Sauerkraut, take 1 (and 2)

I have been meaning to try making my own sauerkraut for years, so I finally bought some airlock lids for mason jars and some glass weights and made a couple of 1-quart batches. If these work out well, I might get a nice fermentation crock and try fermenting other things. Maybe kimchi.

Today’s batches: 800 grams cabbage, 18 grams salt, and 750 grams cabbage, 50 grams carrot, 18 grams salt, 5 grams caraway seeds. I’ll check in on them in a week or so and see how they’re looking.

I’ve got a copy of The Art of Fermentation, but today’s experiment is mostly inspired by https://www.makesauerkraut.com/.

Ok, I lied about checking back on them in a week. Here’s a daily (for now) log:

Day 1: A little liquid in the overflow pan, looks like from the plain cabbage, which has a couple of visible bubbles. The one with carrot feels like it’s doing something, too, but its lid isn’t domed like the other.

Day 2: both bottles are under some pressure and periodically letting gas/liquid escape through the vent in the lid. Squeezed the red cap and a little brine squirted out right before the photo, but they were both fairly domed. Red less than purple, a bit. Indoor temperature has been between 70 and 75 F.

Day 6: There was a little mold or yeast in the liquid at the bottom of the overflow pan. Jars themselves look fine, though, although I can’t see whatever’s happening behind the bands, so there could be some yeast growing there. I’d be surprised, given how little oxygen there must be in there, though. I had opened them both to check out what turned out to be an optical illusion — it looked like the glass weight had floated up to the top, but I think that must just have been a weird lens effect from the liquid and the shape of the jar. They’re back to pressurized with CO2 now, though.

Day 7: Tried a bite of each. Tasty, but could definitely use more time. The one with caraway is very strongly flavored; maybe half the caraway next time? I like it, but I don’t think it’s what I was going for. A tiny amount of yeast was growing on each; scooped it out with a spoon. The glass weights are impossible to lift out with steel tongs. Maybe silicone-coated tongs would work, but the only way I could get them out today was by sticking a finger of each hand in and applying outward pressure while lifting. I couldn’t lift them all the way out by pinching the knob — too slippery.

Day 14: Had another bite of each, and I think they’re pretty tasty! Lost a little more crunch than I expected, but I’m going to call this batch good. I might take half of each jar and blend the two to dilute the caraway, and see how I like that. There was a bunch of trapped CO2 in the carawy batch which didn’t release until I disturbed it with a fork. Hiss! These are going into the fridge now, and maybe I’ll thaw a couple sausages for dinner tomorrow.

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