Ack! My Sauerkraut Has Mold On It!

So you picked up a copy of Wild Fermentation and became a lacto-fermentation groupie, huh? It happens, I get it, it happened to me. And why wouldn’t you want to ferment everything in sight? The result is tasty, nutritious, rooted in the oldest traditions of food preservation and kinda badass in a “I dance with the microbes in the pale moonlight,” kind of way.

But, in the immortal words of Gregory House, “microbes can be sneaky.” Lacto-fermentaion can go wrong…wrong temperature, wrong salt, wrong brine strength and you end up with pickles no one is going to eat.

Dixiebelle over at Eat At Dixiebelle’s talked recently about some fermentation troubles she’s been having. It can be discouraging to jump head first into the brined life only to discover that there are pitfalls in the art and science of lacto-fermentation. Although I maintain that lacto-fermentation is the easiest food preservation technique going, I’ve run into some weird stuff and you might too.

Here’s how to know if your weird stuff isn’t actually that weird.

First, a disclaimer: if your lacto-fermented stuff is slimy, slippery, super mushy, funky smelling (in a bad way, not a normal pickle way), changes color dramatically (like it turns pink) or otherwise appears to be weird in the ferment itself, chuck that shit out and don’t eat it. Let’s be honest: no one reading this blog on their iPad or their Dell laptop is actually facing starvation if they throw out their tenderly-made but now-questionable pickles, so why risk it? For details, check this out this safety sheet on what is and is not acceptable in pickled products.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, the vast majority of sketchy stuff you’ll see when you ferment is just fine and isn’t going to hurt you, assuming you’ve followed some basic fermentation rules:

  1. Keep it clean – all jars, weights, utensils, etc. should be strictly clean. I don’t necessarily sterilize, but I make sure crocks, etc are sparkling clean and free of any residue.
  2. Keep it under brine – you must weight down your ‘kraut or your pickles or your beans, all the way. They will want to float to the top. Don’t let them. Fermentation is an anaerobic process. Add air and you get rot.
  3. Keep it salty – especially as you start out, follow an established recipe for brine strength or ratio of salt to cabbage for sauerkraut. I swear by Sandor Katz’s brine ratio of 3 tablespoons sea salt to each quart of water for brining.

If you’ve done all of the above, and you are seeing weirdness in your ferment, chances are you are looking at surface yeasts or molds.

A whitish bloom that covers the surface of the ferment and is often described as “scum” is probably wild yeasts growing on the brine surface where they have access to air. The edges of this picture show the whitish scum. This is totally normal. Skim off and discard.

If white or bluish splotches that sit like unwelcome lily pads on your brine show up, floating on your brine, your ferment has grown little mold colonies. They are also taking advantage of the air-contact space on the top of the brine. While gross, these are also normal…ish. Skim off and discard.

The important thing to remember about either of these scenarios is that they are a surface issue, and the ferment, which is submerged, is protected by the salty/acidic brine. Again, anything unexpected inside the ferment itself is always grounds for starting over from scratch.

So now that you know what is normal, I’ll come clean about my own fermentation head-scratcher situation. The other day, I noticed something funky on my own batch of kraut. It was a little freaky, I’ll admit, and not something I’d ever seen before on a ferment.

There was a whitish, fuzzy mold growing around the perimeter of my glass kraut crock, between the ziplock baggie filled with water that I used to weight down the sauerkraut and the glass lid. It looked like the kind of mold that might grow on a strawberry or a peach. Normally, I’d file this under “don’t risk it” and sadly toss out my kraut.

But, when I carefully removed the baggie and the mold that was attached to it, and wiped away all visible signs of the mold from the edge of the jar, underneath the baggie my sauerkraut was pristine. It had good texture and color and it smelled right.

It’s been a few days and the kraut has stayed mold free. I replaced the mold-covered, water-filled baggie with a new, clean, water-filled baggie. (Yes, I am aware that it is not ideal to use plastic like this in a ferment that gets acidic and I’m working on a suitable substitute weight for these glass crocks.)

As of now, the kraut still looks good, smells good and tastes good – I tasted it and I’m still here to tell the tale. I’m thinking it’s time to move this ferment into refrigerated cold storage, but that it is still safe to consume.

