Monday, August 16, 2010

Making the Sauerkraut

My mom can grow cabbage, man, can she ever. Me, not so much. Which is weird. I mean how hard can it be? You put in the transplants, water when dry, and they should grow, right? Anyways, mom is only one person and she has this habit of growing way too much cabbage for herself so we get blessed with it regularly, which is great, as I can't seem to get the stuff to grow at all.

I thought it time, with all this cabbage at hand, to branch out and learn how to make sauerkraut. Fortunately for me both my mom and my aunt make this regularly so the equipment and mentoring are readily available. I'll be contributing the sweat equity ;-)

The Tools:
[please pardon the lousy pictures, dd broke my camera and I'm stuck with her POC]

-cabbage mandolin, which I wrote about previously.
-kraut pounder, and, no son, it isn't for bludgeoning innocent German bystanders, yesh
-big bowl
-pickling salt and cabbage
-cheese cloth
-small plate
-caning jar full of water with a lid

The Method:

First mandolin up all of your cabbage, I did one head which weighed 5 1/2 lbs. A solid head cuts up way easier than a loose head so if you have a choice choose the heavier solid head. You can do this step with a really nice knife, you are going for a very thin shred not little bits.

Next put about 2 1/2 lbs, (half of the cabbage) into your largest bowl and toss with 1 Tbsp. pickling salt. Let sit 10 minutes. The ratio of salt to cabbage is 2 Tbsp. of salt per 5 lbs. of cabbage. So about 2 Tbsp. per head. Mom says if your sauerkraut turns out too salty you can rinse it in a sieve under running water just before you cook it. And, son, I apologise for leaving the salted cabbage on the counter making you think it was a salad, really I do. I hope the taste goes away soon, truly.

Then put 1/2 the salted cabbage into the crock and get to pounding. This makes the juice. You can just use your fist instead of an official kraut pounder, I got lucky at a garage sale and found mine. Mom and her mother before her just punched the stuff. Who needs a punching bag to release aggression? Just make kraut!!

Once this layer is juicy add the rest of the salted cabbage and pound it too. Then salt the rest of the cabbage, let it sit, pound some, add and pound the rest. I pounded the last bit in the bowl as pounding it in the crock was sending up a shower of juice.

The one head gave me 2 1/2 inches of sauerkraut in the crock.

Once all of the cabbage has been added lay a double layer of cheese cloth over it and put a plate that fits down inside the crock in. Put in your weight, in my case a canning jar full of water, which will hold down the plate and keep all of the cabbage under the brine.

Then once a day remove the cheesecloth and any scum, wash out the cloth with plain water and return it to the crock with the plate and weight. Repeat.

The sauerkraut is ready to eat and be canned when it stops bubbling. Process your jars 20 minutes for pints (500mL) or 25 minutes for quarts (1L). Information from the Bernardin site.

Now important note from Granny!
DON'T use all of your cabbage in your first batch. Think of it as your beta batch and only do one head. You can do this and still have time later to make a big batch if it turns out well and you like it. DON'T risk wasting all your cabbage!!!

New note from Granny! You can't make sauerkraut when it is this hot. It goes bad, really bad, wait til fall :o) Batch one - went b.a.d. - ick. Will try again when it is cooler, like next month.


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roof-detective said...
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