Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sauerkraut disaster

My batch of sauerkraut a month ago with cabbage fresh from the garden.
About a month ago we harvested 16 pounds of cabbage from our garden.  I was quite proud of our cabbage being we started it from seed back in October.  The cabbage tasted excellent and had minimal bug infestations, which as cabbage growers knows is quite an accomplishment.  So it was exciting to preserve the cabbage by fermenting it into sauerkraut.  Everything went as usual and I expected to have fresh kraut in about two weeks.

Normally, sauerkraut fermentation bubbles for a little over a week before finally stopping.  This time however, the kraut continued bubbling for four weeks and would have went longer. 
My bad sauerkraut.  Smelled funny, had a slimy limp texture, and looked off color compared to good sauerkraut.  Needless to say, I threw it out.
After four weeks of bubbling I finally looked at what was happening to the sauerkraut.   In the crock I found unusual smelling, slimy, limp, and off color kraut.  All of these things indicate a kraut gone bad.  I have a feeling it somehow was contaminated with yeast or mold.  And of course, I threw it all out.  Which was quite a disappointment.  I mean, who wouldn't be if their normally tasty sauerkraut went bad?

All this was not a waste though.  This is the only batch of sauerkraut I have ever had go bad on me but I think I learned a few things from it.
1. If bubbling of sauerkraut is extended for any longer then two weeks just throw it out.
2. Off smell, slimy or limp texture, and off color all indicate a bad kraut.
3. Fermenting at higher temperatures (in this case around 75 degrees) can be more difficult and lead to contamination.  I generally like to ferment kraut between 60 and 70 degrees.  This situation confirms my fermentation temperature preference.
4. Be sure to cover the crock well to prevent contamination.
5. Don't get too attached to your experiment.  Projects and experiments fail all the time, learn from it and try again with your new knowledge on how not to do something.

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