However, since I know people with more lacto-fermentation experience than I (and perhaps even a spores, mold, and fungi expert or two!) occasionally read this blog, if I need to put down the fork and the crock and go see a mold specialist right now, someone tell me, ok?

What are your fermentation flops? And what would you do with kraut that grew some fuzz, but only above the brine weight?

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Comments

  1. I have made several batches of great stuff this past summer and fall and one batch of cukes that went moldy in the fridge. It smelled way funky so I threw them out. Question for more experienced folks: How long will fermented stuff last in the fridge? I made some kraut from red cabbage a few months ago, ate some but it was about the third jar in a row so I have somehow let it sit there in the back of the fridge, forgotten, (still submerged in brine) for a few months now. That alone makes me nervous although it looks/smells fine.

    • If there’s no mold, it will be safe to eat for a long, long time. I throw mine out after a year, mostly because it’s going mushy, not because it’s harmful.

      • I agree with Emily on this. My LF cukes go a year easy, but by six months they aren’t as good for fresh eating and they are used more for adding to tuna salad and the like…that’s purely a textural issue, not a food safety issue.

    • As long as it smells ok and doesn’t have mold directly on the kraut, you should be fine. The fact that it’s still covered in brine is a good thing.

      • susan knilans says:

        Jeff, my fermented pickles have lasted up to 8 months in the fridge—same with the kraut. It may last way longer, but we always have it eaten before I can do a longevity test.

  2. I’m no expert, but if I had that same situation, I’d probably keep and eat the kraut. I’ve only tried one batch of kraut so far and I think it had faulty directions. One jar grew mold…enough that I didn’t trust it, and the other turned grey in the ferment.

    I’ve made homemade ginger beer, which turned out fine, and I’m currently experimenting with homemade kombucha. Mostly good so far, but one batch didn’t look/smell right, so out it went.

  3. Although I don’t think this answers your questions …this is a wonderful short video on the subject. Maybe you could contact her?

    http://bit.ly/wf4QZc

  4. Re: Your weight bag. I recommend filling it with brine, not water. Opportunistic mold like the one you saw indicates there might be a leak, however small,which could be messing with the pH of your fermentation environment. Checking with my lead MFP instructor on the white mold issue for safety. If fermentation is resuming normally – smells, looks, feels ok – you *should* be ok. If it was due to a leak from your weight bag, it explains why the mold penetrated the surface but generally left things alone below the surface.

    • Thanks Felicia, that’s a great tip. I have transfered the kraut to smaller containers, weighted down by glass now. :) They are in the fridge and are looking good.

  5. My Dad grew up in the era where everyone had a kraut crock in the basement and told of how the boys would push the mold aside and sneak handfuls to snack on…. Look for a little dish or saucer that will fit inside your crock to cover your vegies…easy to scald and replace.

  6. I have been thinking over fermenting supplies and plan on using some clear glass discs/plates that were intended to hold a candle. They are available in many diameters and are rather thick.

  7. I used to refuse to eat cheese that was moldy. I was very young (early 20′s) and lamenting to my mother about moldy cheese, and she said “just cut it off.” I thought she was crazy! Surely the mold was all through the cheese! She told me how they used to make cheese when she was young, and how they always had to cut away the moldy rind when it was done. I felt like such an idiot! I learned everything from watching my mother, and I had never seen her cut mold off of cheese. She said she never let me see her do it, because she knew I wouldn’t eat it if I knew. I was such a picky eater as a child. No more…slice that mold off…toss it in the freezer and away we go!

  8. Erica, Just spoke to our lead instructor and he didn’t skip a beat – dump the sauerkraut. “Not worth the risk. Don’t trust after mold.” He also followed it up with this, “On the other hand, white fuzzy mold is most likely penicillin. If the sauerkraut remained beneath the brine, away from mold, and smells clean, it is probably okay.”

    You’re call, of course. He makes sauerkraut in 5 gallon beer fermentation buckets for his restaurant, is the guy who taught my MFP certification classes, and knows his way around the various growths you can encounter. He threw out a fermenting batch of habanero mash last week due to mold.

