Sauerkraut…not this time.

I am so frustrated. Last month hubby and I made sauerkraut.


Here’s my recipe:
Cut up cabbage very fine and pack into jars.  Punch a hole down through the center.  In the hole put 1 t salt, 1 t sugar and 1 t vinegar.  Fill the jar with boiling water.  Loosely put lids on the jars…then let them sit for 6 weeks.  After the six weeks cold pack the jars for 30 minutes.

I have made this several times and had good luck.  A time or two I have had a bad jar once the six weeks are up and the jars need to be processed..but never ever have I had this problem.


UGH…gross…any of those saying are VERY appropriate.  I can’t think of anything that we did different.  Hubby has been racking his brain trying to figure out the difference too.  All I can think of is that this time we did it in the summer.  Other years it has been later in the year or in the early spring when we make kraut.  I was just thinking that the basement was warmer and that promoted spoilage.  I have lots of good jars but never this many bad.  Hubby doesn’t think that the basement was much warmer and thinks my theory is bogus.

We lost about 12 jars……

Do you have any suggestions?  I have a few more cabbages in the garden so it looks like there will be more kraut making going on. This time I think it we will be trying the crock method of preservation.   UGH.

Don’t forget to check out the upcoming Quilt Along that I am hosting…It will be lots of fun and you don’t need to have any fancy fabric to do it.  Check out the details here.

Today I am hooking up with Dandelion House and Homestead Revival.

15 thoughts on “Sauerkraut…not this time.”

  1. My grandmother always said that making sauer kraut was always a chancy proposition because many facotrs played in to it turning out good.

    I was pregnant one year and helped my mother put some away. EVERY jar turned black! When my granny found out I helped, she told my mom that my body chemistry was changed and that was what happened. Granny said a woman should not put away kraut if she was getting her monthly cycle as well.

    I know a lot of people think the “old wives tales” are just that…but my mothers did turn black as coal….

  2. I’m used to a cold-ferment recipe, without vinegar… the cabbage + salt is tossed together, and needs to produce enough brine to be submerged – if the cabbage is moist, the salt will draw out enough liquid to cover the cabbage with brine, but if the cabbage is drier, you need to mix up salt+water at the same ratio, and top up the jar/bucket… anything that sticks out will mold, and needs to be skimmed off. (And all my losses have been through not paying prompt attention to things floating up.)

    I would guess the particulars of the growing conditions of the cabbage, is the seasonal correlation, not the storage temperature, but that the actual problem is that this cabbage was more inclined to float than the stuff you usually use.

  3. I watched a video on canning from Hoestead Blessings with the West ladies, and they only used salt on their cabbage as well. I can’t wait to try it!

  4. Oh Jo, how sickening is that to do all that work for naught. I had the same thing happen the last time I made kraut and said never again. I know make cabbage rolls and freezer slaw to use up my cabbage. Maybe the sugar? I don’t think so because I never used sugar. Maybe the heat but we have done it in the crock in the heat of late summer and it worked. I just did not have good luck with the jar method at all.

  5. I’d guess it was the temperature, or something on the cabbage itself, maybe? I’ve made sauerkraut once in a food preservation class and always wanted to do a batch of my own, but the temperature always fluctuates so much in our house I’ve never been confident that I could make it work.

    Sorry yours didn’t turn out — homemade sauerkraut is so yummy!

  6. Yuck, sorry yours did not turn out. It is always frustrating when you have put so much time and effort into canning and it fails. I have used your recipe twice this summer with no problems. My guess would be somehow extra oxygen got into the jars and caused the normal good bacteria of fermentation to turn bad. The only other idea I have is that previously you used store purchased cabbage (wow, I sound stalkerish!) and I believe you said this cabbage is garden fresh. Maybe some different bacteria from the soil was left on the cabbage that caused the spoilage.

  7. What a bummer….all that work.

    I don’t have any ideas on why this happened..I’m just sorry for all your wasted work.

  8. did you use canning salt? that makes a difference. i know you say you make it like this all the time, but i also wonder if your cabbage isn’t getting the salt mixed in well enough? good luck and don’t worry over it. happens to the best of us.

  9. too bad about your sauerkraut. we always do ours in a crock. After chopping it, it gets stomped with a metal mallet with a long handle with salt until it starts to break down. Then it gets put in the crock. Ours gets left in the unheated summer kitchen. The first day or so a space heater is on to help the fermentation start. Then it’s just what ever the temperature is. After 2 weeks it’s ready. The top stuff is scrapped off and thrown away as it is usually abit spoiled. We freeze ours. The experts around here say that winter cabbage makes the best kraut. The sugar and warm temp for too long might be the problem with yours. Good luck with the next batch. It sure is frustrating after all that work!

  10. Not sure where you got the recipe, but any number of factors could be in play with your spoilage. Warmer temperatures will promote faster decomposition. Garden fresh cabbage is likely to have different bacteria than store cabbage. The water content of your cabbage could vary. Too much “free water” will promote spoilage (see full details in The Natural Canning Resource Book –

    Ideally, you want the naturally occurring lactobacilis bacteria to proliferate in your cabbage, acidifying your cabbage as they reproduce and lowering its pH. This naturally inhibits the growth of pathogenic organisms.

    I make my kraut very simply, smashing the chopped cabbage in a crock with salt and letting it ferment. It keeps in my basement “as is” for months. I repackage it in jars and keep in the fridge when ready to use, or freeze to keep the microbes alive.

    Here’s a post on our kraut making adventures:

  11. Pingback: Kraut Again…. — Jo's Country Junction

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