Reasons why sauerkraut darkens and what to do to avoid it

In winter, the body suffers from a lack of sunlight and healthy vitamins. Appropriate nutrition will help eliminate the imbalance of substances. Every housewife knows that a storehouse of vitamin C in the cold season is sauerkraut. This appetizer goes well with side dishes and is used in the preparation of various dishes.

Sometimes she loses her snow-white appearance and becomes unappetizing. Why sauerkraut darkens, can it be eaten and how to store the product correctly so as not to spoil it - you will learn all this from our article.

Causes of browning sauerkraut

Well-sour cabbage has a white color without defects, pronounced aroma, taste and crunchiness. When preparing such a snack, even the smallest details are important. A slight deviation from the recipe will spoil the dish and darken it.

Reasons why sauerkraut darkens and what to do to avoid it

There are several reasons why the cabbage darkened when salted:

  • incorrect quantity and quality of salt;
  • unsuitable variety for fermentation;
  • non-observance of the temperature regime and fermentation time;
  • salting without oppression;
  • oak container;
  • oxygen access;
  • active development of dangerous microorganisms.

Amount of salt

Marinating is impossible without salt - it is this ingredient that eliminates dangerous microorganisms and helps to enhance the effect of lactic acid. Salt is a natural preservative that protects the product from spoilage.

Important! Coarse table salt without additives is suitable for fermentation.

Lack of salt slows down the fermentation process, and excess salt neutralizes beneficial bacteria. Experienced housewives recommend using 20-24 g of salt per 1 kg of vegetable.

Iodized salt

The use of iodized and Himalayan salt with additives alters the chemical processes that take place during fermentation. As a result, the color and taste of the snack changes.


Choosing the right variety is the key to successful fermentation. The color of the snack will change if the hostess has chosen a low-quality vegetable for harvesting. Preference is given to sweetish mid-late or late varieties: Nadezhda, Gift, Slava.

For fermentation, well-ripened, not frozen, dense heads of cabbage are used. It is important that there are no voids inside. The color of the leaves should be white or slightly yellowish.

Important! Frozen, heavily damaged and contaminated heads of cabbage are unsuitable for fermentation.

Unsuitable temperature

Reasons why sauerkraut darkens and what to do to avoid it

The whole fermentation process is divided into 3 stages:

  1. The first stage is characterized by billet cloudiness and increased gas formation. During this period, beneficial bacteria actively multiply. Temperature + 17… + 24 ° С is considered favorable for the life of microorganisms. If the indicators are lower, this will slow down the fermentation process, and if higher, it will contribute to the appearance of dangerous bacteria.
  2. During the second stage, lactic acid is released and negative processes slow down. The optimum temperature is + 20 ° C. Thanks to this indicator, the vegetable accumulates the maximum amount of vitamin C.
  3. The third stage is further fermentation. The required temperature is 0 ... -2 ° С. An increase in performance will lead to the formation of mold, which will ruin the product.

Fermentation time

Each stage is distinguished by the chemical processes taking place and the fermentation time.

If you adhere to the recommended temperature, then:

  • the first stage will take 2-3 days;
  • the second will last 5-7 days;
  • the third - a few months.

Lack of oppression

Oppression is used to compact ingredients and block oxygen access... The upper layer of the workpiece turns black due to the weathering of the liquid and the ingress of air. What should be the weight of the object used as a weight? Earlier in Russia, hostesses used ordinary scalded cobblestone, the weight of which was equal to 1/10 of the mass of cabbage.

Now many people ferment vegetables in glass jars. As oppression, water is used, poured into a plastic bag or a smaller jar.

Ignoring getting rid of gases

Reasons why sauerkraut darkens and what to do to avoid it

Novice housewives wonder why they need to pierce the cabbage during fermentation. During fermentation, a large volume of gases is released, which begins to displace the brine. If you do not release gases from the can, the color deteriorates, and the taste begins to taste bitter.

The cabbage is pierced with a wooden stick for 2-3 days - as soon as foam appears on the surface of the container. The procedure is carried out 1-2 times a day. Make sure that the stick reaches the bottom of the container.

Is it possible to eat such cabbage

Physical processes that cause darkening:

  1. Weathering brine... In the process of fermentation, the brine is weathered, so the top layer of vegetables turns black - it is removed, the rest of the cabbage can be eaten.
  2. Adding carrots... A large amount of this grated vegetable will affect the color of the piece. Despite the darkening, it is still usable.
  3. Iodized salt... The use of salt with additives alters the chemical processes, which leads to darkening of the snack and deprives it of its zesty taste.
  4. Storage of cabbage in a metal container.
  5. Excessive mucus production. This problem occurs when lactic acid bacteria are actively multiplying. If the mucus is clear, the snack can be consumed.

