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Homemade Sauerkraut

So I read Erica’s post at nwedible.com today about a braised cabbage recipe I can convert to Whole 30 by replacing the cream with chicken broth, and so I have had cabbage on the brain. And then, when I went past the grocery store by work, they had a sign out that said cabbage was on sale for $0.33 per pound. I didn’t want to stop, so I went past, vowing to grab some on Friday when I was back in town. Once past, and down the road, I realized we were out of some fruits and nuts at home, so I stopped at the grocery store in the town north of us. They had cabbages on sale for $0.25 / lb. It was a sign, I tell ya. So I picked up what ended up being about 16 lbs of cabbage. Total cost: $4.03.

Making sauerkraut is so easy. Cut/shred, salt, keep the cabbage below the liquid, wait 6 weeks until the fermentation is done. Really, that is it. I keep the air out and haven’t had to deal with any Kahm yeast since doing that, but some people don’t and they seem to do just fine scraping that yeast off. I figure, might as well let the air pressure out a few times during that 6 weeks and not have to scrape anything.

First, I cut the cores out and then started slicing them into large chunks. That’s a lot of cabbage.
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I ended up keeping one whole cabbage for tomorrow for the braised cabbage, so I’m krauting about 8 1/2 lbs. (An aside: my sister got me this kitchen scale for Christmas a few years ago, and it is so helpful! Get one.)
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I use approximately 2 tsp salt per pound of cabbage. I measured out 17 tsp of salt and put it in a white bowl. The picture was underwhelming. I’m sure you can do that without a picture. I use canning salt as it is pure salt and very fine, so it will dissolve and do its work quickly. I put a few handfuls of cabbage into the gallon jar, and then pour some of the salt in, and then squeeze the crap out of it in the jar. You are trying to draw the water out of the cabbage to make the brine needed to allow fermentation instead of rotting, so squeeze, squeeze, squeeze.
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Keep going until the jar is almost full. The fermentation process might make the brine bubble up over the top, so I try to leave a bit of space.
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I then take a plastic lid and cut along the radius.
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This allows you to fold it into a cone, and once you get it down past the lip of the jar, it will open up, and you can push the cabbage down and let the brine come up over the lid.
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Finally, put a lid on it. I can’t find my lid for the gallon jar. Either Boobock put it in his toy box or I threw it away. So, I used some plastic wrap and duct tape. I put a small canning jar in first and filled it with brine to help keep the cabbage down under the brine. And then I taped it up. I know. It’s redneck. Deal with it. After this picture, I realized that I could use a canning jar lid/ring on the half gallon jar, so I took off the tape/plastic wrap and used those. I’ll just need to burp it periodically, and to do that, just slightly unscrew the lid until the air escapes and then quickly shut it again.
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It needs to sit for at least 6 weeks. I put the end date on the front and marked that it would be 6 weeks on that day. I will try not to open it at all for those 6 weeks. If something happens, and it gets exposed to air, it is ok. I’ll just recover it. But keeping it out of the air, I think, really helps with keeping mold/kahm yeast out.

Once done, I transfer it to pint jars and put in the fridge. I have some left from when I did this in July and it is still perfect. I’ve heard it can be held in the fridge for years. I put it in pints because again, when exposed to air, it gets exposed to mold. So instead of a very large jar being opened and closed periodically with the risk of mold ruining all of it, I would rather open a small jar and eat it all in a reasonable amount of time, and keep the rest of them sealed in the fridge. DH likes to heat it and put it on hotdogs. That kills the probiotics that the fermenting produces, but it is still cabbage, still a vegetable, and still good for you. I like it raw, or on top of hamburgers or scrambled eggs (not cooked). Boobock loves it raw, as well. He’ll eat 1/2 a cup at a time if we let him, and will even request it sometimes if we don’t have it out for supper.

And so, now we wait for the new stuff. As spring starts up and we start eating more grilled food, the kraut seems to come out more. Hopefully we will finish the last of the jars in the fridge right when this stuff is done.

Edited to add, 3/12/2015: Well, the process is starting to work. I didn’t see any bubbles, but the brine spilled over the top to the counter, which means it is working.

Note to self: Put it in a casserole dish next time!

2 thoughts on “Homemade Sauerkraut

  1. Karen.

    Mine’ll be ready May 2. Only a gallon. Frickin’ give myself carpal tunnel with all that squeezing … .

    Reply

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