All of this could be yours….
Say goodbye to really good, but overpriced raw fermented goodness…
Instead, say hello to, extremely cheap (after an initial lifetime investment), extremely delicious raw fermented sauerkraut…
What’s that? You say you don’t like sauerkraut? Neither did Jeremy and now he’s addicted. When we have it in the fridge it’s eaten everyday at lunch and sometimes at dinner too.
Tastes great on tofu sausages, chicken sausages, salads, baked potatoes, avocados, and can even be made into dressings.
What’s holding you back? Do you have a fear of failure? or do you have a fear of success and being a raw fermented god or goddess?
Don’t. Make that crock your bitch.
This post has been a LONG time coming, but you’ll forgive me. Right? I knew it was going to be epic and I wanted to have the most experience and knowledge gathered before I shoved it out there.
I actually started making my own raw fermented sauerkraut before October 2011, I made my first batches Spring/Summer 2010 in ball jars, filled with shredded cabbage and carrots. These only took a few days to make and were fermented in the open air with (I think) just a loose tinfoil lid. The thing about open air fermenting (my term) is that it takes a lot of trial and error. Whereas the Harsch crock, the whole process is effortless and there’s a lot less guess work. Guess work like, is the room too hot, is it too cold, does it taste alright, is this how it’s supposed to taste, is there mold on top, did I get all the mold off, what’s that white stuff, checking it daily, the brine overflowing combined with then there not being enough brine left in the mixture, so then needing to add salt/water mixture, and scraping off the top ‘moldy’ bits before eating it.
The first batch I made this way, for all intents and purposes turned out fine, but I was extremely paranoid about if it had any bad bacteria or other funky things in it. I tasted it with reservation and we ate it with reservation, even though it tasted good. We did finish them though. The second batch I made months later, was off. They were definitely off and I’m not sure why or what happened but we took 1-2 bites, left them in the fridge, and then dumped them out. All with a heavy layer of guilt.
A couple months after moving to Portland, my interest for cultured veggies was renewed once again, but I didn’t feel like the trial and error of ball jar fermenting. Enter, the fermenting crock. This is like the Cadillac of fermenting and crocks, with a retail price between $100-$130. They seem to only be made in Germany with an apparently strong patent because I don’t see anyone else trying over here.
I really didn’t want to spend that, but a 5-11 liter crock can make A LOT of sauerkraut. What I really liked about the Harsch crock is that the lid and special gullet create a vacuum seal that doesn’t allow air in…meaning…there’s no need to scrape anything like mold or scum off the top. You open that crock, remove the weights, and shove the fresh delicious pickle-y goodness straight into your mouth, mind your hands are clean.
I just opened our 5th batch of sauerkraut yesterday and I have to say that every single one of them has turned out perfect and kept us in sauerkraut fermented goodness for 1-2 months – which is consuming it everyday, sometimes twice a day. The cost savings is amazing and the initial investment of the crock is almost returned after the 1st batch.
We are at the point where we want to buy a 2nd one. We have a favorite base recipe that we use in our 5 Liter crock and haven’t deviated from that even though there are many other variations I would love to try, not to mention making pickles.
The Goodness as in RECIPES (approximations for a 5 liter vessel)
1st Batch (2 weeks) – 4 heads of organic cabbage, 1 large yellow onion, 2 lb of organic carrots, kosher salt, and cayenne pepper
2nd Batch (3 weeks) – 3 heads of organic cabbage, couple cloves of garlic, 2 lb of organic carrots, 2 large yellow onions, kosher salt, and cayenne pepper
3rd Batch (3 weeks) – 3 heads of organic cabbage, 1 large yellow onion, 2 lb of organic carrots, daikon radish and kosher salt
4th Batch (3 weeks) – 3 heads of organic cabbage, 1 large yellow onion, 2 lb of organic carrots, and kosher salt
5th Batch (4 weeks) – 3 heads of organic cabbage, 1 large yellow onion, 2 lb of organic carrots, 1/4 cup minced ginger, cayenne and kosher salt.
6th Batch (6 weeks) – 4 heads of organic cabbage and kosher salt. *opened September 10, 2012
7th Batch (4 weeks) – 4 heads of organic red cabbage, 5 organic apples, 1 organic red onion, kosher salt, and pickling spice *opened October 10, 2012
8th Batch (2 weeks) – 2 heads of organic cabbage, 2.5lb organic tomatoes, 1 bunch of bok choy, 2 organic green peppers, 3 organic carrots, 1 large jalapeno, 4 cloves garlic, 1 large onion, 1 cup cilantro, juice of 2 limes, juice of 1 lemon, and kosher salt *opened October 30, 2012
Batches 9-11 (5-6 weeks) – 4 or 5 heads of organic cabbage, 1 onion, 3 cloves garlic, fresh basil, oregano, and pickling salt.
Now let’s get into the business of HOW TO
- Cutting board
- Sharp Knife
- vegetable peeler
- Grater (or use the grating blade of your food processor)
- 2-3 very large bowls or as I’ve recently found, 1 large ‘canning’ pot
- 5 liter fermenting crock
- A shallow pan/large bowl or cookie sheet (something you won’t need access to for 2-3 weeks)
- a mandolin – this is optional – but I like to use my Swissmar Borner mandolin for the cabbage and onions
- a food processor with the grating and slicing blades – this is also optional – all ingredients could be processed quickly and efficiently this way
A special note – only organic produce should be used when fermenting. Conventional contains pesticides and other harmful chemicals that can slow down or prevent the food from properly fermenting.
- Organic cabbage – about 3 medium/large heads (approximately 8lbs)
- 2lb of organic carrots
- 1 large organic yellow onion
- kosher salt (organic or not)
- Optional ingredients (I will add to this list as I make more variations)
- organic daikon radish
- organic ginger
Making the Sauerkraut:
Start by giving the cabbage a good rinse and then slice off the bottom and discard or compost.
Remove the outer leaves and set aside. I use these to cover the top of the shredded cabbage mixture before the weighting stones are added. This keeps the little shreds from floating to the top, and helps them stay below the brine.
Cut the cabbage in half and then in half again – making quarters.
Now cut into thin shreds using a sharp knife, mandolin, or food processor fitted with the ‘slicing’ blade. I have tried the mandolin and the food processor. The food processor is fast and efficient, but I prefer to use the mandolin. It only takes an extra 5 or 10 minutes. I like the satisfaction of doing it this way and I prefer the thinness of the mandolin over the slicing blade. If you use the food processor, make sure the cabbage is cut small enough to fit in the ‘chute’. Using the mandolin or food processor guarantees uniform thickness which is nice for mouth feel and even fermentation but you could also use a knife, making uniform cuts.
If any larger pieces like this remain, they can be removed and thinly sliced with a knife. *It wouldn’t hurt to leave them this large but when you take a bite you might not want this dangling on your chin while the rest went nicely into your mouth.
If you do not have an epic-ly large container like a ‘canning’ pot (about 21 quarts), then have 3 large bowls ready. Empty the cabbage into one of them. If it won’t fit in one, divide it over two.
