Help! My husband and I are trying to make sauerkraut at home for the first...

Asked September 16, 2013, 4:49 PM EDT

Help! My husband and I are trying to make sauerkraut at home for the first time out of our own cabbages we grew in our organic garden. We followed the recipe in the Ball Blue Book of Preserving to the letter, using canning salt, putting it in freshly washed 3-gallon crock, covering it with cheese cloth, and weighting it down to keep it compressed in a cool place. We're 3 weeks in (on a recommended 3 to 6-week process), and instead of scraping scum on a daily basis as recommended, we are scraping mold – little round flowers of white mold with dark centers. It hasn't really ever bubbled or formed scum. It doesn't smell bad, just like cabbage or sauerkraut. My question: where to go from here? I've scraped the mold several times, removed, washed, and replaced the cheese cloth, and it looks like sauerkraut, sort of translucent. We're fearful of the mold, though. Is there a way to save this batch and can/process it, or should we throw the whole thing on the compost pile and start over next year? (Photo shows 3 days' mold growth)

Jefferson County Colorado

1 Response

Unfortunately, you should discard the entire contents and start over. The mold growing in your crock is well beyond some harmelss surface scum. Contamination has occurred. To prevent this happening again, you need to keep the oxygen out. Instead of cheesecloth, I suggest you use a brine filled baggie, weighted down to prevent any contact with air. Refer to the University of Alaska fact sheet on Sauerkraut, as it provides detailed step by step instructions. It is also important to have the correct amount of salt, as too much can inhibit lactic acid formation. Also the correct temperature range (70-75 degrees). Go to:
Hope this helps. Better luck next time.
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