Jul 27, 2010

Homemade Sauerkraut

Last week my friend OhioSarah came over for a lesson in making Sauerkraut.  She did all the work and went home with some homemade saurkraut.  Today I thought it was time for me to do something with my cabbage from my garden as I planted 8 heads of cabbage but 2 have already rotted in the garden so now I'm left with 6.  Last year was the first time I ever made sauerkraut and it turned out great!  This year I thougt I would take pics and give a little tutorial for ya.  So here you go!

Here are the 4 heads of cabbage left after using 2 for my kraut.

I used my Mom-In-Law's handy dandy food processor which did the work in a quarter of the time it would have taken me to slice everything!

Here is the last of the shredded cabbage (I had already started filling up my glass canister).  Kraut is just shredded cabbage and lots of salt (I use Sea Salt). 
  • First put all of your shredded cabbage in a bowl - my 2 large heads of cabbage fit into both of these green bowls because I needed enough room to fold in the salt without all the cabbage falling outside of the bowl. 
  • Once your salt is folded in, have a taste.  If it is nice and salty but not overbearing then take a potato masher or a heavy cup/mug and smash/smush down the kraut.  You should start to see liquid at this point. 
  • Keep smushing/smashing and until you have it packed into your bowl.  Then wait about 10-15 minutes and start smushing/smashing again.  You should have liquid start to rise now to the surface.  If you don't see enough then add a bit more salt and fold this in and start smushing/smashing again.  Wait another 10-15 minutes. 

Here is the masher with no liquid

Here is the foamy liquid.

My kraut added to my glass canister.  One bowl was already added and packed down to make room for the second bowl.
I'm about to mush it all down so that the kraut is packed and the liquid is on top.

Here is the packed down kraut.  It is hard to see the liquid on top as it is right at the seam of the canister.

As you can see there is actually a LOT of liquid but I had to use my masher to show the liquid for the pic.

Here is an idea I got last year over at The Family Homestead where she makes Lacto Fermented Kraut via the Nourishing Traditions way (which is extremely healthy and beneficial and just as easy to make and actually is ready sooner that "old fashioned kraut").  The tip I borrowed from her was to take a gallon size ziploc baggie and place it inside the canister and push it down so that the kraut juice starts to come up.  Then get a quart size baggy and fill it with water. 
Place this water filled baggy inside the gallon size one (already in your canister) and push it down so that you see the kraut liquid rise up around the sides. This is the last step before placing it in a dark spot on your counter to ferment for a few weeks.

Here it is sitting on my Brewing/Fermenting Counter next to my KitchenAid.  Right now it looks nice and fresh but in about a week it will start to turn a very light yellow/to very light tan color and start to have a "nice" aroma to it (NOT!). 
Make sure over the course of the next few weeks you check the liquid brine and make sure that it is still covering the kraut.  If it isn't then take out your baggies (it will be messy so take care) and pour on top of your kraut about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of salty water (brine) and replace your baggies.  If all goes well in about 3-4 weeks my kraut (and yours too) will have a nice RIPE smell and it will be ready to can in my (your) pressure cooker.  This is not a requirement though.  There are LOTS of people that do not preserve their kraut via canning.  They just keep it covered with the liquid brine and scoop out what they want when they want it and this actually retains all of the good nutrients and beneficial bacteria.  For my family I have chosen to preserve it individually in pint size canning jars via a pressure canner to open when we are ready for it.  We like kraut but just not very often.

What to do with your yucky cabbage leaves and cores of your cabbage - COMPOST IT!  (I know I was supposed to do a few posts on compost but for ya'll that follow my blog you know I don't post often as I would like.  I'm a busy woman with 3 littles so I post when I can).  Who knows, maybe one day I'll get around to it :-)
In the mean time here is a good short video of the steps for kraut but she use an actual sauerkraut crock - I'm a bit envious but I know they are expensive so I will be thankful for what I have :-)

Well that is sauerkraut in a nutshell.  I hope this helps someone out and if you have any questions please feel free to leave me a comment - I LOVE COMMENTS!


Country Girl in the City said...

Thanks for this post. I have been wanting to make sauerkraut for a few years now and just haven't done it yet. I tried growing a couple of cabbages last year but was not very successful. I think I will stop by the farmer's market on Wed and see if cabbages are ready yet. If they are, i will get some and give your method a try.

Have a lovely day!