    • Ok thanks Felicia, I really appreciate your legwork. I don’t think this was penicillin mold. But I also don’t think it penetrated the ferment itself. Dang! OK, I’m going to observe for another week. It had a ph of 2.4-2.6 based on the dip strip test I gave it. I wonder if that makes a difference?

      • It does. These judgement calls are so subjective sometimes. When kraut and other ferments were churning away centuries ago, I doubt the makers groused about the details and trundled onward. Though they likely got a little more ill in the process.

        The bugs and mold we encounter today are not our grandmother’s, or even our mother’s bugs. I tend to veer conservative for a whole host of reasons, that among them. A pH of 2.4-2.6 does sound fine. Definitely antimicrobial. I’m thinking your mold patch was the product of a varying surface pH due to a bag leak. My concern right now would be the toxins released by said mold while it was there, not the mold itself.

        http://www.aerias.org/DesktopModules/ArticleDetail.aspx?articleId=53

        • Oh hell. I wonder if there is a way to test for toxic byproducts? Probably not. OK, I’m gonna toss it. That’s just not worth the risk.

          • This is actually he kind of research I wish the USDA and local cooperative extensions would undertake – what molds look like, what toxins they excrete, and explanations of the toxin levels and their effects. Something akin to the bacterial analysis they accomplished for food safety programs regarding Salmonella, Listeria and Botulism.

  9. White mold is fine – black mold is bad. Green mold is a mixed bag and normally I would throw that out if it’s taken over, if it’s just beginning I would scoop it off and continue on. Any molded ferments can go to compost. That bacteria is too good to waste! Erica I just ferment in canning jars. I have a much better success rate and no plastic. I have little glass weights that you can buy on ebay sized just so for the jars. I have a few extra if you want them – I organized a bulk buy last fall.

    • Do you not worry about putting that much salt into your compost?

    • I would like to have weights to replace the plastic bags of water I am using! Could you direct me to these or may I get in on that bulk order? I have a question about black scum floaters in my batch of green walnut pickles. I am trying to make this for the second time and am not an experienced salt brine pickle maker yet. Maybe not a bad idea to procure the PH strips as well.. Where are those available? Also I have been frustrated by not knowing how to determine the amount of salt needed, because of recipes calling for weighing the salt and conversions from overseas measurements, and do you go by product weight or water volume… AND another puzzlement is the temperature went sky high this week (90 degrees outside) so it’s high 70s in my kitchen. Perhaps I should give up again, but if it’s not too late to figure this out I would like to continue it. Other than the black floaters.. Should the product be heated to sterilize before starting? I am using glass pickling jar and covering it with brown paper bags for low light. I thought my concern was a brine level issue, but if anyone can help me with advice please do. If I replace the brine with one that has 2, or 3 T per quart would that fix it? (I had 1T plus 2/3 T per quart). Just started this batch on Wednesday and now it’s Friday. Thanks for any help. Jenny 1.509.499.2378

  10. martin, outer hebrides says:

    Hello Erica and family.
    I am new to your blog, but it is clear to me that you have a knack/talent for putting into words, what so many others are feeling. The responses to your well written posts demonstrate that. Good luck with encouraging ‘the movement’ and good luck with your own goals.

  11. Just FYI, I was noticing one supply site that was selling a glass weight for fermentation crocks that, from the picture, looks just like a bowl I already have in my possession:

    http://www.amazon.com/Pyrex-6010170-Storage-6-Piece-Round/dp/B0000BYCGF/ref=sr_1_10?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1326467796&sr=1-10

    I know what’ll be weighing down our next batch of kraut!

  12. Tom Gibson says:

    I have heard some die hard picklers say the worse it smells the better it tastes but haven’t had to cross that bridge yet.

  13. Hopefully it all works out for you! I did have a laugh though, when you mentioned pink kraut. My kraut IS pink, I used 2 part green cabbage and one part red and came out with pink kraut. Everything came out fine, and I ate a fair amount before sharing, but people still raise an eyebrow when they see the bright pink kraut!

    • Yeah, pink from red cabbage is ok! :) We made pink soup – beets and red cabbage, like borscht, topped with dilled sour cream or yogurt. My girl loves the color! You just need the right audience.

