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Making sauerkraut
September 21, 2011
11:46 am
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BuckeyeGirl
N.E. Ohio
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You're so funny!  I think you're doing something very RIGHT!  It's done when you say it's done!  (though I don't think it would be just yet, is it still bubbling?)  I usually rinse my kraut when I'm preparing it at meal time, next time you taste it, maybe try rinsing it off THEN taste it and decide. 

You know, the problems are much more rare than it sounded!  You know how it is, people talk about experiences, and also just want to be up front so you can watch for problems.  You aren't doing anything wrong, but neither would you be if there got a film over top.  There are so many variables when you're fermenting things.  Damp dark cellars (which is where many old timers make their kraut) can harbor a lot of spores and stuff, also I think some things could have something to do with well water too. As long as it's all below the brine level, it's hard for it to really go wrong.

I think adding the sugar once you're getting ready to jar it up sounds like a good idea.  Don't see why not!

Located in N.E. Ohio

September 21, 2011
1:45 pm
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Carolyn at WalnutSpinney
Shenandoah Valley
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We make sauerkraut every year.  Or, rather, I do if I can't bum some from my sister who makes it by the 30-gal crock… 

If no scum's forming, don't worry.  If the temp's cool enough where you store it and all the cabbage is below the brine, it might not form.  It's mainly just airborne yeasts and sometimes molds.  If the brine's salty enough and nothing sticks above the waterline, then it's hard for them to find a place to perch, kwim?

Do you like your sauerkraut with a little bit of crunch?  If so, you'll want to stop the fermentation (and can it, if that's how you plan to store it) before it gets soft, loses the crunch.  The only way you can really tell if it's ready is to taste it.  Some don't like this part because it may be hard to get past the scummy surface to accepting that there's something you want to eat hidden in the brine. :D

I know the 3-6 weeks range seems rather large but it all depends on how you like your kraut.  I just went to a Sandor Katz fermentation workshop put on by a new food co-op near here and he had a story about giving out samples of what he thought was a pretty well-aged kraut, still with a bit of crunch but tangy.  Someone tasted it and commented that it was okay for cole slaw…  Then, when he'd run out of the “good stuff” he was giving away samples of kraut that was pretty “fresh”, only a few days old.  According to Katz, quite a few people loved that kraut — said they'd never liked sauerkraut before but this, this stuff was good!  All depends on what you like…

No experience here in adding sugar to sauerkraut but other than making it sweet, which seems to be something you think you might like?, can't see there'd be any harm in it.  You can always rinse the kraut before eating to help reduce the saltiness.

Note:  I don't want to fret.  So far it all sounds great.  And I use stainless steel pans for acidic stuff, too — where the directions indicate non-reactive containers (glass, plastic, porcelain, wear-free enamelware, etc.)  But carefully check over your pasta insert before you use it again as most stainless steel cookware is not stainless steel through and through.  Often there's a core metal used with SS plating overtop.  Sometimes, particularly in colanders and other dishes with holes, the stainless steel outer layer can wear thin and expose the other metal(s) which are usually reactive.  (Ask me how I know…) Those large (gallon, half-gal) pickle jars can make a good sub for a crock.  Make a cardboard sleeve to fit over them if contents need to be kept dark…

September 21, 2011
1:59 pm
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Ross
Bel Air Maryland
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This culture can help take the element of chance out of pickling.

http://www.culturesforhealth.com/caldwell-starter-culture-for-fresh-vegetables.html

September 21, 2011
2:02 pm
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Suzanne McMinn
Sassafras Farm in Roane County, WV
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Thanks–I'll try to come up with something else to make it in the next time I make it.  This is a Viking stock pot, though, and Viking pasta insert.  These are serious 7-ply stainless steel pots.  Only the best for my sauerkraut, LOL!

Clover made me do it.

September 21, 2011
6:53 pm
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BuckeyeGirl
N.E. Ohio
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I KNOW someone around there has a good old fashioned crock!  Make sure the glaze is intact, and there's no cracks in it and you're good to go!

Located in N.E. Ohio

September 21, 2011
8:45 pm
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Bev in CA
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Suzanne, I wouldn't rinse the salt until you are ready to use it.  I love to open a jar, put in a skillet with a little bacon grease and add some caraway seed, then make a Rueben sandwhich.  Yum!

September 22, 2011
7:24 am
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Suzanne McMinn
Sassafras Farm in Roane County, WV
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I know there are crocks around here, Deb, but I think to get one, I'd have to steal it, LOL.  Those old crocks are prized possessions!  Sigh!

 

Bev, thanks, I won't rinse till I'm ready to can.  I might can it this weekend, that would be a week and a half.  It smells krauty………  I guess if the answer to when is it done is whenever I'm satisfied with it, I'll just go with that!  I'm thinking the canning process will actually soften it further anyway……….

Clover made me do it.

