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?

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11 Responses to How to Tell if Your Sauerkraut is Finished

  1. ruralrose says:

    Thanks so much for this. Firstly I haven’t stirred mine in a couple of days and obviously it needs more brine (which i didn’t know the combo for) because it is very dry. You inspired me to try. I used my food processor to cut the cabbage and it is sort of grated not sliced. It smells great. I remember the first time I made wine I thought I would poison everyone. it was potent but no casualities. Merry Christmas, peace for all

  2. tigress says:

    i am excited because i started my first sauerkraut two weeks ago. it has to be ready tomorrow though – for an [early] Christmas lunch I am serving. I probably should have fermented it at a warmer temp – i tasted it at one week and it was delicious – just a bit too crunchy – so I’m hoping tomorrow it will be right on time! 🙂
    .-= tigress´s last blog ..deee-licious beets & updates! =-.

  3. Paul Zollinger says:

    Susy; I owe you two apologies – first, for calling you Suzy (I dislike it myself when someone spells my nickname Paulie instead of Pauly….hey I just figured out why my bro-in-law, Chris, does that!) and secondly for giving your hubby all of the credit for your blog pics…I didn’t realize you could brandish a camera so well until Marty clued me in. Keep up the great work!

    • Susy says:

      No problem on the misspelling (I know it’s not the norm), it doesn’t bother me at all. Brian does take some of the photos, usually the ones that include me or both my hands (the ones with one of my hands are usually mine). No problem, Brian’s talented in the photo taking area as well.

  4. I think I did everything wrong when I made sauerkraut for the first time this year, but it STILL came out great. Must be we have the perfect cellar conditions for the fermenting. I figured mine was finished when it tasted like, well, sauerkraut.

    I do have to rinse it pretty well before I use it though. WAY saltier than the store kind.
    .-= kristin @ going country´s last blog ..Nourishing =-.

  5. Dave says:

    Hmm, I just have to say that my Sauerkraut was finished before it was begun! I’m not a fan of it!
    .-= Dave´s last blog ..Are You Ready For Spring Gardening? =-.

  6. Dan says:

    I have a 1.5 gallon crock of sauerkraut fermenting right now. It was started about a month ago now I think. It is fermenting very cool so I am guessing it will take the full 6 weeks. I have been skimming white scum but no mold. First time trying kraut so its been a learn experience.

    I think I add way to much salt. I tried it last week and it was souring but was quite salty. Once it is fully soured can I strain and reserve brine, lightly rinse the kraut and then add the brine back diluted? Maybe dilute with white wine?
    .-= Dan´s last blog ..2010 Veggie Patch Plan, Preliminary =-.

    • Susy says:

      I wouldn’t see why you couldn’t dilute the brine, white wine would probably be a great addition. In The Joy of Pickling she has a sauerkraut recipe made with wine.

      I’m sure the amount of salt is similar to canning times. It seems like the USDA is always upping it. I’ve heard most people used to just taste the kraut as they went along making sure it didn’t get too salty. That’s probably a good idea. I generally err on the lesser side of salt. It also depends on what kind of salt you use. Kosher salt takes up more space so a Tablespoon of kosher is not equal to a Tablespoon of regular salt. This is one reason I often weigh ingredients instead of measure, especially for baking.

      • Dan says:

        I used course sea salt and the recipe I used called for three tablespoons for a 6 pound head of cabbage. I didn’t measure, just put 6 big pinches thinking it was three tablespoons…. I am thinking it may have actually been over 6 tablespoons now 🙂 I will have to taste it again once it is done and dilute then. A New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc would be a nice addition I think, would mask my mistake well.
        .-= Dan´s last blog ..2010 Veggie Patch Plan, Preliminary =-.

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