  14. Hello all.. I just looked at my sauerkraut after it’s been fermenting for about 2 weeks now and this morning I did find some white mold floating around not much. So I scooped it up and examined it and then smelled my sauerkraut and everything smells good I still have another week to go I usually do mine 3-4 weeks. I’ve never had green mold or black mold this time it did show some white which I am not concerned with because it smells like sauerkraut still and does not smell foul. I have maybe another week and a half to go and we will see then. But right now its still a go.

  15. I finally opened the jars of lacto-fermented sauerkraut a couple nights ago. The plastic container I covered with plastic wrap and a rubber band had a small spot of white mold on the top but when I scooped out the mold I realized the sauerkraut underneath was slimy. I threw it away.

    The part I put in a glass canning jar with a ring and lid was just fine, no mold and no sliminess. I cooked it down with bacon, smoked sausage, fresh cabbage, and apples and served it over egg noodles with cabbage. Absolutely delicious.

  16. I am at week 2 in my process, well.. a week and a couple of days. I need to add more brine, BUT, there is a layer of green slime in some areas. It smells OK, like sauerkraut, but will it be edible underneath the slime and should I scrape it off before adding more brine or chuck the whole lot?

  17. Hello

    I have Kraut that has been fermenting in a plastic lined 20 gallon Red-wing crock in our basement for about 8 months now with no apparent signs of mold.

    Do you think this has sat to long to be edible?

    What should I look for as signs this is no longer any good?

    Scott

  18. I have made tons of sauerkraut before while living in cooler climates but now I live in the Philippines and things are a little different. I just finished my third batch, the first two I had to throw out.

    First time I used only the juices from the cabbage and the brine evaporated in, like an hour, and the cabbage spoiled. Second time

  19. I have made tons of sauerkraut before while living in cooler climates but now I live in the Philippines and things are a little different. I just finished my third batch, the first two I had to throw out.

    First time I used only the juices from the cabbage and the brine evaporated in, like an hour, and the cabbage spoiled. Second time it fermented too warm and turned out soft. Finally the third time it turned out, but still has a funkier flavor and aroma than what I used to make back home.

    I’ve decided I need a cold room for fermenting stuff. It’s not easy in the tropics.

  20. i am definitely still learning this stuff! Haven’t had very much success yet. one really good kimchee, one really good pickle, and some indifferent flavor lacking sauerkraut and plenty of funky failures – but I thought i would throw in my two cents about your need for a glass weight for your mason jar ferments. I have been using gt’s kombucha bottles filled with water (or leftover brine) it fits perfectly to hold down veggies in a wide mouth mason jar, and then I plop a ziplock over that and hold it with a rubberband. not as good as having a real lid on it i am sure – but it has worked well on any batch that I have carefully followed the recipe/instructions. my problems have only come from when i try and go from memory and dont follow the recipe.

  21. Very excited to find your blog! I’ve been making my own kombucha for months now and am moving on to my own apple cider vinegar and sauerkraut! I would love it if you checked out my blog too- http://theyogimami-victoria.blogspot.com/

  22. I broke down a few years ago and got the expensive fermenting crocks, and have had success ever since. My favorite kraut is one that is half red beets, half red cabbage, some apples, an onion, and lots of fennel seeds. Yum! And a glorious color! This fall, I made a green tomato kraut, with half tomatoes and half cabbage. Still eating that batch, and it should last the rest of the winter. I tried my first gallon of fermented pickles in my piklit thingy, and they turned out really great. I just got too tired of fighting with wicked molds and scum when I tried to just use plates or bags to keep the veggies from floating. I’m sure the crocks and piklits have paid for themselves. LOVE your blog!

  23. My kraut both batches were to salty. How do you know how much salt 2 put in when the cabage is dry? It forms its own brine in a day from the weight and the salt but i obviously put 2 much salt in just cant figure out the ratio? Also 1 of the batches was realy slimy, it doesnt taste moldy once i skimed the top off but as you said no 1 wants 2 eat slimy kraut. I used sea salt should i use pickling salt? I cant immagine the 1st people to ferment had fancy salt but then maybe they didntmind a little slime? The batch that was slimey was made with purple cabage dont know if that makes a difference and despite its texture it still tasted like kraut just over salted kraut

  24. Just moved from Utah to the Seattle area, and both our first batch of sauerkraut and our first sour sponge have turned up surface mold. any recommendations? I know with the sauerkraut we used sea salt for it. The sponge was sitting on the counter in a closed container and the sauerkraut was in a ferment bucket with an airlock, in the garage.

