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when sauerkraut is spoiled?

by (175)
Updated about 18 hours ago
Created December 13, 2011 at 1:30 PM

So I made a sauerkraut after one week fermentation for the first time. I used a big jar and sealed it thoroughly. The juice from the cabbage covered the content entirely ( except for some tiny little floating scraps ), but after few days the brine had decline and veggies weren't entirely covered anymore. I didn't add more water, cause I didn't want to allow any air flow.
Today I opened the jar, didn't spot any molds. The smell didn't repel me, but it was different from the sauerkraut I bought from farmers. Now I am confused, because I think I actually could sense some faint odor, but I am not sure if its a sign of spoilage or because of other ingredients I have added ( carrot and especially ginger ) or because every sauerkraut has a distinct scent. I ate a bit of it, taste didn't repel me either ( it was very salty and I could sense the giner ), but again was very different.
So what do you think? Are there any visual signs except for eventual molds that could say something about eventual spoilage?

EDIT: I used one medium carrot, around 1,5 - 2 lbs of cabbage and 100 grams of ginger.

EDIT2: And of course salt, around 3 tbsp, but I am not really sure how much, cause I was adding it until it became enough salty :).

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20519 · December 13, 2011 at 7:25 PM

I would use the existing batch to play with, or eat now, and then make a second batch using measurements. I'm only basing this off of you being not sure exactly how much salt was used, etc. Maybe think about cutting the ginger in half, I think you had about 1/2 a cup, and use 1-1.5tb of salt instead of just guessing. For me, I like to tinker with a recipe after I make an "official" one. Also make sure to sterilize the hell out of everything and let it sleep for a few weeks, skim any muck off, then sleep for another 2-4 weeks before diving in. Again.. just my opinion..

1c7f48b2a066fb8fc5927ec31aa3e391
175 · December 13, 2011 at 4:14 PM

Btw the taste itself is not a problem, I actually like it. Just want to be sure to avoid any unhealthy experiences.

1c7f48b2a066fb8fc5927ec31aa3e391
175 · December 13, 2011 at 4:13 PM

Should I in this case again seal it tight with some additional water and salt to cover it completely and put it in the room or can it just stay in the fridge for this one/two weeks?

Medium avatar
4873 · December 13, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Up Voted! I prefer mine after 3 months in the fridge as the flavor evolves and the cabbage smell fades.

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366 · December 13, 2011 at 2:55 PM

I use 1 tablespoon of salt per quart unless I use a starter too (which is rare for kraut), fwiw.

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20519 · December 13, 2011 at 2:20 PM

where is your salt?

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7275 · December 13, 2011 at 2:19 PM

I just made my 5th or so batch of sauerkraut and after a week it has a soapy taste, as well. I don't think any ginger got in it, but I was probably making ginger water-kefir at the time. I'm also giving it another week to see if it improves or worsens.

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366 · December 13, 2011 at 2:19 PM

that drying out happens to me and usually does not cause problems. I use only cabbage, salt and whatever else I feel like. Sometimes I will use culture starter, which allows for less salt and ensures lacto-bacteria take over.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e
20519 · December 13, 2011 at 2:02 PM

hey - i ferment things quite a bity, can you edit your question to add the recipe you used with the measurements so i can see? it's probably fine, but it will help me answer you completely :)

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366 · December 13, 2011 at 1:57 PM

I have made kimchi with ginger, not sauerkraut. Oh, how to describe the taste of ginger in all that spicy goodness. Soapy is the only word that comes to mind, but that is not right. Crisp, almost sweet and with a bite. Could be as Andrew suggests: the ginger made it weird. Hope you work it out. If you are worried, I would throw it out and start a fresh batch. And it might not be a bad idea to start with small batches for this very reason.

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175 · December 13, 2011 at 1:48 PM

The cabbage is still crisp, liquid hasn't gone oily, but the problem is cabbage hasn't been submerged all the time. After few days the brine has dropped enough to let some upper parts of cabbage for exposure.

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175 · December 13, 2011 at 1:40 PM

It does taste sour, in that respect quite similar to normal sauerkraut. Have you ever done sauerkraut with ginger? And if so, what could you say about the taste?

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5 Answers

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e
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20519 · December 13, 2011 at 2:45 PM

Sauerkraut should not spoil if used the right amount of salt and the cabbage is kept submerged which it sounds like yours is/did/was. If it spoils, you'll know it; it will be slimy, discolored and smell rotten. Do you know how long the kraut at the market fermented for? The longer it sits the more funk you get - I suspect yours is just fresh and new.

I don't see the amount of salt you used but for 2lbs of cabbage.. which is probably 1 big head.. then I would have used 1-1.5 tb of sea salt. Let it sit quiet for another week, or two, and see what happens.