Biological reasons:

  • activity of pathogenic microflora due to exceeding temperature indicators;
  • the appearance of mold;
  • mushroom activity caused by insufficient salt and temperature disturbance;
  • the formation of rot.

What to do with her

Reasons why sauerkraut darkens and what to do to avoid it

If the browning of the product is due to physical processes, it can be consumed. But if the cabbage has changed its color for biological reasons, it is disposed of.

Important! A color change to red indicates mushroom activity. You cannot eat such a product. Putting out the situation will not save the situation.

Strongly darkened sauerkraut should not be stored. If it begins to turn black due to mold, it is not enough to remove the fungus from above - it has already hit the entire workpiece. It is better to throw it away.

How to ferment cabbage correctly so that it does not darken

Cooking sauerkraut is a simple process. But there are several nuances that can completely ruin the product. Preparation for cooking begins with the choice of cabbage.

White cabbage is used for pickling.... Choose a mature, light head of cabbage with dense and thin leaves. To prevent darkening, the top leaves are removed. If the hostess adds carrots, it is better not to grind them on a grater, but to cut them into strips.

Feature. Finely grated carrots release a lot of juice, which will change the color of the product.

Also, grapes, apples are added to sauerkraut, beets, red bell peppers, lingonberries or cranberry... So that these ingredients do not affect the color of the vegetable, theypickle separately, and mix after readiness.

Spices will diversify the taste of snacks: bay leaf, black pepper, coriander, cumin seeds anddill... The seasonings are mixed with salt and then added to the brine.

The brine is the key to the crispness of cabbage. The liquid affects not only the color of the vegetable, but also its structure. As soon as the brine begins to erode, salt water is poured into the container.

For a spicy taste, many housewives add sugar to the brine. For 1 liter of water, 1 tbsp is enough. l. sugar and 1.5 tbsp. l. salt.

Do not forget about the need to release gas from the cabbage. During fermentation, it is pierced in several places with a sterile wooden stick (suitable for sushi).

Which container to use for fermenting cabbage? During fermentation, organic acids are released, which can spoil the container. Therefore, they use glass jars, enameled or wooden dishes. Keep in mind that pickling in wooden barrels will cause cabbage to lose its snow-white color and turn gray.

Reasons why sauerkraut darkens and what to do to avoid it

Characteristics of a properly prepared snack:

  • equally cut strips of cabbage;
  • even distribution of additives (carrots, apples, cranberries, grapes);
  • the structure of the cabbage is dense;
  • crispness and juiciness;
  • aroma - spicy, with fresh notes, no unpleasant odors;
  • the taste is soft sweet and sour, without bitterness;
  • brine - sharp;
  • color - from white to yellowish.

How to store so that it does not darken

Preparing quality sauerkraut is half the battle. It is important to store it correctly so as not to spoil it.

During the first and second stage of fermentation blank stored indoors in a dark place. If the outside temperature allows, the container is taken out to the balcony.

For ripening, the product is sent to the refrigerator, cellar or basement. It can be stored in a well-closed container for several months, in large oak barrels for 8 months.

Once the cabbage is opened, its shelf life is reduced. The workpiece is transferred to a refrigerator or to a room where the air temperature is −1 ... + 4 ° С.

If the cabbage is stored in glass jars, it is consumed within 21 days. To save space in the refrigerator, some housewives put it in plastic bags. After opening, you need to eat a snack 6-7 days in advance.

It is better not to use metal or damaged enamel containers to store the product. During fermentation, the lactic acid released will corrode the metal.


On the Internet, experienced housewives share their secrets for fermenting cabbage.

Svetlana, Valuyki: «I usually do not pierce cabbage during fermentation. I get rid of gases with a cocktail tube. As soon as the fermentation process begins, I insert it into the middle of the jar. Thanks to this trick, the cabbage is tasty and snow-white. "

Natalia, Krasnodar: “I use only special varieties of cabbage for pickling. If in doubt which variety to buy, ask the seller. Regular cabbage soup will turn out dark and tasteless. Heads of cabbage for pickling should be white. "

Anna, Novokubansk: “I noticed that cabbage darkens if it is placed in the refrigerator during fermentation. Only the finished product is stored at low temperatures. "


Sauerkraut is a popular preparation of housewives. It is served as a stand-alone product or used in other dishes. But sometimes all efforts go to waste - the appetizer becomes dark and unattractive.

There are several reasons for the loss of its snow-white color. If they are physical, cabbage can be eaten. But if biological processes are the reason for the color change, it is better not to risk it and throw the workpiece away. The choice of storage location is also important. Often, a violation of the temperature regime leads to darkening or spoilage of cabbage.

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