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Thread: Homemade Sauerkraut

  1. #1
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    Homemade Sauerkraut

    I was asked by another member how I made sauerkraut several weeks ago and I said I would make thread on it. Feel free to ask any questions or post how you make sauerkraut.

    Step 1: Grow or buy cabbages lots of them it takes about 40 medium sized heads to make 5 gallons of finished sauerkraut.I like certain varieties of kraut for this as some contain more natural sugar than others. My favorites are Jersey Wakefield, Dutch flat, and Copenhagen. Stay away from the Stone Head variety as it does not have enough natural sugar. Once you have the cabbages cut them in quarters, wash and remove the cores.

    Step 2: You will need a 5 or 6 gallon stone crock or a food grade plastic bucket, I have never used a plastic bucket but I know others have. Next you need a kraut cutter, a plate and a clean non-porous stone. I like granite, but stay away from limestone or sandstone. You can also use a quart jar filled with water with a lid on it. Make sure you sanitize all of these items with bleach water before you begin. Oh and wash your hands.

    Step 3: Shred the kraut using the kraut cutter so that it falls into the crock as you shred it



    Step 4: Once you start shredding the kraut you need only shred about 2 inches in the crock and add salt. So you want to add kraut-salt-kraut-salt kraut-salt until is about 80% full or however much you are making. Use only pickling or canning salt as it has no iodine. Regular table salt contains iodine and will discolor the final product. I really don't know how much salt I use in each layer I just guess by eye, enough to cover the layer of kraut lightly.

    note: pay no attention to man in the photo, he can be a trouble maker.



    Step 5: Now you will need to weight down the kraut using the plate and stone. Let this sit about a hour or two and check to see if the salt is pulling enough liquid out of the kraut to cover the plate. If it does not you need to and add salt water as the plate must be covered with liquid. Notice in the picture below you can see the liquid forming .



    Step: 6 Now cover with cheese cloth and place the crock in a cool place to ferment, I use my cellar as it stays about 65 Degrees F that is about the ideal temperature. You must check the mixture every day and remove the scum that forms on the top of it and make sure there is enough liquid on top.



    The kraut will take any where from 2 to 4 weeks to ferment( sauer). I will post the next steps which are canning, seasoning, and preparing for the table as they come about.

    If you do not have a kraut cutter or a crock you can find them online, I would recommend Lehman's non-electric hardware store. They also sell all kinds of books and other homesteading tools.

    http://www.lehmans.com/

    Good luck and feel free to post questions or comments.
    Life is like a fire hydrant- sometimes you help people put out their fires, but most of the time you just get peed on by every dog in the neighborhood.

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    Senior Member Drottin's Avatar
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    Superb!

    This is cultural preservation for real... Tanks alot for sharing this info!

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    Senior Member Thorodinssohn's Avatar
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    I've done this myself (albeit with a plastic bucket and a knife along with kosher salt), and the results were fairly good. I screwed up the canning process and cooked the sauerkraut in the jars, so it was too soft. Next time, I'll can the correct way and have sauerkraut all year long!

    Cheers.

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    Nice! I am curious to the taste of Sauerkraut, I never ate it before, is it good?

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    Good thing you posted this. I am planning on growing cabbage in my garden.

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    I have never used the big crock method. I take a one quart canning jar and keep tamping it down with some sea salt until the liquid/juice is above the shreds. I then add some whey to aid lacto-fermentation. I put a lid on it and it is ready in about a week. Yummy!

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    Excellent! Give us good feedback. I'm interested in the final results.

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    From the pics it seems that you keep your bucket in the basement.

    My grandmother used to make the sauerkraut very often, she loved eating them. Later on I used to make it for her. I always kept it in the kitchen where it's warm so they were ready in 2 weeks or less. I also add 3 big spoons of sugar per bucket because the cabbage variety which is usually sold in the markets of my area are not very 'sugary'. Oh, and I always mix everything with my hands after adding salt. I would usually add some cumin seeds and grated carrots too but that's a matter of taste. I use metal buckets

    One more thing, my grandmother said the moon phase is very important when making them. She would make them only during towards the end of waning crescent. I didn't try making them during any other moon phase (would be a shame having to chuck out the whole bucket if it went wrong)

    Do you make sauerkraut during any particular moonphase, SpearBrave?

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    Quote Originally Posted by thea View Post
    Do you make sauerkraut during any particular moonphase, SpearBrave?
    Hehe I was wondering if someone was going to mention that.

    To answer your question yes and no. I try to make it on the new moon, but it does not always work out that way. I make it when the cabbage is at its peak amount of natural sugar. I grow my own and that means just about the time it is ready to split open out in the garden. Over the years I have found out that the moon phases don't effect the batch at all, but it is tradition. If you do follow the moon phases the legend says if you make it on new moon it will turn out white and crisp.

    I let the kraut pickel in the basement because it is a constant temprature and does not allow it to work too fast. If it works too fast it will ruin the whole batch. We make around 800 quarts a year 400 in the spring and 400 in the fall. the basement has the room to allow it work. I don't mix eveything together as the salt makes the kraut produce liquid and that becomes its own brine.

    I got busy and did not take pictures of the canning process, that is when I taste it to make sure it is sweet enough and add caraway seeds.
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    It doesn't matter that you haven't got any pictures, you could just tell about it. Do you heat it up before canning or just keep it very cool afterwards? Heating would alter the taste quite a bit though

    Speaking of timing, two weeks doesn't seem too fast for me - it always comes out crispy, although not white (grated carrots and caraway seeds make it yellowish).

    The reason I add caraway (or cumin - they're practically same) seeds at the very beginning is because we've never canned sauerkraut, so the only time for it to infuse is while it's fermenting. We used to make just one bucket at a time and start eating it straight after it's finished fermenting. Oh, I almost forgot to tell that my grandma would sometimes add cranberries. It would look something like this in once it's finished:

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