Last but not least for today…SAUERKRAUT. We started our first batch of sauerkraut on August 8th well doing our tomatoes and I forgot to post it. But, while skimming the foam on the first batch and occasionally sampling it we decided it is too tasty not to repeat.
RECIPE FOR SAUERKRAUT:
- Use a crock or a large stainless steel pot.
- Layer thinly sliced cabbage and salt into the crock using a ratio of 3 tbsps of pickling salt for every 5 lbs of cabbage. We use a cerated knife for cutting the heads of cabbage. You can use your food processor but this may leave the pieces a lot shorter…think about how you would like the finished product and then decide. We slice 5lbs of cabbage at a time and pack into the crock. This allows the brine to form while we slice the next 5lbs.
- Wait 15 minutes between layers so that natural brine/water will form.
- The cabbage will naturally sweat creating liquid/brine ~ make sure this covers over all of the cabbage. NOTE: if it does not make enough liquid create a salt water brine using 4 cups water to 4.5 teaspoons pickling salt. Bring to a boil dissolving salt and cool to room temperature before adding to the cabbage.
- Place an inverted plate on top of the cabbage with two 1 litre jars full of water to keep down, cover with a towel and place in a cool place.
- Skim foam, bloom, or scum daily.
- Keep between 70-75 degrees Farenheit.
- This process will take between 3-6 weeks (we’ve done 4 batches ~ all fermented for 6 weeks and a few we left a little longer). The sauerkraut/cabbage will still be crunchy at 6 weeks but may start to soften if left longer.
- There are two methods for processing…they are as follows:
Method 1 ~ Raw-Pack Method:
- Prepare for water bath canning.
- Pack sauerkraut, with brine, into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace (we sterilize our jars in the oven for 30 minutes at 250F). Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding more brine.
- Wipe rims (using a damp paper towel), place lid and ring to finger tip tight on each jar and process 500mL (pint) jars for 20 minutes and 1L (quart) jars for 25 minutes in hot water bath. Turn off heat, remove lid and let stand for 5 minutes before removing jars. Check seal, label, and store.
Method 2 ~ Hot-Pack Method:
- Prepare for water bath canning.
- In a large stainless steel saucepan, bring sauerkraut, with brine, to a simmer over medium-high heat. Do not boil. With 15-25 lbs of cabbage this will probably have to be done in batches. Note: this is where sterilizing your jars in the oven will help free up an element on your stove so you can heat two batches at once and it will keep your jars hot.
- Hot-pack sauerkraut and brine into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding more brine.
- Wipe rims (using a damp paper towel), place lid and ring to finger tip tight on each jar and process 500mL (pint) jars for 10 minutes and 1L (quart) jars for 15 minutes in hot water bath. Turn off heat, remove lid and let stand for 5 minutes before removing jars. Check seal, label, and store.
We have only used the hot-pack method and it seems to work well. To prevent excessive air bubbles, we fill the jars by layering the sauerkraut and packing each layer down well. Pour liquid in at the half way point and again when your are almost at the top. You will get approximately 6 x 1L jars when you start with 20lbs of cabbage.
Making sauerkraut is so much fun! It is a tasty experiment in the mysteries of fermentation, a process that was discovered by our ancestors hundreds of years ago. Enjoy your sauerkraut as a side, in a reuben sandwich, with sausages, or even in some homemade bread. Once you make your own you will never want to buy it again!