Following the recommendations and our step-by-step recipe in our aticle homemade sauerkraut recipe you should end up with the most tasty raw sauerkraut or kapusta you have ever tried. However there may be cases when something goes wrong. We did not get ours right from the first time too. It took us some attempts to make it exactly the way we wanted it.
Generally you can tell if sauerkraut has gone bad by its smell. It is normal for sauerkraut to smell a bit sulphury, but not in a bad way. You should not be disgusted by it. To most of the people not used to eating it, it will indeed smell strange, something similar to cheese, olives, cooked eggs, etc. However, this is not bad, it should be this way. This is a sign of quality. What is not a sign of quality is the smell and taste or acetone (nail polish remover) or alcohol. In this case unfortunately the cabbage is spoilt and should be thrown away.
If this happens, there are a couple of reasons why. Do not worry, practice makes perfect and your next portion should be better if you stick to our simple guidelines outlined.
- First of all the spoilage might have happened because of ‘bothering’ and touching the sauerkraut too much during the fermentation and not allowing the bacteria to quietly do their job.
- Secondly, it may be because of letting a foreign pathogen into the mixture of good bacteria and letting it spread. You should wash your hands every time you touch the product in any way and sterilise the jars you put the final product into.
- Thirdly, it may be because of uneven piercing. The goal is to let all the gas bubbles out. If they are left trapped the fermentation is impeded. We do not want that.
- The fourth reason is the suffocation of sauerkraut. We should never ever let the sauerkraut to be closed off from the external environment, it should always have access to air. Even in the fridge, the lid should never be placed tightly to allow the exchange of air and carbon dioxide gas.
- The fifth reason is because it has simply expired. Although sauerkraut can taste good and last quite long (even as long as the entire winter period being stored properly of course), with time it can go bad depending on various external factors. As long as you do not smell acetone, alcohol or other obtrusive smells, you are good to go.
- The sixth reason would be using salt with artificial additives such as iodione, which can spoil the entire texture of the final product. Be sure to use clean salt like 100% sea salt or rock salt for good results.
- The seventh reason is that the fiber of cabbage being fermented is not entirely covered in liquid. This is very important because without liquid sauerkraut has a very short lifespan and starts smelling of acetone fast. It should be either cabbage’s own juice (brine that is produced with the help of adding salt) or additional water that covers all the layers
These are the major mistakes outlined. We did not get our first batches of sauerkraut right the first time because we did not have a fixed method. Now that we have established it, we want to share it with you. With experience and with the help of our recommendations you will surely get it right fast, avoiding unnecessary problems.