I have started two jars of sauerkraut which I used the right amount of salt and have the easy fermenter lids but my question is the top leaf that separates the shredded cabbage from the air has lost its color and has curled up out of the water. After about three days the juice had lowered so I added a small amount of distilled water to make sure it was covered. Pictures for reference. Also is this good or do I have to start over?
The kraut still looks fine to me. I would just compost the top leaf and eat the good stuff underneath. If the liquid level continues to drop then I would harvest it sooner rather than later to prevent degredation of the remaining good stuff. Plus the top leaf is now vulnerable to contamination.
Conversely, you could remove the top leaf and try to pack the kraut down to raise the brine level. However, removing the lid is never ideal as it will reintroduce oxygen into the jar. If the ferment is not still very active then it will not produce enough CO2 to force the oxygen from the jar and the top layer will now be vulnerable to degredation of color, taste, and texture, as you have seen with the top leaf. Adding liquid is never ideal either, but if you do then make sure you are adding salt water.
For future success I think it would probably be most helpful for you to understand why the top of the kraut is no longer submerged in brine. I'm not sure why this happened. Did you pack the kraut down well before adding the weight? Maybe the weight that you are using is not heavy enough?
Did you make and add a brine to your jar when you first started the sauerkraut, or did you just add the salt and pound the shredded cabbage to bring out its natural juices? I've read instructions for that method, but haven't had success with it. My best successes have been by making a brine and adding it to the filled jar, making sure the contents are completely submerged in the brine. Any parts exposed to air usually get moldy. Yours doesn't look moldy, but I agree it looks weird.
Leigh Tate wrote:Did you make and add a brine to your jar when you first started the sauerkraut, or did you just add the salt and pound the shredded cabbage to bring out its natural juices? I've read instructions for that method, but haven't had success with it.
I've had both success and failure with adding salt and pounding the cabbage to release it's juices. In my experience it seems that if the cabbage is local and fresh then this method works very well. But if the cabbage is store bought or not fresh then this method does not create a sufficient brine. Either way I like to start with this method, and then add salt water if necessary.
I've been warned from several different sources that the texture of the sauerkraut will be slightly soggy, or at least not as crisp, if you use a salt water brine versus the natural juices. I do agree that the texture is usually better if using the natural juices, but I have had no issues with the sauerkraut being soggy or not crispy when using a salt water brine.
Daniel, that's good to know. I can definitely see how freshness would be an important factor.
I'm curious, though, which method Raymond used. Based on his pictures, it would seem he was going for the natural juice method, but that's an assumption. Hopefully, he'll check back in soon and let us know.
The first thing I noticed is that there is far too much head space in the jar. All of that air space means it take longer to displace oxygen, and can lead to growth of undesirable microbes.
I agree with other posts about fresh vs. store bought cabbage. I've had to add some extra brine to my cabbage because there wasn't enough juice to cover it all. And we drink a shot of the brine in the morning for a nice probiotic pick me up so juicy kraut is ok with us. Sounds weird but I love any kind of pickled juice in the morning.