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Homemade sauerkraut

PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2006 7:37 pm
by rich
As requested in another thread, this is how I make my sauerkraut.

Start with the freshest cabbage possible. Remove the outter few layers of leaves. Remove the cores and shred the cabbage up. The finer you shred it, the more poingant your kraut will be.

I ferment my kraut in a hand fashioned 3 gallon stoneware crock. It can fit up to 8 pounds of cabbage. I do 5 lb. batches, and yield about 6 pints of finished sauerkraut. This is a good batch size for my house hold consumption.

Ok wash out your fermentation vessel, but don't santitize it cause you'll kill the precious lactobaccilii. Mix your shredded cabbage with about 1 tbs. of salt per pound of cabbage. DO NOT USE iodized salt. I use pickling salt. Kosher salt is good to cause it's not iodized. Put the salted cabbage in your crock and let it set for a half hour or till it begins to weep. Now get something heavy to pound the cabbage. I use a 2x4 piece of wood about 4 feet long. Procede to stomp the wits out of the cabbage, smashing the liquid from it. Do this until you have enough brine to cover the cabbage. If needs be you can make a brine from about 1.5 tbs of salt per liter of water to get enough to cover the cabbage.

Now we need to weigh it down. This is to ensure the cabbage stays submerged in the brine. Keeps it from rotting. Traditional methods used a plate or wooden disk with a rock on it. I used a large plastic bag filled with a gallon for brine, tyed in a knot at the top. Ths bag acts a weight and a air lock. I put brine in it just in case it leaks, won't ruin your kraut.
Set it aside and wait. Optimal temperatures are about 70F degrees, but anywhere from 60 to 80 will be fine. The warm it is the faster it will ferment. I like to let mine set for 6 to 8 weeks cause I like a very sour sauerkraut. I've had kraut finish out in 3 weeks and take as long as 3 months. Let you own taste be your judge.

The first week or so you'll want to remove your weight and clean off the bloom from the sides of your fermentor. Bloom is a kind of foamy scum that may or may not appear.

When the kraut is done, boil can it. You can pressure can it, but since it is a very high acid food boil canning will be fine. Like wise you can store it fresh in the fridge for a month or two.

This is very easy...give it a try. Your taste buds will thanks you

PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2006 2:42 am
by Big Guy
Here is my recipe. I do it in an 8 gallon crock.


5 kg cabbage
250 ml coarse salt

select firm , mature heads of cabbage
remove outer leaves and any undesirable portions
wash and drain. cut into halves or quarters and core
use a shredder or sharp knife to cut cabbage in thin shreds
mix each shredded head with 25 ml salt and allow it to wilt
this allows the cabbage to be packed without bruising
continue shredding and salting until half of the cabbages are done
pack salted cabbage and juice in a clean earthenware crock
press cabbage down firmly and evenly.
Continue shredding and salting the rest of the batch
the cabbage should be packed only to within 6 to 8 cm of the top of the crock
cover cabbage with a damp , clean , thin cloth such as muslin
tuck the edges down against the inside of the crock so no cabbage is exposed
rinse cloth daily
place a double plastic bag filled with water on top of the cabbage
to seal the cabbage from air
when fermentation begins , remove scum daily, and replace wet cloth
wash outside of plastic bag and replace the water daily
continue this for 5 to 6 weeks until crock contents look and smell like sauerkraut.
If sauerkraut is to be stored at room temperature on the shelf ,
it must be processed as a home canned product .
prepare jars, lids and boiling water bath
heat sauerkraut to simmering
pack hot in jars, leaving 2 cm head space
cover with boiling liquid. Remove air bubbles
wipe sealing edge of jar Apply lid on rim
process in boiling water bath for 15 min for small ( 500 ml) jars
and 20 min for 1 l jars or process in pressure canner at 35kPa (5 lb. )
pressure for 8 minutes for either size jar
remove jars from canner. Cool . test for seal . label and store.

PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 4:10 pm
by Ken D
Curious to learn why you need to remove the core.....why cannot one just shred the head, core and all? Can it matter all that much, RE: the texture, or is there some chemical in the core to cause disaster. TIA. KD

PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 7:30 pm
by DarrinG
Ken I think removing the core has more to do with texture then anything else. I've shredded up the core before to make slaw and found the core to be very woody.


PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2007 4:50 pm
by Ken D
Thanks, Darrin.....Will be giving it a try this next fall. I have discovered the differences between factory and cottage sauerkraut. No comparison.
Since this happened, we've gone through 25 liters since July. That's 100.00 CAD worth.
There's a lady here in the valley who makes and sells about 1000+ liters annually.
So, as I have some time these days, I'm going to shred away,and see what happens. I'll also try some whole heads, for sour cabbage rolls.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2007 8:00 pm
by DarrinG
For sour cabbage rolls I would suggest putting in whole leaves. A whole head might not get penetrated and it might spoil your batch. Pretty much the same theory with injecting brine into a ham to prevent it from going bad while curing.


PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2007 9:23 pm
by Ianinfrance

Two comments on pickling whole cabbage. I was in the Central market in Bdapest, in Hungary where they really understand sauerkraut. It's relatively easy to get whole pickled cabbage there. What they do is to put a whole (cored - more anon) cabbage into the pickling barrel with the rest of the sauerkraut. I don't think you could expect to pickle either the whole leaves or the whole head in other than a fairly large amount of proper shredded cabbage (though I may be mistaken over the leaves).

I asked about why they removed the cores before pickling the whole heads and was told that it was to allow the pickling liquid/brine to penetrate the head easily enough. I also think it would make it easier to separate off individual leaves.

A general tip. If stuffing individual leaves, by rolling them up, it makes life a lot easier if you trim off much off the thickness of the stalk. What I do (admittedly when stuffing fresh savoy cabbage leaves) is to blanch the leaves individually, refresh, and then with a sharp knife held parallel to the board, shave off about 4/5th of the thickness of the stalk. I can then roll up the rest as easily as if it were ordinary leaf. I'm sure the same would apply for saerkraut leaves.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2007 11:07 pm
by Ken D
Thanks, gents. Good tip RE core removal.
I would probably do just the one head of whole cabbage in my chosen vessel, which will hold 50 liters. Maybe 2. Sidebar: Ian: have you tried boiled savoy (rough chop) with butter, fennel seeds, and a little salt and sugar?
Best, KD

PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2007 2:32 am
by tims
can it be made 1 qt at a time ?

PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2007 2:58 am
by DarrinG

From the looks of everything. Even if you wanted to only make 1 quart of sauerkraut at a time you will still need several pounds of cabbage to start with. Mind you if you wanted to work with just a quart jar to make sauerkraut I would go with Rich's recipe of 1 tbsp of pickling salt per pound of cabbage.


PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2007 6:36 pm
by Ken D
No first hand knowledge of doing the liter/qt at a time, but my Aunt Ida (rip) always let hers ferment in the jar, rather than the crock. It always came out pretty good !
I'm sure there will be many references to procedures on the web, or a reader of this thread perhaps.
My last century (1951) editions of hard copy Meta Givens' cookbooks give detailed instructions on the procedure, so for sure, it's time-proven.

PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 1:55 am
by rich
I'm sure there are as many way to make sauerkraut as there are makers, all good no doubt.

As far as fermenting whole heads of cabbage or individual leaves, I've never tried it. But, my Grandmother did talk about taking the cores themselves and stuffing them in the fermenting kraut. Kind of a "no waste thing"

Yummy, Cristy cabbage core pickles.

I do want to point out that there is a difference between fermenting and pickling. Pickling treats the desired consumable with a prepared acetic acid solution like vinagar, whereas fermentation use bacteria (usually lactobacilii or pediococcus) to create acetic and/or lactic acid naturally.

PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 2:24 am
by saucisson
The UK as a whole perceives Sauerkraut to be a sterilised jar of lightly vinegared, slightly cooked cabbage. The concept that it was ever a fermented product is lost in the mists of time over here, amongst most people...

For Christmas my 74 year old mum asked for a hamper of my new hobby, tradditional food :)

So she got a jar of my own home fermented cabbage to see how she will deal with it :D

She also got homemade cheese, home smoked salmon, bacon, kippers and a couple of chutneys to kep her going :D


Home Fermented Sauerkraut

PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 6:37 pm
by culsal�
What variety of cabbage lends itself best to the production of sauerkraut ?

I have tried 'Winnigstadt' , a pointed cabbage that I grow on my allotment, but would be pleased to hear of alternative suggestions.

Bon app�tit

PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2007 8:47 pm
by BBQer
Well, I procured a 5 gallon crock using the "" website and have just started making my first batch of kraut following instructions above.

Used 4 kilos of shredded cabbage. Don't know what kind - just the standard green stuff we get at the grocery store in the States.

Was having a glass of red wine at the time and was very tempted to pour a glass into the crock along with the cabbage. Anyone have an idea what effect this would have on the finished product?

Also, is it possible/traditional/sacrilege to put shredded carrot, radishes, cauliflower, or other hard vegetables in with the cabbage? Just curious.