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Sauerkraut help for a first-time attempter!

 
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Hi, all!

It's my first time posting on this forum and I come to you with a sauerkraut question. I am on day three of fermenting in small fido jars, and noticed that my cabbage is not fully submerged under the liquid. Is it safe to open the jars to tamp down the cabbage and add some water so that they are covered? I am not using fermentation weights. I'm attaching a photo so you can see what I mean. I am scared about introducing oxygen to the kraut if I open up the jars, but I know that I risk molding if the kraut is not submerged. Any advice helps!  
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pollinator
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the worst thing that can happen is that you have to start again, and you may have to start again anyway since it`s not submerged.
If I were you I would sterilize any utensils I might use for tamping, get some clean whole leaves of cabbage and maybe consider a weight (i use rocks or chopstick rests, both of which get cleaned really well). I would NOT add more water.
I don`t worry too much about the oxygen thing, as people often do kraut in open-ish containers. In fact I think I might be more worried about you having to burp those jars constantly!
 
pioneer
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I open mine all the time to taste it and see when I think it's "ready".  I would just put a rock on it to hold it under.  If it still isn't under, you can add some water.

Just to add to what Tereza said, your jars should not be airtight.  They have to be allowed to release pressure.  I would unlatch the lid and just let it rest on the top so the pressure can release itself.
 
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I use fido jars to make sauerkraut as well. I never worry about the brine being over it all the time - the airlock effect of the fido jar helps to stop the cabbage from going bad. The kraut expanding and going over the brine level while it ferments is completely natural and opening the jar is likely to do more harm than good.

Using a weight probably gives a slightly better ferment, but I've been successfully making it without weights for around 10 years, and it still ferments beautifully and stores well.
 
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My internet has been infested with the slow bug today! I've failed to post twice, and it always wipes my post, just as I believe I've reached peak witty informative Penny. Oh bother, now you get the pre-bedtime version of me, between brushing kid teeth and hunting down jammies. :P

Firstly, fermentation is fun, and it's a rabbit hole many of us have dived into and never come back. Welcome!

I usually reserve a couple of cabbage leaves that match the internal diameter of my crock or jar for helping submerge the vegetables. My preferred weights are glass "pickle pebbles", because they're dishwasher safe, but you can use a rock, or a ziplock bag filled with salt brine (to prevent dilution of the ferment's salinity, if the bag springs a leak).

I like to use wide mouth mason jars with "Easy Fermenter" brand lids for smaller batches. They come with a vacuum pump, so you can re-seal your jars if you need to poke at the veggies, or taste the batch. None of this is a must, I've been able to ferment stuff perfectly fine without any weights or cabbage leaves, if the conditions have been right, and the airlock holds.

P.S. Is the "proper" name for the glass flip top jars "Fido"? I'm learning something new every day. Thanks! :)
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Yes, feel free to open the jar and tamp the kraut down.  It won't hurt anything.

Add a bit more salt water to the top as needed.  Once the fermentation starts, you're not going to stop it by adding a bit more water to the jar.

One of the joys of making your own kraut is tasting it daily, and noticing the changing flavor.  I start eating mine by day 5 or so, and continue to eat it until it's gone.  If I want to stop the fermentation, I'll just put it in the fridge.  It doesn't stop, but it slows the little bacteria down considerably.  

A great way to jumpstart your next batch is to keep a little bit of the current batch and mix it in with the new cabbage and salt.  It's like sourdough starter.

The pictures look fantastic.  Yum.  I'm coming over and bringing hot dogs.  Get the grill fired up.
 
Kate Downham
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Penny Oakenleaf wrote:
P.S. Is the "proper" name for the glass flip top jars "Fido"? I'm learning something new every day. Thanks! :)


Fido is the name of one brand of them that has been tested by many fermenters, so it's known to work well for this. I'm not sure if other people are calling this style of jar made by other companies 'Fido' though. I like the name : )

I will have to go on the wayback machine soon to find all the good stuff about fido fermenting that I read years ago and link it here - one blogger did tests on all kinds of fermenting jars and methods and found that Fido jars worked just as well as the more expensive options.
 
Penny Oakenleaf
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Kate Downham wrote:

Penny Oakenleaf wrote:
P.S. Is the "proper" name for the glass flip top jars "Fido"? I'm learning something new every day. Thanks! :)


Fido is the name of one brand of them that has been tested by many fermenters, so it's known to work well for this. I'm not sure if other people are calling this style of jar made by other companies 'Fido' though. I like the name : )

I will have to go on the wayback machine soon to find all the good stuff about fido fermenting that I read years ago and link it here - one blogger did tests on all kinds of fermenting jars and methods and found that Fido jars worked just as well as the more expensive options.



I am of the opinion that what works for someone, is the best choice for someone. We are mass-consumers of homemade ferments here. For sauerkraut, I usually reach for a 2 gallon water-sealed crock, and for kimchi, I have traditional Korean clay onggi in about 3 quart (liter) and 1 gallon and 1.5 gallon sizes. I keep my kombucha in a continuous brew setup in a 1.5 gallon glass jar with a stainless steel spigot (I upgraded it from the cheap plastic one it came with). The water sealed crock works surprisingly well for the type of traditional Finnish "sima" mead I usually make, too. ;)
 
Kate Downham
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Penny please post your Finnish mead recipe! I am intrigued.

I've read that traditional water-sealed fermenting crocks make better ferments. I'm keen to try one at some point, but for now I am happy with Fido because they are cheap. I usually make around 3 or 4 litres at a time, but can imagine myself with a giant crock for huge batches of sauerkraut or brined whole cabbages one day.
 
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