  25. I’ve made several successful batches of sauerkraut and sour beats. I continually have Kombucha fermenting in the pantry and keifer on the counter. Yesterday I was uncovering my crock of sauerkraut anticipating that it would be ready to enjoy and put in the fridge. When I uncovered the crock I noticed the white scum on the top. Having read about it before I knew it was harmless and cleaned it off. I removed the weights and the kraut was kind of weird looking, a little too green. I tasted it and it was soft and very sour, way too sour and not in a good way. I scraped off layer after layer and continued to sample (and spit out) and I kept getting soft and funky kraut, until the very bottom of the crock. I’m not sure what happened. Any suggestions?

  26. Erica,
    This post was so immediately helpful for identifying the crud on top of our kraut brine! Thank you!
    The photo I took of our crud is a twin of the one you have of the brown crock.
    Love your writing!
    Kris

  27. I didn’t know about the mold and when i saw it just now, I scraped it off, and have just rinsed the cabbage. It was at about 2 wks and tastes lovely, only a wee bit salty but the beginnings of a good kraut. But i rinsed it and my question is: can I restart it with more brine to keep foing? Or did I blow the process and should just eat half-done kraut? :(

  28. Ok ok already, fuzzy blue green mold, I guess I do have to feed my garden with it! I have been doing mason jars, then put them on the hot water tank. All previous attempts turned out great. This one, not. I threw out the mold muffin and an inch of kraut then put it in the fridge. Man does my Molly’s hard boiled eggs with a touch of kraut ever taste good! (I have one yard chicken-she’s up at sunrise tending my lawn !) anyway today I smelled the kraut and I could smell mold. Can’t figure what I did differently – sounds like – being cleaner, and keeping it under the brine. Thanks for the site !

  29. Thank you Erica and everyone else for sharing your experience. I just saw soggy kraut and a bit of mold on the very surface of my batch today. The soggy was a red flag for me so I tipped the crock into one of our compost containers … but then saw the perfectly pristine looking kraut beneath! So I salvaged that and am happily crunching on it now.

    I think I need some of those glass weights that are sized to fit jars perfectly — thank you Amy for mentioning those.

    Re making kraut in the Philippines or other hot place (we are in Florida), I suggest kimchee or some other spicy ferment – might help preserve the food.

  30. I made sauerkraut a month ago put it in the cabinet and was so busy I forgot about it this is my first time fermenting I looked at the jar today and the cabbage is not submerged under the brine I did not open the pickl-it jar to check for mold what should I do please help

    • Throw it out. It shouldn’t have been left out of refrigeration for more than about a week. Who knows what is growing in there now. It isn’t worth find out for the price of a cabbage.

  31. Hi thanks for answering can I just throw the top part out that’s not submerged in the brine reason I say that is because I filled a 5 gallon jar

  32. You know, I would taste it. Honestly, that big a batch would be hard for me to dump if there was a chance it was good. So, take off the whole top funky stuff. If what is left is clear and tart and NOT SLIMY, I’d probably keep it. When it is bad, it really stinks, and not in a good way.

  33. Beverly says:

    About the mold….I usually get a white yeast floating on the top of my kraut, and that tells me it’s time to skim, and jar it up for the fridge. I usually have a gallon or two in the fridge at any given time. I like low salt…1 tbs or so to a head of cabbage, or to a quart of water. That works for me, consistently.
    About the potato masher…..I use a rolling pin, but I like making my kraut while I watch TV, so I plan on getting a wooden baseball bat, and cutting it flat, so I can pound the hand-sliced shreds in my #2 crock. I’m new here, looking forward to enjoying it more and more :)

    Bev

  34. Anybody has experience black mold on beetkraut? There is black powdery black mold all over.
    Should I keep it or through it?
    Thanks
    Noemie

    • Tom Gibson says:

      Conventional wisdom says that you should throw anything with mold on it out but many people think that when it comes to krauts that molds are when you get some of the best tasting results. There are some possible dangers to eating some mycotoxins that are created by different mycelia. The black powdery stuff you are seeing are the fruiting bodies of a mycelial mat growing underneath. The kraut might smell awful at this stage but that smell might be hiding something that tastes truly wonderful and probably isn’t a result of the mold but bacterial action.

