HomeMade Sauerkraut

HomeMade Sauerkraut
Late season cabbage makes better sauerkraut.

For cabbage to ferment properly, measure accurately
and follow the directions closely.

Start with ...

  • cabbage - about 15 lbs, shredded
  • 9 T. coarse canning salt

Preparation -
Rinse the heads of cabbage under cool running water and blot dry with paper towels. Discard the dark green outer leaves and any leaves that are cracked or damaged. Cut the heads into quarters or wedges - no wider that your slaw cutter or slicer. Using a slaw cutter, shredder, mandolin type cutter or a sharp knife, slice the cabbage to about the thickness of a quarter.

Working with about 5 pounds of cabbage and 3 tablespoons of salt at a time, place the sliced cabbage in a large bowl. Add salt and stir, using a large wooden spoon, to mix well. Place the salted cabbage in a clean 5 gallon stoneware crock (The crock should be washed thoroughly and rinsed several times with boiling water.) Pack the salted cabbage into the crock. A brine will start to form as you press on the cabbage to pack it down. Repeat the salting and packing, with 5 poinds of cabbage at a time, until all the cabbage is in the crock. After all the cabbage has been added, continue to press down on the cabbage until there is enough brine to cover the cabbage completely. The top of the cabbage should be 1 to 2 inches below the brine.

Place a heavy plate on top of the cabbage. The plate should be just slightly smaller than the diameter of the crock, but large enough to completely cover the cabbage and hold it under the brine. Fill a zippered plastic bag with water; seal the bag. Place the bag of water on top of the plate to weigh it down. Cover the entire crock with heavy plastic wrap, then drape a heavy towel over the crock, covering the rim. Place the crock in a cool area where the temperature will not rise above 75º.

Uncover the crock to check the sauerkraut at least every other day. Use a clean wooden spoon to remove any scum or film that forms on top. If a moldy scum forms on the plate, wash and sterilize the plate as needed.

Allow 3 weeks for fermentation if the temperature is 75º. Allow 4 weeks at a temperature of 70º. Allow 5 to 6 weeks at 55° to 60º. Do not store the crock at temperatures below 55° or over 76º or fermentation will not take place and the cabbage will spoil. Fermentation is complete when the bubbling has stopped and bubbles no longer form when the side of the crock is tapped.

To can the sauerkraut....
Place the sauerkraut in a stockpot. Cook over medium high heat long enough to bring it to a boil. Remove from heat. Ladle the hot sauerkraut it into hot, quart size canning jars. Place caps and rims on the jars. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 20 minutes. Cool, check the seals, label and store.

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Sauerkraut Problems

Soft, mushy sauerkraut can be caused by -

  • insufficient salt
  • temperature too high during fermentation
  • salt was not evenly distributed
  • air pockets caused by insufficient packing

    Pinkish sauerkraut is caused by the growth of certain types of yeast on the surface, due to -

  • too much salt
  • salt was not evenly distributed
  • The sauerkraut was improperly covered or the plate was not weighted down during fermentation.

    Sauerkraut turns dark due to -

  • unwashed or improperly trimmed cabbage
  • not enough juice to completely cover the fermenting cabbage
  • salt was not evenly distributed
  • sauerkraut was exposed to air
  • temperature too high during fermentation, processing, or storage
  • Homemade sauerkraut that has been stored too long will turn dark.

    Weston Cabbage ShredderWeston Prago ROMA Cabbage Shredder

    This slaw cutter, much like Grandma's, makes quick work of big slicing jobs like sauerkraut and coleslaw. The cabbage head fits in the 7 square wooden frame. It features 3 stainless steel blades and disassembles for easy clean-up.

    Putting Food By
    This comprehensive food preservation guide explains how to freeze, can, pickle, dry, smoke, cure and package. "Putting Foods By" explains canning procedures and includes processing times and many recipes. This revised edition has updated sections on how to preserve with less sugar and salt, freeze for the microwave, preserve and can for the small family, choose the right equipment and more.

  • You Should Also Read:
    The Home Cooking Recipe Index and Site Map
    The Home Cooking Cookbook Corner
    Successful Home Canning

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    This content was written by Sandy Moyer. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Allyson Elizabeth D´Angelo for details.