I blogged over at Not Dabbling yesterday about how to tell if that sauerkraut you started a while ago is finished. There were a few questions from readers about how to know. I thought perhaps some of you would have the same question, so I figured I’d share the information here as well.
After 2-4 weeks, depending on the temp, you should notice that your kraut is no longer bubbling, or is bubbling much less than it was. I usually notice that the brine starts going down instead of spilling over after 3-4 weeks. The warmer it is, the quicker your sauerkraut will finish fermenting (at 70-80 it will take 2-3 weeks at 60 it will take 4-6 weeks). Mine was finished a week or two ago, and I started mine on October 28, it took about 4 weeks to finish fermenting. You will also notice that your sauerkraut become kind of clear, or loses it’s whiteness.
Another way to decide if your sauerkraut is finished is by smell. If you don’t have a good sense of what sauerkraut smells like, buy some and smell it. Warm it a bit on the stove and the smell will become more pronounced. It smells pleasantly sour almost vinegary. You don’t want it to smell “off” or moldy.
Don’t be alarmed if some mold or scum forms on top of your kraut while it’s fermenting. Just skim it off and add some more brine. If your brine level gets low and some of the top layer of cabbage gets moldy, simply skim off that cabbage and add more brine (1 or 1.5 T. of salt for 1 quart of water for extra brine).
When your sauerkraut is finished, simply take out the jar/bag that you’re using to weigh it down, top off with brine, throw a lid on it and put it in the fridge or in your cool root cellar. Use 1 or 1.5 T. of salt for 1 quart of water for extra brine (if using kosher use more, if fine salt use less).
You can can it if you’re worried about the coolness of your root cellar or don’t have room in the fridge (to can process in a waterbath canner for 15 minutes). If you can it you kill all the good bacteria though, so it won’t be a good source of probiotics. I like my sauerkraut cooked, so I occasionally can it. Sometimes, however I just lid the jar and put it in the basement.
Do you have any great tips to know when you’re fermented products are finished?