View Full Version : Need help with Sauerkraut
11-19-2006, 12:45 PM
I started my first batch ever of sauerkraut 12 days ago. Everything went really well. I packed it up real tight in an old crock pot, covered it with cabbage leaves and a plate. (The plate didn't fit tight against the edge of the pot though, don't know if that's a big deal?) Then put a jug full of water on top and covered everything with a dishcloth.
I left it in the coolest room of the house, tasting it every few days - although, I've got to admit, I haven't really got a clue what it's supposed to taste like really when it's ready. I've decided to put it away in jars in the fridge today. There's no scum or anything on top. It has a crunch and the taste is tangy.
OK, so my question is this: Does the sauerkraut need to be packed real tight in the jars and to be covered with liquid? During the process, there was about an inch or so of liquid above the kraut but now that I've transferred it, the liquid is nowhere near the top. Should I make some kind of brine or is it okay like this?
Thanks in advance,
11-19-2006, 01:22 PM
First of all, your sauerkraut is not done after just a few days. It needs to ferment for WEEKS. It will get better with age, and I usually don't touch mine for 5 to 6 WEEKS. As long as bubbles are coming up, it's working. It's done when the bubbling stops. If you bottle it now, your bottles could explode from the gasses produced by fermentation. It can be messy. :D
Yes, you should keep the cabbage covered with brine.
If necessary, open jars and add more brine made by dissolving
1-1/2 tablespoons salt in 1 quart of water.
There is a lot of great information online about making sauerkraut. Check out a website called http://www.wildfermentation.com/ This guy makes kraut in Portland and has some good information on his website. But he uses a crock, which you don't need.
I dish out my kraut into a glass bowl with a glass lid and keep it in the fridge for months.
If kraut does get mold on top, yu can just remove it carefully and toss the mold. The kraut is still good. If it turns pink, however, I toss it. :eek:
11-19-2006, 01:51 PM
Thanks for the info!
Oops! I guess I was being a bit premature... I'll put the kraut back in the crock! :o There isn't much "bubble action" happening yet. I didn't realize it could take that long and didn't want to have it spoil on me.
11-19-2006, 02:25 PM
this is the way that i make cultured veggies (kraut).
i change up the veggies a bit depending on my mood :D and it takes only a week to ferment. i always use their culture starter. that way i know exactly which beneficial bacteria i'm getting. also, i like that this method doesn't use any salt, but the taste is still tangy and delicious, not at all bland!
btw, in the instructions for using the starter, i use only one packet for this recipe, and i dissolve it in only 1/2 cup water and use just a little "feeder" like agave (or none at all) bc i usually use some sweeter veggies like carrot and beet and even a granny smith apple at times -- there's enough sugar in those to feed the culture as it ferments.
re: the level of the brine: i press the mixture down in the jars i'm using and make sure that there are enough juices to rise to the top. i think because the jars are sealed completely in this method, you don't have to have as much brine.
i use 1/2 gallon mason jars and fill them only 2/3 full. and i usually don't bother to place any rolled up cabbage leaves to fill the space -- anyway, this seems to work for me. i've made tons of varieties and have even sold some to insistant friends!
i have never tried to make them any other way so i can't compare. just this seems faster and easier to me. if you try it, please let me know what you think.
11-19-2006, 03:58 PM
Thanks Shelah for this alternative method.
It's quite different in terms of how long it takes to be ready! So, I take it that you don't have any problems with bottles exploding, huh?
I just found out that there's a distributor in Canada for the starter and for the same price as in the US which is totally good!
I like the idea of not using salt and some natural sweetener like apple instead.
We live in a loghouse and it gets pretty cold in the winter as we only have a woodstove. I guess it would only take longer. What do you think?
11-19-2006, 05:06 PM
This year was my first successful batches of saukerkraut. Mine was done in a few days and still hiding in my refrigerator months later. It taste heavenly. Here's my take:
slice super thin in food processor green cabbage
In large stainless steel salad bowl place pinch of water
Add salt (usually start with 1T and can add)
Mix all together in the form of kneading for a minute or so
Cover with plate
Cover bowl with large towel
Next day taste, add more salt if necessary, then place in jars to finish the process on the counter in cool place.
