Making delicious homemade Sauerkraut is fun and easy. This is a low-salt hearth-food that is also low in calories and is nutrient dense. The ancient people marched armies on raw sauerkraut.
Make Homemade Sauerkraut Like The Pros Do
My mother and dad taught me to make this sauerkraut, way back during World War Two. A friend of mine in Darlington, Pennsylvania, Glen Wagoner, advised me on making sauerkraut. He has made and sold sauerkraut for 40 years. Furthermore, he makes 6 tons at a time. He got the training from Pittsburgh University.
Easy to make at home
Sauerkraut is rugged and is forgiving of abuse. You don’t need to worry about stray germs or “whatever might come floating along in the air.” Just use the normal precautions of an everyday kitchen the same as when you make other fermented vegetables. You can check out our blog post if you want to know more about how we do fermentation: Fermenting Vegetables For Health Of My Body And Mind. Also, remember that you can be forgiven for sampling this food at any stage of its development—it is delicious at any moment that you work with it.
Smaller solid heads are best
Look for nice new cabbage, recently picked—a day or two out of the patch. Big heads are ok but two or three-pounders are nicer to work with. Look for heads that are solid and ready to crack open. Older cabbage may be dried out and you might end up adding some water. If you are concerned about insecticides or other contaminants, wash the cabbage in a mild solution of vinegar water or hydrogen peroxide. This will remove or neutralize most of “whatever” might have been used to get the fresh vegetable to your home. I just use the cabbage as it comes—with a little caution.
Cut it into quarters. Use the core too—it adds flavor. Now slice it into thin slices. I like mine about as thick as a quarter and nice long pieces—it looks pretty that way. You can place it into a vegetable chopper but that is too much work.
Any crock, jar or stainless steel pot will do. Wal-Mart sells a nice stainless steel pot that will hold about 2 gallon—they are cheap too. Any stainless steel cooking pan will serve for this task. Don’t use aluminum.
This is low-salt sauerkraut: use about 1 teaspoon for each medium head of cabbage. A medium head of cabbage will weigh about two or three pounds. Use a tablespoon of salt for every 5 pounds—you do not want to pickle the “kraut.” You want it to ferment—don’t use too much salt.
Now you are ready to put it into a glass jar or whatever container you choose to use.
Mix the salt with the cabbage
You want to be sure the salt is mixed with each layer of cabbage. Start by placing a very small amount of water and a pinch of salt in the bottom. This will help assure you that there is salt in the first layer. Now add a couple of inches of shredded cabbage, mix the amount of salt that you think that layer should have and tamp it down. Add a couple more inches of cabbage and mix in the salt. Again, tamp it down firmly. Pack it in layers that are about 2 inches thick, mixing some salt before tamping it down. Soon you will see the liquid come through.
Don’t fill it all the way to the top. Allow a few inches so it won’t bubble over.
Now To Hold The Cabbage Under The Brine
Cover the chopped cabbage with a thin cloth. The sauerkraut likes to float and must be held under the brine. My favorite “weight” is a plastic bag with some water in it. If you use this method, put some salt in the water—just in case it leaks.
Another method is to find a dish that fits into the vessel—turn it upside down and weight it down with a jar of water or any heavy item. Now cover the victim with a clean cloth to keep unwanted things out.
Now comes the fun part—watching it ferment
The fermentation takes about 28 days and goes through three fermentation stages. Each one takes about a week. You will notice a ceasing of bubbles before each phase changes.
The fun is watching it ferment. That is why a clear glass or good clear plastic container is the most fun to watch. When the cute little bubbles stop floating up the task is done.
Sauerkraut Travels Well
Sauerkraut keeps well and travels well—even without refrigeration
Now, put it in the refrigerator where it will keep for several months. You can freeze it in freezer bags, jars or whatever containers you like and keep it for a year. Homemade sauerkraut makes good food for camping trips as it will travel well at desert temperatures.
Homemade sauerkraut is a health food that doesn’t need cooked, seasoned or adulterated in any manner. Of course, you can do all kinds of nice things to this humble food. Have fun and add your personal touch. Use your imagination. Only remember that the microwave or cooking will kill the 400-plus types of probiotics that are important to your health.
No Washing Needed
Please don’t wash it before you cook it. Commercial sauerkraut might need to be washed to remove some of the salt and other stuff the processors have added.
You also might want to add a few carrots, dill, or other vegetables to give it a personal touch; perhaps you should delay experimenting.
Sample It As You Watch It Ferment
Eat as much homemade sauerkraut as you want when checking the progress. Also, keep it handy for low-calorie easy-t0-digest snacks.
There are many commercial sauerkraut-making vessels available in today’s market. Just check them out on Google.
You can also try pairing Sauerkraut and Pork like the one on this post: Quick Pork Chop Delight Meal for Bodies of Steel
The Old Guru says “Have fun and good health to you.”