Tuesday, April 5, 2011

First Attempt at Homemade Sauerkraut

Like most people looking for instructions on the internet, I found and used Wild Fermentation's Making Sauerkraut is Easy!. The way the writer explains each is step really made my first attempt fun and successful.

Cabbage and salt in the crock on Day 1
Cabbage goes on sale right before St. Patrick's Day.  I bought two giant heads of cabbage for about 1.00 each.  One we ate on St. Patrick's Day and the other one I saved to try my hand at homemade sauerkraut.  I did not weigh the cabbage but I am sure it weighed at least 5 pounds.

Since I have the old-fashioned crock pot with the heavy ceramic pot, I decided to use it for the sauerkraut. Once I found a plate that would fit inside everything else would be easy. I found the perfect fitting plate. It was an Italy plate that I bought at a second had store a while back. It also fit very well inside the crock pot. I used the large Arizona Tea container for the weight by filling it with water.

All went well for a few days, until the weight of the bottle was too much for the plate causing the plate to break. Fortunately, I was able to find another plate almost as good.

The whole thing was covered with a clean dish towel and some clips to hold the towel snuggly over the crock pot and bottle of water. Apparently, flies love sauerkraut. So you want to protect your sauerkraut as it ferments.

Day 7 or 8

I found the cabbage to be extremely salty. Next time I think I will cut back on the salt amount. The cabbage and salt did release enough brine to cover the plate so I was happy about that.

I started taste-testing every day. After a week, I slowly started to taste a subtle sauerkraut flavor. But it was not yet tangy enough. So I gave it another 3 to 4 days before it was ready. I think next time, I will not rush and will wait even longer for a more tangier flavor. BTW, the saltiness did lessen as the sauerkraut aged. But I still think I will use less salt.

Sauerkraut is ready to pack in jars
Here it is the sauerkraut read to be packed.  I only encountered the slime mentioned in sauerkraut making once, towards almost the end of the process.  This slime should be removed or it will negatively affect the taste of the sauerkraut.

Homemade sauerkraut ready for the refrigerator
I sanitized the new canning jars before filling them with the sauerkraut.  It was then refrigerated and eaten with hot dogs on Sunday.  I wasn't convinced I was successful but my husband, of German blood, loved the flavor.

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