Sauerkraut Leaf Submersion – How to Use That Skanky Cabbage To Keep Your Kraut Mold Free!

Sauerkraut Leaf Submersion – How to Use That Skanky Cabbage To Keep Your Kraut Mold Free!

When I found these ridiculously awesome cabbages at my local farmer’s market last weekend, I was overjoyed. I had seen them in Vermont the week before and I was afraid I wouldn’t get my hands on them back home. They feel exactly like a regular ol’ head of cabbage, but they’re way cuter and therefore I had to kraut them. A quick internet search reveals that there are  many names for this variety of cabbage, including the creative sweetheart and the literal pointed.

Homemade Sauerkraut Without Mold

I thought I’d share some specifics and options on a step that is mentioned in just about every kraut recipe you’ll ever read. Think of it as pre-composting, resourcefulness, waste-avoidance or laziness. However you think of it, it’s an easy, free way to keep the top of your kraut from getting mold-y or even kahm yeasty.  The basic premise is to pack your jar of kraut as tightly as humanly possible and then, right under the shoulders of the jar, pack the cabbage leaf, so that if anything gets exposed to the air, it will be that leaf. If it gets gross, you don’t mind because you’ll just compost it! With a flat-sided jar, you can tuck the cabbage around the sides of the fermenting kraut. It also makes a nice shelf for any weights you might want to use, be it a ziplock bag filled with brine, a smaller jar, or actual jar weights.

Anything that looks rotted or is slimy or soft should be removed. I cut that black tip off.

Anything that looks rotted or is slimy or soft should be removed. I cut that black tip off.

It’s not fancy, but it does the trick! Trim away any soft or mushy parts. On this particular leaf, I tore off the black parts you see pictured.  On large cabbages, there is often a very strong rib in the middle of the leaf. I LOVE that rib and I make sure to keep it, even when trimming away other parts, because it makes for a very sturdy shelf, as mentioned above.

 

Parts I chose to trim.

Parts I chose to trim.

Place it, rib centered, on top of your packed kraut. The edges that are sticking up are fine can be packed down into the jar (pictured below) or flattened on top.

Place it, rib centered, on top of your packed kraut. The edges that are sticking up are fine can be packed down into the jar (pictured below) or flattened on top.

You could tuck or flatten. Either way works.

You could tuck or flatten. Either way works.

The sides of the skanky leaf are pushed down along the inside of the jar.

The sides of the skanky leaf are pushed down along the inside of the jar.

Surface of tucked leaf.

Surface of tucked leaf.

Ghetto jar method. Jar placed on top of swanky cabbage leaf shelf.

Ghetto jar method. Jar placed on top of skanky cabbage leaf shelf.

Sandy Der's pickle weight placed on the cabbage shelf.

Sandy Der’s pickle weight placed on the cabbage shelf.

This cabbage is sometimes called Sweetheart Cabbage.

This cabbage is sometimes called Sweetheart Cabbage.

PS-Even in the crock, layering outer cabbage leaves along the top is a great tactic for  helping submerge. Some do them under the weight, some just use them as a top layer and skip the weights altogether. I personally prefer to use a weight.

Basics Easy fermenting Equipment Ferment Pickles Probiotic Vegan Vegetable Vegetarian

3 comments

  1. Amyah says:

    I remember, when I was in Germany when I was little, that it was that kind of cabbage they were using to make sauerkraut… at least where I was. Seems it is the best cabbage for that… but… for me (and you too I bet) every cabbage is delicious when fermented… which bring me to a question.

    Somebody gave me a big amount of cabbage leaves… seems they had these cabbages growing from a last year self seeding, little volunteers in the gardens. They just grew wild, without forming a head and the leaves were very rubbery and thick… and purpleish. It took me hours and hours to cut them in fine strips, and in the bowl… but… eventhough I put my bit of salt and massaged them and stamped them, they were not rendering any juice… or so little… just enough to become a bit shiny. So, I put them in Mason jars and packed them as much as I could and had to put brine over them… but I feel they didn’t ferment… they are still dark, dark green and rubbery. I did something wrong or… ???? Oh! And eventhough I didn’t put a lot of salt, they taste salty.

    Thank you for your soooo interesting articles :)

    • Amanda says:

      I love that, Amyah! Thanks so much for sharing! Very cool to know. I was pretty excited about this batch of sauerkraut already, but now I’m expecting great things!

      As for your leaves, may I ask how long you fermented them? Those bigger, tougher pieces may need a bit longer, and especially the ribs just won’t change texture as much (in my experience). Where I would normally do a batch of sauerkraut for a month in the summer, I might do it for up to six weeks or even two months for a batch of ribs. Let me know and I’ll see if I have any other thoughts for you! Thanks for the kind words and thanks for reading!

      • Amyah says:

        Well… they are doing a LOT of fuzzy stuff on the top of the jar… which I never had (at least that much) with other cabbages… it was very very hot here… maybe the reason. I let it ferment 3 weeks but the moss problem annoyed me and I put them in the fridge… maybe I shouldn’t have :( … Oh! I took the ribs off… they were soooo huge…

        I discarded one of the jar as it had a strange unpleasant smell…

        You have some advices?… or should I just forget about that batch?

        Thank you for your answer :)

        Have a wonderful day

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