Friday, August 17, 2012

Homemade Sauerkraut

I LOVE sauerkraut. 

When I found out that I could make it at home, I was SO excited!! And SO scared! What do you mean I put cabbage in salt water and let it sit for 3 weeks? Really? You just let it sit there at room temperature? I was overwhelmed and too chicken to try it.

Lucky for me, though, my mom made me aware of some free classes nearby that were all about canning. In particular, there was a class on making pickles and sauerkraut! I attended the class given by the Master Food Preservers, and got to see just how easy it is to make sauerkraut. I've got my first batch going, and now, so can you!

You will need 6 lbs of shredded cabbage, 3 1/2 Tbsp salt (with no additives), water, and a large jar or crock for fermenting.

Step 1: Shred the cabbage.

Step 2: Put cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle salt on top. 

Step 3: Using your hands, gently toss the cabbage and salt until the cabbage becomes limp and wet like the picture below (this is the same amount of cabbage as the above picture, so you can see how much it shrinks).

Step 4: Wash and dry a large jar or crock. I used a jar from pickled jalapeƱos (about a gallon size).

Step 5: Begin putting the cabbage in the jar (crock) a handful at a time. Each time, pack it down with your fist to release more liquid from the cabbage.

Step 6: On top of all of the shredded cabbage, place a few whole cabbage leaves to prevent the little pieces from floating up.

Step 7: In a saucepan, mix 1 quart water and 1 1/2 Tbsp salt. Bring to a boil. Cool completely. Use this mixture to add brine to your cabbage if the moisture from packing it down is not enough to completely cover the cabbage leaves. You do not want any cabbage exposed to the air.

Step 8: Fill a ziplock bag with brine to act as a weight to help keep the cabbage down. Place the bag on top of the cabbage. Cover the jar loosely with plastic wrap (you want the gases from fermentation to be able to escape).

Place the entire jar into a bucket or other large container to catch any spillage or fermentation overflow.
Put the bucket into a basement or other area that maintains a constant temperature of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. 

That's it! Leave it for 3 weeks, then refrigerate, can, or enjoy! Be sure to check the kraut daily to make sure that there is enough liquid in it. If the liquid is low, just add more brine mixture. And remove any scum or mold that forms.

I have my batch going and it will be ready in a few days. I will post an update with pictures of the finished product!

**UPDATE  8/21/2012**

I just processed my first batch of sauerkraut! 

To can the finished kraut, you put it in a pan in it's own juices and heat it to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Put it into clean hot jars, and process in hot water canner for 15 minutes.

**UPDATE 7/20/2013**

We ate our sauerkraut this past winter and shared some with friends and family. My favorite was on New Year's Day when we cooked a pork loin in it. YUM! (It is amazing with my Caraway Pork Rub). I have been told over and over by my family that my sauerkraut is the BEST they've ever had (and I don't think they are just being nice. Haha!) I just finished a batch, but this year I'll be making two or three so we don't run out of it like we did last year. This is SO EASY and SO GOOD! I hope you try it!

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