Freezing Sauerkraut?

digit(ID/WA)October 22, 2010

I know that there's a harvest forum but there are also good cooks right here.

It seems to me that freezing sauerkraut might be the best way to insure a good product if fermentation is less than complete . . . But, wouldn't the sauerkraut turn black once defrosted?

I looked at the linked information and my technique, years ago, may have been doomed from the start. The crock was set on a shelf in the basement. It may well have been below 60F even in early fall.

Sauerkraut is not something I can eat lots of but maybe I should try again. Any thoughts on this would be very much appreciated.


Here is a link that might be useful: West Virginia University, 4 page pdf

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david52 Zone 6

Steve, sauerkraut is fairly easy to make, and reading those instructions, they seem to put more emphasis on temp and time than most - I do mine in my greenhouse, starting about now, and it will vary between 75degrees during the day, drop into the 50's at night. But I've done it in the cooler garage as well - it's more a question of how much time it takes.

We can it, but as your link suggests, boiling and freezing it should work, and I don't know why it would turn black.

I have some neighbors who survived the depression, and they made several 25 gallon crocks of sauerkraut and just left it in the crocks all winter, sealed up the same way the fermentation is done. They say it got a bit iffy and whiffy and really strong towards the end of it, and was a relief to open up another crock, and an even bigger relief when something green showed up next spring they could eat from the garden.

Do you have some crocks around? Or, a lot of people just ferment it in qt or half-gallon canning jars, using a plastic bag with water as a seal.

I didn't make any this year, we canned about 40 qts last year and still have quite a few to go through. It's one of those things that when I open a jar and start eating it, I realize how good it is, and wonder why I don't eat more.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2010 at 4:40PM
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I approach this with a considerable amount of trepidation, David.

Linked is a thread I came across on the harvest forum. Looks fool-proof. Really, the recipes remind me of kimchee.


Here is a link that might be useful: Sauerkraut with vinegar

    Bookmark   October 22, 2010 at 6:42PM
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david52 Zone 6

I watched a PBS show on making kimchee the other day - that looks like fun.

Checking your link, they mention the book "The Joy of Pickling" by Ziedrich, which I have. That looks like it would be pretty good. Not sauerkraut, but still good.

There are a lot of books out there on natural fermentation, you might look some up on Amazon, and either grab a used copy or get one from the Library for a read.

I dunno what to recommend that would get you started and build confidence - the process and principals are fairly simple - the salt/vegetable mix rapidly draws out moisture from the vegetable, there is no oxygen since the thing is sealed, and so you get lactic acid formation, which pickles the vegetable. Maybe try a qt jar or so and see what you think - if you sniff it and it smells wonderful, you did good. If you sniff it and it smells absolutely awful gag-a-maggot, throw it out.

To be extra-sure that you have plenty of good guy bacteria in there, you can add whey - that bit of liquid on top of a qt of yogurt has a bazillion good guy bacteria - or if I'm making a huge batch, I'll strain some yogurt through a cheese cloth and use that whey, or if the vegetables are roasted and the natural bacteria/yeasts are destroyed, I use one of those powdered Kefir starters.

I have, in maybe 150 fermentation attempts, had two batches go bad. It's fairly obvious its "off" - and then I look to find what went wrong, and both times, it wasn't properly sealed.

And if you're successful, you can start pontificating about home-made probiotics and such.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2010 at 8:17PM
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I've frozen kraut and never had a color issue. I opened up a bag this summer that had been at the back of the freezer for 2 years, and it was still as sour, crunchy and yellow as when it went into the bag. Even squeaked on the teeth. If I had a bigger freezer, I wouldn't can much kraut at all.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 10:03AM
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I should have tried one of those recipes in 2011! There were plenty of carrots, onions and peppers. Once again that year, I had lots of cabbage. This year, I harvested next to none . . .

Here is some advice on cabbage growing: having cabbage late means starting the plants early. Don't grow an early variety, started late, and hope that you will have nice heads in October.

Now, why ever would I sow early cabbage seeds in May? Well, I thought it was worth a try. I think it was in 2009 that I had a disastrous cabbage year! The aphids did so much damage to the heads that a number of them started to rot . . . Really, every year the plants have problems with aphids.

Once the dang things are hidden amongst the leaves, it becomes impossible for me to hit them with any kind of bug-killing spray. Since aphids don't show up so much during the heat of summer, maybe a quick-maturing variety would be able to produce well -- wrong. Cabbage just doesn't grow well during the heat of summer. I doubt if I got 7 very sub-sized heads out of about 25 plants.

Gunnarius, it is real good to know that your sauerkraut froze well. That Joy of Pickling recipe linked, I wouldn't have to buy the carrots and onions . . . Maybe it would be worth going ahead & trying. I think I was intimidated by David suggesting that only a Nervous Nelly would have any problem with sauerkraut. Imagine having to report that I'd screwed up again . . .


    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 7:01PM
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david52 Zone 6

Snort. I'm currently gnawing on a batch of sauerkraut I canned two summers ago. Its just really good stuff, particularly in a post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich. I'm just sayin', here, right before the catalogues arrive. I need to go find the packet of seed I used - something from Johnny's, a variety of 'hard' cabbage recommended for 'kraut.

I did have an issue with that batch, the fermentation went 'off' just few days before I was going to can it, and the top half of each crock had to be tossed - it lost the liquid, turned brown, and yuk. Couldn't figure out what happened, until this year......

I fermented a crock of red hot peppers and one of green. I kept a close eye on them, and it finally dawned on me that the crocks were seeping out the bottom - nothing noticeable until about week #5. So with my cabbage, the liquid left leaving the top layers high and dry, and it turned brown. Safe to eat, I'm sure, but the flavor had changed. What was still submerged was fine.