September 22, 2011
8:41 am
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Joyce
Western WV
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Suzanne,  We have crocks, but they are difficult to deal with.  Hard to get into the sink to clean, heavy and slippery if you want to move them etc.  For years now we have used food grade buckets  for fermenting.  You can usually buy them from restaurants or deli's for a dollar or so.  I like the ones that had pickles in them if possible,  frosting buckets have a nasty sweet smell that is difficult to remove.  The main reason we prefer the buckets is that a glass pie plate will fit down inside, with  doubled plastic gallon bags on top of the plate ( partially filled with brine in case of leaks) and the bucket lid resting on top you are good to go.  Having a handle they are easy to move,  do keep a tray underneath just in case.  This works for us maybe someone else can use the idea.wave

September 22, 2011
9:23 am
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Suzanne McMinn
Sassafras Farm in Roane County, WV
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Ross, there's a lot of neat stuff at that website!  (Not just the supplies, but the articles etc.)

Clover made me do it.

September 22, 2011
10:41 am
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Ross
Bel Air Maryland
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I buy my sausage supplies there.

September 22, 2011
10:56 am
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Carolyn at WalnutSpinney
Shenandoah Valley
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I bought a couple of airlock lids there that fit glass jars I already had.  Very handy for making kimchi and dua gia without having to make crock-size batches. 

Also got a bulgarian yogurt starter that consistently makes really creamy yogurt and butter cloth/muslin, similar to cheese cloth only a bit heavier weave at 90ct/in.

September 27, 2011
4:09 pm
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Suzanne McMinn
Sassafras Farm in Roane County, WV
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I was thinking about canning my sauerkraut last week, because it tasted sauerkrautish already, but it had only been a week and it was still really crisp, so I waited one more week and was going to can it this afternoon.  (two weeks)  I started getting everything ready and found little white worms in the sauerkraut!  GROSS!  So much for that.  Sigh.  Perhaps sauerkraut is one thing I'm not doing!  It's going to take me a while to get over the worms, LOL.

Clover made me do it.

September 27, 2011
6:38 pm
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Canner Joann
Central KY
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Worms?  How on earth did they survive in brine?  I'm curious as to other's answers on this…

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September 27, 2011
7:17 pm
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Suzanne McMinn
Sassafras Farm in Roane County, WV
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They were very teeny tiny white worms, and I saw them on the edges of the pot.

Clover made me do it.

September 27, 2011
7:24 pm
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Canner Joann
Central KY
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Well, I just had to google that and I found a site about kraut and someone wrote in about little white worms in theirs too.  This is what the author said, “Either the cabbage had worms in it when you started or possibly an insect laid eggs in there while it was working. Regardless of what happened, I’d suspect if you did anything wrong, it would be not enough salt. That mix should be salty enough where  nothing can survive in it except the yeasts required to carry on fermentation.”

I hope you try again next year!

Joann

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September 27, 2011
7:37 pm
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Leah's Mom
Northern Indiana
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Wow…never had a worm bug-eyed problem on anything I fermented.   You said they were on the rim but not IN the sauerkraut? That would make more sense to me than them actually being in the sauerkraut itself.

Do you know how much salt you used?

 

Re the culture web site – I'v just started using some of their stuff and have enjoyed their videos and articles too. 

I am just now experimenting with some of their different yogurt cultures – but MESOPHILLIC instead of Thermophillic.  They have 3 different ones that culture like Kefir – at 70 – 77 degrees just on the countertop at room temp.  Unlike kefir, however as they are without the yeasts that are present in kefir – just bacterias. 

I just made my first mother culture (since I'm using raw milk, need to make a mother culture first) and am going to try making the yogurt tonight.  I'll start a new topic after I make it to report!  (I actually bought one of each of the 3 mesophillic cultures and they are supposed to be quite different.) 

December 5, 2011
7:30 am
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Joyce
Western WV
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The worms in the sauerkraut are likely fruit fly larvae.  You need some sort of screen or cover over the top to keep fruit flies out.

December 28, 2012
8:24 pm
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lesliedgray
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I am anxiously awaiting my cabbages to get big enough.. I bought a 3 gal fermenting crock online at ACE hardware.. @ 40.00.. I thought it was a steal.. It is a very handsome crock, too. I called my nearest store while having the crock pulled up online.. ordered it through the salesman at the store and got a price break.. You can order it online to send to your nearest store to pick up, but MY nearest store didn’t show up on the website’s store locator.  Anyway it is hanging out in my kitchen waiting for my cabbage to grow.. i will re-post later and tell ya’ll how it turns out.

January 2, 2013
7:28 am
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rurification
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I make my sauerkraut in quart size canning jars.  That way I can flavor each quart differently.  I put lids on, but don’t screw them down tight.  That keeps the critters out.   I also set the jars in a rectangular ice cream bucket to catch drips.   Works great unless the temp is warm, and then I get mold.   Works best in our mud room where the temps are around 50 degrees.   I love homemade sauerkraut.  Here’s a link to how I do things: http://rurification.blogspot.com/2011/12/sauerkraut.html

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