why does my kraut taste like salty cabbage?

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why does my kraut taste like salty cabbage?

Postby MadameFilth on Tue Jan 31, 2012 11:36 am

not entirely, but it doesn't have that awesome SOUR taste that good kraut has.

i started making kraut like a year ago, having purchased a "kit" online which consisted of a gallon jar, two plastic lids [one for the jar, with a hole cut into it and a rubber grommet, the other smaller to fit inside and keep the kraut submerged], and an airlock to stick in said grommeted hole.

so, it was successful. i guess. bubbles indicated that fermentation was in fact occurring. but the flavor still lacked that beautiful tang that the "sour cabbage" from the traditional russian market i have a mere block from me. yes, i asked, and they said it's "fresh" with nothing added. but mine was passable, and served its purpose.

kraut made with this contraption never grew mold. i'm thinking because of the airlock.

this kraut was a bit of an experiment. two green cabbages, one red, one turnip and a handful of halved brussels sprouts, with caraway and dill and mediterranean sea salt.

dog ate the grommet and top to the airlock, so the contraption wasn't 100%, but i read everywhere that people have been making this shit for centuries in crocks with plates on top, so i wasn't worried.

yes, it grew mold this time. not an issue, according to the book, just skim it off. i did after two weeks, took a taste, too cabbagey, continued for another two weeks. four weeks: more mold, still cabbagey. six weeks: more mold, and sour but not like the russians make, retaining a distinct cabbage flavor.

so my question is twofold: anyone else use airlocks and are they a waste of time since mold is normal? and, should i just be fermenting longer, for a sour taste??? all of my krauts come out salty and cabbagey, with and without the purchased contraption. i always use a bit of the retained brine as a starter for the next batch.

part of me feels strangely guilty for preferring the storebought kraut, which is slightly different each time, but consistently has a ripeness that mine lacks.
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Re: why does my kraut taste like salty cabbage?

Postby Tejon on Tue Jan 31, 2012 3:50 pm

To me this sounds like it might be an issue of over salting. In my experience with kraut, six weeks seems like enough time to get a sour flavor. But at the same time, things like temperature can also inhibit fermentation. I'd try reducing the salt a little bit in your next batch, moving the crock to a warmer area, and seeing what happens. Also, if you favor the kraut you get from your local Russian market, try using some of that juice as a starter. It might help to populate the batch with bugs that produce a similar flavor.

As far as air locks go, I've had success with both methods. When I first started I just used a large jar with a glass of water weighing down the cabbage. There was surface mold, but the kraut tasted just fine. When I started doing a lot of fermenting, my girlfriend bought me a Harsch crock that uses a type of airlock. It's kind of a set it and forget it deal, but the kraut tastes just as good.

Hope this helps!
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Re: why does my kraut taste like salty cabbage?

Postby MadameFilth on Tue Jan 31, 2012 6:05 pm

Tejon wrote:Also, if you favor the kraut you get from your local Russian market, try using some of that juice as a starter. It might help to populate the batch with bugs that produce a similar


uh, why didn't i think of this?? i will most definitely do this next time.

i keep the kraut right in my kitchen, so it's room like 70 degrees most of the time. my salting is unscientific, only using a rough guide, but i guess it couldn't hurt to reduce it for now and ferment longer if need be.

ok, so i have my plan for next batch... thank you!
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Re: why does my kraut taste like salty cabbage?

Postby Agustín on Thu Feb 02, 2012 5:41 am

Same thing happens to me and I keep the jars more or less in 80-90 degrees so, maybe it´s the salt concentration. But how much salt is enough to avoid the growth of undesirable microorganism?
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Re: why does my kraut taste like salty cabbage?

Postby MadameFilth on Thu Feb 02, 2012 2:28 pm

for information's sake, my first attempt at kraut in the 1 gallon jar was two cabbages, one tablespoon salt.

it seemed like this wasn't ripe enough, so i increased salt as well as time, in subsequent batches to play around with it, to where my last batch had three tablespoons salt.

this last batch does have a bit of a tang, now that i'm tasting it again, but i still would like more. and the brussels sprouts taste amazing.

i've purchased kraut from various merchants and almost all of them have varying levels of salt and/or ripeness, so it really seems to me like something you play around with and accept varying results.

however, my goal is to achieve - at least once - that awesome ripe flavor. when i do... i will post how i got there.
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