This year I decided to make kraut again, using the simple method I used for large batches years back.
Women used to make kraut by the crockful, just as they made pickled corn and pickled beans. I made kraut in the crock a couple of times, but that's a lot of kraut! I suppose people ate a lot more of it in older times; today, a few meals with a venison roast or pork roasted with sauerkraut is enough for us.
Here is the method I used: first, clean and wash the cabbage. Quarter it and cut out the core. Then slice as fine as possible. I have a kraut cutter, but this time since it was a small batch we just used knives and a chopper.
Once the cabbage was chopped to my liking, I added salt. I had two different cookbooks with different amounts--one called for a tablespoon of salt per pound of cabbage, the other for a teaspoon per pound. I split the difference and put about a teaspoon and a half per pound. I used plain salt--iodized salt is usually not recommended for pickle-making. After the salt was mixed in, we left it for about 5-10 minutes.
We packed the chopped cabbage in pint jars with a wooden masher that came with my Squeezo.
During packing, juice is squeezed out of the cabbage. This is good; this will help make the brine that makes the kraut.
After the jars were packed as full as possible, we added enough cold water to fill them to within 1/2" of the brim. Then I put the lids on loosely, set the jars in a glass pan and put them in the cellar. The kraut will "work" for about 3-4 weeks until ready to can. At that time, the lids are removed, the top layer of cabbage removed just to be sure there's nothing icky in there, the rims wiped clean, new lids added and tightened on the jars. Then the kraut is processed in a canner. I'll have to look up which type of canner (water bath or pressure) and the time for processing when we get to that step.
Right now, I'm just happy to have a little bit of kraut made again. I think it's been 20 years since I did this. Why did I wait so long?
I'll let you know how this turns out. Have any of you made kraut before? Tell us how you do it. You may have a better way than this to make it!
For other instructions on making kraut, try The Mother Earth News