      For the price of organic cabbage, at this time of year less than a dollar a pound, it may be time to stock up with a new batch of kraut for the winter. Make sure to refrigerate it as close to freezing as possible for long storage if you really like the product. It is highly unlikely that you are going to die or suffer any health consequences from a single dose of moldy food and it is highly unlikely that exudates from the mycelia have penetrated deep into the kraut. Let us know if you decide to taste it. I predict it will be really gross or something with an amazing taste but have no predictions on whether you will like it or not.

  35. I’m new to this blog. Hello everyone! I have been pickling for 4 years with about a 75% success rate following Sandor Katz’s recipes. Most recently, after six days of fermenting, I am experiencing the slimy brine effect on my cucumber pickles. From the clues I’ve read here and elsewhere, I’m pretty sure that the culprit is temperatures in the high 80s and me without a basement or another cool place to ferment. This batch was looking and tasting great until today when the brine in three of my 5 containers turned up slimy. Having invested in 25lbs of fresh cucs from a local farmer I am loathe to pitch them all. The cucs themselves haven’t turned. I’ve rinsed and sampled several and they seem fine though barely half-sour. Normally I like them to sour for at least 10 to 14 days and beyond. My temptation is to dump the brine, rinse them and keep them going with fresh brine. Has anyone ever tried this or do you all think I’m crazy to risk it?

  36. Justin Crane says:

    I have had some batches of kraut get very moldy in the past. I figured out a way to prevent most of the mold. Now, when I’m fermenting a batch of kraut I cover the top with aluminium foil. The foil eliminates any light from entering the crock so the mold can’t grow. It works great!

  37. This past month I tried making my first batch of kraut….however I’ve recently found what looks to be brown bugs dead around the top of the kraut container on the inside. They look like fat lettuce seeds almost. Has anyone else had this happen? Not sure what these “bugs” are?!

    • Hi Cheryl, I’m sorry to tell you the “bugs” are likely fruit fly pupae and will soon be adult fruit flies. : ( Look carefully, you may be able to see little white larvae crawling around on or near the surface; they are the hatchlings that will eventually form a chrysalis and pupate into adults. You should compost it unless the jar is deep enough to remove the top few inches.

  38. I tried adding carrot greens I had left over in my brine pickle brine, and noticed I had some powdery white mold similar to what shows on bread. It only appeared on the floating greens, probably because they weren’t submerged. Everything else looks fine.

  39. I use a 5 gallon crock(and have been for years), I skim the scum(white mold) and I do get moldy situations at the level everyone is talking about. What about when you go to can the kraut? Mold(greenish in color) will form on the inside of the crock just above the liquid level for a few inches above. I’ll remove my weighted gallon jar over a plate, wipe off the mold with a damp cloth, remove the top layer of juice(or brine) with a turkey baster and strain, just cause some of that mold may fall into the crock with that process. I try not to, but mold spores are like dust. I have always worried about this process, and want to know if this is ok. Of course my mother thinks its ok because this process has been handed down for generations..etc…:) Also if some did, does the canning process kill the mold spores?

  40. From what I’ve read here, I’ve just thrown out a perfectly good batch of sauerkraut!

  41. Please help! I’ve been throwing crock after crock of kraut away thinking it is bad but now i’m not sure. there is no slime, still has alittle crunch to it, has a strong smell, been sitting in a room about 60 degrees for three weeks. the taste is strong, it doesn’t burn my tongue but almost seems strong enough to. i can take my finger nail and break up the little pieces. how crunchy should it be and how soft is too soft? color is still good.

  42. I’ve read that if it has a good taste it’s good. my first batch the family really liked, it had a great taste and was crunchy but now my batches have turned out strong and softer. how do i know if it is a “good” taste or a “bad” taste?

