I think it’s important that we know what is in our food and when we can we should make as much of our food from scratch. Our Grandparents did this and I think it’s a way of life that we should all embrace. As you know I love to can tomatoes, make sauces and salsas all from my home grown tomatoes to feed friends and family throughout the year. Yesterday I harvested over 10 pounds worth of potatoes form the garden too!
One of my favorite fall kitchen projects is my annual Sauerkraut prep. Sauerkraut is so simple to make and does all the work on it’s own as long as you just keep an eye on it. Follow thru the photos below to see how you can make your own Sauerkraut and preserve it for the year to come.
Start by buying good local cabbage. I love to head out to the farm stand or the farmers market to get giant Kraut Cabbages. These are typically very affordable and large so 1 or 2 will do. These two that I purchased were just over 20 pounds! If you don’t have access to giant Kraut Cabbages you can use normal size cabbage.
The first step is to remove any damaged, or flawed outer leaves. You then want to thinly shred the cabbage into thin strips. You can do this with a food processor attachment, a mandolin or with a knife and just slice thin strips. I have the honor of using my Grandfather’s Kraut cutter. My Grandmother gave this to me years ago and every batch I make I use it, it works great. You can find new versions of this style of kraut cutter on Amazon.
You want to layer the shredded cabbage into a crock or large glass container.I found this large antique crock at an antique store in Snohomish, WA. Searching antique stores, thrift stores or estate sales is a great way of finding these old tools. You will need to mix the shredded cabbage with 3 Tablespoons of pickling or sea salt per every 5 pounds of cabbage.
With clean hands massage the cabbage and the salt, this will help to start softening the cabbage so the liquid starts to be released.
Once you have all the cabbage shredded and layered and mixed with all the salt next you want to find a plate that will fit into the container or crock and press down the cabbage and then weigh the plate down with something heavy. I have used large gallon jugs of water to do this.
Set the crock on the counter or somewhere convenient at room temperature. Within the first 24 hours there should be enough liquid pressed to cover the entire amount of cabbage so that it’s submerged. If not make a batch of purified water and salt, 1 tablespoon of non-iodized salt per every 1 cup of water. You want all the cabbage submerged.
The antique crock that I use has a lid so that keeps the dust and bugs out, but if you don’t have a lid for your crock or container, cover it with a clean dishtowel.
After 2 days or so of fermenting you will start to see a white scum on the top of the liquid. Each day skim this scum off and discard.
I keep the crock in the kitchen so it’s in my day to day life so I remember to check it daily, and the fermentation happens faster at room temperature even though it will start smelling unpleasant. If you were to place the crock say in the garage, it will take longer to ferment at the lower temperature but they do say the flavor maybe stronger.
It will take between 4 and 6 weeks for the cabbage to fully ferment. After 2 weeks try a little of it every few days to see how soft and sour it has become. Once the cabbage is done fermenting it’s ready! At this point I like to process it in jars. To do this you need to heat the entire lot of sauerkraut just to a simmer. You then will need to pack it along with the liquid into prepared sanitized jars. Process in a water bath canner for 20 minutes for quart size jars.
Once you have processed the kraut into jars it is now sealed and shelf stable!
Homemade Sauerkraut is so much more flavorful than store-bought and it is good for you!
Check out my recipe for Sauerkraut and Sausage in my Octoberfest Recipe post.