Homemade Sauerkraut How-To

I have to admit, I really suck in the kitchen.  However, my first attempt at making homemade sauerkraut was a hit, like a Pinterest worthy hit.  In fact, I’m going to make another batch today.

Ingredients:

Large head of cabbage
Kosher or canning/pickling salt. NOT table salt.

  • Cut the cabbage into quarters. Remove the tough center core.
  • Shred the cabbage into thin slices using a mandolin slicer, food slicer or sharp butcher knife.
  • Set a kitchen scale to grams. Place a large bowl on the scale and tare it.
  • Weigh the shredded cabbage in the bowl.
  • Divide the weight by 50. The result is how many grams of salt to use.

Don’t struggle trying to fit the cabbage into narrow mouthed glass jars like you see in so many tutorials. Get a 2 gallon container. That’s big enough for 2-3 heads of cabbage.

I use a Black and Decker Food Processor with the slicing blade to prepare the cabbage.

Sauerkraut Fermentation Containers

Fancy Pants: 2 gallon ceramic crock with lid and weight
Economy: 2 gallon Anchor Hocking jar with glass lid (what I used)

I used the Anchor Hocking jar. Got it at my local Walmart for around $12.  I prefer it over the crock so I can see if there are problems during the fermentation process.  The glass jar also has a wider mouth.

Fermentation Weights

The cabbage needs to be submerged in its own juices to properly ferment and the most difficult part of this entire processing is figuring out what to use for a weight and then how to get it into the pot.

Fancy Pants:  Food-safe glass or ceramic half circle weights.

Economy:  The first time I used a bag of salt water for a weight.  However, I was trolling the isles at Michael’s some weeks ago and found a 5 lb tub of Crayola air clay on sale. Instant light bulb moment. I’ll make my own weights. I drew a template on paper of the radius of the jar. I made two half moon shapes from the template and notched out a hole in the center of each for a finger grip so they’ll be easy to remove from the jar. I let them dry for a good 3-4 weeks. I placed them in the jar for fitting. I had the grandson do that. Any excuse to get the Dremel out. However, it was much easier to sand them down and shape them just by rubbing them right on the concrete driveway. When they were the right size, I sealed them with my Black and Decker vacuum sealer.  If it turns out they are too thick, I can cut open the bag, grind them thinner and reseal them in a new bag.

Fermentation Plate

I needed a flat plate to place on top of the cabbage and then to place the weights on top of it. It helps to create a barrier between the cabbage and weights to keep pieces from wiggling up to the surface. I cut a circle out of heavy cardboard (Franzia wine box) slightly smaller than the diameter of the inside of the jar. I gave it a bend so I could fit it into the jar. Once I was happy with the shape, I sealed that up with the vacuum sealer, too.

Fermentation

I let the cabbage ferment for three weeks. It was awesome. Not at all salty. That’s why it’s important to do the simple math and weigh the cabbage and salt. The kraut was ever so slightly acidic, but not at all bad. This next time I will try 2-1/2 weeks to see if it’s milder. It’s just like making sourdough, the longer it ferments, the stronger it will be.

Here are the finished pieces.

Sauerkraut Making Video

This is the best video I found on how to make your own sauerkraut.

Additional Resource

National Center for Home Food Preservation:  http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html

Sauerkraut and Brats Recipe

Ingredients

All the sauerkraut I just made
2 packages of Johnsonville plain bratwurst
1 slivered medium yellow onion
1 t caraway seed
1/2 c pearl barely (or quick cooking, in a pinch)
1-1/2 c water

Directions

Slice the brats lengthwise and remove the casings. Make mini cheater meatballs by using the back of a knife to pinch off 1/2″ to 3/4″ sections of the brats. Lightly brown the mini meatballs in a non-stick dutch oven. Half way through cooking, toss in the slicked onions and continue cooking until onions are limp. Drain grease.

Dump in the sauerkraut, caraway, pearl barley and water. If you’re using quick cooking barely, put it in about half way through the cooking time. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour.

I like to serve it over mashed potatoes, but if your lazy, smashed boiled potatoes work, too.

Cool any leftover kraut/brats and portion into, you guessed it, vacuum sealed bags and freeze. There’s nothing like coming home to a kraut dinner.

 

Related posts: