Sauerkraut Spoilage Concerns

secondcharterJuly 31, 2008

I've tried my hand at sauerkraut for the first time. I harvested 12 heads of cabbage, 8 were a "Flat Dutch" variety (the green ones) and averaged between 2 and 3 pounds each. The other four, a red cabbage, were around 1 pound a piece because they took a bit longer to mature. Once cleaned, I ended up with exactly 25 pounds.

I started off by making a brine solution on the stove in the event I didn't get enough "juice" to cover the cabbage. I put 6 qts. on to boil with 9 tbs. of salt and let that cool. I then did the prep work in 5 lb. batches. First quartering the heads and then shredding. Then I mixed in 3 tbs of salt thouroughly by hand. I let that wilt a few minutes while I got the next batch started and then packed it into my 10 gallon crock. Proctor Silex and I spent three hours shredding and salting down the cabbage.

I poured enough of the brine to cover the cabbage. Then I weighed it down with a couple of gallon sized Ziplocs full of brine water on top of a wood disc to keep the cabbage under the fluid. It was then moved to a room that is kept air conditioned at 72 degrees F.

This was June 25th.

Every few days, I'd scoop off some nasty looking scum or mold. Sometimes, It would be closer to a week. I'm guessing its about ready to can but I'm concerned about the scum. Since I didn't get around to it every day, is this stuff safe to eat? My wife thinks not. My thought is that it doesn't smell rotten and pressure canning should kill any bad bacteria.

Is my batch ruined or is this normal?

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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

I do much smaller batches, but sometimes get "scum" or discoloration at the top if I don't get it sealed well and keep ALL the air away from the cabbage.

If it were me, I'd remove the top layer of 'icky' stuff and can the rest. It's perfectly safe to eat as long as it tastes like 'kraut'. It will taste moldy if it's gone bad. Taste a little from down deeper in the crock and see if the flavor is to your liking. You can decide to can now or let it ferment a little longer. I always add a tiny bit of cider vinegar when I can, just because I like the flavor. I think it helps hold the color a little better when canned, but may just be me... LOL


    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 3:49PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

The scum is yeast and isn't dangerous.

If the kraut is crisp and good smelling (if you like the smell of kraut, that is), it did not spoil. A taste will confirm that. Home made, unprocessed kraut is crunchy and tastes great.

If the kraut is slimy or pink colored it is spoiled. I think that is unlikely to happen. Fermentation of kraut is a natural, self regulating process. So far as I know, spoilage is uncommon. It sounds like you did everything properly. The yeast you skimmed off is not, in itself, a sign of spoilage.


    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 5:32PM
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Thank both for your input. The kraut is a bit pink but I had mixed in a few heads of red cabbage. It hasn't changed color much, perhaps become a bit faded but it has all taken on a soft pink color as did the brine.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 7:43AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Think of it as "bloom" rather than scum and you might feel better about it, LOL.

The critical thing is whether the mold is a surface phenomenon or has penetrated the kraut itself. Yeast isn't a concern. Mold can be.

Go by smell before tasting. If the kraut smells like kraut should and is clean and fresh in odor with no signs of spoilage like the sliminess mentioned, then taste. If it's good, then just continue with fermentation and processing as per the usual.

I would suggest skimming more often, especially with the presence of some mold.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 12:12PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

P.S. Consider boiling and sterilizing your wooden weight again and replacing the brine bag.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 12:14PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

"The kraut is a bit pink but I had mixed in a few heads of red cabbage."

You are right in thinking the pink from red cabbage does not represent a problem.

BTW, I can expand a bit on what I said about fermentation of kraut being a natural, self regulating process. Cabbage contains the right bacteria to start the process. We need to add no starter. The fermentation is dominated by a succession of different strains or species of bacteria as fermentation proceeds and conditions (mainly pH) in the crock change. It all happens with no intervention from us other than the initial addition of salt, keeping temperature within bounds and skimming off any yeast which forms. So, there is not much which can go wrong.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 1:23PM
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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

Is that like algae "bloom"????????


    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 1:29PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

It's sort of like a corsage or bouquet, but not so pretty.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 6:30PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

OK, Jim. Trying to reconcile image of prom couple with sauerkraut "bloom" bedecking her bosom.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 10:30PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

I don't know about the image, but she would smell good. To me anyway.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 11:34PM
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I'm getting ready to can my sauerkraut and was wondering how much cider vinegar you add. I thought I would try it in a couple of jars.

Does anyone else add vinegar to theirs?


    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 3:23PM
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kframe19(z7, Virginia)

I freeze my kraut and have never added vinegar to it.

I figure I spent that much time and effort on getting it to taste the way it does, I'm not messing that up by pouring in cider vinegar!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2008 at 5:01PM
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I made two containers of kraut appx 25 lbs each. It has been 17 days stored in the basement at appx 65 to 68 degrees F.

Both have not produces much scum. However, one bucket is slimy, all the way to the bottom. It tastes similar to the other bucket and they are sitting right next to each other. One batch is not slimy and one is. Can anyone help? I read that someone put there slimy kraut in the fridge and the viscous/slickeryness disappeared.

I made the entire batch of kraut the same, just split it into two seperate containers. Both were covered w/ brine and I used a freezer ziplock bag w/ the weight in it on a plate.

Everytime I make kraut, something bizaar happens. ;)

Bottom line... the kraut is not soft or discolored. it is just slimy. when i put my hand in it to taste it today, it slid all the way thru to the bottom.

Thank you for any suggestions.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 3:04PM
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