Grab the large onion, peel the bad boy, and slice it to your desired thinness. I love using my little kyocera mandolin because it can do thinner slices than the borner mandolin. Add the onion to the cabbage.
Grab the carrots and remove the ends and peel them. Because they’re organic, you probably don’t have to peel them, you could just give them a scrub. You decide.
I’ve grated carrots by hand and used the food processor, this will also be a personal preference. Get to grating. If you use the food processor, you could feed them down the chute (vertically) or lay them horizontally by halving them and placing them in the wider chute. It depends on if you want shreds that are longer like the cabbage or just the diameter of the carrot. Grate them and add them to the onion and cabbage mixture.
This is the salt I used, it’s cheap and can be found at any grocery store. A good rule of thumb (thank you Sandor Katz) is 3 tablespoons for every 5 pounds of cabbage. I use probably 5 tablespoons for my 8 pounds of cabbage. If I’m adding all the ingredients (cabbage, onion, carrot) in layers, I like to throw the salt in every few layers until I’ve reached the right amount of salt. If I have everything all ready to go in one bowl, then I will add a tablespoon and toss with my hands or tongs, then add another tablespoon and repeat.
This is also the point that I add cayenne powder. I’ve never measured it but for the mildest of heats (seriously mild) I do a decent sprinkle across the surface of the bowl.
There is just SO much cabbage! If you do 2 bowls like in this picture then I would split the cabbage and carrot among the 2 larger ones and then divide the onions over the two. Once you start breaking down or wilting the cabbage, you will be able to combine them into the largest one. If you’re using ginger, that could be added here. I know I have a how to mince ginger post, but for the sauerkraut I just threw it into my mini food processor and gave it a few whirs.
This is a picture from the most recent batch I made. I realized I had bought this 21 quart canning pot and that it would be perfect! It was. I could put the carrots, onion, cabbage, ginger, salt, and cayenne without worry of it flying all over the place and plenty of room to massage the cabbage.
Okay. So now that you’ve combined the salt, cabbage, carrots, onion, etc you need to mix it up and get the cabbage to release water. To mix everything I like to use food prep gloves. Even when I wear the gloves I still wash my arms up to the elbows, trim and clean my nails, pull my hair back, and check for any loose hairs on my clothes. I don’t want anything that’s not supposed to be in my kraut get in my kraut, whether I will be the only one eating it or in the case I have guests or share with friends. I trim and clean my nails mainly because with the vigorous massaging of the mixture, my nails have poked through the gloves. I might need to find better gloves.
You could use bare and clean hands sans the gloves to do the mixing but if you have any kind of scrape or even if your skin is just dry, you will feel the burn, from the salt, the ginger and especially from the cayenne.
You want to grab handfuls of cabbage and squeeze or press with fists or a combination of both. Then repeat about 100 times or until there is a lot of brine and the mixture has reduced by half. The goal of the mixing and massaging is to release water from the cabbage. The salt initiates an osmosis like process that draws water out of the cabbage, which once mixed with the salt creates the preserving brine. The brine is what you bow down to and thank for fermenting the cabbage and preventing rot and mold.
The fermentation process goes like this, the salt acts as a preservative while the natural sugars in the vegetables are broken down or consumed by the good bacteria. Think yogurt or kefir. We’re growing live cultures here, that preserve a summer harvest for fall and winter consumption (or if you’re like us – year round). The lactic fermentation process renders the produce more easily digestible, full of vitamins, nutrients, and good bacteria to keep your body healthy, especially gut flora. Just a couple tablespoons a day for good health!
So, however heaping high the cabbage pile is, it will probably reduce to half by the time you are done massaging, squeezing and wringing. See above picture, that is reduced by half and you can even see the brine near the top.
Here is more of the brine in this super classy shot, dripping down from the cabbage and carrots. Once you can tell a lot of brine has been created, that’s how you know you can give your arms a rest and load the crock up.
If you’re going to add daikon radish, now would be the time. You could shred this too, but I really enjoyed the texture of the small chunks. Daikon radish is a very mild white radish that is usually sold by sections, as seen in the first picture above. Peel it with a vegetable peeler, rinse it, halve it, slice it into long strips, and then cut into thirds. Toss it into the mix with the rest and give it a good mix.
Grab your clean crock and start adding every last bit of the cabbage mixture to the crock. I either drop it in by handfuls or tong-fuls, making sure the brine either drips into the bowl or the crock. The brine is like gold, you don’t want to lose it. Pour any remaining brine and shreds into the crock. Using your hands, pack the cabbage mixture down, over and over for a few times. This should bring the brine level above the cabbage. You want this. Grab the outer cabbage leaves you set aside and place them on top of the cabbage mixture. I’ve never read anywhere that this needs to be done, BUT I really like when all my yummy cabbage shreds are below the surface of the brine. It’s like tucking them in for their 2-3 week slumber.
The harsch crock should have come with 2 half circle weighting stones that fit inside the crock, on top of the sauerkraut. Place one in at a time. You will know very quickly if you’ve put too much in the crock as you’ll have an incredibly hard time getting them in. My first batch was like that because I started with 4 heads of cabbage, since then because I always have carrots, I only use 3 heads of cabbage.
After the stones are in, it should look like the picture above. Out of the 5 batches I’ve made, I’ve never had the problem of not enough brine to do this. If for some strange reason, like smurfs came in and stole the brine, not leaving you with enough, you would add salted water until it reaches 1/2 – 2 inches above the stones. About 1 tablespoon salt to 1 cup of water – dissolved.
Bid adieu to the cabbage and place the lid on top. Clean the gutter first, if needed. Whether you are using a tray or a shallow bowl, place a layer of paper towel or micro fiber cloth down between the surfaces. The crock has a very scratchy bottom (oh my!) and I didn’t want it damaging my fiestaware bowl. It also scratched our cheap Ikea table so don’t try to drag it across any surface in the kitchen either. If you want to play ice capades with it, set it on a towel or pillow case. On occasion the crock may decide it wants to pee itself because you filled the gutter too high at some point. This little indecency will be soaked up by paper towels or rags and avoid a floor mess.
Once the lid is on, add water to the gutter of the crock. I add it almost to where the little spout will discard the runoff. Adding the water is essential as it creates a vacuum seal that will allow air to escape (you will frequently hear bubbles a lot during the first few days and then intermittently through the remainder of the ferment) but not allow outside air in. That subtle balance is what allows this lovely crock to do it’s job. Over the course of the ferment the water will get pulled in by the pressure of the vacuum as well as evaporate. I assure you the seal is still intact, as long as you haven’t lifted the lid (DO NOT LIFT THE LID). Just add more water like you did in the beginning, we may fill ours up to 4 times during the course of 3 weeks.
Place the crock in an out of the way area of your room or house. Ideally you want the temperature to stay between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. We happen to live in a moderate climate, in a 585 sq foot apartment, without air conditioning and radiator heat we’ve only used twice. Our living area kind of just stays in this comfortable range, so we’ve been very lucky. A room thermometer is a nice tool if you are trying to figure out which room is coolest. I would almost always say avoid having it near a window – a pantry or closet may be perfect options.
