Friday, March 29, 2013

Making Sauerkraut

Because of the recent St. Patrick's Day festivities cabbage was on sale in all the markets. A perfect time to stock up and make some sauerkraut. When I was a kid I was a sauerkraut addict. Loved the stuff! I ate it straight from the can. That's right I said can. I had no idea it came any other way. So imagine my delight when I tasted fresh kraut from the deli. H-E-A-V-E-N. Crunchy, salty heaven. My kids hate it. They don't live here any more. Let's make some. 

making sauerkraut

 Sauerkraut is made through lacto-fermentation, the same process that produces dill pickles. Basically it uses salt to kill bad bacteria and allow the growth of good bacteria, lactobacillus. That's the good stuff found in yogurt too. So lacto-fermented foods can be good for you. You can read more about it here. The trick of course is to be CLEAN. So wash your hands and all your utensils really well and keep washing. You can not be too clean.




Start with two medium sized heads of cabbage (about 5 lbs), green or red or a combo. Green and red together will produce a pretty pink kraut. Remove some outer leaves wash and save for later. Cut into fourths and remove the core. Thinly shred using your preferred tool. I used my food processor with the slicing blade, not the grating blade. You can do this with a knife it just takes longer.

making sauerkraut

In an large bowl thoroughly mix the shredded cabbage and 3 tablespoons of pickling salt. That's right just 3 tbsp. bet you thought it took a lot more salt. Let this stand for 2 hours until the cabbage has started to soften and begun to release its liquid. With a potato or a meat pounder, pound the cabbage until it release enough liquid to cover itself when pushed down. Don't wimp out keep pounding.



Yes, I'm using a clean wine bottle and yes there is wine in there. If you just don't get enough liquid to cover you might have to make some brine by boiling 4 cups water and adding 1 1/2 tbsp pickling salt. Cool before adding.


making sauerkraut

Pack your kraut in a clean gallon jar. Tamp it down as you go, be firm. Remember those reserved outer leaves? Cover with those. Now you have to weight the whole thing to keep the kraut submerged in the brine. I use a zip lock bag of water with all the air removed.


making sauerkraut
Now cover loosely and wrap in tea towel to keep out light and set in a cool place to ferment. You might want to set it in a pan in case of overflow but I've never had that happen.

Check after 24 hours to be sure the cabbage is covered in brine. Check the sauerkraut every few days and remove any scum that forms on the surface. This stuff looks like a mold but it's harmless, anything below the brine is perfectly good. Of course, if you see any pink mold or if it smells funky, not a clean briney smell you need to throw it out and start over. This probably means things were not clean enough to start with. I didn't have any scum form maybe because it was really protected from air. You should see little bubbles rising to the surface indicating that fermentation is taking place. Be patient. It will be fully fermented in 2 to 6 weeks depending on the temperature. The flavor should change from salty to pickled.



You can store you sauerkraut in the refrigerator in covered jars for several months for delicious fresh taste and that's the way we like it best. I got 6 pints from two heads of cabbage. If it seems too salty when you serve it just give it a rinse in cold water before eating. 

For long term storage at room temperature you'll need to process it using the boiling-water bath method. Consult canning methods books for details. Unprocessed sauerkraut has a crunchiness that's lost with heat from processing. 

Check out this web site if you want to know more about fermenting foods: Wild Fermentation

circa 2011 The ORIGINAL Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop 
The Self Sufficient HomeAcre


Until next time,


9 comments:

  1. I had no idea it was that easy! I have canned foods before, but have never made sauerkraut. I just might need to try this!

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    1. I didn't know that sauerkraut used so little salt. For some reason I thought it required tons and it was a real revelation that a mere 3 tblsp would do the trick. So glad I gave this a try.

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  2. Yum! I've been wanting to make saurkraut for years, but haven't figured out a good place in the house to let it do its thing at the right temperature. Your small batch (I think we used 25 pounds in the food preservation class I took) sounds a lot more do-able. There's gotta be a gallon jar around here someplace...

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    1. I was stumped too Michelle until I tried this much more user friendly small batch method. With only two of us in the house I really don't need 25 pounds of kraut!

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  3. This looks so good......Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week; I hope you’ll join us again!


    Cheers,
    Kathy Shea Mormino

    The Chicken Chick

    http://www.The-Chicken-Chick.com

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  4. We just had sauerkraut last night with corned beef, and I told my husband I need to learn how to make this myself! Thanks for the great post, I too thought it would take WAY more salt than that.

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  5. Corned beef and sauerkraut- I see a Reuben in someone future. Delicious!

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  6. Yum! Thank you so much for sharing this on The Creative HomeAcre Hop! I hope to see you again tomorrow. :)
    http://www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/2013/04/creativehomeacre11.html

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  7. I admired your helpful words. Top class contribution. I really hope you’ll write more. I'll continue looking for.
    sauerkraut recipe

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Thanks for your comments. I love hearing what you have to say.