I ate my homemade sauerkraut and lived to tell about it!
I made some sauerkraut by submerging some shredded cabbage in brine (wrapped it in cheesecloth, weighted with rocks, left to ferment for about 5 or 6 weeks).
When I took the cover off the container, there was a really vile-looking microbial colony of some sort floating on top. So I carefully removed that, and then removed the kraut. It looked and smelled OK, so I tasted it, and it tasted OK. So I decided to wait a few hours to see if I had poisoned myself, and after about 5 or 6 hours, I had no symptoms, so I ate a bit more.
My guess is that the kraut is probably safe, since whatever colony was floating on top was probably some sort of top-fermenting bacterium or years, and the kraut is probably like other vegetables in that it's bottom-fermenting.
The tastes pretty good!--much nicer, I think, than the junk you get in the store (and anyway, even some of the store-bought stuff these days contains VINEGAR! UGH! Barbarians!)
I am thinking about eating my homemade saurkraut..I am not brave yet..it smells good..and it is bubbly. Is it supposed to be Bubbly? :) Please don't laugh at me! ;) I guess I want to live to tell about it..:) I made a crock..and a quart jar..If I sniff the quart jar .will I dye from the fumes? Isn't this terrible?....I need a trail blazer to help me..thanks Renae
Ok, I have to reply to this. Me and my neighbors for 12 years now make our own kraut every year.
It is so much fun and so good tasting I hate to have to buy any once I run out of my homemade packages.
I will give you our recipe and you can adapt this to a smaller portion. Now you have to understand that there are 8 couples neighbors so we make a lot and each take home several backs, 20-30 each qt size bags and freeze.
So Here Goes:
We did 5 - 5 gallon buckets and 100 heads of cabbage so approx 20 heads per 5 gallon bucket.
We shredded the cabbage with a food processor
Then put in 2-3 bowls of shredded cabbage and 6-8 tablespoons of kosher salt. Then we took a 2x4 with a plastic bag tapped at the bottom for sanitary reasons and pounded in until the salt got worked into the cabbage 5 minutes or so. Then added another 3-4 bowls of cabbage and more salt, continue until 6 " from the top.
Then set the bucket in a large aluminum pan. Put a large trash bag filled with 2-3 gallons of water on top of the cabbage and set in a cool place for 4 weeks. The cabbage will "burp" or some of the gasses from the cabbage will over flow into aluminum tin.
After 4 weeks, remove the water bag on top and scrape 4 or so inches from the top. The fermented part. Maybe 5" just got to taste. You can pretty much see the difference from the color change. Then bag the coleslaw in sealed baggies and freeze. It is amazing fresh taste and so much better than thing you can buy.
You could easily do this in a small bucket which would work well. We made out in November when it is a bit cooler here and have 3 bags left. I can't wait for November again.
I forgot! you can eat the kraut raw of course, but if you warm it up, a little caraway seed will help with the gas. You can even pack it, cold, into clean jars and refrigerate them. It isn't necessary to can it in a water bath if you are making a small batch. (last year we did 48 quarts!)
I have been making sauerkraut my whole life, and while it is not always necessary to skim it, if you get a tan or pink growth on top, you should remove it. Be sure to use the right amount of salt--too much salt and it won't ferment properly, too little salt and it will rot. You will know by the smell!!
Yeah, don't be too afraid of weird things floating on top of your kraut. I've had some pretty serious scum/mold situations on the surface of my brine, and i've always been fine. One tip is that if it ever gets really nasty, you can dump all the liquid and simply make and add fresh brine. I've done that once or twice with no problems.