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Sauerkraut ~ My German Love Affair

December 31, 2010

I love making sauerkraut.  I am not sure if it is the simplicity of it or the fact that it sits on the kitchen counter bubbling away when no one is paying attention or that after several weeks fermenting you can start dishing it out to your friends and let them enjoy the ever-changing flavours it provides.  Everyone should trying making a big crock of sauerkraut at least once in their life!!!

After 48 days, our 3rd batch of sauerkraut  is ready to be jarred and processed.  Some people leave their batches to continue fermenting but after about 6 weeks the cabbage is really tasty and can be jarred.  But, you can also leave it to continue doing its’ thing and enjoy its’ ever-changing properties, eating it all up before it ever goes into a jar for processing.  This too, is just fine and additional time will add more delicious tanginess.  I decided to jar and process this kraut because it was getting increasingly more difficult to submerge under that ohhhh so tasty brine.  Jar it, bottle it, store it, refrigerate it, eat it…mmmmMMM…it’s all good when it comes to KRAUT.

Over the past 48 days, I’ve taken many pictures of  two batches we have fermenting into beautifully tasty, tangy deliciousness.   Every batch that we’ve made has been different.  One created an excessive amount of liquid almost instantly, another created bloom or scum right away, and this batch sat without bloom until it was 4 weeks into the process.  With only 4 batches under our belts don’t have all the answers.   You may also experience varying results…so, we suggest tasting it along the way.  The taste also changes with the amount of bloom and time, but we think you will be able to tell that it is fermenting into that familiar tangy goodness.

This is what it looks like when we start.  We’ve used green Ontario cabbage and compacted the thinly sliced pieces into a crock.  You can just make out the liquid that it starting to cover the cabbage.  It is important to make sure that all of the cabbage is completely submerged in brine.  If your cabbage does not create enough of its’ own liquid you can bring 4 1/2 tsp of picking salt and 4 cups of water to a boil over medium high heat, stirring to dissolve the salt.  Then, let it cool to room temperature and add it to your crock.  We have had to do this on occassion.  We find that adding the cabbage and salt in 5 pound layers and compacting it well usually helps to create excessive liquid.

Here, you can see bubbles forming along the edge.  Sometimes, if the kitchen is really quiet, you can hear this plop, blop, plop sound coming from within. I love that sound…I know that it is working and magically changing into the kraut I love!

You can just make out a thin coat of bloom on the edge and a bit up on the plate.  Some days it creates a ton (just over night) and other days not as much.  We leave our crock on the kitchen counter so that we are reminded to check it daily and remove any scum that has formed. 

Scummy bubbles form along the edge.  This is a sure sign that it is working well.  Although, skimming the bloom off is a daily event, it also gives you a chance to taste it as it changes along the way.

Over night all of this bloom has been created.  It looks like a thick film or sheet of scum and it kind of smells like dirty socks….ahhh, it is working.

After 48 days fermenting it looks like this and we decided it was time to jar it up.  It is tangy but not overly and could be left longer if you desire a stronger more intense flavour.  However, it was getting more difficult to cover the sauerkraut with brine so we decided to process it.

We have always used the hot pack method which requires that you heat the sauerkraut on medium-high heat until it is warmed throughout.  Do not boil.  Then fill your hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace and process 1 litre jars for 15 minutes.  We’ve used this method for all three batches but we are going to try the raw pack method for the fourth.  The raw pack method changes two things: (1) you do not have to heat the sauerkraut and (2) the processing time increases from 15 minutes to 25 minutes for 1 litre jars. 

And, if you are looking for the recipe refer to this post…RECIPE FOR SAUERKRAUT

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 4, 2011 1:56 pm

    I have been dying to make sauerkraut. I think this is the week I get that started.

  2. January 5, 2011 9:14 pm

    I’ve never made kraut before. I don’t have a crock to try it. Yours look so amazing! BTW, I posted about the prize giveaway you sent me.

    • January 6, 2011 7:29 am

      Mimi ~You’re the best!! ~ Thanks for such a wonderful write up…that really touches me. I’m so glad that you like the carvings…this is what I do for a living. We are just under going some changes this year, as we are closing down our home studio/store so that we can enjoy more privacy. People come all the time (in the evening, when you’re closed) which gets tiring.

      I’m pretty sure that we’ve made lots of the marmalades from that book. If the cold weather in Florida has totalled all the good citrus we plan to start doing some of that soon. I have some blood oranges that I am going to make into a spicy marmalade…we’ll have to see how it turns out. One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to try coming up with more of mine own recipes…Matt is much better at this than I am because he does all the cooking…Canning is the only thing I do in the kitchen which leaves me much more intimidated.

      Thanks again Mimi!! I so enjoy reading your blog…you’re so good at doing it every day! Andrea

      PS. You can also make the sauerkraut in small batches in mason jars…all the same principles apply. Or, in food safe plastic containers. I want to try doing the whole heads of cabbage like my Romanian friend posted on our facebook page. OR, you like the Kimchi…that recipe is for a 1 litre mason jar!

  3. Bettina permalink
    January 7, 2011 5:45 am

    If you want to have the right cabbage for Sauerkraut, you should use “Filderkraut”. It is an interesting cabbage and I am including the link to the seeds from a German supplier. If you can actually grow cabbage where you are, you should give this a try. It also tastes better if it harvested after the first frost. Also, the size of the leaves means it works great for stuffed cabbage.

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