Leave the crock undisturbed besides refilling the water to the gutter for 2-3 weeks. The first batch I made was 2 weeks, which was tasty, but probably on the mild side for pickle-y flavor compared to 3 weeks. You could even go up to 4 weeks but we are clawing the walls with impatience by 3 weeks. Now, I’ve read that some folks open and taste theirs along the way and then shut and reseal the gutter but I’ve never tried that and I like the idea that the environment stays contained. But that’s up to you.
I mark my google calendar when it is time to open the crock, to make sure I remember and because I’ve enjoyed keeping track of what number batch we’re on and how long I like to wait in between before starting a new batch.
Opening the Crock:
Once the magical day has arrived, clear space on the counter or table. If I open it in the kitchen, I like to set the crock in the sink, so the level I’m lifting the cabbage out at is not above my head – it’s a nice comfortable range.
When you lift the lid off you will hear a small pucker of a noise, that is the vacuum seal releasing. Any water that was held up under the lid will come back out into the gutter NOT into the sauerkraut. Make sure your hands are clean and remove the stones and outer cabbage leaves. Using tongs (a ladle would also work), l remove the cabbage and place it in a large bowl. I find it easier to fill my ball jars when I’m filling from the bowl versus the crock. When I get to the last little bit that’s left in the crock, I grab a 1/2 cup measuring cup and grab the brine and any remaining bits. A turkey baster would be perfect but we don’t have one and the measuring cup suits the purpose just fine.
Let’s pause for a minute and think about the magic that just happened. You just abandoned a slew of vegetables to sit undisturbed in a crock for a few weeks and now there’s this delicious pickle-y harvest right in front of you, that you created. Magic. Magic that has nothing to do with vampires, zombies, witches, werewolves, or mysterious realms with giant walls. If winter is coming, you are going to have plenty of effing sauerkraut, so there!
You can now eat it! It doesn’t need to be refrigerated first or anything, grab a fork and test it out. Savor and enjoy every bite.
Here’s what yesterday’s batch filled. The smaller jars are 2 cup and the larger ones are between 20 and 28 oz. Also, we’ve each grabbed a bowlful. 🙂 I then added a little of the brine to each of the jars. Store the ball jars of sauerkraut goodness in the refrigerator, they will last up to and maybe over a year in the refrigerator, though we always use ours within a month or two. Another neat thing is the sauerkraut keeps fermenting while in the fridge, just at a much slooowwer rate.
We made a YouTube video last November (2011) for the very first batch we opened and it has 3,036 views! Holy kraut! I need to put up a blooper reel from that video because during filming, one of our photography lights tipped over, while on and exploded on contact with the carpet. I go silent and Jeremy is throwing out profanity, it was like Paranormal Activity meets the Food network and pretty hilarious.
One viewer mentioned on YouTube that they just empty their crock by dumping it into a bowl. If you find that this could work for you – go for it! Our lid and edges get dusty during the 3 weeks, plus there’s the issue of the gutter water, so I prefer to use the tong method – also the crock is heavy.
How Does it Taste?:
Amazing!!! It is a million times better and more flavorful than any canned or bagged sauerkraut at the store that has been cooked and pasteurized. And I definitely like mine over most of the raw fermented brands.
It’s true Jeremy didn’t used to like sauerkraut, he had a traumatic experience related to cooked sauerkraut in the Amana colonies. Whatever happened, it created an aversion. He was way skeptical of the crock purchase in the beginning and now he thinks sauerkraut is the best thing ever.
We both would say the sauerkraut, right out of the crock, has a very fresh and crisp taste with a deli-ish pickle smell. There’s a nice subtle saltiness. I’m really liking our latest batch with ginger and cayenne, it might be my favorite combination.
Washing and Storing the Crock:
After emptying the crock, I add the hottest sink water I can, regular dish washing soap and about 1 teaspoon of bleach. The crock itself, is glazed (lead-free) which makes for easy wiping and washing. The weighting stones are more porous like terra cotta and I still wash them in the same water but scrub harder and rinse longer. I recommend storing the weighting stones outside of the crock in the cabinet or hanging them in something netted, like what lemons come in. One time I stored the stones in the crock and there was enough moisture inside that small fluffs of mold grew on them. I freaked out, then let them sit in a solution of soap and bleach and rinsed the hell out of them and then put them right into the next batch of sauerkraut, everything turned out fine.
Starting the Next Batch:
Due to our eating habits, I find that unless we are going on vacation, we usually start the next batch within a week or two of opening the previous one. The time works out well for finishing what’s in the fridge to replenishing the reserves. It’s pretty awful when you’ve become dependent on it but didn’t start a batch right away and go for weeks without any sauerkraut. Very sad indeed.
Where to Buy a Harsch Crock:
I knew they were available online through Amazon but living in Portland, I wondered if any of the local stores carried them. We found that Mirador Community store carried them on SE Division St. We hopped on 2 buses and made the journey to check them out. We went with the 5 liter and the lady working there made an awesome tape handle on the box, making it safe for our bus travel back home and epic hill climb back to our apartment. Obviously this was before we had zipcar. 😉
So, see what’s available in your area by doing a lot of googling, it will save you shipping costs and support a local business through your eccentric hobbies. If you can’t find them anywhere go through Amazon or another site you trust.
The Cost Savings:
- The crock cost us about $120
- The average cost of ingredients to fill our 5 liter crock is between $10 and $12 and will make about 176 oz of sauerkraut
- Store bought unpasteurized raw fermented sauerkraut can be found at Whole Foods or natural health food stores for between $8 and $12 for 8-16oz
- What we made for $12 is the equivalent of 11 store bought jars that would cost approximately $88
- With each batch we save $76
- After only the 2nd batch we paid for the cost of the crock
I think the 5 or 7 liter crocks are absolutely worth their investment, they are a one time, life-time purchase. We’ve also made pickles and pickled horseradish (post coming) in the crock. There are so many things I want to make but I always want to have our sauerkraut on hand which makes me think I would like to have a 2nd one. Someday. 🙂
Getting Comfortable with Fermenting = Read, Read, Read
Still not completely comfortable leaving fresh produce to sit in a crock for weeks. Find books and read, read, read! I read so many by the time I felt comfortable with how much salt, cabbage or what to use. I hope this post has given you a great resource and the visual confidence to start your own fermentation journey. If not or you’re curiosity has been peaked, here are a list of books I enjoyed absorbing knowledge from. Any of the books I recommend, I checked out at the library first, after the many I read, there were only 2 essential resources that I found worth the purchase. The other books were helpful, just not purchase worthy, they’ll be linked to in Amazon so you can look through the book – if available as well as read reviews.
- Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Ellix Katz; this book is worth buying and is an amazing resource, it led to the making of pineapple vinegar!
- Making Sauerkraut and Pickled Vegetables at Home by Klaus Kaufmann and Annelies Schoneck; this book is also worth the purchase, it is thin but full of condensed raw fermenting information.
- Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation by Deborah Madison
- Probiotic Foods for Good Health: Yogurt, Sauerkraut, and Other Beneficial Fermented Foods by Beatrice Trum Hunter
- Putting Food By by Ruth Hertzberg
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods by Wardeh Harmon; this has come out since my journey started but I would love to check it out.
- Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs by Wendy Brown
So, Sauerkraut is Just a Side?
I think NOT. Go crazy! I’ve compiled a list of ways I’ve used sauerkraut in simple but delicious meals. It’s more than just a side.
Here’s a page dedicated to FAQ(coming soon) regarding sauerkraut. Feel free to leave any questions you may have, I will either add them into the post or to the FAQ page.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope it gets you excited about your delicious fermenting journey!
I got the William Sonoma crock ,is it the same …… Kinda
Made in Poland .
You are welcome Janet! 🙂
Definitely going to try this, thanks for the education! But I won’t sleep tonight if I don’t let you know the phrase is “for all intents and purposes”, not “for all intensive purposes.” Sorry 🙂
Happy to share Deb! Thanks for the phrasing information. I had fun geeking out and reading the history of the phrase, which I feel like I’ve never read. Fascinating! http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/all-intents-and-purposes.html
This sounds absolutely wonderful! I am going to do this in the next few months. You have the best instructions that I have ever found! I LOVE that it is simple and easy and you have the best fermenting container I have ever heard of! Thank you so much for all that you do !!!
Gayle, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind words!! xo
Great informative post! I’ve got my first batch of kraut going in the Harsch crock as we speak, but I think I’ve already messed it up. I didn’t realize the trough had to be monitored and refilled with water periodically, and I accidentally let it go dry. I think this allowed air into the container and suspect I’m probably growing mold at this point. I refilled the trough, but I haven’t heard any of the lovely bubbling that was near constant the first few days. That leads me to believe it’s no longer fermenting 🙁
Anyway, I have a question regarding the filling of the trough with water – how often does this need to be done? I’ve read online that if you fill it prematurely when there’s actually enough water pulled up inside via the vacuum effect, you risk having some of the water pulled in to the kraut. On the other hand, if you let it go dry, you introduce air into the mix. Is there any rule of thumb to know when and how much to fill the water trough?
Thanks Doug! Your question came at the perfect time! I’ll be sharing an update, hopefully tomorrow, about the batch I opened today and it coincides perfectly with your ‘gutter’ questions. I will say that your batch should be fine. Keep filling the gutter and if anything keep it in a bowl or tray for the excess water to spill out into. We were filling this latest one every day, sometimes twice a day, sometimes within 30 minutes of the first fill. Crazy. Ours has also gotten to the point of ‘dry’ but as long as you don’t move/lift the lid the vacuum is still intact, so just fill up the gutter with more water. 🙂 Ours often is only talkative the first several days and then only once in awhile during the remainder. The majority of the ‘important’ ferment work takes place in those first several days. Hope this helps.
Awesome, thanks for the response, Michelle. You’ve renewed my faith in my ferment and I’m no longer tempted to throw in the towel, open it up and start a new batch 🙂 I’ll keep it closed for at least another week or so (that’ll make 3 in total). Looking forward to the new post!
I read online somewhere that barometric pressure changes will affect the water level in the gutter. So if a storm is coming or passing through, you might want to keep that in mind. That’s what I like about the odorless fermenting tho, it can hang out in a location you’ll be frequenting & nobody gets offended.
One cannot simply keep adding water to the moat because if the crock’s vacuum is sucking in the water and you keep adding it will eventually reduce the salinity of the brine water and ruin your kraut! My 1st batch I followed what i presumed were correct instructions and added water to the moat to keep full. Within 1 week I added 4 cups of water and discovered after lifting the lid for inspection the water was actually being sucked into the crock from the moat as the water level inside was clear up to the top of the crock! Initially I had at least 5 inches from the weight stones up to the top. The pulling of water into the crock fix no one has been able to tell me. I thought well if it keeps pulling the water in from the moat that is not salted maybe it would be better to add salted water into the moat. Wrong! Because then it grew white mold or yeast floating all over the exposed moat salt water to the air & then since it was a real sucker and always thirsty that same white stuff got sucked into the crock and grew above the weights! So I skimmed off the white floaties best as possible, emptied the moat well and wiped clean & then refilled with clear distilled water & replaced the lid. I have 2 more weeks to go before it is done and hope all my hard work and efforts & expense is not wasted. None of these issues is presented clearly or what to do to correct and I have searched tons online. I even emailed the store that sold me my 10 liter crock and they had no answers other than to just say “fermenting is an art that you just have to learn”! Wow, they were zero help after the sale. Now the pros who know these answers and have faced such issues good luck trying to phone them or get the answers we all need because like an internet search you just do not get to THE person with THE knowledge needed after so much frustrations. The crock I bought the inner lip on the crock is the same height as the outer and this may be in part why water was getting sucked inside easier than those whose inner lip is higher? I did not know these things pre-purchase cuz nobody tells you. I mainly bought my 100 + dollar 10 liter crock due to the convenient handles and the glass weights which are easier to clean & do not get moldy. Here is the one I bought: https://www.stonecreektrading.com/collections/fermenting-crocks-2/products/copy-of-fermenting-crock-10-liter-Egyptian-style-with-stone-weights If anyone can help this issue of water being sucked into the crock and how to remedy please do so, then my next batch will be less of an issue hopefully.
Hi Timothy, thank you for leaving your question here with us and other readers of FYS. I have been fermenting regularly with the Harsch crock for about 5 years now and I can tell you every single batch pulls in and (even evaporates) water from the ‘moat’. There is no hack around that, it is just an accepted truth. I wouldn’t worry about your final salinity, as I’ve never had a batch spoil or go bad. It’s essential that there is always water in the moat to ensure the seal is intact to prevent bad bacteria and mold from growing. Salinity has two purposes, preventing bad bacteria from growing and flavor. Considering many do very low-salt ferments, I wouldn’t feel a batch is a fail based on a reduction of salinity either – it’s probably a very small adjustment at that. My batches are usually too full or only have the 1-2 inches of space, if you’re fermenting smaller batches I would recommend the Easy Fermenter lids on Amazon. I recently bought some along with a set of small glass weights and had great success with carrots, zucchini, and cucumbers. I too wanted to know all the answers and the fun hows etc, and found a little reassurance that people all over the world have been mistakenly and purposefully fermenting for centuries. Cheers to tasty ferments! 🙂
The issue was the crock sucked in over 4 cups of distilled water from the moat…so much so it completely filled the inside up to the top. I use distilled water so the moat never gets slimy! Then of course it could not suck anymore. Is this normal? So I removed some brine giving 4 inches from the top to the weights which are still covered by 1 inch of brine. Since it was 2 weeks into the ferment the gurgling sounds pushing air out is done and all it wants to do is intake all the water I give it from the moat well.
