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 :).
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.