March 11, 2015
Home made sauerkraut is not difficult to make but it does take time and patience. The secret to the fermentation process is to taste the kraut every couple of days after it starts to ferment. The flavor will change with time. It is possible to ferment too long, so bottle the kraut when the flavor you like is obtained.
You will need a large crock or food grade plastic container to ferment the cabbage in. You will find that this sauerkraut has a fresher, crunchier taste and is not as tart as store bought sauerkraut.
You can bottle a quart or so and freeze the rest since the recipe makes enough to last most families a long time.
Home Made Sauerkraut
Yield: 8 quarts
- 25 pounds cabbage (the average head of cabbage weighs 3-4 pounds)
- 1/2 pound pickling salt, about 3/4 cup (do not use table salt)
1. Remove outer leaves and any undesirable portions from firm, mature heads of cabbage; wash and drain. Cut into halves or quarters; remove the core. Use a shredder or sharp knife to cut the cabbage into thin shreds.
2. In a large crock or food grade plastic container, thoroughly mix 2 tablespoons salt with 3 pounds shredded cabbage. Continue this process...layer cabbage and add salt...until all cabbage is in the container (leave 3-4 inches of space from the top rim of the crock).
3. Let the salted cabbage stand for 30 minutes to wilt slightly.
4. Using a wooden spoon or hands, press down firmly on the top of the cabbage to press out liquid.
5. Cover the cabbage with a clean, thin, white cloth (such as muslin) and tuck the edges down against the inside of the container. Cover with a large plate that fits inside the crock. Put a weight on top of the plate. A gallon jug filled with water makes a good weight.
6. Place the crock in an out of the way, warm location (ideally 68-72 degrees F.)
7. The next day, repeat the process of pressing down on the cabbage to release as much liquid as possible. The liquid should completely cover the cabbage with the weight on the place.
8. If the cabbage is not completely submerged, make a salt water solution of 1 teaspoon salt to 1 cup of water. Stir until the salt is completely dissolved and add to the crock. Repeat adding salt water, as needed, until the cabbage is totally submerged.
9. Every couple of days, remove the weight/cover and skim off any mold that may develop on top of the mix. Don't worry if you can not remove every bit. The kraut is under the surface and will be O.K.
10. Formation of gas bubbles on the surface indicates fermentation is taking place. According to the temperature, it can take several weeks (usually 5-6) to fully ferment. After 3 weeks, start tasting the kraut every couple of days. When it has the flavor you like, bottle it up.
11. Fully fermented sauerkraut may be kept in the refrigerator for up to several months if it is kept tightly covered, totally submerged in brine and under 36 degrees. It can also be frozen in sealed freezer bags. Any time you notice an off color or foul odor you should dispose of it.