Here - this is a good fermentation resource, even just for flipping about - he has books too.

I gotta add.. never taste the kraut you suspect of being spoiled just to make sure. It's tempting especially as you put time into cooking projects. Just dump it and try again. Good luck!

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e
20519 · December 13, 2011 at 7:25 PM

I would use the existing batch to play with, or eat now, and then make a second batch using measurements. I'm only basing this off of you being not sure exactly how much salt was used, etc. Maybe think about cutting the ginger in half, I think you had about 1/2 a cup, and use 1-1.5tb of salt instead of just guessing. For me, I like to tinker with a recipe after I make an "official" one. Also make sure to sterilize the hell out of everything and let it sleep for a few weeks, skim any muck off, then sleep for another 2-4 weeks before diving in. Again.. just my opinion..

1c7f48b2a066fb8fc5927ec31aa3e391
175 · December 13, 2011 at 4:13 PM

Should I in this case again seal it tight with some additional water and salt to cover it completely and put it in the room or can it just stay in the fridge for this one/two weeks?

Medium avatar
4873 · December 13, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Up Voted! I prefer mine after 3 months in the fridge as the flavor evolves and the cabbage smell fades.

1c7f48b2a066fb8fc5927ec31aa3e391
175 · December 13, 2011 at 4:14 PM

Btw the taste itself is not a problem, I actually like it. Just want to be sure to avoid any unhealthy experiences.

7b11ed525ffa23bc7257684e27488a6a
3
366 · December 13, 2011 at 1:36 PM

Does the kraut smell and/or taste sour? If not I would wait another week before smelling and/or tasting it again. Reason is: if it has gone bad, it will show distinct signs over time; such as visible mold, slime, odd color, or a yeasty, alcoholic or other odd smell. I eat ferments several months after making them, and in a few weeks you should know which way the product has turned - either lacto-dominant or something else which you may need to throw out.

1c7f48b2a066fb8fc5927ec31aa3e391
175 · December 13, 2011 at 1:40 PM

It does taste sour, in that respect quite similar to normal sauerkraut. Have you ever done sauerkraut with ginger? And if so, what could you say about the taste?

7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242
7275 · December 13, 2011 at 2:19 PM

I just made my 5th or so batch of sauerkraut and after a week it has a soapy taste, as well. I don't think any ginger got in it, but I was probably making ginger water-kefir at the time. I'm also giving it another week to see if it improves or worsens.

7b11ed525ffa23bc7257684e27488a6a
366 · December 13, 2011 at 1:57 PM

I have made kimchi with ginger, not sauerkraut. Oh, how to describe the taste of ginger in all that spicy goodness. Soapy is the only word that comes to mind, but that is not right. Crisp, almost sweet and with a bite. Could be as Andrew suggests: the ginger made it weird. Hope you work it out. If you are worried, I would throw it out and start a fresh batch. And it might not be a bad idea to start with small batches for this very reason.

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4991 · December 13, 2011 at 1:44 PM

I've never made sauerkraut with ginger and I could imagine that it would very much alter the flavour.

If the cabbage has been submerged, and there are no mould spots, and the liquid hasn't gone "oily" (sort of thicker than you'd expect) then I can't see how it could have spoiled, really.

Is the cabbage still crisp? If so, I would eat it!

7b11ed525ffa23bc7257684e27488a6a
366 · December 13, 2011 at 2:19 PM

that drying out happens to me and usually does not cause problems. I use only cabbage, salt and whatever else I feel like. Sometimes I will use culture starter, which allows for less salt and ensures lacto-bacteria take over.

1c7f48b2a066fb8fc5927ec31aa3e391
175 · December 13, 2011 at 1:48 PM

The cabbage is still crisp, liquid hasn't gone oily, but the problem is cabbage hasn't been submerged all the time. After few days the brine has dropped enough to let some upper parts of cabbage for exposure.

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8979 · December 13, 2011 at 4:56 PM

Real sauerkraut goes through many stages, with different microbes, before it becomes the stuff we recall from grandma or the farmers market. At each of the stages, it can be different tastes, color and texture. There are a few stages where it smells truly awful. I don't keep my sauerkraut sequestered for very long, finding it better to frequently disrupt the top layer instead of relying on a fancy crock. Tamp it down frequently or put a weight over it to keep it under the liquid.

Ed983a42344945b1ff70fd9597a23493
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11099 · December 13, 2011 at 3:20 PM

Unless your home is very warm, one week is not normally enough fermentation time for sauerkraut...while fermenting, it's important to keep everything under the brine, this is true for storage as well. So, without tasting your sauerkraut myself, I can say that it sounds like it was too young when you put it in the fridge, and therefore prone to decompose like other fresh foods more quickly than a fully fermented product.

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