Very few gardeners make sauerkraut at home, but I did make it a few times with great success. It does take a month or more of brining, skimming, and pressing the cabbage down to make sure it is always covered with brine.
My husband and Dad were thrilled with the finished product. It definitely has a different taste from the canned or bagged (this is the best between the two) sauerkraut you buy at the grocery. This is an excellent way to use up an abundance of cabbage in your garden.
- fresh green cabbage heads
- kosher salt
Core, quarter and shred the cabbage. To every 5 pounds of cabbage add 3-1/2 tbsp. salt. Mix thoroughly in a large bowl and pour into a stoneware crock. (I found my crock in an antique store, with a wood lid too!)
Pack down firmly and evenly with a wooden mallet or potato masher. Juice will form and cover the cabbage. Repeat this procedure until all of the cabbage is used. Leave 3 or 4 inches at the top of the crock to allow for expansion. Cover cabbage with 2 or 3 layers of clean, white cloth, tucking edges down against inside of crock. On top, place a heavy plate that will fit into the crock. Weigh it down with something heavy – I used a gallon jug filled with water. Be sure the juice covers plate and cabbage.
Place crock at room temperature about 70 degrees (I used my mud room) for 4 to 6 weeks. When it starts to ferment it will start bubbling. If mold forms, remove and clean off. When the cabbage no longer bubbles, remove top liquid and any mold or scum. Clean inside of crock as much as possible.
Pack sauerkraut firmly into clean jars (pint or quart). Cover with juice to within 1/2-inch of top. If you need more juice use 1-1/2 tbsp. salt to 1 quart of water. Seal jars and place in canner. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Process quarts for 30 minutes and pints 20 minutes.
Yes, I did grow a lot of cabbage that year!