Cover glass jars with towel after you have added a weighed object to keep pressing the liquid to the top.
Each day I taste. I'll add a teaspoon of salt or more each day depending on the taste.
I love the taste of garlic so I slice it up and add it to each jar. You decide on the quantity of garlic, but remember start with less and can always add.
In 3-7 days done. I then place lids on jars and store in refrigerator. Yes, there has to be enough liquid always on top of the kraut beginning with the next day when you start putting it in jars.
sprinkler salt (usually start with 1T and do the taste thing)
Enjoy. Feel free to email me if you post and have questions. I will reply to the post here as I don't always see each post. I have several large heads of cabbage to still make, but sure love those glass jars. I try for wide mouth.
11-19-2006, 05:53 PM
One reason for using sugar or salt in pickling is to kill bad bacteria.
I'm a little concerned that using just 1 tbsp of salt or none at all will give you a product that tastes fine, but could be full of botulism, which has no flavor, smell, or look at all.... in other words ... you cannot taste it, see it, or smell it. It could make you very very sick. :eek:
I think I'll do some research on this and hope you will too.
Just being careful...
I looked at the starter page..I'm sure it is safe, but please don't make it without a starter using so little salt??
11-19-2006, 07:15 PM
Thanks for so kindly helping me out on this! You guys are so great!
It's still puzzling to me how the fermentation time can vary so much from one method to the next. I'm in no hurry so don't particularly look for a quick recipe. I think that it might not be a bad idea for me to buy some readily-made sauerkraut in the store; just so I know what to look for... Actually, perhaps I could then use some of it as a starter instead of buying the powdered stuff. Just a thought...
I like the idea of making the kraut inside the jars so that, when it's ready, you can just cover up and store. I'm wondering though what do you use as a weight? I've been using a glass jug full of water but I don't know what I could use that would be of appropriate size.
Also, when you talk about adjusting the salt, do you mean until it has the right saltiness? I know it sounds dumb but I was under the impression that some of the salt wouldn't actually taste as it transforms itself during the fermentation process.
Thanks for your concern. You are totally right! I, too, wouldn't want to make anything that would end up being harmful. It would be missing the point about the whole thing.
Hmmmm, I'm trying to remember how much salt I did put in. I think this is the recipe I used in terms of ingredients. I used a different method though, stumping the cabbage with my feet to draw the liquid out (that was fun!) and then putting it in crock as mentioned in previous post.
Elaina Love’s Live Sauerkraut
1 cabbage (red or green)
Optional: 1/2 to 1 tsp. Himalayan Crystal Salt
1/2 cup lemon juice
4 Tbs. dried dill or 1/2 cup fresh dill chopped
2 Tbs. caraway seeds
4 to 8 cloves garlic, crushed
1. Slice the cabbage using the 1mm setting on a mandolin or food processor, or cut paper thin with a knife. Discard the outer leaves.
2. Mix all the ingredients together and massage it with your hands. Continue to work the cabbage until the liquid starts to release. You may need to let your hands rest, so leave the cabbage sitting and come back to it every 1/2 hour until when you press on the cabbage, liquid rises to the top.
3. Place the kraut in a 1 quart glass jar. Press the cabbage down until the liquid rises above it about 1/8 inch. The juice may sink back down a little and that is okay.
4. Place a lid on the jar and let sit for 1-4 days, depending on desired sourness.
5. Once the sauerkraut is ready, place it in the refrigerator.
Sauerkraut will keep for up to 8 months in the refrigerator.
Is there really no way to tell whether it has bad bacteria in it? Like I said, I've been keeping the sauerkraut in a cool room (varies from 40 to 68 degrees) and there was no scum or anything. I've just added some brine today so 1/2 tbs or so of extra salt but do you think it might be too late? I'd hate to throw away the whole thing but would of course prefer to do that than getting bad bugs inside my body (not to mention others'!)
