Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sauerkraut Time

Special thanks to the Buchner family (Sandy, Loretta, and Mike) and friends of Grand Rapids for sharing their instructions for making sauerkraut. They shredded 140 pounds of cabbage this season! A room temperature of of 60-75F will work. At 60-65 the fermentation will take longer: 5-6 weeks. At 70-75 about 3-4 weeks.

Start with fresh cabbage. "Dry" cabbage will not produce good brine. 10 pounds of cabbage yields about 3 quarts of sauerkraut.

Remove dirty outer leaves. Leaves that fall off the head can still be used if clean.

Cut heads into quarters or halves. Slice the heads into 1/4 inch shreds. Do not use the heart.

Weigh the cabbage as you go and add to a food grade container like a crock. For each 10 pounds of cabbage add 1/2 cup of canning salt. Do not use iodized salt it will prevent fermentation.

Mix the salt into the cabbage. Bruise the leaves and pack the cabbage into the crock. This can be done using a clean baseball bat. Be careful not to hit the sides of the container and create a crack.

Brine should come to the surface and cover the cabbage leaves. If the cabbage is not covered with brine at the end of the day or it dries up during fermentation brine can be made by adding 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt to 1 quart of distilled water. Do not use chlorinated or fluoridated tap water as it will stop fermentation.

Place a piece of clean cotton sheet over the cabbage. Weigh the cabbage down using a plate or a piece of plexiglass and clean stones. Once or twice a week remove the sheet and rinse. Clean off any mold from the surface of the brine before replacing the sheet and the weighted plate. Store crock in a cool place.

Cover the crock with a second piece of clean sheet to keep out dust. You may want to strap the covering down. Fermentation is usually complete in 3 to 6 weeks. Upon completion the cabbage will taste like sauerkraut. Pack into quart jars and cover with brine leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Cap. Process 20 minutes in boiling water bath.

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