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  44. i’ve put up 53&1/2 gals of kraut first 2 containers are good ,third was very yeasty on top and a bit cloudy , i skimmed and took most fluid off of top ,kraut seems o.k. …i’m going to take a bit of kraut and brine off the top , add some new brine ,clean things up & go for it … if it produces more yeast , can i bake bread ? Also , what may have caused this ?

  45. Garry Santos says:

    I have a Harsch Gartopf crock I got Christmas of 2012 and I have now attempted 3 times to make my beloved sauerkraut. Being a total novice I ended up throwing away 3 batches so far because of the surface scum and mold that was present when I opened the crock after 7 weeks fermenting. Now I see from this post that that is normal and I may have been throwing away perfectly good sauerkraut, CRY! Oh well, another 6 weeks from now I will know if my 4th attempt turns out right.

    • Tom Gibson says:

      It doesn’t take that long for cabbage to turn into kraut. After ten days I would start tasting it regularly and refrigerate it when you get close. You don’t need a crock to make ferments. I usually use a 1/2 gallon Mason jar. The only important thing is to get all the air out and keep it weighted down so the ferment has water covering all of the material.

    • susan knilans says:

      I, too, have those wonderful crocks, and regularly make fine kraut with them. I also understand that for the good bacteria to fully mature, it really does take a full month. I have usually decanted my krauts when they were 2-3 weeks old, but am letting my current batch go for a month. It is burping as I write this. Do you have enough water covering your weights? Also, once you have one successful batch, be sure to keep some on hand to kick-start your next batch. I got scum only when I also added whey. With only salt (and I don’t use much…), I’ve never had scum on top.

  46. Elizabeth says:

    I recently made my first batch of kraut ever, cabbage, collards, and jalapeno. The batch is done, but the brine has a creamy white hue. Is this ok, normal? Or do I need toss it and try again?

  47. Katrina Orton says:

    I am making kraut for the first time. It has been fermenting for 5 days in a traditional crock, and I just checked on it. There are bits of cabbage mixture ( I added carrots, garlic and chili powder) floating and already molding along the periphery of my weight (a plate with a glass bowl of brine water on top). Is it safe to just skim off those pieces, and if so what tool should I use? I think my problem is that I ground the cabbage mixtue too small in a food processor before I put it in the crock.

  48. Hi. Great information here, thank you. I started my first batch of sauerkraut Monday afternoon with 3 heaping tablespoons of kosher salt for 5 lbs of cabbage. Now it’s Wednesday morning. I must’ve misunderstood my daughter’s instructions because I’ve been waiting for the kraut to become submerged in juice but it never did even though I kept smashing it down with an upsided down plastic wine glass. I just now learned (from this blog) to add salt water. But it was looking kind of “old” on the unsubmerged surface and didn’t smell wonderful. Did I ruin it already? Should I just start over since it has been real juicy but not “submerged” since Monday? It’s been about 36 – 40 hours since it started.

  49. This is my second batch of cabbage, the first batch, I used too much salt (I liked it, but it was a little salty). This batch I didn’t use as much salt, but when I took it out it didn’t look as white as my first batch, so I did a search about the color and notice some said pink, so I looked at mine again and I could say it has a slight pink or a duller look to it. So I’m wondering is it safe to eat?
    Thank you,
    Kim

  50. My first batch of kraut is currently in the works, and I believe it’s about ready to be put in the fridge. Like a few other folks, some of the top layer of cabbage in my crock was mushy, a bit slimy even (a result of not having the best weigh system, I think). I scrapped it and all of the scum off, and what was under still seems good, crunchy, etc. It was a relatively large batch, so I’d obviously prefer not to waste it it, but the mushy later has me worried. Are there any really solid indicators (for a beginner) of whether the kraut is still good? Also, what should it smell like?

    Thanks!

  51. Susan Smeltzer says:

    I made my first batch of saur kraut this year. Put it in my grandmother’s old crock, covered it with 2 leaves off the head, then weighted it with a gallon ziplock filled with water, pressing it down from inside the bag to get out any air between the bottom of the bag and the kraut before I zipped it up. Put the old crock lid on the pot, stuck the whole thing in a cake pan in case it leaked, and put it under the kitchen table. I didn’t open it at all, not for 4 weeks. When I finally unveiled it, it was perfect. And yummy good!

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