I'm surprised that so little emphasis seems to be put on the danger of botulism while using little or no salt. I've seen some reference to bad bacterias but nothing serious...
Thanks for bringing this to me attention! I might go ahead and write it off just to be safe.
And yes, I will do some more research about it.
11-19-2006, 09:37 PM
RowanC: I like to start with less and then add as time goes on. It's easier to add then subtract salt from a recipe. The 1T of salt is a starting place, but surely adds up to more since you can't get enough flavor out of 1T if you use a hugh cabbage. Just a suggestion and never had a problem with any batches so far this season with lots now under my belt just from the past few months. It works great for me. I do add each day after doing my finger taste to see how the flavors are blending.
I see Elaiina Love's recipe seems to use much less salt then mine.
To me the key is always keeping the kraut, even after completed and refrigerated with enough liquid to be in the glass jar and I aim always to have it covered with the liquid.
With the salt it's like trial and error. I start with approximately 1T and could end up being 2 or even 3, but I start with less and see how it all comes together. If there is no water rising by the next day, I do add more salt.
jars: Inside my wide mouth jar where the kraut has been transferred from the large stainless steel salad bowl I place the kraut in the jar, then I taken another jar or even a glass filled with water to apply pressure so that I can start seeing liquid from the kraut begin to rise. I put a towel on top of the entire thing now so the towel covers the jar entirely. I even add fresh garlic and start again with as little salt as possible adding as you wish.
For me this method works great and just tonight I even had some of the kraut. Flavor is great!. I even had a non raw person here last week and she loved it too. I don't like things too salty so I try to be conversative as we all have different taste buds.
I'm not trying to avoid salt, but be on the more conservative side. I do taste it daily. My kraut doesn't come out like you must have a drink of water after you eat it, but more of a mild flavor, but delish. Again, one key is having enough liquid to cover the kraut when making and I try to also follow that when I am storing it. I hope I am not reaping myself here, but rather be as clear as possible to avoid any confusion. I know there are lots of recipes on line so maybe a peak at others say on this subject would give peace of midn.
Hope this helps millions. I am waiting for my kraut in refrigerator to be used up and then I will work on my next heads of cabbage.
(Still eating the dill pickles that I made also.) I may have posted recipe here or else rawfamily.com has it in one of their newsletters. Again, I start with less salt and add as I taste it daily to see what I feel it needs.
Hope this is not confusing as the method becomes so simple after a batch or two you will shocked and happy at the result.
11-20-2006, 08:19 AM
Here's a link to my 'kraut jar. Check this out:
Now the first time I made it, I didn't use a probiotic, and it turned out nasty. Mushy and hot - flavored. I got a probiotic at my HFS and this time it is OUT OF THIS WORLD! I only use two cabbage heads though.
It's ready in three days! And keeps forever in the fridge. I love it! The guy that owns the website is awesome to deal with too! Good guy!
11-20-2006, 08:48 AM
I have the same concern as everyone else about using less salt for either sauerkraut or kimchi. However, Gabriel Cousens uses none for his kimchi recipe. Instead, he uses either miso or probiotics. Please click this link and scroll down a bit:
What do you think?
Have a rawsome day,
11-20-2006, 01:58 PM
Thanks for taking the time to describe your method so thoroughly. Not to worry, you've really clarified things a great deal for me.
Thanks for posting the site. It looks like an awesome product. Not to mention it's on sale at the moment! It sounds like his method would be perfect for our cool house!
Just have to feel out whether it's necessary to get a special jar but it sure sounds like it simplifies things a great deal.
Actually, your link turned out to be the same guy's site but on ebay!:) I LOVE the idea of using miso instead of salt. Yay!
Well, thanks to all of you guys! the final straw for us in determining whether we should really get into fermented veggies was when I googled "Sauerkraut health benefits" and found a site mentioning how awesome it is for digestion. The latter being my all-time weakness, I think it all points out to how this would be the right thing to do for me at this point.
I'll keep you posted on my sauerkraut making...
