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Tightly packed in well-covered containers, this sauerkraut can be safely kept in the refrigerator for six months or more. Sauerkraut may be served cold in salads or hot with meats. The sharpness of its flavor will depend on how long it is cooked. For the most tang and greatest crispness, simply heat it. For milder flavor, cook it longer. Late cabbage is best for sauerkraut as it is higher in sugar. Take care to measure the salt accurately - use a knife to level the tablespoon. The cabbage will not ferment properly if you add too much or too little salt. To make about 10 gallons (40 liters):
50 lb. firm, mature cabbages, quartered and cored, outer leaves discarded about 3 cups coarse salt
With a shredder or sharp knife, shred 5 pounds of cabbage to the thickness of a dime. Place in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons (45ml) of salt over the cabbage. Mix well with your hands or a stainless-steel spoon.
Wash a 10 gallon (40 liter) crock with soapy water, rinse, and scald it with boiling water. Drain thoroughly. Pack the salted cabbage, batch by batch, into the crock. Juices will form as you pack and press the cabbage down.
Repeat the shredding and salting of the cabbage until the crock if filled to within no more than 5 inches (13 cm) of the top. Make sure the juice covers the cabbage. If not, make additional brine by mixing 1 1/2 tablespoons (22 ml) of salt with 4 cups (1 liter) of boiling water. Cool to room temperature before adding to the crock. Now the cabbage needs to be covered and weighted down to keep it submerged in the brine. Fit one large plastic bag inside another to make a double bag.
Fill with brine solution - 1 1/2 tablespoons salt to 4 cups water--and lay over the cabbage. The bag should fit snugly against the inside of the crock to seal the surface from exposure to air; this will prevent the growth of a yeast film or mold. The amount of brine in the bag can be adjusted to keep the cabbage submerged. Twist and tie to seal the bag. Cover the crock with plastic wrap, then with a heavy terry towel. Tie twine around the crock to hold the plastic wrap and towel in place. Do not open until fermentation time is completed.
Fermentation will begin the day following packing. How long it takes depends on the room temperature. For best quality sauerkraut, a room temperature of 75 F. (23C) is ideal; fermentation will take about 3 weeks. At 70F (20C), allow about 4 weeks; at 65F (18C), about 5 weeks; and 60F (15C), about 6 weeks. Temperatures above 75F will result in premature fermentation and possible spoilage. Keep track of the temperature so that you know when to check the sauerkraut. Remove the cover. Fermentation is complete if bubbling has stopped and no bubbles rise when the crock is tapped gently.
The old-fashioned way. Instead of weighting the cabbage with the brine-filled plastic bag, you can give the sauerkraut daily care as follows: Cover the cabbage with a clean white cloth. Cover the cloth with a scalded heavy plate that fits snugly inside the crock. Fold the cloth over the plate. For a weight, fill clean glass jars with water; cap with the lids and screw bands, scald the jars before setting them on the plate. Use enough weight to bring the brine 2 inches (5cm) above the plate - this makes daily skimming easier.
Make additional brine if necessary. Cover the crock with a clean heavy terry towel, and top with plastic wrap to help prevent evaporation. Tie with twine. Each day, uncover the crock and remove yeast film or mold with a scalded stainless-steel spoon. Have a second jar weight ready and scalded to replace the one you remove. Replace the cloth and plate with clean ones. Cover the crock again with a clean terry towel. The sauerkraut may be stored in the refrigerator after fermentation is completed. For longer keeping, it can be brought to a boil in a large saucepan, then canned in quart jars and processed in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.
The way I do sauerkraut is put about six to twelve apples in the bottom of the barrel or crock then a layer of shreded cabbage Maybe about an inch thick.
Cover the layer with Canning Salt, do not use table salt there is a difference.You have to judge the amount of the salt.
Pound down until the juice begins to come out of the cabbage.
Do a second layer of cabbage, second layer of salt. Pound again and keep doing this until the barrel or crock is nearly full. You can use your fists for pounding but the way my father did it, fists and knuckles tend to get very red and sore from all the pounding, is he took a log about six inches in diameter about 18 inches long, drilled out a hole in the end and inserted a piece of a broom handle in the hole and used this for a pounder.
Put some apples every couple of layers. After the crock or barrel is nearly full, put some clean wood on top. No apples on top these should be buried in the shredded cabbage.
Weigh this down with something like a clean heavy rock and cover with a clean white towel. When you weigh it down, you should have some juice left on top. For about two weeks after you finish this process, you will need to remove the weight and take out some of the excess liquid.
Be sure to store it in a cool place so that the sauerkraut juice does not turn to a liquid like vinegar.
The apples taste good after you are done also. Have fun and I hope your knuckles don't hurt too bad after you're done, in case you decide not to make a pounder. I can't tell you quantities like in a receipe. My father and I made this every year and it was more like flying by the seat of your pants and using your own judgement.
We usually made up a bushel of cabbage depending on how big the crock or barrel was that father was using that year but, we tried to make enough to last all winter.
A 2 gal crock holds about 15 pounds of kraut. Use good mature heads. Use about 2 teaspoons of salt per lb. ( canning or kosher salt). Remove outer leaves, and quarter the heads and cut out cores. Slice the cabbage fine into 1/16 in. shreds and mix with the salt. Pack firmly in a stone crock to within 2 in. of the top. Cover with a clean cloth and a plate or any board except pine. Put a weight on the plate so the brine comes up to the cover and wets the cloth over the cabbage. When fermentation begins remove the scum daily. Keep the cover washed and the cloth replaced. The best quality kraut is made at a temperature below 60 degrees and would require about a month. A higher temperature will cure it faster but it isn't as good.