New user sauerkraut ?s

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New user sauerkraut ?s

Postby FermentingInVT on Mon Jan 10, 2011 7:57 pm

Hi folks--
I have been making sauerkraut for a few weeks and have some questions. My ball jar sauerkraut batches have been *excellent* so I tried using a crock and it is turning out sort of odd. The cabbage is not squishing/breaking down into the consistency I expect, I believe because I can't pack it as well in the crock as I am able to in the jar. Do you press on the plate that's in the crock? Or do you remove the plate, and press with a big ball jar? It seems I just can't get as much of the bits of air out, nor compress the cabbage enough in the crock. Is it important to keep getting the air out?

Also, the crock sauerkraut has a distinct scent and taste of yeast, with maybe a hint of amonia, that I find distasteful. Is this what folks are talking about regarding yeast living in a crock? I have a cloth covering it--is there a way to keep the yeast out? I wonder why it doesn't occur in my ball jar batches. The color of the brine in the crock is also filmy and milky, with no mold, but seems odd since the brine was clear in the ball jars.

Finally, I wonder if you store your kraut in the fermenting jar/crock until you are done eating it, or if it can be moved to another container so i can start a new batch while I eat the old batch. Should it go in the fridge, and will the live cultures live? Or should it go in a jar on the counter?

Thank you so much for any ideas you have for me! I have been wondering about this for a few weeks...
FermentingInVT
 
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Re: New user sauerkraut ?s

Postby fermented-vegan on Tue Jan 11, 2011 10:47 am

Hello FermentinginVT, :)

It sounds like your crock sauerkraut ferment is an open ferment since you mention having a towel over it. And I'd guess, but not really sure, that your ball jar sauerkraut ferments are closed with the lid on since you mention them to come out excellent.

My experience with making sauerkraut is that it never came out very good when doing it in an open ferment. The flavor was always off and not quite right. In addition to having to skim off the bad yeast scum daily. It only came out great when I started experimenting with closed ferments in glass Ball/Mason canning jars. And particularly so with the lid on tight to produce some carbonation. In addition the cabbage needs to be sliced on the thinnest setting on a mandolin. This makes all the cabbage uniform in thickness so it all ferments evenly. This makes the texture and flavor fairly consistent within the batch.

If you are going to use a crock container to ferment a large amount, you need to use one with a cover and airlock system like the Harsch type fermentation crocks so that it is a closed ferment. Make sure you buy the appropriate size for your needs. Because you have to fill these up almost completely full to eliminate excess air in the crock, otherwise you will just have spoilage and mold. This was my experience with this sort of device. I bought one much too large for my needs and did not want, or could afford to fill it entirely. My solution was to ferment in half gallon glass Ball/Mason jars to get larger amounts within reason for a single person household. Plus they are very inexpensive to buy.

As far as compressing the cabbage...
You do the best you can. In the glass Ball/Mason jars I compress with my hand until it's packed as tightly as possible, and I don't use a weight during fermentation. But inevitably the ferment will expand a bit due to CO2 being created. Nothing you can do about that. You just plan accordingly for some expansion by not filling it completely full.

As far as storing ferments....
When they are done fermenting, you need to jar them if they are not already in jars and put them in the refrigerator or they will continue to ferment and spoil. Yes the live cultures will live. All you are doing when refrigerating them is slowing down their process considerably. Thus the ferment will last for quite a while in the refrigerator. If ever buy raw ferments or probiotic capsules at the health food store, you will find them refrigerated for this very reason.

Peace & Love from a vegan :)
fermented-vegan
 
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Re: New user sauerkraut ?s

Postby FermentingInVT on Tue Jan 11, 2011 12:44 pm

Thank you--this is very helpful and I understand better now. The ball jars I've used are not with lids, but the weight was such a tight fit that there was not much space for anything to get in there. I guess this is why it has turned out better. Thanks for the info, I appreciate it.

I wonder if you use the half gallon size ball jars--can you pack the cabbage down well? The neck is not as wide as the body of the jar, so I thought it would not be the right shape for a ferment. What do you think?
FermentingInVT
 
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Re: New user sauerkraut ?s

Postby fermented-vegan on Wed Jan 12, 2011 11:57 am

Hello FermentingInVT, :)

Thank you--this is very helpful and I understand better now.

Your welcome. I'm glad to be of help. :D

The ball jars I've used are not with lids, but the weight was such a tight fit that there was not much space for anything to get in there. I guess this is why it has turned out better.

This could very well be. Interesting to know. Thank you for explaining your process.

I wonder if you use the half gallon size ball jars--can you pack the cabbage down well? The neck is not as wide as the body of the jar, so I thought it would not be the right shape for a ferment. What do you think?

Yes, I am able to. The lid diameter is the same size as the one quart jars. They use the same lids. My hand just barely fits in. If your hands does not fit, goto your local lumber store and purchase a large diameter hardwood dowel that is longer than the length of the half gallon jars to use to pack down the vegetables. And actually having a jar where the opening is smaller than the body of the jar is useful. Because as the ferment expands, the shoulders, where the jar narrows for the opening, helps hold the vegetables down below the brine level.

And here's a good tip. When I do a closed (anaerobic) ferment, even if some vegetables break the surface of the brine, which does happen, I've never had any mold or spoilage. Likely because the head space is almost pure CO2 after a few days of fermenting. So I've stopped worrying about needing a weight in these jars. You're on your way! Happy fermenting! :D

Peace & Love from a vegan :)
fermented-vegan
 
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