Making Sauerkraut

The last two years we’ve had an abundance of cabbage which I have canned and frozen.  We shared with our daughters and other family and some of our neighbors.  I was starting to run short on sauerkraut so I contacted my neighbor, Linda Smith, about the moon signs to work the cabbage and we got to it.

We brought in four large heads (very large) and Eddie started cutting thin strips from the washed and drained heads.  First he quarters the heads and then uses one of our LEM butcher knives to slice off thin strips into a large pan.  I mention LEM knives because we think they’re awesome (http://www.lemproducts.com/category ) because they keep a sharp edge longer than most we have and they have all sizes you could possibly need.

This shows how thin we slice the cabbage for making slaw.

Next we bring out my big crock and mallet that Eddie made for me years ago.

This is the mallet Eddie made for me to crush the cabbage when we make kraut. I usually put a layer of sliced cabbage about four inches thick in the crock and pound it down with the mallet to about two inches, sprinkle with table salt and pile on another layer. We keep doing this until the crock is about half full.  The mallet is about 36 – 40 inches long which is the perfect length to sit at the kitchen table in a chair and pound the cabbage.

As you mash the cabbage, liquid will start oozing out of the cabbage and this will make the brine needed to sour the cabbage.  You WILL NOT add any water to this mixture, only cabbage and table salt.  You MUST salt each layer as you go through the process.

This crock is about 18 inches tall and about 15 inches across, very large and very heavy!  You can see looking into the crock that I had quite a bit more to fill and mash to get it half full.

The crock is half full, the juices are covering the cabbage and now it’s time to cover the concoction. Eddie has made me a wooden cover 1 inch thick that sits on top of the cabbage.  We need to keep it down on the cabbage tight so that the juices will ferment but nothing, such as dust, bugs, or any other matter can get into the kraut. To do this we fill a heavy-duty trash bag with several gallons of water and tie it up and sit it gently on top of the wooden topper. We move the crock to a dark, cool room (usually my laundry room) and let it work for about two weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My first peek at the concoction is about 5-7 days from the covering.  We check to make sure it’s bubbling/fermenting and we do our first taste test.  The cabbage will taste slightly salty and may be just a bit  tart.  If we get that taste we know everything is good but if we don’t we may be in trouble!  We check again in two days, sour is good, smelly is bad!!!!  If it’s bad, we throw it out to the chickens.  If it’s sour, we’re whistling Dixie!!  Don’t be surprised if you get a little darkened leaves on top or even a brown bubbling “stuff”, it’s part of the fermentation.  We let it ferment, checking daily now and when it get’s to the sour point of making your face crinkle you’re ready to stop the process and pack it in jars.  I used to use quart jars but the last three years we’ve used pints.  Finish it off by packing the kraut in the jars, cleans off the tops of the jars, put on new lids and rings and pressure can the jars for 15 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure, remove from the canner and wait for the jars to seal.  Man, I can taste that kraut & smoked sausage, pinto beans, fried potatoes and cornbread now!!!

One response to “Making Sauerkraut

  1. I’ve always wanted to try it. Maybe next year I will plant extra cabbage!

    Like

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