View Full Version : Sauerkraut

09-13-2004, 10:34 AM
I got the answer to my sauerkraut questions at last, not long after throwing my first attempts on the compost pile. Yesterday there was a 'kraut making clinic at The Good Life Center (Helen and Scott Nearing's house).

It goes like this: shred your cabbage reserving an outer leaf. Add salt. (No flowing agents or other junk! Use pickling salt, not table salt. They used an unrefined salt from Utah.) Use somewhere between a teaspoon to a tablespoon per two pounds of cabbage. More salt makes it work slower, but makes it more acid so it keeps longer. Rachael, who led the clinic, uses a teaspoon per two pounds and says she has it keep reasonably well. You can also add spices at this point. Once the cabbage has softened, pack it into jars, tamping it down layer by layer. We used sections of closet pole dowel that had been boiled briefly to sanitize them. The jars were also rinsed in boiling water. Many seemed to be pounding it down, but I got better action (more liquid generated and good air removal) by just pressing firmly and repeatedly. Doing more later at home, I used the end of my rolling pin, which has no handles, as a tamper. Once the jar is nearly full you should have a bit of liquid on top. Take pieces of the big outer leaf and cover the top of the pressed cabbage with it, submerging it well, and forming a layer that keeps anything from floating up to where it will get air. Tuck the edges of the big leaf down between the jar and the shredded stuff. Then put a small clean (boiled) rock on top of that to hold everything down. This will also raise the liquid level a bit. Put a lid on, but don't screw it down lest it explode. Put all this in a place where you can watch it for a while, like an out of the way spot on the kitchen counter. Put it in a catch basin in case it bubbles over. If the liquid starts to go down to the point where it might expose the cabbage, add brine (1 tablespoon salt per quart of water). Once it's stopped working (when volume stops changing, or just when you think it's to your taste), put it in the cellar (around 50F or cooler) or in the fridge or in a cool spot in the bilge. It should keep until spring or until the end of as long of passage as you might want to make. Rachel's low salt stuff is done in a week or two. Saltier (tablespoon per two pounds) stuff make take more like a month. I put 2 1/2 pounds of cabbage into a quart mason jar.

We had some stuff Rachael had made a few weeks ago with caraway seeds in it. Good stuff. That batch had been made in a gallon crock rather than a mason jar. It was covered with a full wrapper leaf, then a board cut to fit, then a larger rock to hold everything down. Think of the mold around the top as being like the bloom on a ripe piece of fruit. Just wipe it off and don't worry about it. The stuff under the big leaf is good.

Rachael isn't a fan of using plastics in cooking. I'm not so worried, but I still more or less agree, especially with acidic foods like sauerkraut. I had considered using a big food grade plastic bucket, but had hesitations. Then I read of an old method used on wooden barrels of questionable quality: coat the inside with parafin wax. Buckets and wax are a lot cheaper than stoneware crocks.

The funny part of all this is that the overstock of cabbage we had a month ago eventually sold, so I'm not so desperate to find a way to store it all now.


Chadd Hamilton
09-13-2004, 01:51 PM
Thanks Dan for that great instructional. I thought there was more to it than that. Think I'm gonna make some when the weather cools down.


09-13-2004, 02:13 PM
Dan, There is a museum dedicated to rotten cabbage in Waldoboro. I've always wanted to get on by there and check it out. They keep weekday hours and all that.

No website, but a profile of the company:Morse Sauerkraut (http://www.mainemade.com/members/profile.asp?ID=906)

Happy outgassing! :D

09-13-2004, 02:40 PM
I just got back from the store with a 2 lb. head of cabbage. Now to work up the energy to shread it.

09-13-2004, 03:25 PM
Big spurt of energy. Questions--

Salt is added. Does the cabbage sit in a covered bowl at room temperature until it begins to leak juice? How long should this take? What spices, besides tabasco sauce, would you suggest? Okay, not tabasco.

09-13-2004, 03:59 PM
Bowl at room temperature: yes, until it gets just limp enough to pack. Maybe half an hour.

