Well, Saturday was official tasting day for the three sauerkrauts I made at the workshop. They all tasted good but were very dry in the upper third of the bottle. I especially liked the taste of the kraut with the hot pepper…it had a delightful zing. I am thinking I will have to add some sort of brine to the bottles. Does anyone have any suggestions? In the future, how would I avoid this dryness as they did seem to have enough fluid in the bottle to start?
@Gordon perhaps you have an answer for Marlene?
Sorry it took me so long to respond.
Dryness in the upper third of the ferment suggests that you either lost too much brine if you were pouring excess off, or not enough brine was created in the first place. You should also try and push sauerkraut that is above the brine below the brine if possible, especially when you take some out. If you stored the ferment in the refrigerator, then the brine will be drawn back into the cabbage. Let it warm up on the counter and see if more brine appears.
If not enough brine is there, then put the whole works in a bowl and massage it again, or use a pounder to break down the cell walls of the cabbage. Too much pounding will result in softer sauerkraut, so be careful! If you taste the brine and it does not seem very salty, then add a bit more salt (try a 1/2 teaspoon for a quart jar full) and massage in.
Or, you could add another vegetable that has a higher water content in it that will release it
when fermenting. Vegetables like beets, turnip, onions or carrots. Grate these up and add them, massage again. Then rebottle and see what the brine level does, it should create enough.
Or, take about a quarter of the volume out and blend it into a liquid. Add that back in. This will make the sauerkraut less crunchy, but it does work.
Never add water or even salted water to sauerkraut. Water only will dilute the brine, and adding salted water can change the colour and taste of the sauerkraut.
This is all I can suggest. One reason I make bigger batches of sauerkraut (gallons as opposed to a quart or two) is that it is easier to regulate the brine levels and deal with other potential issues.