Further regarding all the info on my original posted question you can see the white yeast or mold issue. So I am just at an impasse going forward will this always happen and what do I need to do differently or just allow it to suck up all the water it wants? It would stand to reason if it’s going to suck water up to a quart maybe it would be best my next batch to fill the crock to the top with brine 1st…then it cannot suck anymore and I will know 100% that the water I do add will be only to keep the airlock. Make sense?
Is this a good solution then? If I did that then I would have plenty of brine at the end too! Surely the crock will wet itself by expelling water the 1st week or so but then after should be worry free as far as the intake of moat water reducing the salinity inside the crock? This is the resolution I was seeking if it is correct and if it is then this needs to be put out on blast to save tons of others that eventually will have the same exact issue.
Furthermore place the crock in your basement in a cooler most temp stable environment you have in your home. This will reduce temp swings that add to the expelling and intake of water. Please someone let this newbie know if the aforementioned is the best plan overall as it seems to me correct.
I always lift the lid to see if there’s water that was sucked in as mentioned. During the seven weeks that I ferment my kraut I add water like three times. And it s not a lot. Most of the time when I quickly lify the lid the water rushes back out into the “gutter”.
Love your carrot, onion, and cabbage recipe! We’ve had ours in the fridge for about 2 weeks and the jar we just opened was bubbling a lot, have you ever had that happen, is it still safe to eat? I sure hope so, because I think I would cry if I had to throw all that deliciousness out!
Hi Amanda, I’m so happy to hear you love that combo. 🙂 The bubbling in your sauerkraut is nothing to fear, it just means it is still fermenting (just much slower because it’s in the fridge) and releasing carbon dioxide. So…keep eating 🙂 I bought a jar of kimchi recently at our co-op and it was doing the same thing….pretty cool!
I have a Harsch crock my dad bought years ago and never used (different than yours – I think yours was made in Poland and mine was made in Germany). Dad lost the instructions and weights so I cleaned a piece of brick and put it in the crock along with some shredded cabbage, a shredded onion, and a shredded beet. I had to watch it and periodically add water to the air lock at the bottom of the lid. After two weeks I opened it and put it in jars and let my mom try it (she is 91 years old and said her mom used to make sauerkraut in a crock). She said it didn’t taste like sauerkraut. I don’t think it fermented long enough. When I made that batch I had too much to put in the Harsch crock so I put the extra into a quart jar. What was in the quart jar tasted much better than what came out of the Harsch crock. So two weeks ago I made another batch and put in two 1 gallon glass jars. Still waiting to see how it turns out, I think I’ll let it go 4 weeks though after my first experience. Will be interesting to see what my mom (the expert) says.
That’s great that you have an experienced taste-tester! I would try a longer ferment in the Harsch crock next time 4-6 weeks maybe? Best of luck!
I think I will go 3 weeks because it’s warmer now than when I made the first batch in the crock.
I would like to suggest a minor change to this excellent article. Specifically about adding brine, “About 1 tablespoon salt to 1 cup of water – dissolved.” That is a lot of salt. An online reference I saw (can’t remember where exactly) said to use 6 tablespoons of salt per gallon of water. That would be 1.125 teaspoons of salt per cup of water. I used a heaping teaspoon of salt per cup of water. I had to add brine to my brew. I used a cedar 4 x 4 about 4 feet long with handles screwed to the sides to pound the cabbage instead of using my hands. Worked great to mash the cabbage but I didn’t get as much liquid as you did so I had to add some brine. Also I didn’t use organic cabbage. The organic cabbage at the local Whole Foods was expensive and looked dried up.
Hi and thanks for your comment! I love the idea of using a 4×4 for the cabbage pounding – genius. My salt recommendation is based on Sandor Ellix Katz’s research in his book Wild Fermentation (top of pg 42). I haven’t had to add additional brine yet so I’m not sure if I would do more or less. Did less work for you? It would be great to let others know they can reduce their sodium a bit. Cheers!
I don’t have Sandor’s book yet. My 2nd batch in the glass jar might have spoiled because I didn’t have enough salt in the brine. I had to add some brine to my current batch in the crock, but I won’t know how that turns out for a couple more weeks. I’m thinking it will be okay because of the air lock and anaerobic environment vs. exposure to oxygen in the glass jar.
I purchased both books you recommend and Sandor does indeed specify 1 tbsp of salt per cup of water for brine. However, on p 14 of the Kaufmann/Schoneck book the recommendation for the Harsch crock is 1 tbsp of salt per quart of water. That’s 3/4 tsp of salt per cup of water. On p 18 the recommendation is 1 1/2 tbps of salt per quart of water.
I suspect there’s no hard and fast rule – it depends on what you are fermenting and the type of fermentation vessel used.
I use a 4×4 to mash mine also(when I am doing it in one of the large buckets), and I find I have to do it a lot longer… partially due to the size of the bucket(a lot more cabbage), but even for smaller amounts it took longer. It is a great workout though.
A 4×4 is brilliant!
I made my first batch in a Harsch crock, left it for three weeks and finally, with great trepidation opened it to find the brine somewhat slimy and the taste vinegary -even though I only used salt. This was a true anti climax. Any hints on why that happened? I am ready to start again but am not sure about how to handle the summer heat here in Boston. Ideally. I would to maximize the fermentation time… Any thoughts would be gratefully appreciated. Thank you so much for you your great site
That would be a major anti-climax Josie! Could I ask what veggies you used? I found my batch with apples in it had a very unusual sauerkraut flavor and more vinegar-y, still good but definitely different. How hot does it get in Boston? I would just try and find the coolest darkest place – a closet? I promise it won’t smell 🙂 Aim for 3 weeks and make sure you have enough salt in the brine. The slime might have been a not enough salt combined with the luck of the draw (over growth on one strain of bacteria). On the forums people will still eat the sauerkraut if it smells and tastes fine. This was a little helpful: http://www.wildfermentation.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=1649 and this might provide some extra info http://www.jlindquist.net/generalmicro/324sauerkraut.html Best of luck!
My second batch in two 1-gallon glass jars was not a complete success. One jar spoiled and I had to throw it away. Strangely enough the brine in that jar didn’t drop and expose the cabbage. The brine in the other jar dropped below the cabbage and mold started growing on the cabbage leaves stuffed in at the top. I added more brine (1 heaping tsp of salt to 1 cup of water) and let it set for a couple more days. I took the spoiled cabbage off the top and the rest was okay. Both jars had metal lids that rusted badly during the fermentation process, I don’t know if that had something to do with the batch in the jar that went bad. Anyway, I made a third batch in the Harsch crock but this time I’ll let it ferment longer than 2 weeks and see how it goes. I used cabbage, carrots, an onion, 2 cloves of garlic and one small piece of ginger root from the store plus some romaine lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, and a couple habanero peppers from my garden.
That sounds delicious!
I hope so. I’m in uncharted waters with this whole sauerkraut making thing. But what was good out of my 2nd batch was so much better than my 1st batch that I’m encouraged to keep trying until I get it right.
