Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Making Sauerkraut

Today, I made sauerkraut. It is easier than you think and it does not take that long. No store bought sauerkraut tastes as good as homemade.  Also, I do not can mine so it is a food that is alive with good enzymes.  It aids in digestion.  Some people have a tablespoon of sauerkraut with their lunch and supper.  We like to eat ours as a side dish.  You can just lightly warm it or eat it at room temperature. 

You will need a crock or glass jars.  I already have a batch going in a large crock.  I had an empty gallon size crock and decided to use that.  I had 3 huge heads of cabbage that I needed to deal with. The 3 large head made just over 1 gallon of sauerkraut. I just put the extra in a quart canning jar.  Some people use a cabbage cutter and it makes long shreds of your cabbage. We like ours in small shreds so I use the grating plate on my food processor. 

I took off all the outer leaves that were yucky and cut off pieces of the cabbage leaving only the core.  I give the outside leaves and core to my chickens so nothing goes to waste.  If I had pigs I would give it to them.  I then shredded it all up and put it in a huge bowl I have.  For every 5 pounds of cabbage, you add 3 rounded tablespoons of salt.  I sprinkle the salt all around on the cabbage.  There are 2 ways you can do the next step.  I used to mix the salt in and then start packing it into my large crock pressing down over and over again to make the juices flow.  Now, I just start using both hands and squishing the cabbage in my fists over and over again until there is a good amount of juice in the bowl.  In this first picture I had already started working the cabbage with my hands.  In fact this was just the last head of cabbage because they would not all 3 fit in my bowl and still allow me to work it.   
In this picture I tilted the bowl a bit and you can see the juice on the right hand side. 
After I had enough juice I packed the cabbage and juice it into my crock.  This was just the first 2 heads of cabbage.  Then I take a tea towel (in my big crock) or a napkin in this case and lay it across the top and tuck it all in down around the sides.  This helps to keep the kraut under the brine.   
Then I place an upside down plate over that and push everything below the surface of the brine.  The brine is just the juice that came out of the cabbage because of the salt and working it. 
I then put some sort of weight on top of that to keep the plate below the surface.  I just used a jar full of water.  I also had some whey from the Pepper Jack cheese I made yesterday.  I poured a bit of that into the crock and also into the jar of cabbage that would not fit into the crock.  You do not need to do this, but it does help get things going. I only did it because it was sitting there on the counter.    
I stick this back into my pantry and check it every couple of days.  If you see a scum or even mold on top of the surface, simply skim it off.  I have had a lot of mold on mine before and the kraut is fine because it is below the surface. I let mine sit for several weeks at least before we start using it.  I then just dip some out for our meal and put everything back in place.  I did a large batch in my big crock last year.  We ate out of that crock until March of this year when we used up the last of it.  

I made butter yesterday.  I love the bright yellow color.  I think Jersey milk and cream is more yellow than the milk some breeds give, but add in the fact that she is grass fed and you get beautiful butter.  This butter was waiting to have the buttermilk worked out of it.   

1 comment:

cpage2323 said...

I was just thinking of making my own sauerkraut the other day and felt a bit intimidated. I think you have a new recruit. I need to go buy a crock! Thanks for showing me how easy it is!