We sliced and grated some white cabbage three days ago and left it salted and completely covered in a plastic container. It has since then turned rose-colored. The top layer was pretty dry when I opened it tonight. We had it on our journey and the weather has been pretty cold these days.

The big question: is it bad now? I mean, it didn't taste differently, there was no fermentation... Anybody have a clue if it's still safe to eat? We like to travel around and want to eat some of the cabbage mixed with salad cream in the next few days... So it's only salted and cut right now and completely airtight covered in a plastic container.

3 Answers 3


Are you trying to make Sauerkraut?

Either way for the pink colour you have a non-desirable bacteria growing. While most Sauerkraut has some of this, it is not always safe to eat. Time to throw it away?

If you salt cabbage, you need to ensure not too much salt is used (1% to 2% max), and make sure it is packed down very firmly, so only anaerobic bacteria will grow in any numbers

It doesn't need to be in a closed container, but it should have a firm fitting lid, without an air gap on the top

Also, once it goes past 20°C (70°F) you run the risk of getting other undesirable bacteria and yeasts, and general food rot

  • Hmm, we didn't intend to make Sauerkraut. It should just have been cabbage salad. But your answer sounds the best so far. Some smell has appeared now and the plastic container wasn't airtight in the end. So my wife threw it away today...
    – Samoth
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 18:09
  • 1
    By the way. I stay in Singapore, where the average temperature is around 26°C. I can make sauerkraut just fine without the cabbage spoiling. It takes about a week instead of the full month in colder countries and nothing rots. Of course, I transfer it to the fridge when it's ready.
    – Dois
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 7:46

Anything that goes a funny colour should be chucked - it really isn't worth the risk.

  • It is helpful to provide some empirical reasoning to support your answer. Or absent that, a comment on the question mit be more appropriate.
    – Sean Hart
    Commented Feb 12, 2012 at 16:28
  • Thanks for your feedback, which I appreciate. It's frustrating to be marked down without knowing why. To expand on my answer - bacteria are all around us. Some whan they grow have clear colours and while not important themselves may show that the conditions have been right for the growth of other bacteria - including food poisoning bacteria which may have no obvious signs. Salt and temperature control while important to microbiological control rely on even distribution. I assume that the cabbage will be eaten cold and not cooked which would at least destroy viable organisms.
    – Stuart
    Commented Feb 12, 2012 at 23:14
  • So - if I don't understand what's going on I don't feel justified in inflicting it on my nearest and dearest.
    – Stuart
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 0:03
  • 1
    So you chuck away blue cheese? Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo
    – TFD
    Commented Feb 13, 2012 at 9:03

I think the pink is from the salt...
Otherwise, the cabbage would turn brown. The salt acts as a preservative, but the acidity could be reacting to the juices in the cabbage, turning them pink... Similar chemical reactions also have something to do with why red cabbage is red.

  • 2
    I am pretty sure that neither salt nor vinegar turn cabbage pink - not even pink salt.
    – Stephie
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 19:04

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