The shredded and salted cabbage is then placed into tanks and mixed well to distribute the salt.As noted above, mixing is an important step, because localized regions within the rather heterogenous material may contain more or less than the 2.25% salt that was added to the bulk mixture. Within those pockets, therefore, it is entirely possible that the salt concentration may vary considerably, perhaps by as much as 0.1%. This may result in either too little or too much inhibitory control over the organisms that reside in that microenvironment. If spoilage organisms were able to grow, their products (e.g., slime, pigments, off-flavors) could accumulate and, when the sauerkraut is mixed prior to packaging, contaminate the entire batch of product. It is worth noting that high salt levels can promote spoilage just as readily as low salt levels. For example, the "pink" defect (discussed below) is caused by growth of salt-tolerant yeasts that ordinarily would be suppressed by lactic acid bacteria whose growth is impaired at high salt levels.
The sauerkraut fermentation was traditionally performed in wooden barrels.Wood-stave tanks are still used; however, concrete vats are now common. The latter are lined with fiberglass or plastic, and can hold as much as 50,000 Kg.The cabbage is covered with a plastic, tarp-like material, large enough to drape over the sides of the tank. Water (or brine) is then placed on top to weigh down the cabbage and to drive out and exclude air.This also reduces exposure to air-borne organisms, foreign matter, and insects. The weight further enhances formation of a brine, which soon completely covers the shredded cabbage.
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