11-20-2006, 02:16 PM
I use the Brenda Cobbs and/or Ann wigmore method and usually my kraut is ready to eat in about 7 days. Wow I couldn't imagine waiting weeks.
11-20-2006, 02:17 PM
You're welcome! I love it! So, so easy. Chop up the cabbage, mix in a probiotic (which I got capsules at my HFS, but emptied the capsules - I don't trust them) and added enough liquid and salt, put the fermenting lid on and finished! It was ready in three days! It is THE BEST 'kraut I have ever eaten and with a last name like Brandt - I am German all the way, my Mom's maiden name Leutbecher? WHOA! I am a HUGE 'kraut fan and this is THE BEST! Well worth the investment. Here's an e-mail Mike sent me:
You add the ginger and hot pepper before you make it.
I like to put two cups of water in the blender. I add about two tablespoons of grated ginger root. I also add between two and four hot peppers (usually jalapeno or cayenne pepper), maybe some turmeric or burdock root, and I add the miso or probiotics, and blend it all up.
I have the shredded cabbage / veggies in a bowl and I pour the blended mix on the cabbage. Next, sprinkle on the salt and mix everything together. Then you can pound it into the jar.
I put the recipes on my blog at
Have a great day!
Check this link out:
11-20-2006, 04:06 PM
You've done it! I'm in the process of ordering it now! Yay!
How many capsules of probiotic do you use?
11-20-2006, 04:34 PM
I was not aware of using probiotic, but my method has proven perfect for me and there appears to still be great flavors too even about 2 months later or so. I see no signs of spoilage either. Maybe I adopted Ann Wigmore's theory but I know I got the information from somewhere and tried and added my own insight. I know Boutenko's use lots of salt so not saying that's bad for them, but for me, I like less. Could have come from Boutenko information. Regardless, everyone enjoy your sauerkrauting regardless of which method. Does Alissa have one in her book? I'm glad this is giving people insight into trying to make sauerkraut.
11-20-2006, 06:53 PM
From what I understand, the probiotic isn't necessary. However, it will greatly speed the process. Here's something I got from Mike's site:
"The text below is quoted from "The Lovers Diet" by Victoras Kulvinskas, page 163
Acidophilus, Bifidus, and Probiotics: Internal Enzyme Factories
Over 25 years ago at the Hippocrates Health Institute I pioneered the fermentation process. I not only based it on totally non-animal milks but also found ways to accelerate the fermentation.
In the past, to get successful results, one had to add salt and ferment the cabbage for weeks. With my system, the kraut are ready in 2 to 3 days, and salt is unnecessary.
By starting a batch of the following recipes with 1 teaspoon of pro-biotics (friendly bacteria), you will be giving your intestinal bacteria a major boost. In a matter of 1 hour, 1 bacteria becomes two, within another hour it becomes 4.
If this is allowed to keep on for 8 hours, the total bacteria count in a preparation increases by 256 times."
After some of the feedbacks I've received from this forum, I don't know whether I'd go with no salt at all but at least, minimize it. In one of the recipes I've encountered, it mentioned using miso instead of probiotic. Not to mention, it could also replace salt.
It's incredible how one's perspective on something can change so quickly when given access to an informed community like this one is.
Thanks to this board, once again, for shedding light on a shadowy topic for me.
11-20-2006, 07:03 PM
This entire thread is so very informative, I've wanted to try making some and have been hesitant. I'll re-read all of this and think I'll give it a try! Thank you everyone for your contributions.
12-09-2006, 02:05 PM
Yay! My Pickle, Sauerkraut, and KimChi Maker has arrived!
I've also got some red and green cabbage and probiotics to help out. Oh, and lots of salt, of course, which I'll be careful to use this time as I had to throw away my first sauerkraut attempt...
Soooooo, I'm pretty much ready to go I guess. Just one thing though... How do you prepare the cabbage? I know I've read to shred it in the food processor but I'm not totally clear what shredding mean. I guess it's one of those rare occurences where my French background is getting in the way... Does that mean with the S blade?
Also, do you need to put everything you use in boiling water first or is that overdoing it?
Thanks... Can't wait to give this a proper try!
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