November 16, 2013

Homemade Sauerkraut

First of all, a big happy birthday to my Dad! We are celebrating his birthday up North hunting!
I am so excited to share this post with you! I have wanted to make homemade sauerkraut for two years now and finally got the chance to do so. I am Polish and German and grew up eating sauerkraut my entire life. We eat it even on our holidays and is a food that my family and I loves.

When I started my dietetic internship two years ago, one of the interns named Alice told me that she makes homemade sauerkraut and how it is very simple. I was intrigued and I knew that I wanted to make it myself.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when my dad asked if I wanted to make homemade sauerkraut with him. He bought large vintage crocks off of Craigslist to make the kraut in and we set a date to make the kraut.

Sauerkraut only contains two ingredients: cabbage and salt. That’s it! It is full of probiotics which are the healthy bacteria that your body needs. Probiotics help with digestion and are beneficial when taken during and after someone is on antibiotics. I have experienced the benefits of probiotics myself and highly recommend eating probiotic rich foods and taking a supplement if necessary.

Homemade Sauerkraut
50 lbs of raw cabbage (about 9 heads of cabbage)
1 1/3 cups salt

Before You Start:
Get out all tools first:
  • Large cutting board
  • Sharp knife
  • Food processor (I recommend the Magimix which was able to handle all 50 lbs of cabbage)
  • The largest mixing bowl you have (or large pot)
  • Large crock (food grade plastic may be used)
  • Large plate/platter to cover crock  as close to a tight fit as possible
  • Measuring cup
  • 1 garbage bag
Clean off a large surface where you can work easily.

  1. Start by removing the core from cabbage and slicing cabbage head into eighths (or however big your food processor can handle). We used almost all the leaves.   You can remove outer leaves if they seem to be in bad shape.
  1. Take pieces of cabbage and run them through the food processor on a slicer setting. (My Magimix food processor worked really well for all 50 lbs).
  1. When food processor is full, transfer sliced cabbage to a large mixing bowl and add about ¼ cup salt and mix really well while mashing down cabbage (your hands work best for this- make sure they’re clean).
  1. Transfer full bowl of cabbage to crock and repeat steps 3-5 until all of your cabbage is sliced and has salt added to it.
  1. Once all of the sliced cabbage is in the crock, mix it all very well together. There will start to be liquid right away (see pictures) and make sure the liquid is covering all of the cabbage.
  1. Cover cabbage with large plate, place rock on plate and then cover with a large garbage bag.
Store in a dry area- the goal is to not have oxygen in there as it needs to be anaerobic. A cooler basement works well.

Fermentation length depends on temperature and flavor preference. If the area you are storing the kraut is cool, it takes longer to ferment. If it is warmer, the process will be sped up.
My parent’s basement which is where the kraut is stored is about 65 degrees and 2 weeks later is not completely done. I estimate that it will take another 1-2 weeks to be completely done. It is edible now but I prefer to wait a little longer.
After the month is over, the kraut can remain in the cool place with very little air exposure.   You can also trasfer to quart containers and put in the refrigerator.

This experience was much simpler than I could have ever imagined. With both my dad and I working, it took about an hour from start to finish. Because we made such a large batch, this amount of sauerkraut will be able to last us quite a long time. You could follow this recipe and cut the amount of cabbage and salt down if you wanted to make less sauerkraut.
If you are interested in making sauerkraut yourself, feel free to ask any questions you may have!

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