jars are submerged under liquid, you should be fine. I like to pack my jars as tight as possible. Then place a large outer cabbage leaf over the top. The cabbage will probably rise off the bottom of the jar, if it hasn't already.
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Post  CitizenKate 7/11/2017, 7:58 pm

I checked them today, and it seems everything is going as expected. They're all happily bubbling away, and building up pressure in the jars, and the airlock valves are evidently working. I'm starting to smell a nice aroma when I open the pantry door to check them. I was expecting something a bit more foul as they were actively fermenting, but the first ones are only at 3 days now, so maybe it's too early for the real business to kick in.

The red cabbage looks delightful, with that beautiful ruby red brine rising up in it.
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Post  CitizenKate 7/15/2017, 11:02 pm

It's day 7 on my first batch, and I decided to open one of the two jars and have a taste.

It looks fine, no signs of issues.  The bubbles have slowed down and there's not so much pressure building in the jars that I saw over the first seven days.  Just as all the articles I read said it would go.
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The verdict:  So far, the flavor is developing nicely, but it's got a ways to go.  There's definitely a distinct tang becoming noticeable, and the cabbage flavor has mellowed to something a bit richer that I can't quite put my finger on, but it's very nice.  Still, the flavor is still a bit too overpowered by the brine, and I like my sauerkraut fairly tangy, so I'm going to let it continue.

The CRUNCH is amazing.  Love it!
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Post  RoOsTeR 7/17/2017, 7:49 am

The taste is so different than what most of us get used to out of a can. There is some canned/kraut out there that is really good, but once you start making your own, it'll be hard to go with anything else.
I love adding red pepper flakes to my kraut. Adds a nice little element.
Some are very fond of fermented garlic, and I've tried but just don't care for it.

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Post  AtlantaMarie 7/18/2017, 6:30 am

I have GOT to make my own......
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Post  RoOsTeR 7/18/2017, 8:48 am

If you have canning jars, you can easily make kraut and just about any other fermented veggies. I don't ever use an airlock anymore. I pack my jars and put the lid and ring on loosely enough to let gases escape.
This is my chosen method. YMMV.

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Post  CapeCoddess 7/18/2017, 11:10 am

@RoOsTeR wrote:If you have canning jars, you can easily make kraut and just about any other fermented veggies. I don't ever use an airlock anymore. I pack my jars and put the lid and ring on loosely enough to let gases escape.
This is my chosen method. YMMV.

OK, I'm going to do mine like that from now on.
Questions:

Do you pound yours down into the jar until the liquid comes up and covers it? That's always been the hardest part for me.

What size jar are you using? I was thinking of going with quarts but not sure I would eat that much soon enough.

How long do they last in the fridge? That way I'll know how many qts to do at once.
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Post  Turan 7/18/2017, 12:52 pm

Is there some basic guidelines for making kraut? Pounds of cabbage to ounces of salt? thinness needed of shredded cabbage? Is the salt for pulling juice out of the cabbage or for taste or for preservation or a combination? How about long term preservation, canning or freezing or?

I have 3 red cabbage heads forming, and one looks like it will be huge Laughing

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Post  RoOsTeR 7/19/2017, 8:44 am

I almost always use qrt jars. Once level of the ferment suits my taste, I place in the fridge, and honestly I've kept some things like kraut for months.

http://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/natural-fermentation/how-to-ferment-vegetables/


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Post  CitizenKate 7/19/2017, 8:09 pm

@Turan wrote:Is there some basic guidelines for making kraut?  Pounds of cabbage to ounces of salt? thinness needed of shredded cabbage?  Is the salt for pulling juice out of the cabbage or for taste or for preservation or a combination? How about long term preservation, canning or freezing or?

I have 3 red cabbage heads forming, and one looks like it will be huge Laughing

To answer your question about salt, the consensus I found among numerous fermenting "gurus" is 2% by weight.  So if you have 3 lbs. of cabbage going into the jars (or 48 oz.), sprinkle and work in (48 x 0.02 - about 1 oz) of salt.

Lots of differing opinions about what salt to use... I think that's just up to you.

How fine you shred the cabbage is also subject to personal preference. My first batch ended up being a little chunkier than I prefer it. Some writers mention that the more chunky it is, the more time it will likely take to complete the fermentation process. After trying it a few different ways, I ended up preferring to use my mandolin slicer over the food processor. The slicer gets the job done fairly quickly and I spend less time with cleanup.
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Post  CitizenKate 7/19/2017, 8:23 pm

@RoOsTeR wrote:If you have canning jars, you can easily make kraut and just about any other fermented veggies. I don't ever use an airlock anymore. I pack my jars and put the lid and ring on loosely enough to let gases escape.
This is my chosen method. YMMV.

It really is a lot easier than I thought it would be.

I guess I decided on using airlocks on my jars because of all I read about mold getting into jars that were not sealed or had to be opened frequently.  OTOH, I've also read that some people ferment their veggies in open crocks, and don't seem to think a little mold on the surface of the brine is of much concern.  They just skim it off and allow it to carry on.  As long as the food stays submerged in the brine, the mold can't touch it.  In fact, I think I even read somewhere that you could actually stir the mold into the brine and the brine would kill it.  I don't plan on testing that theory anytime soon.  No  I'd just prefer not to have it to begin with.
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Post  sanderson 7/20/2017, 3:10 pm

Anyone can the sauerkraut? I know the beneficials will be killed but I like hot sauerkraut with pork occassionaly.

