Fermenting Whole head cabbage

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Jokester

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I put a whole cabbage in to ferment 4 months ago. It was on the counter in a 75F house the whole time. It was held down nicely and no issues with anything like mold etc.
The biggest outer leaf I folded in 4 and held the rest down with it and another hold down was on top, all were well submerged in the brine. Brine also tastes like sea water and has the spices I put in it etc.
The outer leaf was the greenest, toughest and most fibrous leaf in the head.
Today I pulled it off and ate it. It was only 1/2 sauerkraut IMHO, the other 1/2 was still cabbage.

Is it possible the softer inner leaves, even though they are wrapped in a ball have fermented ? Or is it time to let it go another 2 or 4 months ?

It looks clean and smells nice and brine like, nothing weird growing on it - Just seems to have under fermented from that outer leaf.
 

TurnipGreen

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I don’t know if it makes a difference, but I’ve always cut the core out for a whole head. Not because I know what I’m doing, but just because that’s how my Baba did it.
I’d bet those inner leaves are fermented after that long. If not cut the core out and put it back in for another month.
 
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Jokester

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I did that - cut a carrot shaped cone out of the center which I sliced to 1/2" and put that also in the brine. That part I didn't expect to ferment due to its fiber content, and I ate 1 piece of that too - salty and spicy and very very much unfermented, I didn't expect it to, cos I've tried fermenting curly dock with absolutely disastrous results - so I knew the bacteria cant eat fiber. I just thought they'd eat the green outer leaf a lot more. Or maybe I'm expecting that outer leaf had more sugars than it actually did.
 

bernardsmith

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I wonder if the brine can in fact get to the inner leaves in any simple way. When you make sauerkraut you need to chop the cabbage into thin strips to allow the brine to replace the water in the cabbage - the water is expelled and the salt saturates the cells and this allows certain lacto-bacteria to thrive while inhibiting other less desirable bacteria to thrive. If you don't allow the brine access to the inner leaves then the brine is not going to replace the water and given the brine solution surrounding the cabbage and the lack of O2 no spoilage bacteria might be able to thrive. BUT without the brine replacing the water I am not sure that any fermentation can take place...
 

TurnipGreen

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Well, I’m stumped. Cutting out the core and keeping covered has always worked for me fermenting a whole head. Was it a fresh cabbage? I’ve heard heads of cabbage don’t ferment as well. Maybe as the get more fiber/less sugar?

or was it a super tight head? Maybe try a savory head?
 
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Jokester

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Oh I've been eating more of the sauerkraut. I'm pretty sure its fermented, the 5" or so head of cabbage has had the leaves open up almost to the point of being loose. The center tight core is barely 1" in diameter.
The super green fibrous part obviously can not ferment, but all the rest has. The thick portions of the leaves have turned 1/2 way transparent and the thin parts are all transparent, the green parts well, are still pretty green.
The thing is, they are tasting more salty than the sharp sour vinegar taste. That's what threw me off. But I did ferment with brine, not vinegar. So is that normal ?
 

hawkeyed

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Why wouldn't you just chop it all up? That would maximize surface area and let if ferment evenly...unless I'm missing some other point here.
 
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Jokester

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I wanted to make whole leaf.
Chopping it up also has the added problem of keeping them down in the brine (or due to the lack of air pockets it stays down ? Anyway I am loving the whole leaf version, may do chopped next time.
 
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