Posts Tagged ‘sauerkraut’

Yes, 2012 Sauerkraut is in the crock!

This Mandolin slicer was put into service again this year as I packed 15 pounds of cabbage into my wonderful 4 gallon crock.

At this point in the process, I had just pounded down the first 5 pounds of cabbage.  I work in 5 pound mini-batches to ensure that I salt everything evenly all the way through.  5 pounds of cabbage gets 3 tablespoons of salt.  I repeated this process 3 times. I had room in the crock for 20 pounds, but I was frankly very tired of slicing.

I weighed down the cabbage and now I just leave it sitting in a cool corner until it becomes sauerkraut.  All I have to do is check it once in a while to see if it’s done and if there is any mold floating on the surface of the brine.

That gallon jug has a big dinner plate under it. I’m using this as a weight to ensure an anaerobic environment for fermentation.

Then just cover the whole thing with a towel that your aging children are too embarassed to take to the community pool.  In a week or 3 the kraut will be done bubbling and ready to eat or can.

Bushel of Cabbages

If you’ve been paying any attention at all to my blog, you should remember what this bushel of cabbage means.  Stay tuned later today for more details….

Baby Cabbage Heads are Forming

Primero Purple Cabbage

I have focused in on the 2-3 inch heads that are starting to form on my Primero purple cabbage plants.  The outer set of leaves is probably 18 inches wide right now.

Baby Purple Cabbage

Purple cabbage tastes the same as green cabbage and can be used interchangeably in recipes.  However you have to be aware that it will bleed and stain the other foods, like a beet does.  Why grow purple cabbage organically?  Because it makes the worms so easy to find!

Cabbage Moth Worm

Edit:  Above I said that these were “Primero” cabbages.  They are in fact Red Acres cabbages.  I am growing both this year, and they look very similar.

Premature stop to sauerkraut fermentation?

My crock of sauerkraut stopped bubbling this past weekend. I dug into it to see if it was done. I picked up a pinch of the stuff with some clean tongs and began to bring it up to my mouth. As it dripped back into the crock, the liquid was semi-gelatinous and oozy. :(

I packed it back down, hoping that this was just an intermediate step along the way, but I haven’t seen any more bubbles rising in the 4 days since.

I have two theories as to what might have gone wrong.

  1. I used too much salt accidentally, which can pause fermentation and just preserve the cabbage as-is.
  2. The grocery-store cabbage had been treated with anti-aging medicine to prevent rotting.

I’ll check it again in a few days and I’ll be incredibly disappointed if I have to throw out everything and go without this year. Maybe, if nothing else, I can do a fresh water desalting and just start it again.

Making Sauerkraut from scratch

I have begun making a 2010 batch of sauerkraut!  Full disclosure: my garden grew pitiful cabbage this year. The two larger ones shown below are (gasp) from the grocery store. I wasn’t able to find any cabbage at the farmer’s markets either, and Farmer L. didn’t have any. :sigh: All of the smallish looking cabbages in the second picture down came from my garden.

The hardest part of making sauerkraut from scratch is obtaining a large crock to put the food in to ferment. Have you priced what new ones sell for? The easiest part is the fermentation.

The most time-consuming part of the project is cutting up lots of cabbage into tiny shreds. The reward is a wonderful product that is ALIVE and good for you! Eating homemade sauerkraut (that has not been canned) aids in digestion by benefit of the beneficial bacteria Lactobacilli plantarum. Read more.

I did most of my slicing with this mandolin slicer, which saved me a lot of time, but there were still lots of end pieces that had to be cut by hand. I started with 12 1/2 pounds of cabbage and even with a helper the slicing took over an hour. Shred into 1/16th inch pieces.

This is the second year that I have used this awesome 4 gallon crock to make sauerkraut. My parents had this crock around when I was a kid, just sitting in the garage literally gathering dust for 30 years. I’m happy to put it to good use now. It ends up about 60% full with a 12 pound batch, which leaves enough head space for the weight and bubbling to safely happen without spilling anything.

I mixed 12 1/2 pounds of cabbage with a half cup of salt. Last year the salt was enough to draw out the water from the cabbage, but this year I had to add brine. I guess it depends on the variety of cabbage and how much rain the plants received.

At any rate, mix the shredded cabbage with the salt at a rate of 1 cup of salt per 25 pounds of cabbage, working in small batches so that all the cabbage gets an even amount of salt. Then pack it down tightly into the crock. Make sure that all the cabbage is covered with liquid. If your batch needs to have brine added, your recipe book will give you a recipe for the salt/water ratio.

The important thing is that the cabbage stay submerged in an anaerobic environment devoid of oxygen. I put a dinner plate and 3 filled quart jars on top to help hold it down. I actually filled the quart jars with salty water so that if they leak the sauerkraut will still be good!

Keep the kraut submerged, and cover the crock to keep dust and cats and such out of it. Every day, lift the towel and skim off any surface mold that has formed. You will know the veggies are fermenting because there will be bubbles coming up. The product will be finished fermenting when the bubbling quits. If it is rather cold in your house, the fermentation process could take 6 weeks, maybe even more. In my house it only took 2-3 weeks last year.

Fermented sauerkraut may be safely kept, unprocessed and alive, in the refrigerator or a very cold room for several months. This is a tangy taste treat that many of us have never experienced, and is much healthier than most store-bought kraut. People used to just move the crock to the root cellar and leave it there, scooping out a few servings when needed.

If you don’t have room for something like that, you can make the sauerkraut shelf-stable by canning it. It still tastes great, and you still know what went into your food. Follow the canning guidelines in your recipe book.

Shown above are 6 jars canned in 2009. This was delicious in our calzones. My mouth is watering and if you knew my history with sauerkraut you would be laughing at me right now. I used to refuse to be in the same room where someone was cooking or eating sauerkraut. Homemade is just so much better than canned product!

I got a crock!

 

4 gallon crock

4 gallon crock

I have a crock now!  I mentioned to my parents that fermenting/pickling crocks like these are now sold for nearly $100 and that price was keeping me from trying homemade sauerkraut.  They remembered this old crock that had been in their garage the whole time I was growing up and said I could have it.

Awesome!  Thanks Mom and Dad!

Now how do I clean up 30 years of dust and make this food-worthy again?  Water and bleach, bleach and water?

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