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Making Sauerkraut at Home

Ben CohenOne of the many vegetables that we grew at the homestead this year was cabbage. We chose a variety from Baker Creek Seed Co. called the Glory of Enkhuizen. It's named after the village in Holland where it was first introduced back in 1899. It is said to be an early, excellent keeping variety that is a good producer and good for kraut. And it just so happens that things went very well for us this year and we ended up with quite a cabbage patch!

fresh cabbage 

wheelbarrow full of fresh cabbage 

The natural solution to this abundance of cabbage growing in the raised beds out back was to try our hand at making sauerkraut, and it turns out that it's pretty easy to make. In fact, it's a lot easier to make sauerkraut than it is to spell sauerkraut!

A quick Internet search landed me quite a few different recipes to choose from, but a lot of them called for a traditional fermenting crock, which I don't have and I really didn't want to spend the money to get one. Instead, I decided to go with a slightly less traditional 5-gallon plastic bucket. We have a bunch of them around here as we use them to store our seeds and other things. They are BPA-free, food-grade buckets that we get at Lowe's.

So I had my crock. Next I needed to gather my ingredients. Turns out that homemade kraut only has two ingredients. Cabbage and pickling salt. I happened to have plenty of both on hand.

cleaning cabbage

Here is the process step by step:

Cut up your cabbage and put it in your bucket.

shredded cabbage 

Add 2 teaspoons salt for every pound of cabbage.

chopping cabbage  pounding cabbage

Smash it all up really good until the natural juices from the cabbage are extracted. I used a wooden baseball bat.

holding down the sauerkraut 

holding down the sauerkraut

Put a plate over top of the cabbage and weigh it down with a jug of water until everything is submerged under the liquid.

Put on a loose fitting lid or a towel so everything is covered but the gases created by the fermentation process can still be released.

And then wait. About 4 to 6 weeks and then your sauerkraut is ready!

You can can it for long-term storage using the hot water bath technique.

And there you go! Simple and delicious sauerkraut from home, the way it's supposed to be.

bcohen
11/22/2014 9:51:26 PM

ChuckM, we let our ferment in a spare room. The basement should be fine too. 60 degrees or warmer.. room temperature dd the trick for us!


chuckm
11/22/2014 11:28:27 AM

Ben,I've been curious about making homemade sauerkraut but assumed it was difficult and had a lot of ingredients. This makes it sound fairly simple. One question: during the fermentation time, does it have to be in a room with a certain temperature and/or humidity level? I remember hearing from the old days that people made this and let it ferment in the basement.


nebraskadave
11/22/2014 9:00:33 AM

Ben, sauerkraut is probably the easiest thing to make of all the preservation techniques. Fermentation can be used on not just cabbage but many other garden vegetables as well. The process is the same as cabbage. ***** Have a great kraut eating day.