Saturday, June 27, 2009

Making Sauerkraut

Every year I grow too much cabbage. It's a throwback to when I had many boys at home and used to make a lot of sauerkraut. Now there are only two of us, yet I still plant a dozen cabbages.
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
or this video on YouTube. For readers who cook in grams and such, Spindles and Spices has good instructions too.


Deborah Wilson said...


I love sauerkraut. Last week, I ran across a good recipe for Chowchow, and I posted it this morning. Turns out, Betty has been using this one for many years. It's really good too. I should have taken a pic of the jar before I opened it - but I couldn't wait. I ate half of it at one meal. lol

In any case, it's hard to find good recipes for chowchow - I was wondering if you have posted one on your blog?

Granny Sue said...

Wow, Deborah, I had forgotten about chowchow! I could have made some of that with all my cabbages. I might have to buy some at the farmer's market and make it.

I have not posted a recipe for it, although I had one I used to make (when I grew so many cabbages!). I'll try to find it.

I also need to get back over to your blog--it's been a while since I've visited. Thank you for stopping by again :-)

Janet, said...

I learned something Susanne. I didn't know that you let kraut "work" for 3-4 weeks before canning. Mom and grandma used to make chow chow all the time and probably kraut, too. I was told they used an opened empty can to chop the cabbage with. Though I really don't see how that would be sharp enough. Enjoy your kraut!

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