Sunday, September 11, 2011
Homemade Sauerkraut - WITHOUT a Crock!
We love Sauerkraut, however, I don't own a big ol' crock to made it. Internet to the rescue, and I've found a way to make yummy kraut with a minimum of stuff - just canning jars, cabbage, salt and boiling water.
First off, start with your cabbages. These are from my garden, one of them really took off like a rocket. I have about 15lbs of cabbages here. I believe store cabbage should be fine, but I honestly can't remember if any pesticide/wax/chemicals are used on store cabbages. If you have a farmer market, be sure to ask. You want NOTHING on your cabbages - we'll deal with the dirt and bugs.
Cut your cabbage in half. My way is to take a big honking serrated knife and stab it in the core. I then slice through the side. Repeat on the otherside so it breaks in half.
Put the cabbage half flat side down, and cut it in half again to get quarters.
Take your knife and cut at an angle to cut the core out of each quarter.
Here are the completed quarters and the cores at the bottom. Doing this will get rid of a LOT of the dirt and possible bugs - they hang right at the core.
However, it's good to rinse off the cabbage, and I often remove the outermost leaf to make sure there isn't any dirt lurking. Give them a good shake to get most of the water off.
This part is pretty explanitory, but hard to photo on your own - slice the cabbage. There is no rhyme or reason, just cut it into thin strips, aiming for abut 1/8" wide. Here's all the cabbage I have. Don't be to worried about uniform size, it's all ok. If you're really specific, you can get special things I believe to make very finely sliced cabbage for sauerkraut.
Pack your clean quart jars with cabbage - and I mean PACK. Just cram as much as you possibly can crush in there by hand, making sure to leave about 1" of headspace - the cabbage should be crammed in until it's 1" from the rim.
Add 2 teaspoons of canning salt to each quart jar and bring a big pot of water to a boil. ALWAYS use canning salt when canning, never iodized salt.
I didn't use my big pot, so I had to fill the one shown about 3 times to get enough boiling water. I used a pyrex measuring cup to just fill up the jars to the top.
Once full, I take a knife and slide it down and around in the cabbage to free up any air. I'll usually get enough air out of the jar to make the water level go down about one inch. Fill the jar back up to about 1/2" from the top with more boiling water.
Put the lids and rings on, enough that you can handle the jars by the ring. Put them someplace cool, dark and dry - I use a rubbermaid container that hangs out under my counter in the kitchen. Unscrew the rings enough so they are barely on. You want your cabbage to be able to do it's own magic, and it will ferment - you don't want a cabbage explosion.
I'll update this in time, but the next step is waiting. In two weeks, you'll boil more water with a bit of salt in it (one pint of water with 1 tablespoon of salt), and top off the jars. Then they'll sit again. In two more weeks, again, boil water with salt (same one pint with one tablespoon), and top them off. This time, you'll wipe the rims, hand tighten the rings, and process in a waterbath canner for 40 minutes. All done! You end up with a lovely sauerkraut that isn't vinegary or as salty as the store bought kind. It's delicious!