I opened my Harsch crock today after 3-1/2 weeks. It was edible but the sauerkraut was kind of mushy and not up to my 2nd batch fermented in gallon glass jars. I think this was due to several problems. First, I fermented it too long. Second, it was fermented at too high temperature. According to the Kaufmann book sauerkraut should be fermented at around 59 F. Third, I don’t have the weighting stones that came with the crock so I used cleaned stones from my back yard. These are limestone which partially dissolved during the fermenting process and raised the pH to unacceptable levels. I sure won’t do that again. Once again I am still learning what to do and what not to do to make good sauerkraut.
Good to know about limestone! Your comments will be helpful for future fermenters. 🙂
Well it looks like I am going to have to throw my entire 3rd batch away. In addition to the problems I noted below I think that using romaine lettuce, spinach, and Swiss chard was a mistake. None of these vegetables are on the fermentable list in the Kaufmann book.
Okay with that failure behind me I made a 4th batch in the Harsh crock using my original recipe, cabbage, onions, and beets. Specifically 8-1/2 lb cabbage, 2 lb onions, and 2 lbs beets (I should have used 12 lb of cabbage to correctly fill the Harsch crock. Lacking the weighting stones that came with the crock I used some broken unglazed ceramic tiles as weighting stones, which will get me around the limestone and pH problem, but they didn’t really fit properly in the crock. I think the next time I will try using glass marbles (glass won’t react with the lactic acid in sauerkraut) since marbles are small enough to properly cover the kraut. I guess I should just get busy and make some ceramic weighting stones, my wife does ceramics. The problem is making the form for the mold and then making the plaster mold. Although once the mold is made I can make and fire 100 weighting stones.
I just finished my first batch using your instructions. I bought the crock and used your batch #5 recipe because it sounded like my favorite “Lil Kim Chee” from Pickled Planet. I’m so excited. It is soooooo good! I’m doing the happy dance right now. Your instructions were great and I loved the photos, they really helped! It turned out perfect! I’m addicted now! Thanks again for your website!!
That is so wonderful to hear, thank you for sharing!!! 🙂 I just started another batch of that Saturday with a little addition of mustard seed. Can’t wait to do my own happy dance. Cheers!
As an alternative to the Harsch crock, you could look for food grade buckets with a bung and airlock.
I found a wine making supply store near me that had food grade buckets with covers, as well as a selection of bungs and airlocks. They drilled the hole in the cover for the bung for me, and the whole thing came out to about $40.
The crocks are really nice(specially the fitted weights) but if you don’t have the extra money, you can get away with doing this. I have 2 27L buckets like that, as well as a crock.
Another option for doing smaller batches is to get the jars with the glass latch-down pressure lids with the rubber seal. As pressure builds up inside your kraut the seal release enough to allow the air to escape and seal fast as soon as the pressure has reduced enough that it isn’t forcing the seal open.
The Crock is still the gold standard though. ;p
Thank you for sharing this suggestion James! It’s really hard and expensive to find the crocks even with Amazon’s good supply. The food grade bucket sounds great. We just acquired one because my husband started a batch of IPA today. Maybe someday I’ll steal it for epic sauerkraut testing. 😉
My first batch of beer brewed in a plastic brew bucket was a failure. I had to throw it out. Since then I’ve had good luck with the Mr. Beer brew kits.
He got a brew kit, I’m not sure which one. It seems like the way to start.
Definitely the way to start. At first I bought a bunch of equipment at a home brew store. Some of the info I got from them was bad. I gave up on beer until my son got me a Mr. Beer kit for Christmas 2 years later. The Mr. Beer instructions and online videos make the whole process foolproof. Also, the people on the Mr. Beer forums are great, very helpful.
Have you made anything with the mash? I’m about to dehydrate it after finding a site that uses it in baked goods etc. I don’t think this fermenting stuff will ever not be exciting 🙂
No I haven’t. Anything left over from my fermentation activities ends up in my garden or under my fruit trees.
Michelle, I dehydrate the mash to add to pizza dough. I also had some from a Belgian Ale that I dehydrated and sprinkle on my yogurt like granola, the hops go into soap or the compost pile and I salt the yeast and add to stews and soups (tastes kinda like vegemite.)
I’ve never had an issue with brewing in the plastic buckets, but I stopped brewing a few years ago. For batches of probiotics, I use sanitized 1 quart to one gallon jars (Leifheit or Mason), a plastic lid, with a grommet and airlock. My system is similar to the ones that have recently become popular (Pickle It or whatever). Very easy to DIY. My crock is a little cumbersome at the moment.
I tried making sauerkraut in glass jars but had mixed results. Part of the problem is maintaining the correct amount of brine. During the first stage of fermentation the brine tends to come out of the top of the jars. Then during the second stage the brine tends to be absorbed by the veggies, exposing the top layer to air. Also during the first stage CO2 is generated, generating positive pressure on the airlock. During the second stage there is a negative pressure on the airlock that tends to draw the airlock liquid into the kraut. This is better handled by the longer column in a crock airlock than it is with one of those dinky plastic wine airlocks. At least that’s my experience. I use the plastic wine airlocks to ferment wine in 5 gallon carboys because while the wine is brewing there is always a positive outward flow of CO2 out of the airlock.
I brewed a batch of kimchi in a beer brew bucket. It turned out okay. At least it was edible. Using instructions I found online I filled a 2.5 gallon Hefty freezer bag with 1 gallon of salt water (4 tablespoons per gallon) to use as a weight on top of the kimchi. The instructions said to put salt water in the freezer bag in case it leaks (it didn’t). I also used an airlock in the lid. I don’t think plastic is a good idea for brewing sauerkraut because it is semi-permeable to air (I have had wine spoil when brewed in plastic carboys). Plus I wonder how long this bucket is going to smell like kimchi.
The last batch of sauerkraut I made in the Harsch crock was superb. I fermented it on the basement floor for 2 weeks at 70 F, and then put it in an old refrigerator with a digital temperature controller that keeps the temp in the fridge at 59 F (15 C) for two more weeks. According to the Kaufmann book the second stage of fermentation which is the main lactic acid fermentation phase takes place at cooler temperatures. I’m making a batch of cucumber pickles in my Harsch crock now using the recipe in the Kaufmann book.
I opened the Harsch crock this afternoon and tried the dill pickles. They were superb! The recipe in the Kaufmann book and the instructions for making pickles are right on the mark. The picle recipe is on page 22 and the brewing instructions are on pages 30 and 31.
I have a question about room temperature. Before the ravages of Texas summer, I successfully made a batch of garlic dilled carrots in a canning jar with airlock. Resolved to get going with sauerkraut, but it was late spring, not harvest time for cabbage. Even now, the temperature outdoors is still in the 90’s, and my AC isn’t able to cool the air much lower than 78 degrees indoors (even if it could, I don’t want my AC running all day while at work–poor use of energy). So I’m fearful about starting kraut, or indeed anything fermented. Does anyone have advice for people in hot climes? I really would like to ferment year-round! A closet would be no cooler; there is no basement; the garage is an oven. Help!
Do you have a room thermometer? Here is what I would try 😉 Put some ice (not a lot) in a cooler that your jar will also fit in and just gauge the temperature first….If it’s in the 60s range I would say try that. Otherwise someone else may be able to jump in with tips. Best of luck!
Find a used refrigerator that works and set up an STC-1000 digital temperature controller for it. You can set the STC-1000 for 70 degrees for the first stage of fermentation (a week or so) then drop it to 60 degrees for the second stage. The STC-1000 is available on Amazon.com for about $20 and the instructions for constructing and using it are on the Mr. Beer forums. Just do a search for STC-1000. Homebrewers use this setup for brewing lagers, which require lower temps than most people can provide without something like this.
Thanks for the recipe! I just used my crock for the first time. Waited 6 weeks. Tasted the cabbage (I used white cabbage) from the top and we loved it, just thought it tasted less sour to what we were used to (I used to buy professionally made traditional sauerkraut). However when I started scooping it out to transfer to jars, the lower the cabbage the more grey/pinkish in color it was. The top layer was nice and pale yellow like normal sauerkraut. But what’s gone wrong at the bottom of the crock?!!
I think it tastes a bit different too.
Any ideas what’s gone wrong? I’m so disappointed. I don’t want to throw out the cabbage but I’m worried about eating it too!
Take a large knife during the fermentation process stab it into the cabbage in 8 places rotate and wiggle the knife to
distribute the juices to the bottom. Do this every 2 weeks.
Your bottom layers were probably sealed and anorobic bacteria took over.
I plan to make my first batch of Sauerkraut in a German Mr. Schmitt 10-litre fermentation crock with weighted stones. I’ll be using all organics. I’d like to use the following ingredients: Cabbage, Carrots, Juniper Berries, Caraway Seeds, Himalayan Sea Salt. Based on a head of Cabbage weight 1.5 lbs. how many heads would you recommend in this recipe, and how much of the other ingredients would be appropriate and when should I add them during the initial production phase? I would like to use my KitchenAid food processor 4 mm shredding disc [is your shredding disc in the photo the same size?]. Can I leave my filled Crock Pot alone for the full 4-6 weeks without removing the lid? Of course, I will be checking the water level in the trough. I will also cover my batch with the large outer Cabbage leaves before I place the stones on top.
Any advice would be welcome. I think your site is the best I’ve seen so far with the photos and step-by-step instructions, plus the feedback useful comments. Thank you.
Hi John! It sounds like you’ve got everything down – as far as the recipe goes I would try about 4 (or more if you do less carrots) heads of cabbage, .5 – 1 lb of carrots, and about 4 tablespoons of sea salt. For the spices—I personally feel—it’s best to start with small qty and build with the next batch from there-depending on how you enjoy it. So for this, maybe 1-2 teaspoons of juniper berries and about the same amount of caraway. I used 1/4 cup of mustard seeds in a batch once and it was just too much – lesson learned. 😉 Definitely go for 3-6 weeks and yes you can leave it closed as long as the water trough stays full. And thank you from the bottom of my heart for your compliment regarding this post – it means the world to me!!
Wow, Michelle, I just struck ‘educational Gold’ by finding your website. I plan to use my KitchenAid food processor shredding disc—it’s the same one I use to make coleslaw. It makes a 4 mm cut. I have another larger shredding disc–6 mm, but I think I will stay with the 4 mm disc. If you were going the disc route, which size disc would you recommend? And thank you again for your very timely and most welcome counsel! And to give you an idea of the size of the Organic Green Cabbages I will be using—I purchased one today to get an idea of the weight—it weighs 1 lb. 12 oz. [1.75 lbs]. I hate the Metric System as I am a Baby-Boomer and it still is not my ‘language’. It was forced upon us in Canada back in 1979. I guess, you can’t teach an old Duck new tricks! Your fermentation fan, John.
I used my Cuisinart 4 mm blade and it does the trick perfect. You might have some larger pieces from the last cut but those ferment down just fine. If you do up to 1 lb of carrots, I would do 6-7 lb of cabbage. I would love to hear how it turns out. Cheers!
I used the Harsch crock and got one good batch. The next two were a disaster. I washed the crock and weights well
between uses but the weights are only fired at earthenware
temperatures and are porous. The trapped organic fluids
turn to black mold inside and contaminated the next batch.
Try boiling the weights in a pot .I tried bleach and could not
get rid of the smell. I now mostly use large glass jars from
Korea with sealing plastic lids which I drilled for airlocks.
I stumbled on to your site while looking for a crock – great work! I just made my first ever two batches of sauerkraut two weeks ago, using a large cookie jar and a big serving bowl… not great! Had a hard time finding the right size plate and weights, and in the end, I had to throw out one batch this morning, with a lot of guilt. Lots of slime and it smelled horrible – I don’t think I could ever bring myself to eat it without worrying about it! The other batch had slime too and some mold where it wasn’t weighted down. I discarded that, and transferred the rest over to mason jars. We’ll see if that works! I tried again last night with another cabbage, and I’m hoping this works better! All that to say, I really enjoyed your post, could relate to your beginnings, and I learned a lot from your info – thank you! Off to get a real crock now! 🙂
When you make sauerkraut you have to keep the oxygen out during the fermenting process. Otherwise mold develops. The Harsch crock is the best way to do this but you have to keep an eye on the water trough. The Kaufmann book is cheap and explains the process very clearly. During the first stages of fermentation at about 70 degrees the water level in the trough tends to rise. When the bubbles start to come out I lower the temp to 60 degrees and the water level tends to drop so you have to add a bit of water. I use salt water in the trough, 1 tablespoon of salt per cup of water. Thanks to the information from this great page I’ve made many batches of sauerkraut.
Awesome tutorial! Many many thanks, I’ll be following your blog.
Hello Michelle, I got nice anaerobic crock (like the Harsh, but out of Poland) at Christmas. Just opened the first batch. O.M.G. SOOO GOOOOD. Will be having Sauerkraut and mashed potatoes tonight. My wife says it tastes just like Oma used to make. My wife grew up on a little village in Germany, so she knows kraut (sauer and otherwise) Now it is time to pack up the first batch and start another. I think I will try the salsa kraut recipe. Anyway, thank you for the great information Michelle! Peace.
Hi Stephen, thanks for reporting back. I’m so happy to hear your crock is working out well. Cheers!
Just put our first batch into the crock…3 weeks seems so far away but feeling confident! Thank you for a GREAT explanation (love the pictures). I’ve read a few books, made a batch of mold in a bowl with plate, etc. (thus the crock purchase) and really wanted to make saurkraut but was feeling a little uncertain. You turned that around!
P.S. Using our own organic cabbage would make it so much harder to throw away a bad batch when we only have a few heads in our crop this year so I’m saying a prayer to the fermentation gods (kidding) and thanking you profusely for sharing your knowledge!!
Haha! I love how you said ‘made a batch of mold’. Isn’t that the worst? I recently tried asparagus doing the ball jar method again and it just didn’t come out right. Gotta love the crocks, they are fool/environmental proof. Cheers!
