Once again, we grew a lot of cabbage at Lapacek's ORchard. I think it's one of my father-in-laws favorite things to grow so we do it. Now what do you do with all that cabbage?
In this video my brother-in-law Matt and my nephew Charlie show you how to make Sauerkraut at home! While watching the video let me know if you spot the scene that Charlie takes a big bite of a cabbage leaf. That kid loves his veggies!
Start with fresh cabbage. Remove outside leaves, but do not wash. The natural flora of the cabbage cause the proper fermentation to take place.
Use canning or pickling salt, not iodized salt. Iodine will prohibit the proper fermentation.
Cut cabbage heads into quarters, core and slice thinly. You can use a large, sharp knife, kraut cutter, mandolin, meat slicer, or even a food processor. Long, thin shreds are the preference, but your kraut will still taste amazing even if the cut isn't perfect.
Weigh the cabbage. Put 5 pounds into a food safe plastic bucket, crock or glass container. Do not use metal. It is OK to line your container with a food grade plastic bag if you want.
Add 3 Tablespoons of canning and pickling salt. This amount of salt is important to the fermentation process. If you want your kraut less salty, rinse it before eating.
Tamp the cabbage with a wooden tamper until the juices cover the cabbage. We use an old wooden baseball bat for this.
Repeat this procedure layer by layer. Leave at least 3 inches at the top of the container and be sure the juice covers the cabbage.
Cover the cabbage with a food grade plastic bag and add at least 2 inches of water. This will hold the cabbage under the juice and seal out oxygen. Any oxygen reaching the cabbage will cause spoilage so this is really important. You can tie the bag shut or set a lid on top but do NOT seal. During fermentation gases need to get out.
Place the container in an area where it is at least 60 degrees. At 68-72 degrees, the kraut will be ready in about 3-4 weeks. At warmer temperatures it will be faster, at cooler temperatures, it will be slower. Check it frequently to be sure there is still water in the bag that is weighting the cabbage down. Add water if necessary. Taste it now and then. It is not uncommon to find some of the kraut spoiled at the edge of the bag. Just scoop it off and throw it away. When you’re happy with the taste, it’s ready.
What to do when your kraut is ready.
Eat it! It can stay in the crock for several weeks in a cool, dark place. Be sure to seal the top with the plastic bag and water every time you open it. The kraut will continue to ferment.
Refrigerate it in tightly sealed containers. I used glass jars last year. I filled them to the top and put the lids on. They kept all winter and tasted fresh and amazing.
Freeze it. Pack in containers or plastic bags leaving room for expansion.
Can it. This method is the only listed here that will kill the great probiotics in your kraut. It will still taste great. Heat kraut and liquid to 185-200 degrees. Pack tightly into hot jars leaving ½” headspace. Be sure to remove all air. Process in a hot water bath, 15 minutes for pints, 20 minutes for quarts.
If you have any questions, call Diane at Lapacek’s Orchard. 608-635-4780.