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Post  CitizenKate 7/20/2017, 9:27 pm

I've talked to people who can their sauerkraut as soon as the fermentation is done, and also read articles that recommend it. Since I'm just starting to experiment with it, I'd like to see how long it will keep in the fridge without canning it. I suppose you could still cook it if you want it hot, even if you don't can it.
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Post  sanderson 7/22/2017, 1:16 am

Kate, Thank you.

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Post  CitizenKate 7/23/2017, 12:39 pm

Having a taste on day 15 - it's unquestionably sauerkraut.  It's got that characteristic sauerkraut aroma, and tangy sauerkraut flavor, but with more depth and complexity.   The flavor (not to mention the crunch!!!) is much better than the stuff you buy at the store, just as everyone who's made it before has been telling us.

I'm surprised how easy this is to do, and don't know why I didn't try this sooner.    This jar went into the fridge, but I decided to let the other 3 jars continue fermenting for another week or two.

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Post  RoOsTeR 7/23/2017, 1:05 pm

I've never canned it or had a need to yet. I have jars in my fridge last for months. Not only last, but possibly improve. Of course I have no proof of that. Just sayin.
I cook my home made kraut just like I would with any other kraut and it's just fine.

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Post  No_Such_Reality 7/25/2017, 10:36 pm

This thread makes me want to plant the little Cornichon cukes and make kosher pickles with a fresh grape leaf as starter.

The little research I've looked at makes it seem like brine, pickle layer, fresh grape leaf, pickle layer, brine cover, grape leaf, repeat to the top and cover with brine and wait...

I still struggle with homemade kefir cheese and crepe fraiche. Always cautious with a good sniff test and small sample bite to make sure I don't get violently ill.
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Post  RoOsTeR 7/27/2017, 9:02 am

You could certainly use grape leaves, but I've never seen any real evidence that they're necessary for firm pickles. Supposedly the leaves were used thinking substances in the leaves made firmer pickles. I think that's a really old theory and nowadays it's said to remove the (blossom) ends from the cucumbers before pickling.
I think people also use tea leaves for same reason.

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Post  BeetlesPerSqFt 7/28/2017, 7:15 am

I read about this when I made pickles last year. The tannins in the leaves - grape leaves or tea leaves - inactivate an enzyme in the blossom ends that otherwise makes the pickles soft. Removing the blossom ends is easier. Doing it the old way, with leaves, might provide a different more beneficial bacterial culture... it makes sense, but I don't know that tannins changing the bacterial population has been scientifically confirmed. I stopped reading/researching because I ended up doing straight-up canned pickles (no fermentation) instead last year.
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Post  TCgardening 7/29/2017, 1:18 pm

I have made sauerkraut a few times and love it. I made with a mix of red & regular cabbage but the batch turned out a deeper red than expected. Still tasted great. I make it rather low tech, I use a gallon plastic pretzel jar. I have not canned any of it yet, once it has finished fermenting I put it in smaller jars and refrigerate.
 Ferment Works has a E-coarse on sauerkraut and other fermented foods, Ferment Works. They are pushing their books but also have some good info to get you started. The local urban farm, Ground Floor Farms, is have a fermented food competition and classes in Nov.

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Post  Turan 8/5/2017, 11:30 pm

What kind of salt are you successful kraut makers using? Pickling? Does iodine really matter?
I got all ready to start slicing cabbage and then realized that the only salt in the house is in an almost empty shaker on the table Embarassed

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Post  CapeCoddess 8/6/2017, 11:20 am

@Turan wrote:What kind of salt are you successful kraut makers using? Pickling? Does iodine really matter?
I got all ready to start slicing cabbage and then realized that the only salt in the house is in an almost empty shaker on the table Embarassed

that's funny! I have everything is on the counter getting ready to make some and I can't remember which salt I use. I probably would have grabbed the sea salt if I hadn't read your post. But I'll wait for someone else with more experience to answer.

I do know to use it very gingerly. I've heard horror stories of overtly salty sauerkraut.
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Post  RoOsTeR 8/6/2017, 5:39 pm

You can listen to the purists and use only unprocessed salt. Or you can use just about any other salt if it suits you. I tend to use either kosher or sea salt as those are usually all we use at home. I personally have never used regular table salt (just because we don't have it) but I've read numerous blogs from folks that have. To that point, I've also read just as many blogs that say not to use iodized or table salt. I can speak from experience on kosher and sea salt. They both work fine.
I would use any salt I had on hand without issue.

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Post  CitizenKate 8/6/2017, 8:01 pm

That's the same conclusion I've come to - use whatever salt you want. I've seen blogs that swear you shouldn't use anything but pure salt, such as pickling salt or sea salt. And I've found as many others that insist you should use Himalayan pink salt(?!), or kosher, or sea salt... along with others who also say, just use whatever salt you have on hand.

I used kosher on my first attempt, and the outcome seemed fine. I'd have liked it to come out a bit tangier, but I don't think that had anything to do with the salt I used. This time around I'm trying some different things - like finding a better way to shred the cabbage more finely, moving up to bigger jars, and definitely going a full four weeks before taking the first taste... and I happen to have some pickling salt (I also do quite a bit of canning), so I'm giving that a try, too.
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