The fermented hot peppers are spectacular. I ran them through a food mill to get rid of the skin and seeds. With the red, I'd fermented some garlic and onion along with the peppers, and after straining, I mixed in two quarts of mango juice, cup of raw cider vinegar, and a lb of paprika to give it color (it was orange, now red) and body, and canned up 7 quarts. Hard to describe the flavor, but its some of the best hot sauce I've ever made.

For the green pepper mash, I canned it up in pints, I think I had 8, and I'm still pondering what to do with it.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 9:37AM
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I have made and froze winter sauerkraut salad. Not bad and no color change. I have eaten my share of kimchee but have not made it in years. For the really good stuff you are suppose to bury the pot in the ground for several months. Maybe that keeps it from freezing?

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 10:00PM
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Salad, Margaret?!? Pickled cabbage salad?

Today, I'm following that recipe and making the sauerkraut! Yep. Got a sweet pepper from the store so all the ingredients are fresh to start off with.

I have 2 of those undersized heads of cabbage from my garden left. I wasn't really sure that I had any . . . but, there they were. Onions & carrots aren't a problem.

You know why they would bury the kimchee outside the village, Margaret? Yes, it took the entire village to beat it to death before they could bring it back into the owner's kitchen. Oh boy, kimchee! I hope this comes close to the real thing. I could use a nice big spoon full on my noodles for lunch!


    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 1:38PM
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That recipe made a good deal less than I expected. . .

Maybe, I shouldn't have wrung out the veggie mix so vigorously after it had the salt on it for a couple of hours. Still, the amount of vinegar called for would have overflowed the small containers I found so as to divide the sauerkraut in 1/4ths.

I don't know whether I should call it sauerkraut, either. Everything kind of smelled good, tho'. Now, I don't know how long to wait before trying it. I'm assuming that the veggies absorb some of the liquid even in the freezer but don't know.


    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 11:28AM
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david52 Zone 6

Um, the traditional way to make sauerkraut, you salt the stuff and its that liquid you wrung out that ferments, turns acidic, and gives the flavor and preservation.

So it sounds like you made a salad. :-)

Nothing wrong with that, to be sure.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 9:24PM
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This whole thing was to avoid any fermentation since I am such an un-kultured person and can't be trusted caretaking a yeast cell.

Admittedly, the only reason I may have been successful thru about 10 years of brewing beer was that the entire process was at Dad's place. When I took the equipment home, I produced something so unpleasant that I had to throw it out! We didn't always produce Grade A beer, especially there at first, but we kind of caught on. Maybe it was just Dad who caught on . . .

Well, David, Ms. Ziedrich in the "The Joy of Pickling" recipe told me to, "Drain the vegetables, pressing out excess liquid." (There in that Oct. 22, 2010 post link.) It could have been that I didn't need to squeeze the life outta them but I thought that would be the "fun" part!


    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 9:52PM
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david52 Zone 6

I'm looking for a utube video on how to do sauerkraut in a qt canning jar, figuring that if you can see your little friends the lactobacteria making bubbles, you'll get past this fermentphobia.

Boy, are there some fruitcakes-making-sauerkraut videos out there. The lady with the tattoos, another with the tube top and badly plucked eyebrows, and so on.

At the link is a lengthy video from the Alaska Extension Agency that 'splains and shows the process pretty well. About half way through, they get to how to do this in qt jars.

My only comment would be that if you do it in qt jars, don't can it, just refrigerate it, because fresh, live sauerkraut is a real treat.

Also, you can add tart apple slices, sliced hot peppers, juniper berries, caraway, and so on.

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 1:26PM
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I've been following this topic and thinking I may try making krout next year. The link you posted made the prosess very understandable and I'm going to try it. Thanks for the link!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 6:11PM
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Thank you, David. "Removing any scum that may form." I wonder if that is where I went wrong. It has been about 30 years since I tried to make kraut.

And, thank you for what the mail carrier brought today.

You are a very helpful guy.


    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 7:19PM
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I can't find the frozen sauerkraut recipe - probably miss filed. I got it from a 4-H leader after she entered it in the fair. Anyhow this is Sauerkraut salad and is older than I am! I used to make it because it is very low calorie.
My husband doesn't eat sauerkraut in any form.
Sauerkraut Salad
3 1/2 c sauerkraut (drained), 1/2 medium green pepper diced, 1 small onion chopped, 1/2 cup diced celery, 1 small jar pimento (optional) Dressing 1/2 cup cider vinegar, 6 tsp sugar substitute or equal to 1 cup sugar. Pour dressing over vegetables. Mix & marinate for several hours. Stir once or twice. Good for picnics because of no eggs or mayo. Really good on hot dogs!

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 11:15PM
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Yeah but, that's real sauerkraut salad, Margaret!

I suppose that it should be time for me to pull the cabbage salad I made out and try it.

A nice hot dog under the broiler . . . cabbage salad? Hhmmmm


    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 10:47AM
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david52 Zone 6

We do a dish with a qt-ish of drained sauerkraut, potatoes, and sliced sausages - different kinds, then white wine as a cooking liquid. I imagine its some sort of traditional German dish, I remember eating it somewhere, and we tried to mimic it. No precise measurements, kind of throw what you have together, let it simmer for an hour or so. The spices from the sausage mix with the acidity of the wine and sauerkraut, flavoring the whole thing. Don't let the potatoes get mushy. Eat with crusty bread.

Right now we've a bit of a blizzard going on, and that might be whats for dinner.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 11:12AM
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