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Apr 16, 2012 12:40 PM

It's HOT! Is my sauerkraut in danger???

I have a couple jars of homemade sauerkraut fermenting on my counter right now--my first ever! They've been out there for almost a week and they are definitely starting to taste sour and kraut-y (I used a little juice from a jar of bubbe's as an innoculant to speed up the process a little) but I want to leave them out longer to fully develop.

The thing is, we are having a heat wave here in the Boston area! When I first started them, the daytime temp was in the low-to-mid sixties and the kraut hardly seemed to be doing anything. then it zoomed up to the mid-seventies (a little cooler in the house) and it started bubbling like crazy (which was really cool!) Now we are up to the 80s--ugh!--and apparently are going to stay there for one more day. My thermostat currently reads 86 (I find that a little hard to believe but maybe not--it's definitely uncomfortably warm for me!) and, although the temperature will drop at night, there will still be residual heat in my second-floor apartment in a wooden house. :-(

Is this too hot for kraut? It's not going to be like this for very long--we're expected to only have two hot days and then back down to 60-70 (craziest weather EVER this year). But will even that period of time mess up the fermentation or do something else nasty to it? If I put it in the refrigerator until we have reasonable April weather again, will it start up again when I take it out?

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  1. Lady, they should be okay but you definitely want to move them to a cooler place for the time being. Not the fridge, but a cool, dry spot in the cupboard or pantry should do. When the heatwave breaks, put them back on the counter to finish fermenting merrily away.

    4 Replies
    1. re: mamachef pantry does seem to be a few degrees cooler than the rest of the kitchen (I don't really believe the kitchen is as hot as 86--my thermostat is in the sunniest room in the house, unfortunately) so I suppose I could put them in there. But will the darkness not make them more susceptible to mold? (I also have a somewhat cooler basement but it is kind of grody and I don't feel comfortable putting food that isn't tightly sealed down there...)

      1. re: Lady_Tenar

        You said it was just for a day or two, right? I'd never ferment kraut fully in a dark place, but I'm sure a day or two won't hurt. However, if you're worried, go ahead and refrigerate it. It will totally slow the process down, but it won't stop it. (The fridge is dark when it's shut, too... : )

        1. re: mamachef

          Yeah, it is just a day or two, so you're probably right. I'm just paranoid because, so far, it seems to be going really well and I don't want to mess them up late in the game. They're like my babies. :-P

          1. re: Lady_Tenar

            Believe me, I understand. What you have to go through to produce 'kraut is pretty mind-boggling.. Let us know how everything works out - it will be fine. Yum, kraut dogs and mustard!!

    2. You can always put them in the frige until it's cooler and then take it back out. It slows fermentation but doesn't stop it.

      My milk kefir is fermenting really fast right now because of the heat- instead of leaving it out 24 hours I leave it out all day and then put it in the frige to finish. My water kefir is fermenting in about 24 hours on the counter instead of the usual 48!

      1. Not a reply but a question,did you use pickling salt or kosher salt???I remember years ago a friend of my Mom's came to visit,she pickled a whole head of cabbage and used just regular salt, at the time we lived in Miami and you know how hot it gets there it came out perfect.
        I also have some sitting on my porch but am worried I used the wrong salt,my first time doing this.

        2 Replies
        1. re: mutti

          I used kosher salt, as per the directions of the book I referred to (DIY Delicious by Vanessa Barrington). But most of the sources I've read say that the reason for distinction between different types of salt is for the sake of consistency in measuring (the crystal size makes a difference) not for any chemical reason. That makes sense to me.