I’ve posted about our first time tries at making several fermented products.
There was the mead, small batches of plain sauerkraut and a probiotic sauerkraut/fermented vegetables version. Plus, there was the crabapple cider vinegar I posted progress on recently. (all of these links will open in new tabs)
The jars of sauerkraut and cider are in locations that I can easily check on them. With the lack of fermentation in the mead, I’ve found myself eyeballing the jars harder.
I was feeling suspicious.
So this evening, I took down a jar of plain sauerkraut and took the filter off. It seemed okay, but I went to check the other two, anyhow.
Yup. They were moldy.
So I went and checked the probiotic version; all five jars.
Every one of them had mold.
All of them were also very dry. Which they weren’t, when I set them up.
I still have the one jar, but after this, I’m not sure I will keep it. All the other jars got dumped into the compost bucket. The sad thing is, they all smelled so good as I emptied the jars! (I did some research, and apparently I could have just taken off the top layer and the rest would have been fine, but… no.)
So what happened?
Cabbage is a very watery vegetable, and all the instructions I read talked about the amount of liquid released after massaging in the salt. Some of the recipes didn’t even include added brine, because the cabbage itself would keep releasing water as it fermented. This didn’t happen.
I added brine to these, yet they were still dry. Without brine to cover the kraut, mold can grow.
Could our house really be so dry, that it evaporated?
Hmm… I actually have a gauge for that and can answer, yes. We have our aquarium near the kitchen window. I can see how quickly the water level drops on it, and know how much water I need to add to the tank because of the evaporation. I’ve been very surprised by how, and how quickly, the tank loses water to evaporation. This could very definitely be part of the problem.
So what is the solution?
The most obvious one is to invest in a fermentation kit, which allows the jars to de-gas, but would prevent evaporation; a bit like an airlock on the carboy. In fact, there are airlocks available for mason jars, too. However, that is not something that is in the budget.
I have seen an alternative.
One site I found used a surgical glove placed over the mouth of the jar.
We have lots of those.
The question is, is it even worth trying again?
I think I will, but not any time soon.
So that is two failures.
What is the third, you ask?
Despite the fact that I had enjoyed glasses of it without any problem, my daughters both found they felt sick after drinking it. One of the “tells” to look for if mead has gone bad is a film on the top. I can’t see any, but the girls say they can make a film out in their glasses.
Apparently, I have an iron stomach.
I’ve done some research on it and, in general, the consensus is that mead doesn’t really go bad, but these were all talking about meads with high alcohol contents, while ours has almost no alcohol in it.
Which means we have to dump out more than 2 cases of mead, because it’s not worth the risk.
What a waste.
We plan to try again, though. Among the things we plan to change up is buy water instead of using our well water, and to buy white wine yeast.
Well, it’s a learning experience, if nothing else.
It’s still disappointing.