Thank you for an amazing how-to on fermenting kraut in the Harsch crock. I had purchased one on ebay a few years ago but even with the book you show (that came with it) I was kind of skittish. Following your directions, I just put our first finished batch in jars. Beyond yummy! I did garlic and jalapeno kraut, it turned out perfect. Onward!……and thanks again!
Oh I’m so happy to hear this helped! Thank you for leaving a comment here. 🙂 Garlic and jalepeno sounds amazing. Cheers!
If this hasn’t been mentioned. Submerge the ceramic weights that come with the crock in water in a metal pot and boil them for 15 minutes.Some of these weights are not fired tight enough .Organic juices will penetrate into the pores and produce black mold which will spoil your kraut. Always top up the water in the crock seal every day in the summer or your kraut will spoil.
Great tip! I’ve only gotten mold if I store them improperly between ferments.
My daughter accidentally opened the crock after a week. Am I screwed???
Hopefully you’ve realized you are not. 🙂 I’ve just gotten used to opening the crock in the middle of fermenting to try and what not. As long as you get the lid back on and seal it up, it should be good to continue until the flavor is just right.
Great Article – We recently got one of these Harsch crocks and just finished our second batch of sauerkraut and it is awesome! We are wondering if the leaves at the top that are covering the sauerkrut edible? Is there anything that can be done with them? Thanks in Advance, Dan
Thank you! I’ve taken bites of them and they’re usually as delicious as the sauerkraut. Try chopping them up and using them how you would the sauerkraut. Cheers!
There was no mold on my top leaves so I tucked them in a jar too, (to refrigerate). I figure I can find something to wrap them around for a lil’ sammich! Mmmm.
Hello, I have been fermenting with a crock for quite some time now and rarely have a problem. I have a great fermented eggplant recipe. I do it in small batches in a mason jar with an air lock. I decided to do a large batch since so many people love it. I decided to use my crock. After three weeks I went to pull the eggplant. When I opened the crock everything smelled and looked as it should but when I pulled the weights out they had a whitish coating and the brine is viscous. I tasted it and it seems fine. I have read so many different opinions. I did read a blog that said to put it back for another two weeks and the brine may thin out. It said it may be too warm slowing down the fermentation. I was thinking if it’s still viscous I may rinse the eggplant, put it in fresh brine and refrigerate it. Thoughts? Ever have this happen? I have read that sugary ferments can do this-I did use sweet onions this time. The only other thing in there is basil and garlic.
Hi Adrienne! That is interesting. I’ve had the white coating—which I think is kahm yeast (totally safe), but not the viscosity. It does remind me though of when I cut zucchini and they ‘bleed’ that gel-like ooze. It’s probably some part of the plant’s carbohydrate/sugar that isn’t responding. I wonder if pre-soaking the slices in a little bit of salted water would eliminate the issue at fermentation?? I do something similar to oil-free potato wedges before I bake them-it results in a better potato. I think I would eat them as long as the smell/taste is good. Does the ‘slime’ hold onto the eggplant when you pull it out? I would love to try fermented eggplant-sound amazing! Thanks for the idea! Side note…what do you cover your mason jars with (just the airlock lid?) and what salt ratio do you use? It’s my goal to get better at mason jar fermenting this season. 🙂
Ok. So the white is def not yeast. And the slime is not sticking to the eggplant. I always do it in a mason jar and this is the first time i did it in a crock because people like it so much i decided to do it in a larger vessel. Anyway all tastes good but im letting it sit another two weeks to see if it thins out. If you want recipe for a mason jar let me know! Adrienne
I would love the recipe! <3
Here is the link :).
P.S I did use sweet onions maybe that is the cause of the viscous brine.
My daughter got my curiosity up on fermenting & it’s benefits. Your blog gave me the confidence to give it a shot. I did find a 5L knock off vessel with weights (around mom’s day) for about $70. I opened my very first batch today. 3 wks- grn cab, carrot, onion, garlic, caraway, thyme & used Celtic salt grey sea salt I happened to see in Marshalls of all places. Needless to say I am extremely pleased with the results. There was no mold at all! And I read that washing the unglazed weights in vinegar, then soap, and a 30 min/hang out in a 250 deg oven will stave away future mold. Put them in the cool oven, then start the heat, let them cool in there & store outside of the vessel to get air. Thanks for your fabulous, entertaining how to page!
Hi! Thanks for the detailed instructions! l tried kosher pickles a couple of years ago after tasting a friend’s but it did not work so I’m a little nervous about sauerkraut.
I picked up a 10L Harsch crook at a garage sale this summer. It was less than half price and barely used but 10L!? There’s only me and I’m wondering how full I have to fill this thing! I think I’d be happy trading this for a 5L crock.
So the 1st batch in the crock worked beautifully and all my Ukrainian-descent colleagues loved the ‘new’ addition of carrots. It made a LOT of kraut though.
So I’ve switched to using 2L jars with fermenting airlocks that I picked up for a couple of dollars, rubber rings that were pennies and the most expensive item was the drill bit to make holes in the metal sealer lids. I know that a 1.8kg intact cabbage will nicely fill these jars. Voila!
Now I have one or two batches going all the time and I can use any size jars I like, which is nice to try small batches of new recipes or to make sour pickles (2 batches going now!) Plus I get the benefits of super fresh kraut and don’t use so much fridge space.
Thanks again for giving me the confidence to start!
When using Jalapeños how do you cut them? as a shred or an insert that can be pulled out? If shredding do you cut into disks or cut top and bottoms off. Cut in half (length) and remove or keep in the seeds? If cut in half (length) cut them into spaghetti thin strips or equivalent to thickness of cabbage?
Thank you so much for such an informative recipe! I love how in depth your article was, and the pictures you included are perfect in guiding through each step of the way! Can’t wait to try this at home!
I’m Russian. Making saurekraut is something we learn when we’re small helping our parents to make it. Just wanted to share my favorite recipe. I don’t have precise measurements as we always eyeball the ingredients.
Cabbage (3-4), carrots (1-2 lb), onions (2 large), eggplant (2-3 large or 4-5 small asian kind).
Process cabbage and carrots as usual. Slice your onions and cook them in 3-4 table spoons of vegetable oil until translucent and golden. Cut eggplant into 1×1 or bigger cubes. Boil water in a large stock pot, add enough salt so it tastes salty, and cook your eggplant for a couple of minutes. Remove from water and let cool in a colander. Mix cabbage, carrots, and onion, add enough salt, work the moisture so veggies release plenty of juice. Mix in eggplant cubes. Transfer to your pot and let it ferment.
Even if you don’t like eggplant I encourage you to try! It’s out of this world tasty!
I don’t use a special fermenting pot. I use whatever stock pot I have available. Very important for avoid mold: add enough salt, put cheesecloth on the top, put a flat plate on the top, put a large canning jar filled with water on the top. EVERY day 2-4 times a day poke it with a clean wooden spoon to release air – you cannot skip the step!!! After 7-10 days move into the fridge.