Spices: whatcha got? Caraway. Onion seed. Dried hot peppers. Garlic (crushed or whole). Mustard Seed. Add radishes and carrots and you're starting toward Kim Chee. Make more regularly and try different things. I put green cardamom pods in one of my batches. Who knows how it'll taste.


09-13-2004, 05:10 PM
So far so good. Two pound head shreded just filled a quart mason jar with just enough liquid to cover. The outer leaf was trimmed to fit and held down with a cup of water while a search is mounted for a proper stone. Now we wait.

Jack Heinlen
09-13-2004, 05:38 PM
Just a side note. Pickled cabbage, along with citrus and other fruits, was recognized early on, I wanna say mid-eighteenth century, as a cure against scurvy on a long sea voyage. They didn't know why, the vitamin C, but they knew they worked.

I'm not terribly fond of saurerkraut, though I do eat it occasionally, but a simple recipe for those with a German soul. ;)

A pound or so of kraut

A variety of sausage, couple pounds, smoked, fresh, exotic.

A bunch of sliced garlic, I mean a whole bunch, a whole head.

Simmer for an hour.

BTW, I wonder if the same process works for Kim Chee, a pickled Korean cabbage. I like Kim Chee, but you can't buy the hot variety around these provincial parts. Great stuff for the lover of chiles. :D

[ 09-13-2004, 07:17 PM: Message edited by: Jack Heinlen ]

09-13-2004, 06:11 PM
One thing that was mentioned at the workshop was that what's currently being sold as sauerkraut is actually just cabbage cooked with vinegar. The real stuff makes it's own vinegar and is a live product, like good beer or cheese. So Jack, just because you don't like the stuff currently being sold doesn't mean you wouldn't like home made. And yes, the same process works for Kim Chee.

Hugh, I heard that Morse went out of business a couple years ago, but that they're going to try starting up again. I've driven by, but never stopped.


Jack Heinlen
09-13-2004, 06:21 PM

Sometime this winter, when even the dogs are depressed by the lack of light, I would gladly accept your invitation to sample some of your sauerkraut. I don't dislike the commercial stuff, but I'll bet your batch is going to be far superior. smile.gif


09-13-2004, 09:13 PM
Originally posted by huisjen:
Hugh, I heard that Morse went out of business a couple years ago, but that they're going to try starting up again. I've driven by, but never stopped.

DanThey were sold to new owners, I think. I noticed many acres of cabbage growing along the roadside in Warren, Waldoboro, etc., just waiting for the pickle packer. Gives a whole new meaning to pucker factor, don't it?


09-14-2004, 09:44 AM
Where the heck is all the water coming from? The jar overflowed a bit over night so what is happening? The salt is drawing the water out of the cabbage but the cabbage is not shrinking? How can this be. What is taking the place of water in the plant cells? Verry interesting....

09-14-2004, 04:34 PM
Tiiiny Bubbles......

--Don Ho

Norm, try pushing on the rock. Be ready to top it off with brine when the bubbling stops.


Wiley Baggins
09-14-2004, 06:38 PM
Originally posted by huisjen:

Norm, try pushing on the rock.

DanAre you running a sauerkraut thread or being a Zen Master?

09-14-2004, 09:07 PM

09-29-2004, 06:53 PM
"Master, what is the sound of one hand clapping?"
"Be QUIET, Grasshopper, or I will hit you again!!
;) tongue.gif

Hey Norm, how's the bubbly cabbage coming?


imported_Steven Bauer
09-29-2004, 08:07 PM
Jack, next time you are in Portland stop by the Sun Oriental Market on Congress Street. Won Bae Park is the owner. Great guy, I did all the renovations when he bought the building. He sells the real Kim Chee. I think his wife makes it to his mother's recipe. Right across from the State Theatre. Yum. :D


09-29-2004, 09:13 PM
I think it is done. Pushing on the bottle I have weighing the stuff down produces no bubbles. Hasn't for a week or so. Never did stink. I used more salt than minimum called for, thought it would take longer. I used Kosher salt. The box says nothing about additives so figured it should work. Anyway, there is a little sour to the flavor but nothing like the store bought stuff. Phyllis commented earlier today that we'll have some with sausages tomorrow.